Welcome back to my weekly review and recap of “Brooklyn Nine-Nine.” To catch up on previous coverage, click here.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine hasn’t shied from getting serious in the past and typically they’ve achieved so with aplomb. What’s different this time with “Moo Moo” is that as the viewer we’re unsuspecting of the drop when it finally happens, happily content to believe that the main source of drama will come from Jake and Amy scrambling to understand how best to nurture and take care of children.
Instead, Brooklyn Nine-Nine swerves in a completely different direction. After recieving an angry phone call from Terry about the two of them loosing his daughters favorite stuffed animal, “Moo Moo”, we believe that this is what the episode is going to be about and honestly, it sounds delightful. But then, Terry turns around with another cop at his back, telling him to to put his hands above his head. Terry, trying to get a word out, meets further agitation from the other cop and the look of dawning realization, anger and slight horror on Terry’s face when he realizes he’s being profiled is some stunning work by Terry Crews.
From there that’s where the direction of the episode takes us, pausing for breaks when Amy and Jake must continue to watch the girls as Terry deals with the scenario he’s found himself in. His- and the rest of the team- agree that he should write a formal complain, having been arrested for nothing more than being black. However, when he brings this news to Captain Holt, Holt turns it down in another shocking, if in character moment. Four seasons in and it’s hardly surprising just how talented both Crews and Andre Braugher are but it’s still a joy to watch them play off of one another, especially in a scene that’s toned down from what often can be the frantic energy of the show.
Holt’s first big argument about writing the complaint is that it could impede Terry’s ability to move up within the system and that it would be more helpful to have someone like Terry in a place of power to stop things like this from happening. Holt points out this his officers would never act in such foul fashion and that is Terry can move past it he could be in a similar position. That’s not good enough for him though as Terry notes that this one officer only relented because Terry was a police officer and failed to see the errors in his method.
Having the two disagree makes for a thematic gold mine for the two actors but even better is when Holt comes to Terry to apologize, happy that he’s gone over his head with the complaint. He says his hesitation came from his rising in the ranks as a gay, black man in the force, something that caused for a lot of isolation. He was working out of that sense of privacy and ambition and let it skew his beliefs and ability to understand Terry’s position. It’s a nuanced and character driven moment that works so well because of the delicacy in which the storyline was handled, but also because of how much these characters have been endeared to the audience over the years.
Those saying that the grace in which Brooklyn Nine-Nine displayed in covering racial profiling is surprising is surprising in and of itself. The series has always had a deft and at social commentary, so much so that it’s tough to notice when not blown up into the center of the episode. With a diverse cast and a largely feminist voice in it’s arsenal, the show has long been one of the more progressive on network television. This is especially true considering that with their characters work place being a police precinct it would be easy to ignore much of the fraught tension between officers and civilian and yet they’ve gone out of their way to address it in the past.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine hardly needs to reinvent itself as a serious comedy in the same vein as shows such as You’re the Worst , Catastrophe, Casual and more; that would simply take away from the ultimately sweet nature of the series where the jokes are never mean spirited and the affection between the cast in palpable. But by keeping stories about real life tensions and the reality of the injustices that POC face, it’s giving itself a greater weight to it’s stories and its characters.