A review of tonight’s “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” coming up just as soon I’ve lost the right to pee…
Though “AC/DC” aired more than a month after the most recent episode, the two still feel linked to me in the ways that they’ve tried, to mixed success, to lay some emotional foundation underneath Jake’s usual antics. In “Sabotage,” he admitted that he can’t sit back and let other people help him because of abandonment issues from his dad, but the moment was so brief that it felt more like a distraction than anything else. Here, he eventually tells Terry and Charles the real reason why he can’t let go of any case: the one time he did it, the perp stayed free long enough to kill a few innocent people. Here, it didn’t feel like the show was trying to skimp on the dramatic beat, but rather that it maybe didn’t tonally fit either the character or the show. Dan Goor and company have done a really strong job of finding the sweet spot between letting the detectives investigate significant crimes without letting murder and other horrors of the job overwhelm the silliness. This leaned a little too far in the somber direction, and also wasn’t necessarily a great match for Jake, who’s such a fundamentally goofy character that his angst-ier moments don’t always feel genuine.
I’ve seen Andy Samberg play more serious material, and play it well, so it’s not about his limitations so much as it is the limitations of this particular character. Jake can be successfully serious, as we’ve seen in a lot of the material about his feelings for Amy, and at times his relationship with the Captain; there’s just a higher degree of difficulty to do it with him than with Holt or Diaz, as we saw in the B-story. Though in that case, there was also less tonal whiplash, since that story wasn’t as silly to begin with, and the dramatic stakes weren’t as high, even if you believed that Rosa might have been pregnant.
Having said that, this was another very funny episode, and with a nice balance of styles. The Jake story had an amusing collection of slapstick, strange voices and noises (I liked Boyle’s disagreement squeak!) and Boyle enthusiasms, complete with a theme song for their fake trip to the Ravenna. The dinner party was a fun comedy of manners – complete with both regular characters turning into Ron Swanson when asked to divulge personal details – and the way Andre Braugher played Holt’s multi-step reaction to the pregnancy news (first surprise, then comprehension, then complete displeasure at being roped into knowing this about a coworker) was marvelous. And Amy trying to be chill and failing miserably was a nice Melissa Fumero showcase that didn’t need to consume too much time.
What did everybody else think?