Brooklyn Nine-Nine has taken a stab (pun intended) at some more serious episodes in its later seasons, most prominently with episodes such as Moo Moo in Season 4 and Game Night and Show Me Going in Season 5. The Crime Scene marks the return of a heavier tone and provides some character reflection that can’t be examined in quite the same way with the lighter tone the series normally shines with.
So it’s time for my final impressions of Jake and Rosa! Firstly, I want to comment on the fact that we have yet another episode that doesn’t feature the entire ensemble working together. Although I voiced a desire to bring the cast together previously, episodes such as this (and The Box) are an exception. It can be extremely beneficial to put two characters under a microscope and allow them to grow. This technique can open up new avenues for interactions with the full cast at a later date, so it can be a very positive detour every now and again (I still want to see the whole ensemble working together soon, though!).
It says a lot about the show’s characters that I went ten minutes into this episode without realizing the rest of the cast was missing. Jake and Rosa’s friendship has been built throughout the seasons wonderfully, and with Rosa depending on Jake to help her come out last year, there is a level of trust between her and Jake that Rosa doesn’t share with other characters.
This level of trust is important because Rosa is such a stone-cold character. We see characters who don’t indulge in their feelings over and over again in media, with many of them being classic badasses. There is a moment in this episode where Rosa directly asks Jake if they can segue way into another topic because she doesn’t want to talk. So often these scenes will be to emphasize a character’s emotional distance or coldness, but here, it is only showing that Rosa doesn’t prefer to deal with her issues by talking them out. We know that if she wanted to talk to someone, she would talk to Jake, which makes this a refreshing reminder that not every badass who doesn’t want to vent is emotionally distant.
This is further proven by Rosa being emotionally available for Jake over and over again in this episode. She pulls Jake off the case by giving it to Major Crimes. She encourages him to stop driving himself mad, and goes with him to explain to the mother that the case has gone cold.
What is intriguing about Jake’s reluctance to inform the mother of the bad news is that the reluctance isn’t just due to the guilt he feels for failing to keep his promise. Jake is absolutely terrible at letting things go. Rosa wasn’t just there to help him let the mother down, but to support Jake’s decision to try to let something go.
Of course, Rosa cracks and ends up back on the case with him. Maybe if Brooklyn Nine-Nine were a grittier show they could have gone all the way with this, but it doesn’t matter; Jake grew by admitting that maybe he had taken his obsession over the case too far. Hopefully this growth stays with him (though I’m sure it won’t be easy to change completely).
Rosa reaches out to her mother at the end of the episode so she doesn’t have to lose any more time with her. It takes a big person to be able to reach out in a situation like this when you feel you haven’t done anything wrong. As Rosa stated, it was her mother’s problem, so why should she reach out? Jake needed Rosa’s help getting over his problem, and maybe Rosa felt her mother might need a little nudge as well.
So far, Brooklyn Nine-Nine has had a successful run of heavy toned episodes. One last thing I want to mention tonight is how well they balanced out the comedy with the drama by characterization. When the delivery man starts hyperventilating at the horror of the crime scene, Jake comments to Rosa that they have become “Weirdly numb” to the horrors of their work. This puts the levity and bad taste of Jake’s “dope hopes” for the murder scene into context within the drama of the episode. There is a reason for the continued casual spin Jake and Rosa put onto this case, which keeps the episode together tonal wise. It is also a good reflection of Jake’s consideration near the conclusion that he and Rosa should become emotionally invested in all their cases.
The truth is, that while becoming emotionally invested may work out sometimes, they simply cannot afford to do this every week. Not only would it be too taxing on them as detectives, but it wouldn’t be Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Here’s to continued detachment from the crimes they investigate – but if the series continues to do more serious episodes well, they will always be a welcome change of pace.
Other Great Thoughts:
- The rest of the cast each had great “cameos” tonight – Hitchcock and Scully’s was my favorite, followed by Amy’s wrath.
- Rosa’s rotating hairstyles were another great visual gag to keep the humor coming, but also served as a nice frame of reference for the passing days.
- I always love being reminded of how good the Nine-Nine is at their jobs.
