The Confident Optimism of Once Upon a Time


When Once Upon a Time premiered way back in 2011, TV fans were intrigued. It was one of the more original concepts for a show: a mishmash of fairytale characters that would probably feel even more refreshing now, in the era of reboots and revivals. In the pilot, we were introduced to twists on well-known characters: a sword-wielding, awesomely feminist Snow White who had snappy as hell chemistry with the man she sarcastically dubbed “Charming” and a snarky, elaborately-dressed Evil Queen who actually got her happy ending, as well as various dwarfs, crickets, fairies, etc. There was also true believer Henrywho perhaps made you feel a little sad and nostalgic the first time you saw him, a reminder of the childhood innocence you once had, and an understandably skeptic Emma Swan, who grew up with no knowledge of fairy tales or happy endings. Unfortunately, she’s probably the one the majority of us related to the most.

As is my way, I didn’t watch the pilot of Once until critical buzz had quieted a bit, between its second and third seasons. But when I did, I remember being surprised by how confident an introduction it was. A lot of serieseven ones that wind up greatstumble through their first episode or even their first season. This was not the case with Once Upon a Time. Right from the beginning, from the moment Henry watched that clock tower chime, the show’s message of hope was clear, a message it never strayed from in seven seasons. It was sure of its characters, too. Sure, Regina and Emma, to name a couple, evolved beautifully from the pilot, but their personalities remained much the same. This is no small feat. Instead of tweaking characters or other aspects of the show that didn’t quite work, Once hit the ground running, laying the foundation for well-earned relationships and character journeys from its very first episode.

The show’s impressive character work quickly became my favorite part. I loved Once’s almost hilarious disregard for logical timelines, its crazy plot twists and character relationships (just try to explain Henry’s family tree to someone), and its delightful “anything goes” mentality (there were certainly moments it felt like they shook up the Disney canon in a bottle and went with whatever came out), but most of all, I loved its characters.

As mentioned, Regina and Emma, in particular, grew a ton throughout the course of the series, in two hard-fought character arcs that were a sight to behold, especially for a character development junkie like myself. In the pilot, I don’t think anyone would have called the Evil Queen their favorite. But she was portrayed with such empathy and heart that, by season three, she was my favorite. The writers on Once took immense care of their characters, slowly building up Emma’s optimism and trust in others, Regina’s learned selflessness and forgiveness for herself, Hook’s internal battle with darkness and the man he wanted to be, etc. Even if I didn’t agree with what a character did, I nearly always understood why they did it. Characters on this show rarely felt like plot devices, but rather whole human beings, something that shouldn’t be rare on TV but somehow is.

This is especially impressive considering that well, Once was a show about a bunch of fairy tale characters. It’s crazy to say that you found small pieces of yourself in Snow White or the Evil Queen or any of the other countless make-believe characters that graced Once over the years, but that doesn’t make it any less true. The show’s characters made fantasy transcend the common experience, through wonderfully small, realistic beats and huge, character-defining declarations. It was the combination of these two that made the show work: Regina’s never-ending parade of one-liners paired with her staring at the actual embodiment of her past self, finally ready to forgive; Emma and Hook making pancakes shortly after she declared “I am not nothing, I was never nothing!”; etc. Once always made time for those moments between the battles and plot twists that provide just as much insight into characters as the declarations do.

As mentioned, the show had immense empathy for its characters, but it also wasn’t afraid to make them do the work, especially in their relationships with each other. I think what impressed me most was that, with such a huge cast, for the most part, each relationship felt specific and ridiculously well-earned. It would have been easy for Regina, for instance, to have similar relationships with Emma, Snow, and Charming, all people she hurt in much the same way. Instead, she and Emma slowly but surely became co-parents and best friends, developing a no-nonsense understanding of each other that was pretty unparalleled. Snow, ironically, became a sort of advice-giving sister and sounding board for her former step-mother. And Charming welcomed her into the family graciously, always having faith in who she’d become, even when she doubted it herself.

With a big cast, complicated backstories, and additional characters who would pop up for an arc or two, it would have been easy to miss potential points of commonality. Instead, Once often surprised me with how much characters like Belle and Hook, Emma and Elsa, or Snow and Jasmine had in common. It’s funny to say it about such a sprawling show, but Once was very methodical about things that other shows often overlook or deem too obvious to be interesting. It loved finding those intersections in characters’ pasts, setting up backstories that neatly led to revelations in the future, or building to the kind of full-circle moment that we rarely get in real life.

