***THIS IS WHY WE NEED DIVERSITY IN SHOWS. There is no way this episode can explore ANY of these topics effectively if the cast is made up of all white people. Holt’s struggles carry real weight because he is a black man. Boyle can’t virtual signal like this to another white guy. Rosa’s decision to leave the force because of how people who look like her are being treated by cops adds perspective to her choice that goes beyond a generic “doing what’s right.” Diverse casts allow for more storytelling opportunities WITHIN a show, not just for the actors getting more opportunities to be in them.***
The Brooklyn Nine-Nine Season 8 Premiere “The Good Ones” immediately dives into corona virus with its cold open, instantly telling viewers that this episode isn’t going to be afraid to tackle the realities of 2020. I feel the cold open is respectful towards the topic while also being humorous, without one overshadowing the other.
As the episode continues, so do the tough topics. Real world events create the backdrop for the episode, and the episode attempts to show the consequences of these events through Rosa’s departure from the police force and Jake’s decision to stay on. I can’t imagine how difficult it must have been to write this episode, considering it has to stay funny while delivering a look into the state of America. On the whole, I think it manages to do pretty well because it raises questions: questions about police, the perception of police, and the reality of the system.
Moments such as the mention of how cops make arrests at the end of shifts so they can work overtime and the long explanation about the consequences of firing the two cops Jake and Rosa are investigating raise questions about the integrity and complexities of the police force, and I’m glad that the episode doesn’t shy away from the differing points of views people can have.
I’m not talking about the blowhard who refuses to help Jake and Rosa so he can talk about Billy Joel, nor the cops’ perspective that they can just arrest someone to get overtime. Those guys are jerks. The perspectives I’m looking at most closely are Jake and Rosa and how they have had different responses to the system that they are a part of. Rosa’s position is represented nobly, while Jake is clearly the one who has to learn a lesson about why he’s making the decisions he is making. However, he isn’t villainized for remaining a cop. There may still be good he can do as a detective, but his motivations matter. Shedding light on how each character arrives at their decisions is an important addition to the discussion.
Truthfully, I feel Jake’s character is a little further along than this episode shows and that he wouldn’t just join Rosa’s investigation to prove a point about “being one of the good ones.” That feels very Season 4 Jake to me, but I don’t care, and can’t hold it against the episode. It’s not completely out of character, and it’s necessary to raise the questions that the episode wants to raise, and sometimes your message is more important than even your characters.
This is a situation where I believe the message takes priority. Use the characters you’ve established to send a message. Jake, Boyle, and Amy are very well utilized, each representing the same ideal in different ways. You can’t try to prove that you’re a good person or that you deserve to be admired or respected – you actually have to be supportive.
Not in Boyle’s way of proudly labeling himself an ally, not in Jake’s way of solving a case to prove some cops are still good, but in Amy’s way of recognizing an issue and addressing it. As Holt says to Amy, he doesn’t feel “alone” anymore since she recognizes his pain.
We as humans would do well to stop propping ourselves up and to actually recognize others’ pain and to support them. It isn’t Jake’s job to prove he’s a good cop, it’s his job as a detective and a person to help people. I think this episode makes this stance clear.
However, if there is one aspect I feel this episode falters, we don’t really get to see the full impact of Aisha’s experience with the police. I support the idea of using our characters to send a message, (I even support being a bit heavy-handed with it if it is a message you truly believe in) but Aisha’s experience IS the problem the episode is trying to highlight – it would have been greatly beneficial to focus more on her character so the audience could see the weight of the system, and not just hear the message about it.
There will be many who dislike this episode due to its nature and the stance that it takes. Some will say it’s not Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s “job” to “get political.”
Whose job is it then? There is no show on television better equipped to present a message about police in America than Brooklyn Nine-Nine. It has acclaim, an audience, and centers around a police precinct. Who else can do this at this level? What other form of message is going to have this wide a net? Television is an art, and art is a place to explore humanity. There is NO better place to have these discussions.
Does that mean Brooklyn Nine-Nine should cover these topics every week? Not necessarily. I’d even argue that would probably not be a great thing. So I’m happy to report the next episode of the premiere week, “The Lake House,” basically ignores policing all together.
However, I must get this off my chest first: babies. I wrote an entire article about this previously, because babies are the worst in sitcoms. This episode does not change my perspective on that at all, and in fact only supports my previous article’s statements.
