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!


What I’m Watching This Fall

It simultaneously feels like May sweeps just happened and that it’s been forever since I’ve had new TV to watch. But, either way, fall TV is upon us! You can see what I’m watching below (with some very quick hits on each show). Or, if you’re so inclined, check out my gif-ed up version on the app. You can also find what I watched this summer over here.

Supergirl (Mondays at 8 on the CW)

This became my favorite DC show last season, though Legends is a close second. I’m still not over Alex’s beautiful coming out arc.

The Big Bang Theory (Mondays at 8 on CBS)

I recognize that this show is kind of problematic on a few levels (particularly their treatment of female characters), but I continue to watch. At the very least, it’s a good laundry show.

The Gifted (Mondays at 9 on Fox)

I don’t know a ton about this one, but I love Amy Acker, and I obviously have a history of enjoying superhero shows. The buzz has been pretty good, too.

The Mindy Project (Streaming Tuesdays on Hulu)

This is actually already back, and I’m so bummed it’s the final season! It feels like the right time, but I’ll definitely miss having Mindy Kaling on my TV regularly.

The Flash (Tuesdays at 8 on the CW)

Is it weird that I’m super bummed Tom Felton isn’t coming back? He and Caitlin were so sweet together. TPTB keep saying that this season is going to be lighter, but I’ll believe it when I see it.

This Is Us (Tuesdays at 9 on NBC)

I really, really do not want this show to drop off in quality. You have Mandy, Sterling, and Jess. Don’t mess this up.

Legends of Tomorrow (Tuesdays at 9 on the CW)

This show is just ridiculously fun. It sounds like they’re going to lean into the absurdity even more this season, and I’m totally here for it.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Tuesdays at 9:30 on Fox)

I adore B99. Also, have you see the scruff Andy Samberg is rocking in the premiere? I know he’s in jail, but Jake should consider making that his permanent look.

The Mayor (Tuesdays at 9:30 on ABC)

This looks cute! Great cast, and it sounds like most critics liked the pilot.

Survivor (Wednesdays at 8 on CBS)

The tribe distinctions this time are even more ridiculous than usual, but that doesn’t usually affect the quality of the season. I’ve never missed an episode of this, and yes, it’s still on.

Speechless (Wednesdays at 8:30 on ABC)

If you read my summer list, you know I just binged this. Very excited to experience its excellence in real time.

Modern Family (Wednesdays at 9 on ABC)

I think Julie Bowen said on Kimmel that this is their last season? Look, this is not even close to ABC’s funniest or most distinctive comedy any more, but it definitely laid the groundwork for the awesome lineup they have now.

Grey’s Anatomy (Thursdays at 8 on ABC)

This is another show that TPTB have said is going to have a lighter season. They’ve been making that promise for awhile now, but I’ll be the first to get on board if this year’s the one.

The Good Place (Thursdays at 8:30 on NBC)

If you haven’t watched this and somehow haven’t gotten spoiled yet, go watch the first season. It’s only thirteen eps, I’ll wait.

Young Sheldon (Thursdays at 8:30 on CBS)

I’m actually checking this one out because so many critics have said it’s basically the opposite of TBBT. Also, Jim Parsons and young Sheldon presenting at the Emmys was the cutest thing.

Arrow (Thursdays at 9 on the CW)

Three words: No. More. Flashbacks. Also, last season’s finale was great, and I’m looking forward to the fallout.

Once Upon a Time (Fridays at 8 on ABC)

I’m nervous about this, mostly because I love the original version of the show so much. I can’t help but feel like it’s going to be a watered down version of my fave. Regina’s my girl, so I’m at least glad she’s one of the returnees.

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (Fridays at 8 on the CW)

This show is aces, and I’m convinced Rachel Bloom is a next-level genius. The promo art for this season is too, too good.

Jane the Virgin (Fridays at 9 on the CW)

I think they’ve also said this one is going to be a bit lighter this year? I’d be o.k. with it, mostly for Jane’s sake. Lady deserves some happiness, ideally with Tyler Posey.

Saturday Night Live (Saturdays at 11:30 on NBC)

I mainly watch this because I live in constant fear of being left out of the pop culture conversation. For what it’s worth, I vastly prefer Seth, Sam, and John Oliver to Che and Jost.

Ghosted (Sundays at 8:30 on Fox)

I’ve heard the pilot for this is particularly pilot-y, but it definitely has potential. I would watch Ben Wyatt and the Pontiac Bandit in anything.

Madam Secretary (Sundays at 10 on CBS)

If you read my summer list, you’ll know that I also binged this one and am now obsessed. Elizabeth and Henry are relationship goals.

What are you watching this season? Hit the comments, and let me know!