It wasn’t a perfect show. It ebbed and flowed like the best of them, with entire arcs or characters that didn’t quite work for one reason or another. This entire seventh season, while enjoyable in its own way, has been far more focused on churning through plot than delving into genuine character moments like the ones mentioned above. But, as I said, admirably, this show knew what it was from its very first episode: a show for and about optimists, whether current or recovering. It featured complex, imperfect female characters and romances for the ages, while never once suggesting that those two things couldn’t exist simultaneously. As mentioned, it had two of my very favorite character arcs of all time in Regina Mills and Emma Swan. And most importantly, it took great pains to remind its audience that happy endings are possible.

At its heart, Once was a symbol of why TV was invented in the first place: to entertain, to offer an escape, to bring a little joy. A simple idea, sure. But one that was well worth watching.


Brooklyn Nine-Nine Returns with the Very Funny “Safe House”

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Brooklyn Nine-Nine has been off the air for what feels like forever now (the last episode aired back in December), but it returned in top form with “Safe House,” which found Jake and Holt’s husband, Kevin, locked together in a safe house for two months. This premise had a lot going for it, especially the largely untapped pairing of Jake and Kevin. We got a taste of their potential way back in season one’s “The Party” (to this day one of my absolute favorite episodes), and they definitely delivered here. From the episode-long Nic Cage gag to the pepperoni exchange that showed just how well Kevin got to know Jake during their time together, everything involving these two was pure gold.

It would have been easy for Jake’s conversations with Kevin to feel pretty similar to his with Holt, but leaning into Jake’s love of pop culture and Kevin’s of academia stopped that from happening. The funniest moment of the episode for me was Kevin asking Holt if he knew what a clapback was, something that wouldn’t have been possible if he hadn’t been, well, lying on the floor listening to Jake talk about pop culture for two months.

It’s a testament to how strong this episode was that the other elements weren’t completely overshadowed by what happened in the safe house. It helped that this was one of the usually pretty good single case episodes, so no one was off too far on their own. Everyone played their part perfectly in the cold open, and Stephanie Beatriz’s work in the beauty parlor was especially hilarious. I always love when she gets to do something totally different on this show, and the little moments where she let Rosa peek throughthe slightly terrified “I’ve always wondered what I’d look like as a blonde!”were pitch perfect. This was also a fun return to form for Gina and proved exactly how useful she can be to the team.

I felt like the precinct bit (I don’t know if it really qualifies as a C-story), with Amy, Terry, Scully, and Hitchcock piecing together documents could have used maybe one more scene to reach maximum potential, but I also don’t know that you could have done much more with it than having Scully be surprisingly useful and having Terry convince himself that “Apache” was a likely word. Plus, it worked out nicely that both teams provided valuable intel in the end, regardless of how much screen time they got.

Since it was his husband’s life on the lineas he pointed out numerous timesit made sense that this was a big episode for Holt as well. I don’t want to say it was nice exactly, but it was definitely appropriate that Holt was a little on edge here, particularly when it led to the humorously low-key “vicious fight” between him and Kevin. Zany as it is, Brooklyn Nine-Nine is always sure to add in at least one 100% believable moment, and this episode it came with Kevin telling Raymond that he might not have a husband when it was all over. Not only did that show the realistic strain on their marriage, it also led to Jake talking about how many failed marriages he’s witnessed, a beat that was poignant in the way his conversations with Holt often are.

Of course, because it is Nine-Nine, we got a happy ending here, with Kevin saving both himself and Jake and Holt from Seamus Murphy thanks to a well-timed throat punch. This felt like the right time to end this storyline, too; there were real repercussions to Holt getting Jake and Rosa out of jail, but next week we get to go back to business as usual. And presumably, the lead up to those long-awaited Santiago/Peralta nuptials.

What did you think of “Safe House?” And more importantly, yay or nay on Rosa keeping that perm? Hit the comments, and let me know!

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Delivers a Stellar 100th Outing in “The Real Deal”

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I’ve had some version of a “Hey, you should come back to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” post in my drafts for awhile now, at least since the second half of last season, when the show delivered my favorite run of episodes from any of my shows that year. At the beginning of this season (which started in December), they did another pod of episodes that I completely adored. And finally, last night, they offered a stellar 100th episode that was emblematic of everything I love about this show, even when it breaks my heart. It was dark and gritty and emotional and twisty, but still found time for levity and one of their most romantic moments to date. So, I’m saying it now: it’s time to give S.H.I.E.L.D. another go.

The main reason I’ve stayed with this show for the past five seasons is that I absolutely love the characters and relationships. They’re believable, grounded, and unbearably human in the midst of aliens and time travel and whatever other insanity befalls the team. Throughout the show’s run, even if I wasn’t loving a particular storyline, the characters were always there for me to enjoy. Last night’s episode was fairly light on plot, fairly heavy on great moments between characters, particularly Phil Coulson and the members of his team.

