Brooklyn Nine-Nine Review: The Squad Celebrates Their 99th Episode

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I really, really love milestone episodes of TV shows, especially because everyone has a different way of approaching them. Some go the big event route, with a wedding or some other momentous occasion. Others take the approach Nine-Nine did this week, with a relatively low key storyline that nonetheless represented everything I love about the show. I tend to prefer the latter approach, especially when it’s done as well as it was here.

Of course, instead of celebrating the traditional 100th episode, B99 made their 99th outing the big one. And even though it technically did include an event—the funeral of the squad’s former C.O.—that was more the jumping off point for the episode than the focus.

That doesn’t mean it didn’t feel special, though. It took the entire team outside of Brooklyn, something we’re only occasionally treated to. It kept the squad together for a single storyline, which always lets the fantastic cast play off each other for maximum hilarity. It also gave every single character a moment to shine. So like I said, completely representative of everything great about this show.

For Amy, the funeral pictures made her amusingly aware of her Type A tendencies, sending her on a quest to be more laid back. As hilarious as it was watching her try to be chill as things went further and further off the rails, even better was her return to glory at the end, coming up with an epic plan to get Holt back to New York in time for his interview.

As he has time and time again in recent seasons, Jake got a chance to show how far he’s come since the pilot, enacting numerous plans before handing the reins to Amy, discovering Holt’s sabotage, and sharing a really wonderful moment with his Captain where he expressed the impact Holt’s had on his life. Most importantly, though, Jake finally learned how to do the worm. Priorities, guys!

Other characters got their time as well, with Boyle’s Texas cousins making an appearance—I died at his “Nice to meet you.” after saying “I love you.” Terry showed off his undying love of luxury as well as his inherent kindness, offering Holt his prized first class mint just before his interview. Hitchcock and Scully were, well, appropriately Hitchcock and Scully, with their claims to fame this episode involving stinking up the RV bathroom and trying to avoid responsibility.

Holt, meanwhile, not only orchestrated nearly every event in the episode in a truly spectacular montage, but also showed the best thing about this show in an episode that honored its many strengths: its sense of family. For Holt, it meant sabotaging his biggest dream—becoming police commissioner—because he’d compromised himself by saving Jake and Rosa. There was a lot to love about that reveal, from Amy figuring out that Holt hadn’t turned down the mob boss’s offer to Jake and Rosa’s instant gratitude. The sweetest, though, was the squad convincing Holt to go after the commissioner job anyway, saying his debt was everyone’s responsibility now. Appropriately, that later led to one of their patented “Nine-Nine!” cheers, without a doubt my favorite way to close an episode of this excellent show.

Other thoughts on “99”:

-When Holt accepted the offer in the premiere, I worried it would hang over the show, negatively affecting its goofy tone. Truthfully, I forgot about it at some point near the start of the season, so that clearly didn’t happen.

-I missed Gina a whole lot here. I know Chelsea Peretti couldn’t have very well ended her maternity leave early for one episode, but I wish they’d paid homage to Gina in some way, especially in such a monumental episode.

-I had to give this its own section because it was so, so wonderful: Rosa’s—I’m not going to say revelation, but rather—confirmation that she’s bi. This was handled beautifully, and Charles made for the perfect confidant, not asking her questions about her sexuality, but instead pestering her about her girlfriend in exactly the same way he has her boyfriends. Stephanie Beatriz was very, very good this episode, and I highly recommend this extremely thoughtful interview with her.

What did you think of Brooklyn‘s 99th outing? Hit the comments, and let me know!

 

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The Mindy Project Review: Mindy Says Goodbye in “It Had to Be You”

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The Mindy Project is a show that I’ve consistently liked and often loved throughout its six-season run. The last couple of seasons haven’t been quite as sharp as the first few; much as it pains me to say, it was never quite the same once Chris Messina departed as a series regular. Mindy was at her best when she had a great foil, romantic or otherwise, and they never found one quite as good as Danny. Weirdly though, even though it led to a bit of a decline in the show’s quality, I was happy when, and am still happy that, Mindy broke up with Danny. At that point, he’d become insufferable, shown that he wasn’t the dream guy or even a good guy at that time in his life. More importantly, Mindy making that heartbreaking choice was her biggest piece of character development in the entire series.

