A few thoughts on tonight's New Girl, and where the show stands before Zooey Deschanel returns next week, coming up just as soon as the chair is moist...

If "Heat Wave" had just been Winston in front of the mirror practicing his cop voice... dayenu. The rest of it wasn't the strongest of the Megan Fox episodes, but the show's been really well-balanced, and freer than ever to just be goofy and let funny actors be funny, during this Jess-less stretch. Jess' function on the show over the years evolved into being the closest thing the loft had to a grown-up, and while there's some of that in Reagan, her lack of personal investment in the lives of her temporary roommates means the place has a more anarchic feel overall, which seems to suit what these writers and actors do best.

I'll be curious to see if the show uses Jess a bit differently once she returns next week. (She and Reagan will overlap for one episode.) Letting Jess be a weird loser like the guys plays more to Zooey Deschanel's comic strengths, but the last time the series went there (after Jess lost her teaching job and was out of work for a while), Liz Meriwether didn't seem to love that vibe. Then again, the show as a whole wasn't nearly as ridiculous as it's become, so might as well let everybody embrace it, including the heroine.

What did everybody else think?

Alan Sepinwall has been reviewing television since the mid-'90s, first for Tony Soprano's hometown paper, The Star-Ledger, and now for HitFix. His new book, "TV (The Book)" about the 100 greatest shows of all time, is available now. He can be reached at sepinwall@hitfix.com