- Jake promising everyone he’d find the killer didn’t become funny to me until he promised the delivery man for no reason. Great payoff.
- Franco McCoy earned my respect by the end of this episode.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine – The Therapist (6×11)
Jake seemingly hasn’t learned a thing regarding respecting his colleagues. Last episode, Boyle became justifiably angry with Jake for interfering with Boyle’s personal life, and yet here we are again with Jake blatantly ignoring Boyle’s wishes. Boyle openly chooses to trust Jake, repeatedly telling him it is the right call to make, and Jake lies right to his face and immediately (and without regret) goes behind Boyle’s back to Dr. Tate’s office.
But Jake’s regression isn’t the problem. People never improve in a straight line, and we all will struggle with the worst parts of ourselves throughout our lives, with old tendencies popping up over time. The Therapist’s real crime is allowing Jake to get away with this behavior without addressing the issues at hand.
This sort of storyline might have been acceptable in season two or three, but Jake has come so far as a detective and friend that it is incredibly discouraging to see this behavior continue to be rewarded within the context of the series. The therapy angle present here would have been a great opportunity to force Jake to confront his behavior and his tendency to only trust himself. Jake’s therapy-at-gunpoint session could have addressed his lack of trust in his friends, which not only would have been relevant to episode, but could have given us a great look at the grey areas in life. Should Jake have listened to Boyle, as the lead on the case? Absolutely. But Jake was right, so didn’t he do the right thing?
Instead, Jake learns that he blames himself for his parents divorce. Of course, this is a huge revelation for anyone, and I don’t want to dismiss the importance of a realization like this, but Jake Peralta is a fictional character. Any breakthrough he has is determined by writers, and in this case I feel a serious addressing of his “solo hero” complex would have made for a better story.
Additionally, Jake’s confusion over whether or not he took the right course of action would have been a stronger catalyst to finally prompt him to see a therapist. As the episode is, Jake only decides to go to therapy because he was forced into a session that helped him. Not many people are lucky enough to be forced into a helpful therapy session at gunpoint, but lots of people struggle to understand their actions and thoughts. It’s great that Jake realized therapy is helpful for him, but it would have been better if he could have helped the audience realize that it can be beneficial for anyone struggling to understand their actions.
This is the second episode in a row that wastes its potential to push Jake to new places.
Elsewhere, Rosa and Holt go through the motions of a classic sitcom trope. Holt doesn’t feel Rosa considers them close, but surprise! Rosa actually considers them close. There isn’t too much to dig into here. We have seen Rosa and Holt grow close over the years through actions like the polar bear plunge and working together to properly breakup with Marcus (remember him?). Six seasons in this feels like an unnecessary retread.
Terry’s storyline was actually a nice parallel to the therapy storyline. Therapy still isn’t normalized in our society, and many people are embarrassed or reluctant to seek counsel because of this. Terry’s fear that the office would think he needs help in bed is a nice reflection of this theme of embarrassment.
I’m not going to comment too thoroughly on the episodes treatment of therapy as a whole. I’m glad they had a second, helpful therapist shown, but Jake’s belief that all therapists are “Hannibals” is so completely false and damaging that it was discouraging to see Dr. Tate turn out to be the murderer because it only reinforces that idea. I’ll just say I don’t feel therapy was given the same respectful look assault was given in He Said, She Said, and that’s a shame.
Other “Great” Thoughts:
- ANOTHER great Holt edit joke, “What a stupid thing to say.” Three in a row!
- I don’t understand how the show can be self aware enough to address Jake and Boyle’s levity around murder investigations and still allow Jake to be rewarded for acting so selfishly. If the show can make fun of its own premise, it should be aware enough of its own character arcs and flaws.
- Scully just doesn’t care. It is kind of admirable
Brooklyn Nine-Nine – Gintars (6×10)
“Gintars” is one of the rare episodes of Brooklyn Nine-Nine that I feel could have used more drama. Normally Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s dramatic episodes are easy to distinguish from its standard comedic efforts, with a clear divide. This has served the show well, and allows the series to really dive deep into more serious subject matter.
