Sequels to popular or eventful sitcom episodes are really difficult. In general, sequels seem to require an upping of the ante. In sitcoms, where the stakes are generally pretty low, the form that upping of the ante often takes is in the form of increasing the absurdity of the situations.
So, all in all, it’s tough to follow up on successful episodes like “The Jimmy Jab Games.”
Brooklyn Nine-Nine has defied all odds with its “Halloween Heist” series, turning the heist episodes into an event each year. These episodes work precisely because these are the episodes where most logic of police work is thrown out the window – literally. In-universe, Halloween has become the day where even Captain Holt is willing to smash through office windows with a chair. The audience can excuse this increase in absurdity due to the combination of the characters themselves being aware of their insanity and the status as an event the Halloween Heists hold.
The Jimmy Jab games don’t possess that status nor do they excuse the characters going all-out, so instead of increasing absurdity “The Jimmy Jab Games II” attempts to increase the external stakes, and the games themselves end up getting a bit lost.
Holt and Rosa start the games off competing most directly against each other as Holt wants the day off to spend with his husband and Rosa wants the day off for an unknown reason. What immediately strikes me as off about this storyline is that the Nine-Nine crew is, by nature, incredibly competitive; there have been literally dozens of episodes in the past (like the Halloween episodes) where characters wanted to win a competition just to be the best.
Rosa’s motivation for wanting the day off so she can deal with her feelings from her recent breakup is believable but not impacted by the games in any way. I’m not even entirely convinced the prize being a day off works here, as I’m not sure why a day off is better than the weekend is, and if it’s something Rosa needs badly for her mental health I find it hard to believe she wouldn’t just take the day off anyway.
Holt’s display of friendship is very sweet, but of course we already know how close Holt is to these people. I would have liked to see this play out differently so we had more time to spend with Holt as Rosa’s friend, for his relationships with the crew are different now that he is no longer their captain. How does his new status allow for closer relationships with his crew? That’s the kind of character exploration I would like to see with this plot change, and I think this is a missed opportunity.
Jake makes a stupid bet with Hitchcock over the games; if Jake wins Hitchcock does his paperwork for a year, if Hitchcock wins Jake gives him his car. Jake makes this bet in front of Amy and Amy takes it way better than I think she should.
It’s one thing if Jake makes a bet like this when they’re dating or married, but when trying to have a child Jake is going to risk a hugely valuable asset and Amy isn’t going to go completely nuts? Jake’s bet here is beyond his regular childishness, and a stretch too far for me. His motivation is decent; he’s afraid he’s becoming boring as an adult, but that could have been an explanation for his desire to play the games without a bet. The bet does nothing.
Hitchcock doping to win through Scully’s pills though, that’s pretty great, as is their final competition where both Jake and Hitchcock are barely holding it together.
My issue with all of this is that these motivations actually lessen the stakes of the games. By nature, the Jimmy Jab games are stupid fun, and by highlighting the characters’ natural competitiveness through them they become a great avenue for some crazy hijinks.
Placing so much significance on these bets or prizes actually devalues the games themselves. The games seem trivial compared to Rosa’s breakup and Jake’s insane potential forfeit of his car.
I imagine a version of this episode where all motivations remain the same, but the competition itself is used as the avenue to express these motivations. Rosa, upset over her breakup, finds a wonderful distraction in the Jimmy Jab games, so she puts her all in trying to win. Someone may ask her if she plans to use the day off with her girlfriend, to which she can reply that she doesn’t care about the day off at all she just wants to win, or maybe she even says nothing but the notion clearly gets to her. Holt notices her demeanor and figures out that Rosa is going through a breakup and offers to stay by her side. Maybe he even lets Rosa win in a similar manner that Jake let Amy win during the first games, revealing that Rosa’s distraction is more important to him than being the victor.
Amy and Terry both leave, and Jake incites the games without them present. Jake’s initially nervous Holt will say something but Holt is excited to participate since he is no longer captain and loves competition. Amy and Terry return, angry that Jake slacked when he was in charge, and he explains to Amy exactly what he does in the current run; that he’s afraid he’s becoming boring and wants to remain fun.