It is such a trope to have that one person who can make the baby sleep, and it’s such an easy way to move the baby out of any main plot lines because, well, now the baby is sleeping. Yet it still keeps Amy and Boyle isolated from the rest of the plot. The entire crew is stuck together in a cabin with no internet, and Rosa is high AF! Why tear two characters away from this???
There isn’t too much to dive into this episode, it’s a very classic “sitcom” episode that I am always disappointed when Brooklyn Nine-Nine does. Yes, I’m happy they are keeping things lighter sometimes and simultaneously disappointed in the episode’s plotting.
I was excited when Kevin left. A normal sitcom episode would have had Jake’s plan work and Holt and Kevin get back together at the end, and I was excited when that happened. But then Jake’s plan works and Holt and Kevin get back together at the end. And that’s what happened. And that’s my opinion on this plot line. It happened.
We’ll never get to fully explore Holt’s full despair. That would have been a wonderful avenue to take us down, especially with the context Holt gives us with his first episode explanation to Amy. But nope, not to be.
Rosa and Scully are great! I’m a bit disappointed it’s revealed she is high at the end since I remember Rosa bonding with the Scully in a previous episode over sitting in their chairs all day. I thought this would be a nice continuation of that bond, but alas, it was only the edibles.
I wasn’t a huge fan of Season 6 or Season 7, but I was invested in this season after hearing that the writers were going to try to tackle real-world events. The first episode is encouraging even if I don’t feel it is perfect, and I hope there are more episodes that continue trying to spread a positive message.
Holt’s emotional outpouring to Amy at the end of the first episode is the sort of emotional weight I hope the show continues to push onto its audience. Jake and Rosa’s quiet frustration at the state of the world and Jake’s realization that he is part of the problem are also excellent. Send the message with humor, like Terry and Boyle’s sub-plot, yes, but I hope we see the weight of these situations continue to hit as well, or the message may not come through.
Some Other Thoughts:
- I want to say this loud and clear, maybe I’ll even copy and paste this above the review. THIS IS WHY WE NEED DIVERSITY IN SHOWS. There is no way this episode can explore ANY of these topics effectively if the cast is made up of all white people. Holt’s struggles carry real weight because he is a black man. Boyle can’t virtual signal like this to another white guy. Rosa’s decision to leave the force because of how people who look like her are being treated by cops adds perspective to her choice that goes beyond a generic “doing what’s right.” Diverse casts allow for more storytelling opportunities WITHIN a show, not just for the actors getting more opportunities to be in them.
- “I’m one of the good ones” is an immediately problematic statement, and it is an excellent phrase to focus the episode on. Showing how the phrase can be weaponized by others is even better.
- Boyle parading around his support is a piece of plot that I hope makes a lot of viewers, myself included, take a genuine look at ourselves to see how much of our support is genuine and how much of it is just trying to look good and be on the right side of history. I feel like this will go overlooked and most people will think about that one friend who does exactly what Boyle does and not think about themselves at all.
- I mostly commended the first episode above, but I’m mostly commending it for its willingness to raise questions and the way it effectively uses its characters to do so. Frankly, though, Brooklyn Nine-Nine is a comedy about police in an era where police brutality has become widely recognized. How far can it really push these ideas when its premise has been so heavily impacted by the current social context? I’m hoping far, particularly because this is the last season. I’d love it if the show addresses Amy and Jake’s “arrest contest” from the first season. So much has changed over the course of the series’ run, and I will continue to commend the show for taking its platform to raise questions, but it also has a chance to go further, and I hope it does.
Should Brooklyn Nine-Nine stay comedic or continue to explore heavy topics? Do you think that television is a place explore these topics? Let us hear your thoughts in the comments below.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine Series Finale Review: The Last Day (8×09/8×10)
Season 8 of Brooklyn Nine-Nine has a lot of issues. The finale of the show is not one of them.
Using a heist for the finale episode is a brilliant move, and I personally feel it is a pretty gutsy one, as well. The heist episodes are highlights of the series, and each year the pressure mounted to keep the quality of these outings high. Not every heist episode is a classic, but enough of them are that with each additional entry there is a risk of diminishing the reputation of the yearly series.
So to hinge the series finale on a heist episode is a gutsy move. Not only must it live up to the expectations set by the previous heists, but it also must serve as a satisfying conclusion to the show. In retrospect, it seems like an obvious answer and it serves the function of “series finale” very well. Maybe for viewers this seemed like a no-brainer from the start, but from a writing standpoint this was a risk.
It was also a risk due to the nature of these episodes. The heist episodes tend to toss the rules of the show out the window, resulting in mass chaos where damage to the precinct is encouraged and betraying loved ones and risking serious bodily harm are expected. They also exist almost completely outside whatever storyline the show is focused on in a particular season.
