Welcome back to my weekly review and recap of “Brooklyn Nine-Nine.” To catch up on previous coverage, click here.
Well fine Andre Braugher. Go ahead and break my heart. It’s cool.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine has become one of my favorite shows on television based solely on how much joy it brings to my night each Sunday. It hit some snags in season two, but that doesn’t stop from how much I enjoy watching its characters and it keeps me from caring for them. The character work is tremendous, and for every punchline, there’s a beat of honesty. No matter the absurd situations they find themselves in, I care for them because they–amongst the silliness–feel lived in. This is what makes tonight’s episode so well earned but also so bittersweet.
The season’s finale ends on two notes: there’s one of curiosity and happiness, and another of farewells and sadness and I didn’t expect it. I expected a laugh or a smile, not for Wuntch to win and for an air of uncertainty take over. The episode ends with a question mark hanging above it as the precinct awaits their new captain, after their old one has just left. We see the elevator door open, and then credits. We’ll be waiting until season three for that news.
All that leads up to the moment is built on how well we know this group and how happy we want them all to be. Jake and Amy are tailing a suspect in a latest crime and to get close to him must pretend to be newly engaged-the title comes from the pseudonyms, Johnny and Dora. This is made awkward since early in the episode, Jake admitted to Amy that he’d wanted to ask her out but was derailed when she told him she didn’t date cops anymore. Now, trying to put it all behind them, they’re forced into playing it coy and cute in order to catch the bad guy which lands them in two situations where they need to kiss.
Even though it’s fake, it’s still a worthy payoff to the tension they’ve built up over the past two years. Andy Samberg and Melissa Fumero have a sweet chemistry, and they naturally draw eyes when they’re paired together. The looks of surprise on both of their faces when they kiss those two instances are well played by both and bring us into their headspace.
Meanwhile the second story and almost as weighty as the A plot is Captain Holt who’s enlisted Gina and Terry to help him blackmail Wuntch into letting him stay. This involves a letter she wrote blasting Holt and Gina and Terry prove to be good sleuths in obtaining it. It’s a near victory for them and allows for Terry Crews to play up his versatile physicality.
The C storyline goes to Rosa and Boyle. It’s Rosa’s birthday and Boyle has roped her into what she believes to be a surprise party and she’s angry with him for not knowing her well enough to know she hates that type of thing. Boyle proves her wrong in the end when they arrive and it’s just Marcus (still woefully underwritten) and she forgives Boyle. It’s nice to see what used to be my least favorite part of my show-Boyle’s crush on Rosa-turned into a friendship worth spending time with.
All of this leads up to two pivotal moments in the series, both of which I’m curious to see how they get resolved in the upcoming year. The first is Holt, who doesn’t end up getting the one up on Wuntch they he believed he would. Wuntch tells him that she can tell the NYPD that Holt fabricated the letter which will lead to months of investigation. This in turn would allow her time to spread his team to different precincts. Rosa, Amy, Boyle and even Jake, Holt’s “pet project” in Wuntch’s words, would be sent to stations that would under utilize their talents and disrupt the unit Holt has found at the Nine-Nine. It’s their happiness or his so he takes the job promotion.
Things get emotional when Holt gives his team a farewell, telling them he’ll be leaving immediately. He tells them, his monotone breaking, that the time he’s spent with them has been some of the best of his career and Braugher kills it, saying so much with the little words he has as his voice strains and he tries to put on a happy (for him) face. It’s the type of moment that show creator Michael Schur excels at. Holt is never emotional and to see him get so is immediately effective and speaks to the urgency of the issue and the loss felt within the team. Gina’s immediate follow breaks the tension with a small bit of comedy but damage is done.
This is followed by a triumphant moment for the show when Amy and Jake, alone and dealing with Holt leaving in different ways, kiss. Again the chemistry between the two is palpable and they’re instantly a couple I’m rooting for.
These two moments spell out why I watch this show. It makes me laugh, sure, and it often makes me laugh a lot but that’s not why I consider it one of my favorites. I watch a lot of funny shows and all things considered, its likely shows such as Broad City, Veep and Silicon Valley likely make me laugh more but few have hooked me in with their heart and their characters such as Brooklyn Nine-Nine has. Just as it was with Parks and Recreation, Brooklyn Nine-Nine hits its sweet spot when it touches upon its humor and its love for its characters and “Johnny and Dora” displayed just that.
Episode Grade: 9.5/10
Season Two Grade: 8/10