That was a defining moment for The Mindy Project as well; it showed that, while the show loved romcoms, it didn’t have to be one. They deconstructed but never mocked the genre and proved that, even if Mindy Lahiri adored the idea of a romcom-worthy romance, she knew she was the heroine of her story, not the co-lead. She could want but didn’t need a man to be happy.

Impressively, though, she never gave up on the fantasy of love or became disillusioned with it. After all the romantic lows in her life: the breakups, the failed engagements, the recent divorce, in this series finale, Mindy was still a woman who believed in love as much as she did at the start of the series, a woman who ran across New York City to prove it.

Romcoms are all about the endings: the romantic gestures, the declarations of love, the “I run to you”s, moments so big they almost make you forget everything that came before. Our favorite movies are known for one unforgettable scene: a kiss in the rain, a proposal in broken Portuguese, countless sprints through airports. But this was about a woman discovering that perhaps the messy middle of a romcom is more satisfying than the fairytale ending. In a show that both deconstructed and paid homage to the genre, how appropriate that it subverted it with its ending: a quiet moment of Mindy watching TV with the father of her child, a man she loves not because he’s perfect but because he’s trying.

For me, the best shows are the ones where you can’t predict the outcome of the series finale while you’re watching the pilot because the characters have grown and changed and evolved so much throughout the course of the show’s run. Watching the first episode of The Mindy Project, I never would have predicted that this simple, everyday ending is what would make Mindy happiest. And I’m so, so glad that’s the case.

What did you think of The Mindy Project‘s series finale? Let me know in comments!

Brooklyn Nine-Nine Review: “Bad Beat”

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Thanks to the World Series, it’s been a couple weeks since we’ve had a new episode of Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Much as I missed the show, the timing of the break worked out nicely. “HalloVeen” was a big, eventful episode, and it was fun to bask in Jake and Amy’s proposal a bit instead of returning to business as usual the next week.

This week, we got a nice engagement reference in the cold open, with Jake asking Boyle to be his best man—sorry, BM—, but it definitely seems like Jake and Amy’s new relationship status isn’t going to shake up the show too much.

The A-story was a great example of Nine-Nine taking a storyline with a high degree of difficulty and making it look easy. Here, they revealed Holt’s gambling addiction, had him both fall off the wagon and get back on it again, and somehow made the entire thing funny and fairly believable. I always enjoy it when Holt takes a break from being the morally superior one because not only does Andre Braugher get to add layers to an already nuanced character, it also lets other people, usually Jake, do the same thing. In this case, he proved he’s no grammar slouch. Amy would be proud!

The B-stories were pretty effective, too, with Boyle and Amy teaming up for a food truck business, of all things. When they started talking about their new venture, it seemed nonsensical, but then I remembered Boyle’s longtime food obsession. I actually really liked the sentiment that one of his passions could turn into something profitable. It was also nice that Amy supported him in it, even if she did, rightfully so, have a few concerns along the way. I like Boyle and Amy storylines because it’s fun to be reminded that the two most important people in Jake’s life are so different. Sidebar for those of you who watch Once Upon a Time, but how random that both shows had a food-truck-used-in-a-crime-scene plot this week?

The other B story, which arguably got the least amount of screentime, was actually my favorite, with Rosa, Hitchcock, and Scully competing to see who could stay sitting the longest. In the past, storylines with these three have largely involved Rosa—like pretty much everyone else in the precinct—mocking Hitchcock and Scully, even if they usually end with a nice moment of some kind. This storyline, though, was pure fun, with Rosa commiserating with the guys throughout the day, coming up with the idea to slide their chairs all the way to the hot dog cart—”The only thing holding us back is society!”—, and ending the competition legitimately respecting them. I love me some stone-cold Rosa Diaz, but it’s also a whole heck of a lot of fun to see her let loose; her genuine grin when riding down the elevator in her chair was adorable.

What did you guys think of “Bad Beat”? Let me know in comments!

