A review of the Brooklyn Nine-Nine season finale — but, thanks to NBC’s generosity, not series finale — coming up just as soon as my toupee is made of badger fur…
It’s funny: I waited to watch “Jake & Amy” until after the show’s future had been improbably secured by NBC, yet I spent much of the episode thinking repeatedly about what a good series finale it would have made had the miracle not happened.
It’s not just that Fred Armisen returns as Melipnos, the weird immigrant who popped up during a couple of door-to-door canvasses in the series pilot and another season one episode. It’s also, obviously, that Jake and Amy get married — after a variety of wedding-day disasters familiar to sitcom fans in general and Schur/Goor sitcom fans in particular(*) — paying off a romance that’s been hinted at since the show started. And it’s that Gina gets all meta when she describes the structure of most episodes when she tells Holt, “Seems like people are pairing off for adventures, and we have the best rapport.”(**)
(*) Though when I brought up the trope on Twitter on Friday, many people pointed out, not unfairly, that both Andy and April’s wedding, and Ron and Diane’s, went according to “plan,” in that there was no real plan, but also nothing went wrong once they decided to marry that day.
(**) I would argue the show’s most consistently funny pairing is Jake and Holt, but that seems unfair, given that it’s the leading man and the multiple Emmy winner who also has the best-written character. If you limit yourself to using only one of Samberg and Braugher, then Holt and Gina are probably the best, followed by Jake and Charles, then Jake and Amy. (Rosa and Terry work well with everyone, but there’s no one pairing involving either — other than maybe Holt/Diaz — that’s notably stronger than any other combo you put them in.) I’m willing to indulge other votes in the comments.
Mainly, though, it’s for Jake’s wedding vows to Amy at the improvised wedding Boyle arranges for them on the street outside the precinct after Amy’s dreaded ex-boyfriend Teddy and Holt’s dog Cheddar combine to wreck the previously-planned event. Considering how effective he is playing a manchild goofball on this show and others, it’s impressive how consistently excellent Andy Samberg’s been as this show’s romantic lead when called upon. He does it again here, first with the speech about all the disgusting NYC places in which he would gladly marry Amy, then with the vows, where he talks about how crazy their life has been together already. And then Melissa Fumero beautifully delivers a speech that could not be more perfect given that it’s airing only a week after this show was canceled and then resurrected:
“Life is unpredictable. Not everything’s in our control. But as long as you’re with the right people, you can handle anything.”
If the show had ended with that speech, with Amy flipping Jake’s “your butt is the bomb” joke back on him, and the kiss that followed, well… I’d have been sad and disappointed that there wasn’t at last one more season of silliness to come, but I’d also have felt as if the 9-9 went out on the perfect note.
Instead, we get at least 13 more episodes — plus, after Bob Greenblatt’s comments to reporters a week ago, the unexpected possibility of more seasons — of these jokers, and that means I don’t even have to be irked by the episode’s actual ending, where Holt finds out if he has become the NYPD’s new commissioner, only his usual Sphinx-like expression tells Jake and us nothing about whether the news is good or bad. In cancellation, this would have been an annoying cliffhanger (akin to ABC making the Benson producers put an election results cliffhanger at the end of what wound up being their final episode), but not one that marred my memories of the show, because the rest of the finale was so good.
And if the finale had only featured Andre Braugher doing a dog show trot… dayenu.
Where the series tends to blow up its status quo in its season finales, Jake & Amy was largely just a terrific, funny, and charming episode of a show that gets to go be all of those things on a new network next season. And we can worry about Holt’s rank when we get there.
Some other thoughts:
* Samberg and Fumero do most of the dramatic/romantic heavy lifting this week, but major bonus points to Joe Lo Truglio for the look on Boyle’s face right after Jake and Amy say their “I do”s. He seems so overwhelmingly beside himself that it just adds to the joy of the moment.
* The only real knock I can give the episode is the usual Brooklyn high-class problem: I wanted a lot more of Gina Rodriguez as Rosa’s potential new girlfriend Alicia than there was time for. (Or maybe her appearance was relatively brief because she’s the lead on another show, is making movies, etc.) Rodriguez and Stephanie Beatriz had strong chemistry, and while it’s always tricky making time for love interests who aren’t cops, Rosa having a cheerful and enthusiastic girlfriend would be fun to watch whenever Rodriguez is next available.
* Oh, one more minor thing that’s a matter of money/time: there’s no way that the cops would have held that ceremony without the parents there, given that the families were in town that day for the previously-scheduled wedding. In this case, it becomes a question of finding room in the budget, and time in everyone’s calendars, to get Jimmy Smits, Bradley Whitford, and Katey Sagal to turn up for an episode where they’d just be glorified extras. (When New Girl did its own “everything is a disaster until it isn’t” wedding earlier in the week, it used Rob Reiner and Jamie Lee Curtis for the whole episode, so it was easy to have them for the improvised ceremony, whereas Character Actress Margo Martindale didn’t show up at all.)
* Did I mention the dog show trot? That was, as the kids say, everything.
What did everybody else think?
Alan Sepinwall may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. He discusses television weekly on the TV Avalanche podcast. His new book, Breaking Bad 101, is on sale now.