These games should be the platform for which these motivations are explored. “The Jimmy Jab Games II” instead uses the games as a backdrop. Rosa could have fought for a day off in many different plot lines, as could Jake have made a stupid bet. This episode didn’t need to be Jimmy Jab for these storylines, which is why it doesn’t totally work.
Boyle and Debbie, on the other hand, totally work. In both Boyle and Debbie’s cases, the Jimmy Jab games provide them an opportunity they wouldn’t otherwise have. Boyle gets a chance to be the greatest showman. He relishes the opportunity to lead the games. He doesn’t get the chance to be ring leader often, not on most cases and definitely not during the Halloween Heists, so the Jimmy Jab games are the perfect platform for him to express this side of himself.
Boyle is also the perfect person to get through to Debbie. Boyle doesn’t ignore or look down on anyone, so his desire to bring Debbie into the fold is genuine. His outgoing personality is also a great match for her lack of confidence, and because Boyle is actively practicing what he is preaching this episode, it’s effective.
Debbie gets a chance to step out of her comfort zone, and it leads to her finally taking things into her own hands to go after her sister’s killer (I believe it was her sister’s killer, I apologize if I’m misremembering).
For these two characters the Jimmy Jab Games provide a platform to express themselves. I just wish this was the case for the rest of the cast.
Other Great Thoughts:
- I started my notes off with an “always great when they compete with each other” note, but sadly this episode didn’t actually turn out to be about the competition.
- How did Debbie become a police officer? She’s antidextrous and I can’t imagine they went over too well.
- Debbie’s line reading of “That’s impossible you’re so suave” to Boyle is immaculate.
- Loved how the score played up Rosa’s monologue about wanting to be accepted by her parents. Music can enhance comedy, too.
- I was left unaffected by Jake falling out of the ceiling since we’ve seen that happen to Jake before. The joke pays off when the ceiling falls on him, though, so it works, and that I did laugh at.
- The police are really loose regarding the use of drugs in this episode. I feel this would work better in the Halloween episodes where all logic is thrown to the curb.
Debbie makes the creepiest villain ever. I know she isn’t actually a villain, but there is something really unsettling about her demeanor mixed with doing something super serious. I love this tonal mix – it’s something only Brooklyn Nine-Nine can pull off, and I hope they go all-in on it.
However, I have my concerns because Debbie hasn’t really interacted with anyone outside of Holt and Boyle (a little with Jake, but not much), so the character’s capacity to advance our main characters storylines seems limited. But we’ll see what happens!
Brooklyn Nine-Nine Review – Father Son Showdown (7×10)
Boyle takes pride in being mistaken for Jake’s butler, Terry screams that he’s a muffin man, and Hitchcock and Scully prove they aren’t total idiots. There’s a lot to like in “Admiral Peralta,” though I have my issues with it (both personal and more objective).
Amy and Rosa’s storyline is fine. I always like when competence is proven by Hitchcock and Scully. I had a feeling there would be some reveal here because we’ve been shown too many times that these two are actually quite adequate when they want to be. Nothing too intense is happening, but I like the small amount of respect that Amy and Rosa gain for Hitchcock and Scully, even if Hitchcock immediately loses it.
Gina’s absence has allowed Hitchcock and Scully more time to shine, and for the most part I think they fill the spot nicely. I personally miss Gina, for when Gina was used right she was my favorite character, but Hitchcock and Scully bring something different to the table. They don’t replace Gina, they just fill her spot. They are completely different characters with different roles, but their two-for-one dependence is unique to Brooklyn Nine-Nine and their shifting position as allies to obstacles is a fun way to spice things up here and there. “Admiral Peralta” ensures that their presence will continue to be effective by reminding the audience that they are competent, keeping them from becoming one note.
Terry and Holt’s storyline is meaningless, and that’s great; not every storyline on every show needs to be more than just entertaining. There will probably never be a follow up to this flute storyline, so it’s just a fun avenue to get a little creative with the camera work and have Terry scream about being the muffin man. The intense camera closeups of Holt “coaching” Terry on the flute ups the intensity of the task in the same way similar techniques provide intensity in sports films. It’s silly fun.
