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Last week, New Girl demonstrated its continued ability to surprise. In its 100th episode, the show brought a new character into the fold, introducing Megan Fox as Reagan, the perceptive, pharmaceutical-slinging, bisexual lone wolf who’s moved into Jess’ room and stolen Nick’s heart. Fox’s comedic stylings fit New Girl like a hollowed-out hand (er, glove), but Reagan’s autonomous nature made her wary of her temporary roommates’ permanent chumminess. While compensating for an absent Zooey Deschanel, the show hit upon a new variation on one of its favorite themes, applying an outsider’s skepticism to the roommates’ intense bond.

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If you watched “Reagan,” you know all of this already. But because New Girl can’t count on everyone in its audience seeing that episode—or, for those that did, remembering every detail of Reagan’s biography—it falls to “Wig” to reiterate some of these details. The episode must function like the paragraph above, re-establishing Fox’s character while still drawing from the 100 episodes of New Girl that came before it. It’s the curse of the second episode, which must move things forward while keeping at least one foot in the previous week.

“Wig” does this better than most. Scripted by David Feeney, the episode loops pieces of Reagan’s personality into storylines for the main cast. In one, her aversion to emotional connections puts Winston in a tough spot, as he’s enlisted to break up with Camilla (Clea Duvall) in Reagan’s stead. Meanwhile, Nick’s attraction to Reagan is impeding on Schmidt and Cece’s personal space (and personal time), so they cook up a lie to make her seem like less of a “super-human goddess”: Reagan wears a wig. Realizing that he doesn’t really know anything about this woman, Nick goes digging through her belongings, only to turn up some suspicious items that lead the weirdos in 4D to believe that Reagan is the true weirdo in their midst. But they’re not the only ones who want to confront Reagan: After blowing his new roommate’s cover for the second time, Winston points Camilla in the direction of the loft, rolling all of the episode’s fabrications and jumped-to conclusions into a snowballing climax involving a fake ID, an elaborate lie about a Japanese crime family, and a trashed bedroom.

It’s all pretty tightly constructed for New Girl, which doesn’t always go in for this type of farcical plotting. But with a new face in the loft and a limited number of things known about her, “Wig” makes it work. It has to offer reminders about Reagan’s bisexuality and her vagabond lifestyle by necessity, so it twists those details into a slight comic playlet about trust, privacy, taking responsibility for your actions, proper burrito etiquette, and complicated culinary double entendres. The episode retains the show’s looser rhythms by sending the cast on extended runs like Winston’s list of places he’s been dumped:

“Multiple parks, coffee shops, Santa’s lap, Kitchen Stadium on Iron Chef, airplanes—in economy, Economy Select, Economy Comfort, Platinum Economy. While covered in butterflies…”

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or the many reasons he’s been dumped:

“‘You’re too nasty in bed, Winston’ or ‘You remind me of my brother, Winston’ or ‘Winston, you spend too much time in the butterfly house.’”

Along the way, “Wig” shows that while the roommates don’t know everything about Reagan, there are still some things they don’t know about each other. Just as New Girl can still surprise the viewer, it can surprise its characters, too. Case in point: The treehouse that’s being built in Nick’s bedroom, a project that Nick, Winston, and Cece all failed (or didn’t want to) fill Schmidt in on. It’s a goofy little throwaway line in a goofy little episode, but I love the way Max Greenfield plays his reaction to the information, letting Schmidt’s hurt at this small betrayal spill over into his description of his fiancée and his best friend as “paranoid maniacs.” Hannah Simone and Jake Johnson know Cece and Nick well enough that they can react to that reaction without words: Wide eyes and a head bob of recognition from Cece, a sincere salute from Nick.

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“Wig” might be slightly repetitive and lightweight—like Reagan, it doesn’t want to get “emotionally involved”—but it is a sturdy little joke-delivery machine. The scene in which everyone rallies around Reagan’s life-of-crime lie is one of season five’s funniest, calling back to the fake IDs and the treehouse and relying on one of New Girl’s most dependable comedic devices: The aliases associated with Nick, Schmidt, and Cece’s criminal histories. That’s the funny thing about a sitcom repeating itself: Bring something up twice in consecutive episodes and it feels like a retread; do it multiple times over the course of two seasons and it’s a beloved running joke. Now that Reagan’s “pilot episode” has a premise-restating follow-up in “Wig,” maybe she can get some running jokes of her own next week.

Stray observations

  • Who’s that girl? This week in New Girl pseudonyms, alter egos, and nicknames: For the record, Reagan’s criminal enterprise is comprised of Sharky (“’cause I attack from beneath up”), The Mohel (“’cause I will, uh [Snipping sound.] cut your penis off”), and Sisí, who all report to Suzie Shimizu. Fun fact: The real Suzie Shimizu was New Girl’s production accountant for seasons one through four, a job she now performs for The Grinder.
  • Nick’s Cubs helmet full of nachos is actually how the dish is served at Wrigley Field—and here are the photos to prove it.
  • Winston Bishop: Chicagoan by birth, Wisconsinite by preferred terminology for “water fountain”: “Ooo, look: a bubbler!”
  • Another killer “Wig” list, from Schmidt’s description of Nick’s conspiracy-addled mind: “It’s like an Irish carnival up there. Just potato peels, broken rides, fiddle music, dreams left unfulfilled, bloody soccer jerseys, bunch of women limping around named Moira.”
  • This week’s shoutout to New Girl’s absent star: “Jackpot! Ribbons! Oh, these are probably Jess’.”

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