I’ve criticized the show pretty thoroughly this year for not providing deep enough character ties to its serialized plot, citing how I feel the messages the show tries to send about the police get a bit watered down due to a lack of exploration. “The Last Day” continues this trend. Jake was suspended by the police in “The Set Up,” and yet doesn’t reflect on his suspended time at all when deciding to quit the Nine-Nine in the finale. That’s a major disconnect from Season 8 and is a large reason I feel this season is among the weaker years of the show. O’Sullivan, Holt’s marriage troubles, Rosa quitting the Nine-Nine – none of it is really relevant to the final episode. There isn’t any true through-line from the season to this finale. Is that risk of narrative disconnect worth the reward?
I believe it is, because while the final episode of Season 8 has almost nothing to do with Season 8, it has everything to do with Brooklyn Nine-Nine. It’s a phenomenal interpretation of what the show is and I loved pretty much every second of it. It’s an amazing excuse to run through the show’s history and never quite feels overly-cheesy because of the exaggerated logic the heist episodes operate on.
But my favorite aspect of the finale is that for the first time in a long, long time, the entire crew is together. No A, B, and C plots – just one huge A plot with different moving parts. Terry sums this up perfectly when they get trapped near the end of the episode, citing that the Nine-Nine is at its best when it is working together.
And yeah, sure, they were actually all working against each other, but that’s a technicality in this case. From a story purpose, they all work together to create one final heist, and it results in an excellent finale to the series. Asides from paying homage to dozens of moments from the show’s history, “The Last Day” also delivers the punches to the heart you need from a good finale. Some are goofy, like Hitchcock and Scully’s hug and Gina’s exit, and some are heartwarming, like Amy and Rosa and Holt and Jake.
Holt and Jake’s relationship is the highlight of this show, and their final scene together brings them to a well-earned conclusion. Jake finally gets true acceptance from a father-figure, but wonderfully has grown past the need to get it. This doesn’t mean that Holt’s words don’t mean the world to him – it just means from a story standpoint, Jake did actually grow up, and he doesn’t need Holt’s approval anymore.
Which makes Holt’s approval that much more affecting. It tugs at your heart in a way none of the season’s other plot lines do because it’s so directly tied to Jake and Holt’s journey on the show. Holt’s words are affecting because we’ve actually witnessed the growth they’ve both gone through and we’ve seen the ways their actions and personalities have influenced each other over the course of the series.
“The Last Day” fully succeeds at bringing these characters to earned conclusions, and I am genuinely impressed by its success.
But Season 8 was a mess.
I wish I didn’t have to taint this review with some dourness, but what was the point, from a story standpoint, of having Jake be suspended? His conduct didn’t factor into any plot lines past that episode. The season opened with a heavy look into what it means to be a “good cop” and Jake’s decision to leave detective work behind has nothing to do with it.
Maybe I’m biased because I know the season was partially re-written to include examinations of the current sociopolitical era, but it really feels like this finale was written in a vacuum away from all of that. It’s really odd to have so many plot lines that have Jake evaluating exactly what it means to be a cop and then only have him leave because he wants to be a dad.
To be clear, that’s a great reason for Jake to leave! It’s super relevant to his character arc and it’s the perfect send off for him. It’s just odd that none of those other factors factored into his decision at all when they were the focus of nearly half of the season’s episodes.
I agree Brooklyn Nine-Nine needed to address police conduct. I agree Jake leaving to be a dad is an excellent end to his story. I don’t agree that those two storylines don’t cross paths at all. There’s a huge disjoint there that I can’t overlook when considering the quality of this season.
So, with that said, I didn’t love Season 8 of Brooklyn Nine-Nine. It had story inconsistencies, a tendency to dilute its noble messages by not grounding those messages in character, and at times fell a bit too far into standard sitcom fare.
But I love this finale. A finale’s number one priority is to be as great a representation of the show it’s capping as possible. “The Last Day” is near perfect by this metric. It maintains the consistent quality of the heist episodes, grounds its heartfelt moments through its characters, and is anything but standard. It embodies everything that makes this series special – the ensemble cast, sharp, witty writing that moves one-hundred miles a minute, and a surprisingly strong heart that beats all the way through to the last scene.
- I think this was the best episode of the show since the move to NBC.
- The joke referencing the opening credits is one of my favorites jokes in the entire series. This is the sort of joke that only really works in a finale. I didn’t really “laugh” at it, but I appreciated the heck out of it and felt it was a great 4th wall break that didn’t technically break the 4th wall.