Phil is undoubtedly the heart of this show, a character so great it was built on his ridiculously unbelievable, even by Marvel’s standards, resurrection. Coulson—and Clark Gregg—is a huge part of why this show works. The minute you stop believing the stakes is the minute it falls apart, and Clark Gregg has been selling those stakes for the past five seasons. He had a great moment with Fitz, making him promise to finally seal the deal with lady love Jemma. He had a lovely scene with May that showed exactly how much he cares about her, even when it’s to his detriment. The fact that she wasn’t angrier about what he kept from her showed in a beautiful, very May way how much she cares about him, too. And he had a couple of absolutely heart-wrenching moments with Daisy, the closest person he has to a daughter.

Anchored by Chloe Bennet’s wonderful performance, we saw how much Coulson trusts Daisy to take over S.H.I.E.L.D., as well as how much her love for the organization is actually a love for its members, with Coulson at the top of the list. This was one of those great full-circle moments from the pilot; Coulson recruited Daisy himself, believed in her, and in turn gave her something to believe in. Even though I obviously don’t want Coulson to die, it would be very, very cool to see Daisy step into his shoes by the end of the series.

This episode also showed how progressively gritty the show’s gotten. And truthfully, the darker it gets, the better the show becomes. Case in point, Daisy’s speech about how debilitated the team is now: May, once their trainer and prizefighter, may never be the same. Yo-Yo literally doesn’t have arms. And there was a particularly cutting comment about this not being Hydra, Leopold because, of course, sweet Fitz legitimately thought he was a Hydra agent at one point. Gone are the days of S.H.I.E.L.D. operating in the light, saving the day in a sleek, souped-up plane. Though they did make an appearance this episode, Coulson hasn’t had a reason to wear his trademark aviators in a long time.

Another impressive thing about this hour was that it paid homage to the show’s past without getting bogged down by excessive Easter eggs and big returns. Because truthfully, when you’re taking it all the way back to Phil Coulson dying on the table in The Avengers, when you’re taking it all the way back to Mike Peterson, the very first S.H.I.E.L.D. case ever, then you don’t really need to show, say, Ward, especially when he just popped up in the framework. Instead, there were tastes of past villains and monsters, but far more meaningfully, they focused on the monster that is Coulson’s fear of losing his family.

This aspect was done so well and fit together so believably, that for at least thirty seconds I thought: “Would they really be that ballsy? Would they really say that this whole thing was a dream?” That’s a credit to the writing, and again, to Clark Cregg’s fantastic performance, as well as the effective flickers of flashbacks that put you inside Coulson’s head; in real life, he would have only had time to remember slivers, after all.

This episode was dark and emotional in many ways, but S.H.I.E.L.D. has always used levity beautifully, and a long, long-awaited wedding is about the best form of levity there is. When I heard there was a big ‘shipper moment this episode, I assumed it would be the similarly long-awaited non-LMD Coulson/May kiss. We did get that great conversation between them, but the biggest moment was saved for FitzSimmons. I like May and Coulson together, but this felt more appropriate as the big 100th episode event. FitzSimmons are the show’s longest romantic relationship, going all the way back to season one, the finale of which found them at the bottom of the ocean, a trauma they barely survived. In the last few seasons, they’ve spent more time apart than together. At one point, they were literally on separate planets. They’re a true against-all-odds, even when the universe hates us love story and the relationship that’s most representative of the show and the spirit of S.H.I.E.L.D.

As I said, this show is a lot darker than it used to be, both metaphorically and literally, but here, for this big, wonderful moment between two of its characters, everyone got to be in the light, something that lent specialness to the occasion and gave all of the characters a much-deserved break. Least of all Deke, who, because of course this show had to give us one of its patented twists in a landmark episode, just watched his grandparents get married.

What did you think of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s 100th outing? Hit the comments, and let me know!

2017 in Review: TV That Made Me Happy

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I don’t think anyone will call 2017 the greatest year on record. Because of that, I found myself drawn to good, escapist TV even more than usual this year, seeking shows and stories that would make me happy above all else. With the generally horrific state of our country, TV was both a refuge and frankly, a reason to get up in the morning, making me especially grateful for its existence. Here are are some TV things that made me happy this year:

The idealism of Madam Secretary

There’s a lot I love about Madam Secretary: it’s feminist, it lets its characters be happy, and it features what’s currently my favorite marriage on television. And, impressively, it’s politically relevant while still feeling escapist. M Sec takes place a few years in the future, which allows it to comment on current happenings—fake news, for instance—but with a happier outcome. The promise of what could be gave me some much, much-needed fuel this year.