Holt still learns a lesson by the end of it, so they do throw a small arc in, but it’s overall inconsequential and the final gag that Terry didn’t even need to have practiced to get the spot is great. It’s a bit meta, too, just emphasizing how meaningless all of this is, and I love it.
My only full complaints come with Jake’s storyline. I like the core conceit of Jake trying to come to terms with the fact that he’s going to have a son and that his family doesn’t have a good track record of father/son relationships, but I feel like it’s backwards. We, the audience, already know that Jake is going to be a great father, so there is no natural tension there. That means the tension has to be created through Jake’s personal fear of not being a good father, and this fear only fully manifests itself at the end of the episode before being immediately cleared up.
If Jake knew he was having a boy earlier in the episode his fear could have been more realized and created a stronger arc for him. I like Roger’s final speech to Jake a lot and I like his admittance to being a poor father for Jake, but I think the scene would have been more powerful if we saw Jake struggling with his place as a father from the start of the episode.
The use of Jake’s grandfather provides context and history for the “curse” the Peralta men seem to pass down generation to generation, and also puts Roger into a position where he has to directly confront his poor upbringing of Jake, which is great. I like seeing the three come together to try to clean the kitchen after the cake spills, but I can’t help but to feel, despite the great visual gag of blue frosting everywhere, that their attempt to “birdbox it” is ridiculous. Why not just have Boyle come in and clean it up? They had to tell him the gender anyway to get him to bake a new cake (actually, they may have kept that secret from him some how since Boyle didn’t put the food dye in). I know they are trying to keep it a secret but it didn’t seem like that big of a deal in the greater context of the episode.
Maybe I could have believed it more if the reveal was tied to Jake’s fears, but again, we don’t really see those fears until the end of the episode. Alternatively, maybe I’m just not into gender reveal parties (I’m not).
Honestly, I’m just not that into the baby in general, so from a personal standpoint I’m not a fan of this episode, which likely affects my view of the episode as a whole. Speaking as objectively as possible, though, this is a fine episode of Brooklyn Nine-Nine. There is some heart to Hitchcock and Scully’s story, and while Holt and Terry’s flute lessons aren’t going to sit atop many “best moments” list, it’s a funny storyline. There is also some real drama with Jake and his father and a very good resolution to that drama. I don’t think it’s set up as effectively as it could be, but it’s still a well written character beat. Combine those together and, despite my personal grievances, “Admiral Peralta” mostly works.
Other Great Thoughts:
- I’ve never felt more seen than I did during the precinct’s universal shrug after Jake and Amy’s pregnancy reveal.
- Terry’s daughters criticize him all of the time.
- Why does Jake care about hanging up on Amy first? That was weird, right? Or is that just me? What did I miss there?
- Roger asking if his dad is at the hospital is quietly heartbreaking, and I really appreciate that beat.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine Review – A Classic “Who Has Done This” (7×09)
Brooklyn Nine-Nine tries its hand at a classic “Who Has Done This” in “Dillman,” and while it hits its character beats well, the plot itself is a bit plain. It’s set up well; the prank gone wrong is a believable offense but also quite a serious one, so real consequences are to befall the culprit. That initially added some real stakes to the equation, and Jake’s desire to prove himself worthy of the spot on the task force adds a nice bit of character motivation to the story.
By this point in the series, Jake really doesn’t need to prove to Holt how good of a detective he is, so instead Jake’s goal is to prove to Holt that he is the “best detective” that Holt has ever worked with. Jake’s success is impeded by series newcomer Dillman, the actual best detective Holt has ever worked with. Each tries to solve the case of a prank in the precinct gone wrong first, and everyone is a suspect.
So far, on a plot level, this episode is moving along just fine, but the final reveal of Officer Howard Booth being the culprit is…plain. It’s quite obvious he’s probably the culprit from the moment we meet him, as speaking roles outside our main crew are rarely given out unless the character has some form of relevance to the plot, which Booth didn’t have in his introduction. It is a clear set up to establish his presence as a cop in the precinct (though it doesn’t develop his character at all) and gives the episode a scapegoat to pin the crime on.