Once Upon a Time Review: “The Garden of Forking Paths”

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This third episode of season seven was the most quintessentially Once of the three we’ve seen so far, switching easily between past adventures in the forest and present-day ones in Hyperion Heights. The first two episodes did that as well, but here the stories in both places had the similar thread of Cinderella/Jacinda learning something and Regina/Roni helping her get there. This sort of mirroring was done a lot in the first season especially, and it felt pleasantly familiar here, much like the references to the past in the first two episodes did.

The interactions between Cinderella and Regina worked the best for me. Regina quickly adopted a sort of mothering presence with her, which was both sweet and logical considering Cinderella will one day become Henry’s true love. However, I also got the sense that Regina saw Cinderella as an equal, an independent woman she instantly respected, regardless of the choice she made in this episode.

Their conversations also had the most direct connection to the past, with Regina telling Cinderella that she needs to forgive herself first and that “Believe me, I’ve done a lot worse.” Regina has always made a habit of reminding people of her past deeds whenever possible, almost as if in penance for what she put her family and friends through. It’s a pretty defining part of her character at this point, so it was nice to see that in play here. TV is my favorite storytelling medium largely because of how easily it allows for character development, so it’s extremely satisfying to see Regina go from the Evil Queen terrorizing everyone to a key part of another kingdom’s resistance.

The Henry/Lucy scenes also worked well and did a lot to further establish that relationship. It’s tough because there can only be so many scenes of Lucy begging Henry to believe before it becomes exactly what Emma and Henry’s relationship was in the first season, but I think they’ve done a decent job of differentiating it so far. Even though, as Lucy said, their storyline here was very similar to Henry looking in the mines, I appreciated that they acknowledged that similarity. Plus, it makes total sense that Lucy would use Henry’s book as research of sorts.

Three episodes in, certain new characters are starting to pop for me, like Cinderella and Tiana, while others, like Victoria, aren’t. Until that last scene, Victoria felt like a dime a dozen villain to me, both in the forest and in Hyperion Heights. The mystery prisoner, however, feels like she could be a very interesting villain, or at least play a role in making Victoria a more interesting villain herself. I’m also glad we found out exactly what Lady Tremaine/Victoria’s motivation is. It’s pretty dark for this show but enjoyably so, and I’m sure that information will help make her a more specific villain as well.

A couple of other thoughts on “The Garden of Forking Paths”:

It was a very small moment, but there seemed to be a hint of something between Hook and Tiana. It wasn’t a big enough thing for me to properly gauge how I’d feel about it, but there’s no doubt that seeing Hook with another person might be a little strange, especially at the beginning. Even though he’s not our Killian, it’s been several seasons since we’ve seen him with anyone but Emma Swan.

The Weaver/Rogers storyline fell really flat for me this episode; I just don’t find their dynamic all that compelling yet. They seemed to tread pretty much the same ground they did in the last episode, with Weaver establishing that he also wants to take Victoria down, albeit in a less moral way than Rogers does. I’m assuming I’ll be more interested in Weaver once we find out in next week’s episode exactly what led Rumple there.

What did you think of “The Garden of Forking Paths”? Let me know in the comments!

Brooklyn Nine-Nine Review: Jake Plans a Heist of His Own in “HalloVeen”

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Well. That’s going to be hard to top next year.

I have a history of loving Brooklyn Nine-Nine‘s Halloween episodes, mostly because they’re unapologetically fun in a way that’s becoming rare on television. Sure, they make you suspend your disbelief and would probably feel repetitive if you watched them back-to-back, but as the last four seasons of this show have proven, you can’t go wrong with putting this crazy group of characters in an extreme competition and letting them go wild. It also helps that the Halloween episodes 1) let Holt take off his Captain hat and descend into the madness and 2) allow the characters to be both amusingly and unusually mean to one another.

This year’s heist had a lot of specific things working for it, too, including a great cold open that really told a story and an always welcome appearance by Cheddar. Naturally, said appearance was made by Andre Braugher’s delivery of “This bitch? Please!” as well as “You betrayed me. You’ll explain yourself later.” There were also a couple of nice references to Gina that made her feel a part of things; I’m always glad when shows actually acknowledge an actor or actress’ absence instead of hoping the audience won’t notice. Plus, anyone who follows their high school friends on Facebook can appreciate a good pyramid scheme joke.

