Welcome back to my weekly review and recap of “Brooklyn Nine-Nine.” To catch up on previous coverage, click here.
It hasn’t been a ridiculously long wait since the end of season two, but with Captain Holt being forced out as Captain and into the PR department, bringing Gina along with him, and Jake and Amy admitting their feelings for one another, there was a lot to anticipate on the show’s return. Luckily for fans of the show, season three kicks off to a strong and very funny start, as we watch our characters pick up literally the moment season two ended, as one Captain exits, and the new one (for now) arrives.
The Captain is Captain Dozerman played by Bill Hader, a time obsessed, numbers cruncher who’s idea of a successful precinct is one that lives, breathes and dies by efficiency. Clearly he begins to rub people the wrong way the minute he shows up, however, Amy and Jake are too preoccupied with their newly expressed feelings for one another to truly express their problems with Dozerman, leaving Rosa and Terry to handle him.
I can’t believe I’m about to say this but (deep breath) Bill Hader is the weakest link of the season three premiere. This causes me great distress to say, since I spent a good portion of the summer head over heels for him after his swoon worthy turn in Trainwreck. However, as talented as I find him (and as dreamy), the way in which his character was written did him little favors and resulted in a distracting guest spot for an otherwise strong return for the series. Brooklyn Nine-Nine has drifted into broad, big, humor in the past, but it’s almost always been in small doses which makes Hader’s role jarring when it’s in comparison to the rest of the shows comedic tone.
The returning players however were more than enough to pick up the slack, even if the B and C storylines took the same, oddly paced route of season two, and broke them up so that they either ended abruptly or left much to be desired in the overall plot. Stephanie Beatriz and Terry Crews do all that they can to lift up their storyline, which is essentially just Rosa actively hating Captain Dozerman and Terry reprimanding her for it until they reach a truce at the end.
Captain Holt’s storyline may win the episode just in terms of how many times it made me laugh, with him and Madeline Wuntch (a returning Kyra Sedgwick, always fantastic) and their toxic rivalry getting in the way of the PR Department getting anything done, even if the anything is naming the pigeon mascot. Their blow out over the name and Andre Braugher’s descent into frustrated madness was easily my favorite part of the episode. It’s upsetting to see Holt so dejected, but Gina is there to help lift his spirits, even if it’s as he’s putting a giant pigeon costume on before going to speak to grade school children.
The majority of the episode is unsurprisingly taken by Amy and Jake after their kiss in the season finale.
While I don’t always believe that sitcoms are doomed to failure once romance is introduced between leads of a show, I do think it’s a difficult challenge to overcome, especially if the characters were more interesting apart than they were together. In some cases, like Nick and Jess on New Girl, they are simply more engaging in the lead up to the coupling, before all of their interest get’s siphoned to other periphery characters.
I can tentatively say, and cross my fingers that it’s true, that this is not the case for Amy and Jake. Here’s why:
- Andy Samberg and Melissa Fumero have a sweet, playful chemistry that has allowed them to play up their character’s flirtatious energies while also maintaining a balance without anything ever getting too silly. What’s even a greater sign that these two can survive being paired together is that they are just as funny together as they are apart. Aside from hackneyed dialogue (particularly from Boyle) that tries to force our hands in accepting them as a couple, they generally work. Fumero allows Samberg to reign it in and Samberg brings out some great physical comedy from Fumero.
- They make sense as a couple and aren’t simply being put together in order to spice up the storylines or out of panic that the audience needs a romance to keep their interest sustained. Jake and Amy, despite some antagonist barbs in season one, have largely been written to have plenty of similarities, even if they’re of the extreme variety. They both have ideal visions of who they want to be and both are terrific at their jobs. Their humor is specific and they laugh at the jokes the other makes. They get one another, even if certain personality traits grate-something Jake even admits in the season three premiere.
- Michael Schur knows how to craft a romantic arch and he knows when it’s the right time to introduce it and if you need an example of this look no further than both Andy and April and Leslie and Ben on Parks and Recreation where the romance injected the series with numerous heartfelt moments. He understands what makes these character’s interesting and how to allow them to grow once they’re in a relationship.
So yes, I’m pleasantly hopeful about their continuing relationship. The date was a cute introduction into the awkwardness they could create together, and the complete breakdown of their list of rules was good for comedic value (even if it did kill Hader).
There was a brief moment at the end of the episode, after Amy suggests she and Jake go back to being simply colleagues, where I was ready to be deeply annoyed with the show. The idea that we were about to endure another season of “will they, won’t they” nonsense was immediately frustrating so I was more than relieved when Amy showed up at Jake’s door to essentially say screw it. They’re in it for real now and I’m glad the show averted the typical path of keeping the two separated as long as possible.
The episode ends with Dean Winters reprising his role of the Vulture, a detective who had formerly screwed with the Nine-Nine as the new Captain after Dozerman’s death. He’s equally as repugnant here, wanting nothing more than to run the core group into the ground and while it was a shame to see Hader come and go with so little consequence, I’m curious to see in how Winters will play off of the cast for an extended period of time, and how his dysfunctional way of running the precinct will cause more distress amongst our characters.
I’d rather Captain Holt be back and apart of the group (and I’m curious to see how he will be integrated now that he’s separated from the cast for the most part) but Winters is an interesting presence none the less. Season three is off to a strong start and as one of my favorite shows currently on television, with one of the most universally strong comedic casts on board, and what looks to be a season full of shake ups for the characters, I’m excited to see what’s coming next.
Let us know your thoughts in the comments below, and welcome to my season three coverage of Brooklyn Nine-Nine!