None of this is bad, it’s just a bit uninspired and expected. None of our main characters really have anything at stake here, even if at first we think they do, and most of them are regulated to bit roles (Terry, Amy, Hitchcock and Scully, Rosa). There are also no consequences to any of them from this storyline unless you count Dillman losing the respect of Holt.
Character-wise, though, I like this episode. The reveal of Boyle being offered the task force position is great because the show references the fact that Boyle and Holt are the second least likely combination of the squad. Holt and Boyle don’t have many storylines together, and while I normally like when shows mix up character pairings, sometimes it is valuable to keep two characters a little more distant.
Holt and Boyle’s relationship is through Jake and through work, so Holt having lunch with Boyle and considering Boyle for this position is extra meaningful. It isn’t a decision based on playing favorites, and it shows us how fair of a captain Holt is and how highly he thinks of Boyle from a professional standpoint.
Boyle proves his worth in “Dillman” by actually solving the case after both Dillman and Jake flub it. He doesn’t do anything particularly special to solve this case from a detecting standpoint, but the personality traits he shows in doing so show why he is the right fit for the task force. Jake and Dillman are both trying to solve the case to prove something and to gain something, while Boyle is just doing the right thing.
Boyle is a relatively selfless guy, rarely seeking validation or praise for all his hard work. I can see why Holt would choose such a selfless detective, and I love how Boyle’s personality is contrasted to Jake’s in this episode to emphasize Boyle’s value.
Being on the special task force would mean a lot to Jake, so his reaction to the news that Boyle has been offered the position is understandable to an extent. He’s so used to Boyle supporting him, though, that it doesn’t come naturally to Jake to support Boyle. Jake is a good friend and isn’t as selfish as he used to be, but the natural order of his life is shifted here and the tables have been turned. Jake immediately realizes his poor behavior and encourages his friend to take the position, but is still willing to take the offer from Boyle if Boyle gives it to him. Once he sees Boyle’s methods put into action, though, Jake goes out of his way to encourage Boyle to step up to the plate and take the spot on the task force, complete Jake’s mini character arc for the episode. Good for Jake, good for Boyle, good for Holt; good stuff all around.
The plot may be a bit tame and predictable, but it’s adequate enough to pull these character beats from Jake, Holt, and Boyle, so in the end “Dillman” is a worthy entry into Season 7, if not a particularly special one.
Other Great Thoughts:
- J.K. Simmons puts on a good performance as Dillman. I particularly love his change of demeanor when speaking to his manager of the “Yarn Barn.” He even has a small character arc in “Dillman” which is always appreciated for guest roles.
- I loved Jake recalling all the times windows break in the precinct. That scene could serve as an introduction to the characters in it, with such distinct yet broad characterization of the squad.
- I’m a bit surprised Holt believed Dillman’s theory about Jake committing the prank. Holt knows Jake by now, and Jake’s reaction is clearly one of anger when Dillman starts blaming him, which Holt should be able to pick up on.
- Holt’s shining moment: “Let him finish HIS way.” Once again, “Dillman” shows Holt’s respect for Boyle as a detective; after all, it’s Boyle’s way that earns him the spot on the task force.
- Rosa’s dismissal of Boyle is played so lightly at the start of the episode, and I love that it is brought back at the end. They should have listened to Boyle at the start, and, in fact, should listen to him more in general, but he never takes offense. He just continues to do his job.
- I like this love for Boyle! Keep it coming.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine Review – Doug Judy is Back! (7×08)
Doug Judy and Jake Peralta’s relationship has truly blossomed over the course of their seven episodes together. I enjoyed the Pontiac Bandit’s latest return in “The Takeback”, but I can’t help but feel something has been slightly lost along the way.
It’s still fun to watch Doug and Jake sing karaoke and find enjoyment out of silly t-shirts, but part of the joy of their early dynamic was the constant push and pull between their natural affinity for one another and their natural antagonism due to their respective professions.
