‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine’ Celebrates An Anniversary Episode In ’99’ Style

A review of tonight’s Brooklyn Nine-Nine coming up just as soon as we’re standing 75 feet from where Argyle picked up John McClane at the airport…

If TV series do anniversary shows, it’s usually at the 100-episode mark (200 if you’re really successful, 300 through 600 if you’re The Simpsons). Brooklyn Nine-Nine, for obvious reasons, decided to turn this 99th episode into the big celebration.

As a result, “99” comes loaded with callbacks, but in a smart way that doesn’t turn the episode into a formless, shapeless nostalgia-fest. It’s the series reminding fans of the many things they’ve loved about it in the past, but it tells an actual story that’s representative of why the series remains so much fun in the present.

So yes, there are Boyle cousins (and a scene of the entire ensemble decked out in Boyle clothes, just like they once all had to wear Holt’s wardrobe to track down his dog), a visit to Nakatomi Plaza as the latest ode to Jake’s Die Hard obsession, Jake solves a puzzle and realizes the captain is scamming him like in the Halloween heists, Jake does his “meep morp” robot voice one more time, Amy gets to be more high-strung than she’s ever been before (in a moment that might leave even Leslie Knope feeling intimidated), and more.

But each individual joke works whether you recognize the reference or not, and ultimately the smartest idea of “99” isn’t the trip down memory lane — which actually goes past the beginning of the series to consider Holt’s predecessor as captain (who appeared briefly in flashbacks during the show’s first two episodes) as the squad attends his funeral in LA — but simply pushing the entire cast (save Chelsea Peretti, whose maternity leave is ending soon) not only into the same story, but the same RV for a good chunk of the episode. Brooklyn is usually at its best when it can concentrate as much of its big and funny ensemble together, giving everyone individual bits of business but focusing mainly on how they interact(*), and avoiding the show’s periodic issues with having too much plot in a given episode. This was the 99, all seemingly working together, even as Holt was sabotaging their efforts, then working together for real once the captain fessed up to his compromising position with Seamus Murphy.

(*) One of the best stories-within-the-story: Charles pestering Rosa about her mysterious new boyfriend until he finds out that Rosa is bisexual and dating a woman. This was inspired by Stephanie Beatriz coming out as bi last year, and like last year’s racial profiling story, feels just emotional enough without undermining the humor.

That plot twist at the end of the prison storyline has been ignored since, and we’ll see how prominent it becomes as Holt pursues his dream of becoming the NYPD’s next commissioner. It seems unlikely he’ll get that promotion, unless the series is coming to an end sooner than it should. Given the state of Fox these days — including the possibility that the Fox broadcast network could cease to exist in its current form, depending on if the Fox TV studio gets sold, and to whom — I have no idea what’s coming, but Goor and company tend to write from an optimistic place, so I can’t imagine any of this season’s current arcs are planned at this stage as season-enders.

Besides, this show’s so good at the moment, it feels like they could breeze to 199 episodes without much creative difficulty. Let’s see it happen. (1)99!

What did everybody else think?

Alan Sepinwall may be reached at sepinwall@uproxx.com. He discusses television weekly on the TV Avalanche podcast. His new book, Breaking Bad 101, is on sale now.