Once Upon a Time Review: 6.21 and 6.22

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Hello, all! Before I dive into my review of the truly great Once finale, I’m going to do a couple thoughts on last week’s musical wedding extravaganza, as I didn’t get a chance to after it aired. You’ll also notice that this is an old-fashioned blog post instead of one of my Yahoo reviews, so it’ll be a little less structured than my usual offering.

“The Song in Your Heart” was an ambitious, joyously entertaining hour. My only real complaint was that most of the episode felt like two different episodes, with the juxtaposition of the musical merriment in the Enchanted Forest and the seriousness of what was happening in Storybrooke feeling a bit jarring at times. But honestly, it’s hard to complain about that when it came together so beautifully—with Emma finding the song in her heart—and when the contrast is part of what made that moment so powerful.

I thought the songs were great and paid homage to the show’s most important relationships and rivalries while also making an effort to show how those relationships have changed. I’ll write a bit about each of the songs below, but Zelena’s number, for example, showed how far she and Regina have come by recognizing how fraught their relationship used to be—and a brief aside here to say that the reconciliation of that relationship has been a lovely end-of-season surprise.

The other big component of the hour was, of course, the long-awaited CaptainSwan wedding, and I was completely satisfied on that front. I thought it was wonderful that their vows referenced both their individual character journeys as well as how the other helped them in that journey. I was particularly partial to Hook’s vows, mostly because the pirate references—love being the greatest treasure of all, his heart no longer belonging to his ship—were so romantic and specific to his character. The dip after they said their vows was adorable, and their unbridled happiness in that moment was so, so well-earned. I also weirdly liked that the wedding took place between battles with the Black Fairy; it was very in line with the characters’—and show’s—tendency not to wait for things to be perfect, but rather to make the most of their happiness when they had the chance.

Grading the Songs:

“Powerful Magic”: This was the perfect song to kick things off. It felt the most quintessentially Disney—bluebird included—and made the transition to song feel seamless instead of jarring. It certainly didn’t hurt that Josh Dallas and Ginnifer Goodwin leaned into the cheesy romanticness of it all.

“The Queen Sings/Love Doesn’t Stand a Chance”: I love that they gave the Evil Queen a real gritty rock ballad, complete with cleavage and over-gelled hair. This was also a great way to include the background characters, and bringing Sidney back was a fun treat.

“Revenge Is Gonna Be Mine”: I thought everyone did just fine with the singing, but Colin O’Donoghue definitely seemed the most naturally gifted. I feel like you have to give the pirate the bar song, and it was cool that he built his story verse by verse.

“Wicked Always Wins”: This was probably the least necessary to the overall story, but it was so delightful that I didn’t really care. I loved the visual of Zelena tearing through Oz completely oblivious to the Munchkins scattering around her.

“Charmings vs. Evil Queen”: On a pure entertainment level, this was a high point. Hopeful Charmings vs. Annoyed Regina is one of my favorite dynamics, and this took it to a whole other level.

“Emma’s Theme”: I love that this began with the song she sang as a kid and that it expressed her character journey so clearly while still being relatable, as all of the best musical ballads are. This was more emotional than any of the other numbers, and it grounded the episode nicely.

“A Happy Beginning”: This was probably my favorite. I’m a real sucker for group numbers, but this had other things going for it as well: arguably the catchiest song of the bunch, the chance for Hook and Emma to sing (and dance!) together, and the fact that it summed up the show’s theme of hope so perfectly.

Onto the finale…

I know this wasn’t the series finale, but I went in treating it like it was. I watched the pilot on Saturday night because I’m a TV nerd who lives for parallels, and I was definitely rewarded here. The writers knew this was the end for most of the characters even if it wasn’t for the series, and, thankfully, they leaned into the series finale feel. It was lovely and cyclical and pretty much exactly what you want as you say goodbye to a bunch of your favorite characters. Honestly, unless they do something crazy next season (like kill off one of those characters), I’m completely fine with thinking of this as the series finale. Whatever comes next is just gravy.

There were honestly too many series callbacks and pilot references to mention, so I’ll go with my favorites: Emma wearing the red leather jacket; her exchange with Henry about believing something making it true; Snow, Charming, and Co. returning to the location of their wedding; and the reverse True Love’s Kisses for both Snow and Charming and Henry and Emma. Not to mention Mayor Fiona bearing no small resemblance to season one’s Mayor Regina, sensible pantsuit included.

I enjoyed the setup of the final battle, with the vast majority of it waged internally. Not only did the battle for Emma’s belief provide another cool parallel to the pilot, it also showed how much Henry has grown since then, important, since this is probably the last we’ll see of him at this age. And, when Emma left town to go back to Boston, it offered a “what if?” look at how their pilot conversation at his castle could have gone if she had decided to leave.