Of course, there was one very specific thing this episode had going for it and that’s one of Mike Schur’s patented out of the blue relationship moments. If you watched Parks and Rec—and you may want to avert your eyes if you didn’t—then you’ll know that show was pretty well-known for sneak attack proposals and weddings. Ben and Leslie, for example, didn’t get engaged during a sweeps episode or a premiere or finale. Instead, it happened in an otherwise uneventful episodethe show’s Halloween outing, as it were.

I loved this way of approaching big couple moments on Parks, and specifically this way of approaching proposals, because it mirrors the way those moments go in real life. They don’t have to be, but proposals are oftentimes spontaneous and surprising—especially for the person being proposed to—and slipping a TV proposal in at an unexpected time lets the viewer feel the excitement of that.

Ben and Leslie’s is one of my favorite, if not absolute favorite, TV proposals ever. It’s realistic, romantic, both surprising and completely logical, and very, very them. I feel exactly the same way about Jake and Amy’s.

For one, I loved that it happened during a hugely over-the-top competition; competitiveness has always been a big aspect of their relationship, and they both love the Halloween Heist especially. I loved the proposal’s role reversal, with Jake making an elaborate plan in hopes of actually surprising Amy, the planner and predictor of all things. And I loved the proposal itself, with its hilarious and specific references to their relationship, including “title of your sex tape!”, Jake happily calling Amy the best detective, and their eternal disagreement over Die Hard.

I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention Andy Samberg and Melissa Fumero, who made it feel raw and genuine to the point that I started to wonder if any of it was improvised and who have just generally done a fantastic job of making their characters’ relationship feel realistic and well worth rooting for.

What comes after a big moment like a proposal can often feel anti-climatic, but much to my surprise, the last two minutes of the episode packed a sweet punch as well, with Jake’s awesomely feminist way of asking Amy’s dad for permission and his reveal of when he decided to propose: during a wonderfully normal moment where Amy was arguably at her most Amy. I know I already gave him kudos, but Andy Samberg’s blink-and-you’ll-miss-it reaction there was absolutely perfect.

I’ve buried the lede, though, because we can all agree that Charles, Jake and Amy’s greatest ‘shipper and champion, actually passing out from enthusiasm was the episode’s, nay, season’s greatest moment.

What did you think of “HalloVeen”? Stoked for the Santiago-Peralta union? Hit the comments, and let me know!

Once Upon a Time Review: Emma Returns in “A Pirate’s Life”

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I went into this episode expecting to feel disappointed once it was over, knowing that it was our last one with Emma, at least for the time being. While I had a few issues with this one, I actually feel more optimistic about this season now.  It gave me a better idea of what a standard episode will look like and also alleviated any concerns I had about Killian and Emma’s long-term happiness.

For me, the biggest problem with this episode was the amount it expected the audience to suspend their disbelief. That’s par for the course with this show, considering the fantasy elements and their habit of breaking previously established rules. However, they’re usually very good at keeping it real on a character level; the more unbelievable aspects of the show work because the characters and relationships feel so grounded.

Here, I didn’t totally buy everyone’s actions, from Emma suggesting that Henry and Wish Realm Hook team up to Regina choosing to stay behind. It’s not that they weren’t believable decisions, just that they happened very quickly. I felt similarly about Hook’s turnaround from leaving Killian for dead to feeling terrible about what he did. It was nice but very fast, which is another reason I was surprised that Emma wanted Henry to stick with him.

This episode also really made you cling to the idea of time moving differently in other realms because there’s no way that Emma and Regina would have let Henry grow up without seeing him once. I would have liked a little more clarity on how long it’s been since Emma and Killian’s wedding, or at least on how long it feels like it’s been for them.

Despite the speed of it, though, I don’t hate this new status quo. You have to give the writers props, really. It’s extremely rare for a show to continue past its natural endpoint without torpedoing the characters and relationships that the audience loves (cough, Castle, cough). Emma and Killian fans (including myself) can’t complain because they’re not only happy and together in Storybrooke, but expecting a baby to boot.

