Andy Samberg’s Jake Peralta gets to cut loose in this week’s episode, “Halloween II,” but that’s not necessarily a good thing.
“Halloween II” isn’t quite a rehash of last year’s Halloween episode, but it’s pretty close. Jake and Captain Holt make a bet involving Jake stealing Holt’s watch. After last year’s bet and his loss, Holt is willing to agree due to the higher stakes. Jake is willing to go to extremes to win. He enlists the help of his co-workers, which involves Scully singing opera, Terry punching a hole through the wall, Amy living up to her type ‘A’ potential, Rose doing a somersault, and Boyle picking the worst code name ever. Jake also gets the help of a known thief.
When he believes he’s gotten the watch is when his plan goes immediately downhill. The criminal was, unsurprisingly, unreliable, and he stole the watch which leaves Jake in a situation where he’s shoeless, without his badge or ID, crawling on the ground toward his towed car and, finally, arrested and in Holt’s custody.
He’s just beginning to realize how ridiculous the bet was when Holt tells him he’d orchestrated the entire thing. Rather that submit to his loss last year, he bottled his frustration and got started on a new plan with all of the pieces falling into place over the course of the year. He simply asked his team if they wanted to embarrass Jake and they all agreed to help and he, not Jake, hired the thief to help him win.
Allowing Samberg to run wild with the script is never as successful as pairing Jake up with any of the other characters. He works best among the ensemble rather than alone, especially when he’s working with bigger and broader comedy beats. His scenes with Captain Holt are the best he’s utilized, because his manic presence is counter-balanced by Andre Braugher’s monotone delivery. It works, because while the both of them are acting on insane impulses – especially when we learn Holt has been working on winning the bet for a year – the way they perform their lines is so polar-opposite that it ends up working.
However, I had missed the Jake and Holt scenes, despite it being a smart and confident move to begin the season with them apart. Jake looking foolish is delightful, though, and while the show doesn’t need to rely on this pairing anymore to attract viewers, using their comedic-by-nature partnership every once in a while certainly wouldn’t hurt the show.
Elsewhere is the Gina storyline, which is great because any chance the show gets to have Chelsea Peretti dance is a win in my books. She’s been ditching work events, and with Rosa and Amy’s insistence, Terry confronts her about it. She at first tells them that it’s because of her commitment to her dance team, but after she’s kicked out of the group through interpretive dance she tells him the truth: she has been taking night classes at a college, and that plus dance was too much to handle. Terry understands and tells her he’ll help her.
This also involves a wonderful end scene where he dances onstage with her in his gladiator costume.
A good, if not great episode, the show can be forgiven for a heavy on the laughs episode when it’s as fun as this. It is, however, always better when it manages a balance.