Remember when Nick was a law school drop out who was overeducated but unmotivated? Now he’s barely literate and rarely sober. Of course, he’s funnier than ever, spitting out dozens of amazing one-liners in any given episode. “The Box” is filled with nonsensical Nick rants, mispronouncing words, and snide comments out the side of his mouth that are all hilarious, quote-worthy, and denigrating to the character. Does Nick need to be stupid to be funny?

In season one, Nick’s major characteristic was his curmudgeon personality. Much of “The Box” stays within that character trait. It’s no shock that he has never paid his taxes or believes that a bank is just a paper bag with fancier walls. A guy like Nick is no doubt going to have a box in the back of his closet with thousands of dollars in unpaid bills. All of that aspect was definitely what we’d come to expect from Nick since the very beginning.

However, I fear that the writers believe that humor can only come from the character’s idiocy. At one point he argues with Winston about whether you crawl out of the “woodwork” or, as Nick puts it, “woodword.” This is a man who got into law school and had dreams of being a writer.

That being said, Nick continues to be the most humorous character on a show filled with funny characters. When his dearly departed father’s shady friend leaves him a paper bag filled with $8k, he decides to do as the wealthy do. He gets portraits taken of him, buys shoes not in his size, and relaxing with mall massages.

This aggravates Jess and Winston for two very different reasons. Winston has been owed $1.9k for years and is determined to scam it out of his best friend. Jess can’t stand the idea that Nick’s pushing his problems in the back of his closet. She steals the box, pays his bills, and immediately regrets it. On one hand, it’s ridiculous that a grown man doesn’t have a bank account and is willing to let bills piles up. But it’s not her place to decide what he does with the money his dad gave him. If Nick wants to be irresponsible, it isn’t her job as his girlfriend to make him see the errors of his ways.

If Nick wants to change, it has to be for himself. That’s what worries me. Nick and Jess fight about her actions in the episode and whether she will ever be able to accept him as he is. The way I see it, Nick as he is may be a few years away from total destruction. Is Jess really a villain for trying to ensure he doesn’t end up in jail for tax evasion? Maybe the way she went about it was wrong, but don’t try to convince me she’s entirely wrong.

At least Nick discovers at the end that she might not be completely terrible for her nudging him in a fiscally responsible direction. He goes to the bank to open an account with a check she gave him (I can’t believe he was actually going to cash it) and the rest of his dirty paper bag of cash. He’s willing to open an account and even ignore the fact that there’s an $8 processing fee because, in his words, “I realized something. I’d do anything for you.”

To Jess’s credit, she’d do anything for him too. Instead of taking the victory, she throws a Nick-worthy rant about the small processing fee that makes her look like a fool. But they get the fee waived and save 8 whole dollars. But the gesture is sweet nonetheless. He’s ready to take a small step towards growing up and she’s willing to be a complete idiot. A match made in idiocy.

And what was Schmidt up to? Who cares? He wants his friends, rabbi (played by Jon Lovitz), and strangers to ensure him that he’s a good person. Nobody will, nor can they in good conscience. He cheated on Jess’s best friend, hurt two people he claimed to love, and took the smallest steps possible to help a man choking on some gum. He’s definitely not hero material. To make matters worst, he comes to the conclusion that he doesn’t need to be a good person. Nothing gained, nothing lost.

Other Musings:

  • Nick to Schmidt: “You’re a terrible person. It’s hilarious.” Is this the writers’ attitude?
  • Nick: “You’re better at THINGS than Winston. Winston’s a better person.”
  • Speaking of Winston, he gets to be a part of the major storyline this week but barely. He gets his money from Jess without having to scam Nick. Kind of anti-climactic. 
  • Nick: “I’m gonna keep my money where my mouth is…under my nose. That saying actually does work.”
  • Schmidt on depression: “My tweets have been extremely literal.”
  • It’s Schmidt’s turn to be the loner in this episode. His story takes place pretty much alone. He saves a biker from choking, but as he celebrates, the guy is wriggling in pain. Basically Schmidt is awful in every way possible.
  • According to Nick, money is just something a king on the mountain decides was worth something, gold is shiny, brass makes bells, silver kills werewolves. As far as drunken Nick rants go, this one ranks high.
  • Biker: “Some say moral integrity is the cornerstone to humanity.” Schmidt: “What do you know, you idiot? You choked on a piece of gum today.”
  • Nick hates Jess’s nickel, old lady purses so he throws them out the window. He just wants her to have a purse with gems on it. Is that too much to ask?
  • Nick: “I realized something. I’d do anything for you.”  So would Jess, because she does a Nick-rant for him. Manages to get the processing fee waived.
  • Winston spends the Nick money on a candelabrum which he gives Schmidt. He rubbed it three times hoping a genie would come out. What would he wish for? More candelabrum of course.