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!

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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!

 

Brooklyn Nine-Nine Finishes Strong in “The Big House Part 2”

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I thought Brooklyn Nine-Nine‘s season five premiere was good, if a bit tonally weird. I had no such qualms about this episode, where, at long last, the Nine-Nine freed Jake and Rosa.

It certainly helped that the prison scenes were slightly less dark than they were in the first episode; Tim Meadows’ cannibal hung around, but there were a few less overt references to eating kids, which I appreciated. Jake’s time in solitary, as well as his meth, er, blitz experience, also provided some nice levity. His Lion King impression was the funniest non-Holt thing I’ve seen in awhile, and I honestly would have watched another five to ten minutes of it. DVD bonus feature, perhaps?

I’m impressed by how well they developed the cast of characters at the prison, to the point where I wouldn’t mind seeing some of them pop up in a future case. I feel like they barely scratched the surface with Tank, especially. You know that guy’s got a crazy backstory, and it might be fun to have Jake show Amy or Boyle around the prison, relive his not-so-glory days, etc.

Over at the precinct, the team worked together to get Jake and Rosa out, and I was glad for the references to how intensely the team has worked the case since their conviction. Even Hitchcock and Scully mentioned staking out the farm, which was a good indicator of how seriously everyone was taking it. Boyle, of course, would argue he took it the most seriously, what with his true crime podcast. It was very Boyle of him to have such a specific plan, right down to Debra Messing being his first celebrity listener and Sean Hayes the second (TV is really taking advantage of Will and Grace being topical again).

I’ll admit to getting a little emotional over Amy’s willingness to sacrifice her career to free Jake. When the strictest of rule followers is considering that, you know the relationship means something. Going into the first episode, I actually thought one of them might propose when Jake got out of jail. I do still think it’s coming this season, and, at any rate, their reunion was appropriately sweet. I also wouldn’t be an English major if I didn’t mention how much I felt for Amy when she had to tear a page out of a library book.

Finally, it’s not an episode of Nine-Nine without some great Holt moments. His straight man impression is always a delight, particularly the reference to his “female wife.” However, even better was the great little twist at the end that Holt accepted help from a hilariously mobbed up Paul Adelstein after convincing Amy it would ruin her career if she did so. I loved what a totally in-character Captain move it was, knowing it needed to be done to save Jake and Rosa, but not wanting the rest of the team to take the fall. It’s also just the kind of dangling thread I like on this show: not significant enough to affect every episode, but something that will likely lead to a great story when the time comes.

What did you think of “The Big House Part 2”? Let me know down below!

Brooklyn Nine-Nine Takes a Departure in “The Big House Part 1”

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If Brooklyn Nine-Nine is one thing, it’s consistently goofy. It has great characters with good and realistic relationships, and it takes itself seriously enough to comment intelligently on social issues—take the discussion of transgender prisoners in this episode, for example—but, for the most part, it’s very well-done goofy escapism. Even when they explore the more dangerous aspects of being a cop, the tone of the show remains intact.

This premiere had its share of goofy moments, but they couldn’t quite compensate for the realistic danger of Jake, a hated cop, completely unprotected in jail. I still liked the episode overall—it’s nice to see a show stretch its muscles—but it was also more tonally jarring than I’m used to seeing. I think Jake’s child-eating roommate was the main reason why; Tim Meadows was great, but that’s just a hard thing to laugh at, as was one prisoner’s sinister promise that Jake would die in jail.

Still, even with its inconsistent tone, I enjoyed individual aspects of this episode. As I said, there were great, goofy, very Nine-Nine moments, from the Picante Beef of it all to Captain Holt’s stellar “Yas queen!” We also got that fantastic cold open, with hilarious insight into Boyle’s state of mind, as well as—purely superficial comment alert—a beard that Jake should consider making permanent. Many of the other prison scenes were enjoyably tense while still feeling inline with the show’s usual tone; Andy Samberg is at his most hilarious when Jake approaches full-on panic, and there was a whole lot of that this episode.

The prison scenes also allowed for some nice subtle bits of dramatic acting from the cast, particularly in Jake and Amy’s last conversation (“Everything’s fine, I’m talking to you.”), as well as Rosa’s admission to Holt and Sarge. The Rosa scenes were just generally an episode highlight, from Holt writing Rosa’s name on his hand to Sarge’s hilariously horrifying smile.

As I said, it’s nice to see a show push itself a bit, something Brooklyn Nine-Nine does often in its finales and premieres. Even though aspects of this one didn’t quite work, I’m not too concerned. At the very least, we’ll be back to the Nine-Nine I know and love after “The Big House Part 2” next week.

What’d you think of the season five premiere? Hit the comments, and let me know!