That tension has mostly dissipated by “The Takeback,” as we know Doug Judy is an all around decent guy and that at this point he’s more likely to work with Jake than work against him. This makes the final twist of “The Takeback” a bit less emotionally interesting as previous Doug Judy specials, but it’s still emotionally satisfying because we’ve seen this friendship blossom and this is a natural culmination of their arc.
Due to the lack of tension in their relationship, the tension of the plot of the episode has to come from an outside source. Having Jake go undercover as a criminal to attend the bachelor party is a good way to solve this. It’s funny to see Jake live out his cool fantasies, but his dedication to being a good cop always trumps these fantasies.
Jakes position as a cop at a criminal bachelor party immediately creates tension for Jake, and the suspiciousness of Doug’s friends only makes that stronger. Trudy Judy’s interference also ups the ante, and the episode maintains tension even after Jake’s cover is blown by having the reverse heist, so from a plot perspective the tension is still present, even if it’s not as prevalent on a character level.
I love that Jake’s skills as a heist master are put into practice here. Those Halloween Heist episodes really are highlights of this series, and I’m not sure I would have believed Jake’s competence at reverse heisting if we hadn’t seen those Halloween episodes all these years.
Of course, being a heist master himself, we discover Doug Judy orchestrated the entire plot in an attempt to get his criminal friends away from his wedding. Doug always seems to one up Jake at the end of his episodes, and “The Takeback” continues this tradition. Instead of this being a betrayal, however, it’s a touching sentiment.
Doug refers to Jake as the most consistent thing in his life, which doesn’t just mean as a friend, but as a person. Jake is consistent, and part of what I like about “The Takeback” is that it uses Doug Judy to emphasize this character trait in Jake. It’s a good trait to have, and just reminds us what a good cop and decent human being Jake is.
“The Takeback” is a good Doug Judy episode with a few layers to peel back, but the energy of a “Doug Judy episode” is gone. The back and forth between Doug and Jake has become more standard (in some ways even more natural). This isn’t a bad thing necessarily, as they have had a great arc, but perhaps Jake and Doug’s story, at least as the centerpiece of an episode, is reaching its natural end. I definitely want to see Doug Judy back again in Season 8, and if Season 8 turns out to be the final season I can imagine they’d go big with a final Doug and Jake episode. Whether that episode ends in a final betrayal or a final sentiment it should be satisfying due to the success they’ve had building this relationship.
The other plots of “The Takeback” are ultimately fine, though unremarkable. I got the biggest kick out of Rosa absolving herself of blame and then happily taking credit for the ordeal with Holt’s business cards. Terry’s reaction to not getting the credit puts a funny cap onto the story as well. We all know Holt isn’t a good cop because of a business card, though, and it’s just as likely he is just being a bit petty that Terry threw something out that had some sentimental value to him.
The vending machine order is a good way to get Scully and Hitchcock into the mix, but this is the sort of plot that I would have loved to see everybody involved in. Taking such an ordinary office task and pushing it well past is reasonable parameters is a good baseline for a workplace comedy plot, so part of me wishes Holt, Terry, and Rosa could have been involved and making the process even more difficult for Amy. I liked the business card plot better than the vending machine one, but I feel the vending machine plot had more potential.
Doug Judy, though; he’s the point of this episode, and I’m happy he asked Jake to be his best man. We just need Boyle to meet Doug Judy now. We’ve needed that for awhile. That’s such a natural storyline that I cannot believe they haven’t taken advantage of yet. Boyle would lose his mind if he ever found out Jake is Judy’s best friend. Maybe next year!
Other Great Thoughts:
- The opening scene is gold and vintage Brooklyn Nine-Nine.
- I’m sad they didn’t take more advantage of Holt’s absence as captain. The biggest standout moment I can recall is when he is radioing the group about a suspicious pigeon. I feel like they left some strong storylines on the table there.
- Amy mentioning a yogurt machine and Terry appearing – I can really see this storyline taking off if everyone got involved. Maybe that’s just me, though!
- Rosa has no pictures on her phone. Great character detail.
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