Supergirl‘s Lena Luthor

I think everyone has a handful of fictional characters they just flat-out love, even if they can’t quite explain why. This year, Lena became one of mine. It’s not that I relate to her necessarily; she’s got a tragic backstory, her best friend is Supergirl, and someone tries to kill her at least once a week. It’s more that she’s such a fully realized character—thanks in no small part to Katie McGrath’s performance—that I can’t help but both root for and admire her. Plus, she’s just a fun character to watch: fierce, funny, self-deprecating, and insanely good at her job.

Heartfelt comedy

The same way I like my TV escapist, I like my comedy heartfelt, and that was especially true this year. I certainly enjoy the occasional piece of cynical comedy, but Parks and Rec isn’t my favorite show of all time for nothing. Luckily, 2017 offered a whole host of shows that would make Leslie and Co. proud: the wonderfully specific Speechless, the consistently warm  Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and the already sweetly hopeful The Mayor.

The fierce females of Legends of Tomorrow

I love the term “badass lady,” but its meaning is often reduced to “literally kicks a lot of ass.” The ladies of Legends, Sara, Amaya, and Zari, do that—and man is it fun to watch—but they’re also leaders and strategists, as well as empathetic and caring people. There are various types of badass-ness, and I took just as much pleasure in watching Sara captain the Waverider as I did her honest conversation with Alex Danvers about lost loves.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

I maintain that AOS is one of the best shows no one’s watching—not even one of the best superhero shows, just one of the best shows. Last season’s third “pod” of episodes, which found Team S.H.I.E.L.D. trapped in a computer simulation, was one of the tensest, most heart-wrenching series of episodes from any of my shows last year. What’s more, this season’s first few episodes have somehow kicked it up a notch, with a truly great premiere episode reveal that left the gang in a terrifying dystopia on…well, I won’t spoil it.

A genuinely lighter Grey’s Anatomy 

I’ll admit I was very skeptical when the creatives at Grey’s promised this season would hearken back to the show’s slightly less angsty, significantly more fun glory days, but I’ve never been happier to be proven wrong. This fall, the show wrapped up relationship drama that had long grown stale, hit character beats I’ve been waiting forever for, and delivered a beautifully nostalgic 300th episode that reminded me exactly why this show is still on the air.

Late night comedy

I don’t know that this made me happy, per say, but it did make me feel understood and because of that was even more essential to my sanity this year than last. This was a mind-numbingly sad year in a lot of ways, but watching the likes of Meyers, Colbert, Bee, Oliver, and even Kimmel shake their heads in disbelief reminded me that this isn’t normal, and we can’t let it become so. Gallows humor also played a big role in 2017; sometimes you have to laugh for a second before you can pick yourself up and do something.

A creative resurgence for The Flash

Like with Grey’s, my hopes weren’t high that The Flash would actually be able to rediscover the fun of its excellent first season, but this season has struck the perfect balance of hilarious and high stakes. As their first non-speedster villain, The Thinker has proven to be an original and formidable opponent for Team Flash, and the show’s epic fall finale cliffhanger has me counting down the days ’til its return.

Shows that take risks

My two favorite shows on the air right now are Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and The Good Place, two shows that couldn’t be further from one other in regards to plot, setting, tone, etc. However, they both have one thing in common: they surprise me at every turn. I don’t want to spoil for those who haven’t watched, but The Good Place has redefined itself countless times in its first two seasons, supremely confident that its viewers could make the leaps required. Meanwhile, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend offers smart, funny, genre-defying storytelling week after week while also meditating on mental illness and the female experience. As a student of TV, watching these shows take risks no one else is taking has been an unmitigated delight.

A bloodless May

Every TV fan has a love/hate relationship with the month of May: sweeps are awesome, but May brings with it the possible renewals and dreaded cancellations of your favorite shows. However, this May, for the first time ever, every single one of my shows got renewed. I’m unfortunately drawn to shows consistently on the bubble, so I’m not expecting it to happen again anytime soon, but it certainly made me happy this year.

A truly great Once Upon a Time “requel”

With more than half of its cast leaving last season, I went into this seventh season of OUAT completely expecting to be disappointed. Imagine my surprise when I actually loved the first half of this season. I genuinely like the new characters, the storytelling has been familiar but refreshing, and, most impressively, the writers found a way to keep Emma and Killian happy despite Jennifer Morrison’s departure. Plus, though not part of this season’s “requel,” last season’s wedding/musical extravaganza and truly lovely finale managed to hit all the right notes, giving my favorite past characters the perfect sendoff.


The first ten episodes of this show were pure joy: fizzy, feminist, and funny, it offered nuanced portrayals of a whole host of female characters, all badasses in their own way. Each episode flew by, a crackerjack of a story that fed into a smartly plotted and wholly entertaining first season. This was one of the most confident introductions to a show in recent memory, and binging it was one of my favorite TV experiences of all time, not just in 2017.

Your turn! What TV things made you happy this year? Hit the comments, and let me know!

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!


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!