A review of tonight’s Brooklyn Nine-Nine two-parter coming up just as soon as I win you over with my use of “twas”…
“The Fugitive” will be the last we see of Brooklyn until sometime this spring — give or take a new series tanking so badly that Fox needs to replace it immediately — and while it’s a bummer the show is going away right as it’s in the midst of one of its funniest stretches ever, I’m glad it goes out on as a high a note as these two episodes.
And one of the smartest decisions made here was to treat these as two completely distinct episodes, only vaguely connected by the manhunt. It’s not impossible to make a great hour-long sitcom episode, but it’s a lot harder to have jokes continue for that long, and instead we get two wonderful, mostly standalone half-hours that play well together or apart.
“Part 1” is a bit of a throwback to the series’ earliest days, when Jake and Amy were constantly competing for bragging rights as the squad’s best detective. Those bets mostly went away when they started dating — and also as Jake and Holt warmed to each other enough that they could have a friendly rivalry of their own — but this episode was a satisfying return to that dynamic, with the added layer that this bet was about their relationship, and the question of where they would live now that they’ve decided to move in together. I hadn’t realized just how much I missed this aspect of the show until they brought it back, and everything about the bet was a winner: every disgusting piece of information about Jake’s grey towel (“Why won’t it burn?” “Because it never fully dries!”), Boyle for once being in a position where he’s happily working against his best friend, Jake being smug about all the toys he and Terry got from Homeland Security, and Amy’s excitement at realizing Jake has read her Harry Potter books (followed by her understanding that Jake would make Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles references in a sewer). And while Jake doesn’t always work well when the show tries to push him into a more emotional place (it’s just not one of Andy Samberg’s specialties), him ceding the contest to Amy because he wants her to be happy was a genuinely sweet moment (and leavened just enough by him acknowledging that her apartment is way better than his). Plus, it gave us the perfect double meaning of Holt’s “I don’t care” when Jake tries to rope him into his The Fugitive performance:
Marshawn Lynch’s self-mocking cameo was one of those ideas that I think works better in theory than in practice, even if I enjoyed hearing him say “pizzadilla,” but the rest of the stuff back at the precinct was also a delight, particularly Holt trying to communicate with the non-English-speaking witness as if he would to a baby — by, of course miming the tying of a half-Windsor. (“See how basic this knot is?”) All in all, “Part 1” was a nice example of giving the full ensemble something to do within the context of the same story.
“Part 2,” meanwhile, pivoted into being this year’s Pontiac Bandit episode. While the show could easily coast on Samberg and Craig Robinson’s chemistry and joy at being in each other’s company, the story managed to find a smart twist by turning their usual duet into a trio involving Captain Holt, whose disdain for and mistrust of Doug Judy cast some necessary and amusing skepticism on the too-chummy friendship between cop and crook. Jake and Doug’s theme song was, like Stentley’s original tunes from a few weeks back, a strong reminder that Andy Samberg + fake songs = comedy gold. And where many of Andre Braugher’s biggest laughs of late have come from Holt getting loud (“BOOOOOOOOONE!”), his pained “Why would you bring that up?” when Jake reminds Holt about the time his sister ended an email with “Thx” was a work of minimalist comic art.
Terry and Rosa’s story was also technically a continuation of the fugitive story, but mainly a way for the show to address the contradiction that Terry Crews still looks the way he does but is pushing 50. Rosa’s secretive gymnastics past is a bit too in line with her secretive ballet past and secretive yoga present to be a surprise, but you can’t say it’s out of character.
Amy and Gina trying to teach Boyle proper text chain etiquette, meanwhile, was wholly disconnected from the first half-hour (and could have been part of any episode where those three weren’t otherwise occupied), and a good example of how Charles’ enthusiasm can be such a turn-off at times. Plus, “Oh, it’s just my former lover. Hello sister.” is a perfect line in and of itself, but the implication that he greets Gina like this all the time makes it even funnier. I’d be worried about that cliffhanger with Gina and the bus, except 1)This is a comedy that wouldn’t kill her off that way, or at all; and 2)As we learned from Todd Mulcahy on Felicity, that kind of accident doesn’t have to be fatal:
Again, I’m annoyed we’re about to lose one of TV’s best comedies for an undetermined period of time. But based on this recent batch, I have no worries about the show’s creative health whenever, and wherever, it returns.
What did everybody else think?
Alan Sepinwall may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org