Tonight could have been a great opportunity to blend the two types of episodes together, but by staying almost exclusively in the comedic ballpark, it doesn’t take advantage of its premise.
The biggest fault in “Gintars” is Jake’s attempt to get Gintars arrested and deported. Terry himself says that this action is a bit extreme, and considering how thoughtful and kind Jake is on a regular basis, I agree with him. The results are comedic (the spa scene is the perfect excuse to finally use the pixelation allowed on NBC), but it sacrifices Jake’s character to get there.
This could have been solved if the episode took a more serious motivation towards Jake’s decision to get Gintars deported. Jake’s relationship with his father is brought up as an aside when Nikolaj and Gintars play basketball, but instead of just setting up a punchline, this should have been used to set up personal motivation for Jake to get rid of Gintars. Gintars coming out of nowhere to see his abandoned son could have given Jake some flashbacks towards his own less than stellar childhood. Jake harbors enough resentment towards his own father that he once attempted to blackmail him out of a relationship with his mother, so if Jake started to harbor a similar resentment for Gintars (or feared Gintars would hurt his friends in a similar way) it would have been more believable for him to go to such an extreme to protect Nikolaj and Boyle.
This change in motivation would not have changed the plot at all and still allowed us all the same comedic scenes and beats provided by the story; it just would have framed Jake’s actions in a more believable and sympathetic light and would have set up the heart tugging final scene much better.
Boyle actually gets angry at Jake, and for good reason, but because Jake has no real explanation for getting Gintars deported and interfering with Boyle’s life asides from, “You were moaning a lot,” it feels a little cheap that Boyle is so quick to forgive. Quick forgiveness is in character for Boyle, but his sternness with Jake is such a diversion from his normal amicableness that the quick return almost neutralizes its effect. If Jake could have explained to Boyle that he had his own father issues and didn’t want Boyle and Nikolaj to suffer the same fate, that would have provided enough sympathy for Boyle to forgive Jake and yet still allow him to dig into him for interfering. It also would have forced Jake to consider how he deals with his demons, providing him some further character development.
I also feel we could have dove a little deeper into Boyle’s distress than what was on the surface, though I honestly think this has more to do with the tone than the writing. How we view a scene is just as important as what is said in a scene, and a lot of Boyle’s distress, such as his moaning, was played more for laughs than for our empathy. The point of view of the episode is mostly from Jake’s perspective, as well, which works against Boyle. Considering his speech at the end, a little more build up and time with Boyle’s point of view would have been powerful.
A missed opportunity.
The B-Plot this week allows us yet another look into Amy’s less than stellar aspects, which is in no way a bad thing. It’s great to have flawed characters, especially when those flaws create fun conflict. Holt and Amy both have to come to terms with their tendency to let their emotions cloud their judgement (though it takes Holt an extra 30 minutes). It is always a joy to see Amy and Holt bonding and getting along, especially after so many seasons of Amy pining for his respect. Their behind the back fist bump is a great indication of where their relationship is.
Rosa, on the other hand, almost never lets her emotions cloud her rationality. It says a lot about her that she didn’t overly protest to the fly test; she just wanted to confirm its validity because her personal detective work told her the flies were wrong. And yet in the end she gets her perpetrator by using the flies. Great detective work by Rosa.
Terry shaved his eyebrows and beard. The visual sight gags this season (like Rosa’s wigs in “The Crime Scene”) continue to amuse and keep scenes interesting.
In the end, this episode misses an opportunity to be a very strong entry. Is it fair to judge an episode on what it isn’t more so than what it is? Yes. The story was here, and with very little change to the plot could have been elevated. I’m glad Boyle got some spotlight, and his honest conversation about the difficulties being a father who adopted was a highlight moment for the character. It just could have and should have had even more weight behind it.
Other Great Thoughts:
Nikolaj makes his long awaited return. I hadn’t read any descriptions for this episode and thought to myself, “Nikolaj hasn’t been mentioned in forever,” before realizing we were getting an entire episode about him.
Nikolaj is a little Boyle!
Boyle being corrected on the pronunciation of “Nikolaj” was the perfect sting for making him feel as if he is less of Nikolaj’s father.
