Brooklyn Nine-Nine is back after a long hiatus, and I have a review of tonight’s episode coming up just as soon as this perm saves your life…
It’s not an accident that “Safe House” feels more like a season premiere than a mid-season episode. The creative team knew there would be a break after the previous episode — albeit not necessarily one three months long — and wrote a big cliffhanger into “The Favor” which could then be resolved with another instance of Jake being separated by circumstance from the squad for a long stretch of time, concluding with an action movie showdown with a big villain.
But if “Safe House” was a familiar type of Brooklyn episode, it was an incredibly well-executed and funny example of that type, layering one ridiculous idea on top of another and managing to give most of the ensemble at least one good spotlight moment even as the bulk of the episode remained focused on Jake, Holt, and Kevin.
The episode opens with perhaps the most Holt line ever, as he greets his own husband with, “Hello, Kevin, it’s me, Raymond Holt” before whisking him away to safety. Holt and Kevin’s excessive formality remains the comic gift that keeps on giving throughout the hour, from Kevin’s desire to come up with an anatomically correct kiss-off line after a throat punch (which he gets to use after saving the day) to the captain finally recognizing how upset Kevin is after Kevin says “You’ll have to excuse me” instead of “Please excuse me.” (Holt including full greetings and a signature with each text was also amusing, though that scene was lacking a payoff where something bad happened because of the amount of time it took him to compose each text.) And Holt’s obsessive precision and paranoia made the safe house itself among the worst places Jake has ever been stuck in an episode like this, and inspired the always delightful running gag (crawling gag?) of people exiting arguments while down on their bellies. If the Nicolas Cage joke had just been an excuse to give Andy Samberg a chance to do his old Cage impression from SNL… dayenu, but instead it led to the episode’s great final joke, when an indignant Kevin learns of the existence of Captain Corelli’s Mandolin and Leaving Las Vegas and realizes he could have been watching them instead of Face/Off. (Marc Evan Jackson has been a favorite of this group since Parks and Rec, and he made a meal of his biggest episode to date across that series, this one, and The Good Place. So funny.)
Yet just when I thought nothing could make me laugh as hard as Holt crawling on his stomach, we got Rosa and Gina’s dueling outer borough accents(*) for the undercover op at the hair salon, which I could have listened to for hours; or Jake and Kevin disguising themselves as weird perverts (a perfect combo of wardrobe, hair/makeup and performance by Samberg) to enjoy some quiet time at the library, or Jake trying to stall Murphy from killing him by insisting, “I came alone!” and then being unable to stop himself from adding, “Title of my sex tape!”(**)
(*) If you’re surprised Stephanie Beatriz is so good at doing different voices, it’s because you don’t know that this is what she actually sounds like.
(**) Since the show’s been away for a while, let me reward you with this montage of many different titles of many different Santiago (and others) sex tapes.
Brooklyn has done episodes like this often enough across five seasons that they shouldn’t be as effective and hilarious as “Safe House” so often was. It’s a testimony to what a high creative level the show is still operating at, and I sure hope this Sunday showcase is enough to move the needle for Fox to order another season.
What did everybody else think?