- You knew Gina would be back, and I love how it isn’t really made into a big deal. She slips in and out of her old role without a trace. Love it.
- Hitchcock winning is so stupid. It’s the cherry on top of the chaos.
- I wish we would have gotten more investigation driven episodes this season, as a large part of what made the show so unique was its ability to take investigations and genuine danger and balance them with humor, however that’s more of a season criticism and I don’t think this was necessary for the finale.
- The epilogue showing us that the heists will continue and will keep these characters in each other’s lives for years to come is a wonderful final scene and very true to the show and its sense of camaraderie.
When I say “standard sitcom fare” I only use that as a negative regarding Brooklyn Nine-Nine. I don’t have anything against standard sitcom fare, as it wouldn’t be standard if it didn’t have some merit! But part of what separated Brooklyn Nine-Nine from other sitcoms throughout its run was how different it was and how sometimes it was closer to a spoof of police procedurals than it was to a sitcom. The closer to The Office or Parks and Recreation that Brooklyn Nine-Nine gets, the less Brooklyn Nine-Nine it becomes. There easily could have been an episode of The Office or Parks and Rec where everyone goes to the cabin for a weekend (I know that actually happens in Parks and Rec and there are similar scenarios in The Office), but no other show on television can do a heist episode like this.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine Review – Renewal (8×08)
Brooklyn Nine-Nine is coming to a close, with “Renewal” being the penultimate episode of the series. For me, however, “Renewal” doesn’t feel like the penultimate episode of a series that has run for eight years. Sure, it has the standard setups that the final few episodes of a show should have, such as Amy’s promotion and the implementation of the police reform program, but it all feels so obligatory.
I don’t feel Brooklyn Nine-Nine has really set itself up for this story-wise. It’s just a plot that’s happening. The season seemed to only half-focus on the police reform storyline even when it was at the center of an episode. Amy and Terry spend “Balancing” trying to make sure Amy’s proposal got heard, but the show didn’t really focus too much on the specifics of her proposal or what this proposals means to her at all.
That’s the biggest issue with this season. The plot raises stakes that the characters don’t really react to. Jake admits his wrongdoing in “The Set Up” but hardly reflects on it afterwards. Terry and Boyle get no time to react to the issue of police conduct, and Rosa, while she has a good moment of introspection in the premiere, has mostly just been a side-character ever since.
Without the characters actually reacting to what’s happening to them, these plot points feel by the numbers instead of important. There hasn’t been a real build up to the finale because Jake’s perspective on his work hasn’t really been explored. Whatever happens in the finale, even if it’s really good, will be hurt by the lack of character build up to it.
This episode on its own, though, is solid, and that’s mostly because of Holt. Captain Raymond Holt is undeniably the MVP of this season, and possibly the entire series. His character has been used the best in regards to mixing plot points with character motivation. His journey in this episode is good; he wants to be a better husband to Kevin and believes retirement is the best option to do so, but he wants to work because his work means something to him. This is the sort of character conflict we should be seeing in the rest of the characters this season.
We care about Holt’s retirement because he cares about his retirement. It isn’t just a plot point to deliver a message like Jake’s suspension turned out to be. Jake’s suspension means little to us because the biggest impact it had on Jake was making him bored. Even Holt questions how little Jake learned from it in this episode when Jake is so excited to break into O’Sullivan’s house. Holt’s dilemma leaving the force is a much better story because we actually see how it affects Holt, and understand the personal struggle he is having trying to make a good decision for himself and for Kevin.
I wish more of the characters would have gotten this sort of introspective look throughout the season. It would have strengthened every storyline and strengthened the messages behind them. Hopefully the finale will provide more of this than the rest of the season has.
- Why would Holt tell anyone he is retiring before Amy’s report is done? These people are historically terrible at keeping secrets and this was a super lazy way to put this plot into motion.
- The “bone” callback was a bit forced, but it was fun so I don’t care.
- I thought Terry screaming at both Amy and O’Sullivan at the same time worked. I actually liked that side plot a fair bit.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine Review – A Game of Boyles (8×07)
I had a lot of fun this episode, and I feel this episode hits an “old-school” Brooklyn Nine-Nine vibe. I think this is one of the funnier episodes of the season so far, and it uses each of its main players well. However, I have one gigantic, glaring issue with it.