As a Regina fan, I’m pleasantly surprised that we’ll presumably get to see her in the forest flashback scenes, instead of just as Roni. She and Henry were really the only two characters who left last year’s finale not wholly satisfied, so it doesn’t feel like they’re blowing anything up by continuing their stories. Plus, there’s something kind of poetic about starting the next chapter of the show with Henry and Regina the only original characters playing themselves, similar to the way it was in the pilot.

This episode also lent some clarity to Rebecca Mader’s return; Zelena is another character who definitely has more story to tell. I also buy it because Regina’s her only family aside from Robin, and it makes total sense that she’d stick with her. I’m assuming there will be words about Regina up and leaving Storybrooke without telling her, though. I’ll also be curious to see how Rumple got mixed up in Hyperion Heights, but I’m assuming we’ll find out when Belle returns in a couple episodes.

Other thoughts on “A Pirate’s Life”:

We have to talk about Robert Carlyle in head to toe denim, too good!

Female friendship has always been a big part of this show, so I’m enjoying Sabine and Jacinda’s relationship a lot. Looks like we’ll get a taste of Cinderella and Tiana’s next week as well.

I can’t complain about how Emma and Hook’s story ended—let me say for a minute how absolutely lovely it is that two people who have been through so much wound up where they did—but I wish there had been slightly more Emma in this. Probably knowing it was her last episode made me greedy, but I would have loved to see her in a couple more scenes.

Why did Henry keep referring to Emma as “Emma”? She and Regina were always adorably just “mom” and “mom,” and Regina obviously would have known who he was talking about if he’d said “mom.”

I feel like Jennifer Morrison and Lana Parrilla got a taste of what Ginnifer Goodwin and Josh Dallas had to do with the “acting like a parent to someone your age” thing. Wonder if they called for tips…

What did you think of “A Pirate’s Life” and the Henry/Regina/Faux Hook teamup? Let me know in comments!

Brooklyn Nine-Nine Review: Jake and Rosa Take Some “Kicks”

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This wasn’t Brooklyn Nine-Nine‘s funniest episode by a long shot, but it felt like a necessary transition between the first two prison-centric outings and the rest of the season. This was a big, serious thing that happened to Jake and Rosa, and they needed to show the ramifications of it, for Jake professionally and Rosa personally. It’s true that this show prides itself on making Andre Braugher say ridiculous things with a straight face, but it’s also just as good at making its characters feel like real people, and a real person would absolutely be affected by spending six months wrongly incarcerated.

Jake’s reaction wasn’t at all what I expected, but it was wonderfully in character. A different person would have left jail bitter about a system that failed him. Instead, Jake struggled because now he knows exactly how terrible prison is and feels slightly bad about sending people there. It was very Jake to somehow leave a horrible situation a more empathetic person and, as Holt pointed out, a better detective. There was also a nice maturity in Jake’s decision to take a few weeks off when he didn’t have to. That’s not a choice that season one Jake would have made, and it’s always nice to see characters evolve.

I will say that I would have liked Amy to share Jake’s first case back; I feel like it’s been awhile since they’ve had one together, even looking back at the end of last season. Hopefully, we’ll get one in the next couple weeks. Also, while I’m glad Jake and Amy’s relationship is solid enough that they can act like those six months never happened, I’m still hoping for a conversation about that time apart. We got a moment like that when Jake returned from Florida, and it seems even more necessary in this situation.

Rosa’s breakup with Pimento wasn’t directly related to her time in jail, but I do feel like it played a role. I’ve never loved them together, mostly because Pimento feels more like a caricature to me than a real person. Honestly, if they’d sprinkled in a couple more genuine moments throughout, like the one here where he admitted to learning Spanish, I might have liked the guy more. I also think there’s only so many times you can make the “hey, they’re almost having sex in public!” joke before it stops being funny, and I didn’t find it that funny here. I would love to see Rosa in a relationship again because it’s yet another way of letting Stephanie Beatriz show off her range and add nuance to her character. Hopefully next time it’s someone I connect with a bit more than Pimento.

All told, not the funniest episode of Nine-Nine, but one of the more successful ones emotionally.

What did you think of “Kicks”? Hit the comments, and let me know!