The ‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine’ Halloween Heist Has Another Surprise Up Its Sleeve

A review of tonight’s Brooklyn Nine-Nine coming up just as soon as I get my idea from Greek mythology, and not the Nickelodeon show Guts

The Halloween heist episodes are both an annual Brooklyn tradition and a huge challenge, because they have to function as mysteries first and foremost before the jokes can be added in. If the winning gambit isn’t both surprising and clever, the episode runs the risk of feeling disappointing no matter how many ridiculous things Holt says or Terry wears. And each year, the degree of difficulty has only increased, which is why the contest has expanded over the years so that Amy or Gina or others could “win” what began as a two-man game.

“HalloVeen,” was written by Dan Goor from an idea Mike Schur pitched, so it’s Brooklyn‘s top guys trying to pull off this challenge, and it’s easily the most effective piece of misdirection any of these heist stories has pulled off: while we’re all busy trying to figure out if it’ll be Terry’s turn this year, or Rosa’s, or somehow Hitchcock and Scully’s, it instead turns out that Jake has co-opted the entire event into an elaborate marriage proposal to Amy.

It’s both unexpected and completely in keeping with what we know about their relationship, which was born out of the rivalry they had over who was the best detective in the squad. The episode gets a lot of comic mileage out of that, with Amy’s competitive streak inspiring her to tell Jake things like, “Letting me into your life was the worst mistake you ever made,” before flipping her assumptions and ours on their head when the championship cummerbund belt turns out to read “Amy Santiago, Will You Marry Me?”

In Schur’s pitch, everyone but Amy was working in concert with Jake. Goor changed it to Jake operating alone, which makes all his interactions with the others more genuine, and also allows for great reactions when they all find out, from Boyle fainting out of happiness to the morally upright Holt being petty about the lack of a winner this year. That also means that everything Jake is doing until Amy finds the cummerbund belt is real, including having to pay Bill (aka “Fake Charles”) $8000 to be part of his pyramid scheme to be let out of the handcuffs so he can keep the rest of the plan (which involves both a substitute safe and an army of Handmaids) in motion. (Though now that I’m writing this, I have to wonder what Jake’s plan would have been about swapping the safe, liberating the belt, and stealing the tracker if he hadn’t gotten Bill to be his accomplice. Hmm… Maybe best not to tug on this thread too much.)

As usual, the fun is as much in seeing all these friends turn on each other for a shift, with Holt’s indignation always working as a particularly effective and believable contrast to his normal behavior. Plus, we get to hear Andre Braugher say the phrases “You’re just a common bitch!” and “This bitch? Please,” completely in character both times. Bravo.

Recency bias is always a dangerous thing, and it’s been a while since I watched the first few heist episodes, but if “HalloVeen” isn’t my favorite of the tradition, it’s vastly better than it has any business being five seasons in.

What did everybody else think?

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