A review of tonight’s Brooklyn Nine-Nine coming up just as soon as my groom gut has a catchphrase…
I watched “White Whale” on Wednesday night. It was a more innocent time, nearly a full day before news broke that Fox had canceled Brooklyn (and The Last Man on Earth and The Mick, too), more than a full day before the inevitable rumors started about Hulu or someone else ordering a sixth and final season, and two full days before the miraculous news that NBC had stepped in to order a sixth season after Hulu surprisingly passed.
So when I watched this episode, it wasn’t with the idea that this could have been the next-to-last episode I’d ever see of this wonderful comedy. It didn’t have to carry the weight of me wondering if this would be the last joke about Hitchcock’s inappropriate sexual behavior (or, in the case of him wandering around with his penis out, just careless personal grooming), or if I’d feel disappointed that Jake wasn’t working one more case before getting married in what may now be the series finale. I was just able to enjoy it for what it was: a fun and nimble episode of a show that’s too good to go away just yet, dammit, and now thankfully won’t.
It’s rare for the show to do an episode where Jake isn’t involved in the A-story (“Moo Moo” is the only other one), but it was a nice touch to give his bride-to-be the big spotlight the week before the wedding. As temperamental opposites, Amy and Rosa always make a good comic pairing, and the episode’s title plot offered an origin story of sorts for their friendship, with nervous squad rookie Amy keeping a secret from Rosa to avoid ruining things just as they started working together, and the whole thing coming when their white whale resurfaces. Flashbacks to earlier in the cops’ careers are always fun, and not just for the different hairstyles (Amy with bangs, Hitchcock with a reversible toupee), and it’s very easy to see how Amy would have been scared about upsetting Rosa back then, considering how scared she still is of her now.
Jake picking Terry instead of best man Charles to help out with the wedding planning was initially a surprise, but primarily because I’m rewatching the series with my daughter and we just made it past season one’s “Fancy Brudgom,” where Jake and Charles do a lot of similar tasks for Charles’ doomed wedding to Vivian. But I can also see Jake trusting the sarge’s taste much more than Boyle’s, and one of the great things about the show at this point is that Goor and company have created such a fluid and egalitarian ensemble that you can pair off basically any two characters, in any scenario, and it will work. Terry turned out to be the right guy to help work Jake through his feelings of inadequacy, and he also offered to pick up his car and carry it to the venue, which even yoga master Charles probably couldn’t do. And the idea that sloven manchild Jake Peralta actually has a gift for wedding planning — albeit an expensive one, because “My groom gut is a fancy bitch” — was a more surprising and sweet joke than if he simply didn’t know what he was doing the whole time.
It’s with the Captain Holt subplot that our proximity to the potential end was most acute, even on Wednesday. If the show was actually concluding next week, it would be very easy to make Holt the new NYPD commissioner, and either promote Terry and Amy accordingly, or stunt-cast someone to play the new lieutenant for a scene or two at the end. A sixth season where Holt has the job isn’t impossible — we’ve had several stretches without him in charge, most notably when he got transferred to the public affairs position — but it’s not an ideal deployment of resources, and would create fewer easy opportunities to do one-off jokes between him and, say, Scully. But the petty competition between Holt and Captain Crawford was a nice ongoing comic duet between Andre Braugher and Allison Tolman that feels like it’s own thing rather than a rehash of his feud with Wuntch. And the payoff — that Holt’s advanced age wound up saving him rather than being a vulnerability like Crawford kept saying — was fitting and just poignant enough to sell the idea that the two will now work together to prevent another old white guy from getting the gig.
Fox sent out a finale screener at the same time as “White Whale.” Ordinarily, I watch as many episodes of this show as I have available, just because I know it will make me laugh in a way that few other things can guarantee right now. But I put the finale off that night, because even if I didn’t know for sure that Fox was going to do the thing I feared, I knew it was a possibility, and I wanted to preserve one more Brooklyn Nine-Nine for as long as I possibly could.