Jake Flies Solo As A ‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine’ Prison Two-Parter Concludes

A quick review of tonight’s Brooklyn Nine-Nine coming up just as soon as I work up the nerve to see my female wife…

Early in “The Big House, Part 2,” Jake is forced to spend five days in solitary as part of his snitching operation with Romero’s crew. Unsurprisingly, he goes nuts being by himself for so long. Jake Peralta is a man who does not do well being alone with his thoughts. He needs people around him to bounce ideas off of, and preferably people he’s known and cared about for a long time.

I get it, in part because I prefer Andy Samberg as a team player rather than a soloist. He came up with his friends from The Lonely Island, and both on SNL and here, I always find him at his best when he’s playing off his co-stars rather than riffing off into the void. And despite some fun guest stars like Tim Meadows, Toby Huss(*), and Lou Diamond Phillips, both halves of “The Big House” felt like an extended Peralta/Samberg schtick solo, so I was relieved when tonight’s episode inevitably ended with Hawkins getting busted and Jake and Rosa being set free.

(*) Huss is doing wonderful dramatic work over on Halt and Catch Fire, but he’s better known for comedy, and it was a treat to see him cut loose as a warden who did not give a toss whether Jake lived or died.

As was the case last week, the stronger part of the episode involved the rest of the 99(*). Boyle started his own Serial-style podcast to try to exonerate his friends, hoping that Debra Messing would tweet a link and somehow get Sean Hayes involved; even if American Vandal beat Brooklyn to this particular satiric punch, the jokes here felt spot-on, true to both the genre and the characters. (Hey, there has to be something Terry’s not good at, and it might as well be playing podcast guest.)

(*) Minus Gina, who (like Chelsea Peretti) is out on maternity leave for the first chunk of the season. Her absence is a mixed bag: you lose Gina’s weirdness and amusement with the cops, but it’s one less character to service in an ensemble that usually has too many good people to give material to each week. Also, for the duration of the two-parter, it meant that Amy was the only woman back at the precinct, which felt slightly off.

But can there be any doubt about this week’s MVP once again being Andre Braugher? At this point, there’s no running Holt gag that isn’t funny, but these occasional glimpses of him pretending to be straight — and having no clue how badly he’s doing — for an undercover assignment are always delightful. At the summer TCA press tour, Braugher joked of the things he has to do and say in this role, “It’s too shameful to mention in public. I’ve debased myself in so many horrible ways.” The monologue where he extolled the virtues of the thigh gap — “There’s nothing more intoxicating than the clear absence of a penis” — was peak Braugher debasement, and sheer comic genius.

That Holt had to turn to Irish mobster Seamus Murphy (played by the decidedly non-Irish, but usually amusing, Paul Adelstein) to bust Hawkins has my brow a little furrowed. Sometimes, Brooklyn does well when it goes to a slightly darker place, sometimes not. I didn’t love all the cannibal and castration jokes of Jake’s prison stint, but if there’s an actor on this show — hell, if there’s an actor on this planet — equipped to thread the needle between drama and comedy, it’s Braugher.

Mainly, though, I’m glad to have all the cops back in the precinct together.

What did everybody else think?

Alan Sepinwall may be reached at sepinwall@uproxx.com. He discusses television weekly on the TV Avalanche podcast. His next book, Breaking Bad 101, is out 10/10 and available for preoder now.