I absolutely loved that Emma came back on her own, with just Henry’s hand-drawn storybook to encourage her. It proved exactly how far she’s come since the pilot and completed her character journey perfectly. I also thought this episode did a great job of paying homage to the two most important people in her life. As mentioned, she had tons of wonderful moments with Henry, but she and Hook also had a chance to shine, from her flicker of recognition upon spotting him in the storybook, to Hook’s lovely, heartbreaking speech by the beanstalk—“We fought for our love and we won.” Their eventual reunion also gave us the hilarious and appropriate “Some honeymoon!” line.

Another of my favorite relationships on this show is the bro-mance between Hook and Charming, so I was thrilled that they had another adventure together. There was a lot to love there, from the hilarity of them essentially reliving Emma and Hook’s first “date”—Hook’s choice companion to do that with, I’m sure— to the sweetness of Charming trusting Hook and calling him his son-in-law. I’m bummed that we won’t see much of married Hook and Emma onscreen, but they definitely made the most of the new family opportunities; Hook saying he had to get back to his wife made me swoon, and I died when he called Snow “Mommy.”

The beanstalk mission was also interesting because it showed the contrast in how Killian and Regina, another important person in Emma’s life, handle things. Regina immediately went to magic and was completely dismissive of anything else, while Killian favored a more “boots on the ground” approach. I’ve always thought that Regina and Hook make an interesting pair with their similarly villainous backstories, and I’m very curious to see how that relationship develops next season when they make up two-thirds of the returning cast.

I haven’t been shy about how much I love Regina and Emma’s friendship, but I went into this episode expecting that there might not be time for one last heart-to-heart between them. Luckily, they had one just before the Final Battle, in what may end up being one of my favorite scenes for them. It summed up their relationship beautifully, with Regina telling Emma that she taught her about hope by not giving up on her, and the two of them smiling at the thought of how much they used to hate each other. Theirs is another relationship that’s completely, and wonderfully, different from what it was in the pilot, and I’m so glad they paid homage to that.

Regina also had time with her evil alter ego in the Enchanted Forest, though we really can’t call her evil anymore. Upon seeing the Queen, I typed “this is a nice, but unnecessary appearance,” and then, of course, they went and made it necessary. The Queen’s sacrifice provided yet another great parallel to the pilot—I especially loved the shot of the magic cloud swirling around her the way it did after she cast the curse in that first episode—and it was wonderful that the woman who started it all sought to end it. I feel dumb even admitting this, but for a second I thought Regina was the one who had sacrificed herself. Our Regina called the Queen “Regina”, which was a nice moment of “I see you as a person, not an evil being,” but that, coupled with the nearly identical outfits, gave me pause.

Throughout the series, I’ve felt at best ambivalent about and at worse immensely frustrated with Rumple and Belle, both as individual characters and their relationship, so I wasn’t terribly surprised that I felt the same way about them in this episode. I will say that the moment Rumple killed his mother was very well done, from the “All magic comes with a price, and I’m not willing to pay it” line, to the slight tremble in his hand as he lowered the wand. At last, he gave up the chance for both immense power and to have Baelfire back, and I was glad that he both faced his alter ego and referenced his Savior destiny while doing so.

However, he gave up the chance for extra power, not the power he holds now, and he did so to save his own family, not anyone else’s. He’s still going to be on the show, so there’s a chance that complete redemption could come, but Belle won’t be there for it. She’ll never have that moment of him selflessly giving up his power and becoming the hero she so desperately wants him to be, and that definitely makes me sad for her. I’m not saying it wasn’t a huge step for his character, just that I don’t know that it was enough for him to fully earn the montage happy ending, complete with dancing Belle and returned infant Gideon. Contrast that with Regina, for example, who had an unexpectedly sweet moment with the dwarfs in that montage, but whose true love is dead, and who has made far more sacrifices to compensate for her past deeds than Rumple has.

It is pretty hard to complain about that montage though. In this TVLine interview, Adam Horowitz pointed out that it felt like the characters’ lives were continuing rather than ending, and I think that’s one of the main reasons I loved it. We had Charming on the farm and Snow teaching again, finally getting some well-deserved time off from being heroes. We had Emma adorably deputizing Hook, under no threat of being forced into separate worlds. As mentioned, we had the dwarfs sweet gesture to Regina, and her settling into the Mayor’s office again, this time with apples for eating, not poisoning. We had Emma and Regina sending Henry off to school, co-parents in every sense of the word.

We even got to see the realms restored, with Wish Realm Robin proposing to the Evil Queen in the way I’d always hoped our Robin would. And, of course, we had one last dinner at Granny’s. All told, no matter what happens with Henry and Lucy in the future, the montage made clear that, at the very least, these characters finished raising the kid they all loved so much and were very happy doing it. I’ll watch next season, and I hope I’ll like it. But I also would have been extremely satisfied if this had been the end for one of my favorite shows.

What did you guys think of “The Song in Your Heart” and “The Final Battle”? Are you planning on watching next season? Let me know in the comments!