A review of tonight’s Brooklyn Nine-Nine coming up just as soon as I leave you a snide voicemail message about kindergarten statistics…
All three stories in “Skyfire Cycle” feature characters confidently expressing that they know how that story will resolve: Terry knows that no good will come of meeting D.C. Parlov, Gina knows that she will manipulate the Boyle cousins into going to Aruba, and Rosa knows that Holt and Kevin just need to bone. Though other characters (respectively, Jake, Charles, and Amy) argue the opposite side, it’s clear from the jump that these three are right (as they tend to be in arguments), and they turn out to be so.
That kind of predictability could have led to a flat episode, but instead it’s emblematic of what’s one of the season’s best installments, if perhaps its least fancy. Nothing in “Skyfire Cycle” tries to go outside the boundaries of what we’ve come to expect from Brooklyn Nine-Nine, but all of it’s very well executed.
Start with the Terry plot, where it seems inevitable that Terry will be disappointed by his literary idol, but where the predictability doesn’t matter because the story offers us an abundance of Terry Crews delights, whether familiar (Terry juggles his pecs, Terry appears in a shirtless costume), unexpected (Terry is incredibly shy when first meeting Parlov), or some combination of the two (Terry Crews and Fred Melamed’s deep voices harmonizing as the two recite a Skyfire Cycle passage that just keeps going and going and going).
Similarly, anyone who didn’t think that Gina would be able to manipulate the Boyle cousins to suit her own whims hasn’t been paying attention, but that subplot was a treat for a few reasons. First, it’s been too long since Brooklyn has done anything with the idea of Gina as Charles’ reluctant stepsister, which is a fun dynamic even if you don’t consider the fact that they used to hook up. Second, more Boyles meant more details about how Charles ended up the weirdo we all know and love. And third, the payoff smartly acknowledged that Charles knew all along that he would lose, but wanted Gina to feel more knowledgeable about and invested in the Boyle clan as a whole, seeing as how they’re all going to be buried in the same plot, singular, at the cemetery one day.
And the second that Rosa suggested that Holt and Kevin’s argument over the Monty Hall Problem (see below) was really about their lack of boning, I knew that sex would solve everything. But I couldn’t possibly imagine the wonder of that time-lapsed 40-minute Captain Holt rant, mixing rational arguments about superior/subordinate boundaries and Andre Braugher screaming “BONE!!!!” at the top of his lungs. (The extra long “BOOOOOOOONE!” at the 21 Minutes Later mark may have shoved aside “HOT DAMN!” and “BOOST MY BOTTOM” as the greatest Raymond Holt exclamation to date.) Between that indignant tour de force and Santiago’s discomfort at thinking about her surrogate father’s sex life (“Captain Dad is just my boss!… Nevermind, I’m teaching father the math!”), this was a great example of how to get maximum comic value from a C-story that’s not going to get a lot of screen time.
Plus, the payoff to the running gag about Jake panting his heroes was the best closing joke the show has done in a long time. The four-act structure often makes the ends of episodes feels rushed, but that was perfect in its quickness.
Some other thoughts:
* “Skyfire Cycle” was originally supposed to air a few weeks ago, but got bumped when the World Series got extended to a sixth game, then held because “Mr. Santiago” had to air Thanksgiving week, and “Monster in the Closet” (which reintroduced Pimento) had to air before that. While changes in the air order often stuck out like a sore thumb on Andre Braugher’s last cop show (most infamously when characters discussed the death of Steve Crosetti before the airing of the episode where Crosetti actually died), there aren’t really any noticeable continuity issues here, other than maybe the question of how long the squad has been on night shift.
* Growing up, I always scored better in math than anything writing or reading-related (go figure), but probability was never my strong suit even then. So I’ll just take statisticians’ word for it — like in this article — that Kevin is correct about why you should always switch to the other door in The Monty Hall Problem.
* Revisiting our ongoing discussion of when Captain Holt is too wacky, I would say the payoff to The Full Bullpen gag from the teaser qualifies. It’s presented as a surprise that he would be impressed with Jake’s achievement rather than annoyed, but the show has been hitting that beat so often lately that it wasn’t particularly surprising, and the execution wasn’t great enough (as it was last week with his marshmallow response) to make up the difference.
What did everybody else think?
Alan Sepinwall may be reached at email@example.com