Rosa may take her cases more seriously than anyone. Holt, Amy, Terry, Jake, Boyle; they can all get swept away in details, emotions, or star-struckness, but Rosa has no interest in anything else.
Two weeks in a row there has been a great Holt joke that hinges on the editing. “30 Minutes Later” was one of those “unexpected heavy chuckle” moments for me.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine – The Golden Child (6×09)
“The Golden Child” is the best balance of quality in the A-Plot to B-Plot so far this season. I wouldn’t go so far to say that either was an all-timer, but this is exactly the kind of episode that brings me coming back to the show.
Amy’s jealously towards her brother David absolutely brings the worst out in Amy. Her attitude towards her brother isn’t out of character, as we know she is competitive and always striving to be the best, but we’ve never seen it pushed to this sort of extreme.
Jake and Amy have been one of the best sitcom couples post-coupling that I can remember. Their relationship hasn’t grown stale because the situations that season six has put them in has given Jake new perspectives on Amy. In “The Golden Child,” Jake sees Amy at her worst. He even questions at one point, “Are you a bad person?” But his love for her is never questioned and no manufactured relationship drama is created. Jake knows who Amy is, and sees her jealously as the result of an unideal upbringing and her competitive nature, and encourages her to not become a better person by joining in her attempts to prove her worth to her mother. A happy, supportive, still hilarious couple? They make it seem so easy.
Seeing Amy at her worst is all the more relevant when we see that she hands her gun off to David to shoot out the tires of the (great looking and great smelling) Brazilian mobsters’ van. Her love for Jake is more powerful than her disdain for her brother, and by extension more powerful than her desire to be the best. This resolution isn’t just a nice cap for the relationship, but to show that sometimes you can find a positive emotion that will trump a negative one and that’s where your energy should go, as Amy similarly states at the end.
Back at the precinct we have Boyle saving the day in a way only Boyle can. Boyle hasn’t had much to do this season; he needed a starring role in a plot. I’m glad it was a plot to prove his adequacy as and not one that makes him the butt of a joke. Boyle’s ability to read Terry and Holt wasn’t just a reflection on how well he knows his superiors, but also on his own self awareness. Boyle didn’t just have to know how they would act in the cell, but how they perceive Boyle himself. He knows his personality can be overbearing, therefore continuing to pull Terry out of the cell over and over again seems like something Terry would believe that Boyle would do. Picking Holt to be the lead despite him being terrible was another believable choice of Boyle’s from Terry’s perspective. The plan hinged on Terry and Holt’s perception of an annoying, less than adequate detective, and Boyle had to have known that. Of all the characters (remaining) on the show, Terry and Holt give Boyle the least amount of respect. Maybe this is because they spend the least amount of time with him.
The B-Plot wouldn’t have worked with Jake or Rosa being played by Boyle. Both of them know Boyle is wiser than he seems, even with his ridiculous methods. Rosa was the perfect choice to get the supplier not just because she’s the best actor, but because she respects Boyle and would trust his plan. Now Holt and Terry should respect him more, too.
Strong, character based plots on each end this week, and each plot was hilarious. I laughed out loud more this episode than any episode so far this season. This felt like classic Brooklyn Nine-Nine to me.
Other Great Thoughts:
- I thought Scully’s line calling Amy a turd was weak. It felt like the sort of line that crops up in later seasons of sitcoms. But then Holt couldn’t handle talking business in the break room, which was a brilliant character specific piece of humor, and the editing there was perfect.
- Jake is a great character because he works well as a lead and well as the straight man. He doesn’t feel overused in an episode like “The Crime Scene” and doesn’t feel underused when supporting Amy in her plot lines like tonight. I think this may be because his humor is very basic (not an insult), so it can be applied to almost any situation, but his flaws and layers are complex enough to make him a compelling lead.
- Hearing Holt describe women is a running joke that never ceases to be funny to me.
- Lin-Manuel Miranda hit the perfect blend of too perfect but not quite cocky for a “Golden Boy.” I never hated him, but could totally see how a sibling would.
- The dance off.
- Jake trying to convince the mobsters that they know him but just forgot may be the funniest cover he ever came up with.
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