But first, the positives. The opening scene is well executed creepiness. It’s a bit disorienting at first because it is filmed so differently from the usual look of the show, and the cheerful Boyle family is played up for creep factor instead of its usual goofy comedy. Removed from context, there is something unsettling about how they treat each other, and the twist of the death that caps the scene hammers the creepiness home. Loved it.
The mystery itself is obviously a Knives Out parody, right down to the reveal of the killer, and as a Knives Out fan, I enjoyed this. I’ll admit it feels a little odd using Knives Out as an inspiration for a show that is already about people solving crimes, since it doesn’t really need an excuse to do this sort of story, but considering how little of crime solving we’ve actually seen this season, I’ll take what I can get.
The Boyle storyline is simple and basic, but their weird family dynamic makes it unique. Making a subject uncomfortable by giving them weak tea is something that only the Boyle clan can do, and those sorts of character specific beats keep this episode entertaining and funny. Jake and Terry are both used well (even if Terry’s excuse for going is a bit flimsy from a writing standpoint), as Jake relentlessly pushes the plot forward and Terry provides Jake an easy and willing ally.
The twist that Boyle isn’t actually a Boyle is almost excellent, but since it doesn’t amount to almost anything, it ends up being sort of moot. That’s sort of the point, though, and I like that the episode frames Boyle as a “true” Boyle despite not being a full Boyle by blood. I’m disappointed that Boyle’s adopted son isn’t spoken of considering how hard he takes the news of his heritage, but most the kids in this show are forgotten about until the show feels like bringing them up, so this isn’t unexpected. In this case, I think Nikolaj should have been referenced, though, as it would have been thematically relevant. Either way, the message that you are who you choose to be and not who you’re born as is a positive one, and the show gets there in entertaining fashion. Good stuff.
Holt’s storyline may be even better, though. It’s a perfect blend of trope-ridden sitcom romance and Holt specific humor, just like the Boyle story blended classic mystery with Boyle humor. This is a new character beat for Holt, as we’ve never seen him date before, and I wish we could have gotten more storylines like this the last few years.
Amy and Rosa’s knowledge of Holt’s personality also come into play, which is great for two reasons. First, it’s Season 8 and these characters should know each other very well. Second, it’s a great way to bring a “final look” at Holt as a character, since this is the final season.
And the bonus on top is that the storyline leads to a real emotional payoff. I complained last week that “The Setup” was an episode that seemed built to deliver Holt’s speech. “Game of Boyles” doesn’t fall into this trap, and earns Holt’s emotional realization naturally through the actual experience of the character.
This is also the first time we ever see Holt and Kevin kiss, which is awesome! I’m sure part of the slow build to this on-screen kiss had to do with some antiquated behind the scenes content control, but in this very particular case, it works. Kevin and Holt aren’t characters that we would see show affection in public very often. The kiss here works on a character level; it shows how far they’ve come as a couple and how much they care for each other that they would kiss in the rain in the street.
I’m not the biggest fan of this subplot as a whole, as I don’t feel the show used it too well and it is a bit of a trope (and kind of an easy way to drum up drama), but “Game of Boyles” takes advantage of the storyline and has a character driven payoff. Thumbs up.
Now for my gigantic, glaring issue. Jake was just suspended for tailing an innocent man without evidence and he immediately does it again to Boyle’s cousin. What is this? How is this happening? It’s completely at odds with the story they attempted to lay out last episode. I maintain that “The Setup” really missed the mark by having Jake apologize for one mistake instead of a career full of “I have a gut feeling,” and this episode supports that argument. “The Setup” flat-out stated Jake was wrong for his conduct in that episode, and “Game of Boyles” allows him to do it again, freely, without consequence, and to have fun while doing it.
It’s maddening. This is completely inconsistent. If you want Jake to be able to be a “loose-cannon cop that doesn’t play by the rules,” fine, but don’t have him suspended for conduct in one episode and then repeat the conduct without consequence in the next. AND HE IS SUSPENDED. Doesn’t that make this even worse? What authority did he have to conduct an investigation? Shouldn’t Terry have reprimanded him for not learning from his past mistakes? What is the message this show really wants to send?
I’m not sure, and maybe Brooklyn Nine-Nine isn’t sure, either.
- Lots of fun callbacks this episode, from the Boyle dough to Holt’s method of considering ideas. Great stuff to see in a final season.
- Scully has been used very, very well this season. His single line this episode was amazing. Great to see his character getting some major small moments in the final season.
Removed from the context of the season and if Jake wasn’t suspended, I’d really like this episode. In context though, oof. I just can’t get past the failure to truly acknowledge Jake’s conduct.
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