Review: ‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine’ returns with Jake and Holt in exile

Brooklyn Nine-Nine is back, and I have a review of the season 4 premiere coming up just as soon as I can identify the female lead in Failure to Launch

As phony, status quo-upending cliffhangers go, Jake and Holt being put into witness protection is pretty decent. Yes, we know that the two will wind up back at the 99 within a few episodes (just as Jake did after his undercover assignment, Holt did after his transfer, Jim Halpert did after going to Stamford, etc.), but it’s a situation that none of the characters believes to be permanent. So the fun is in watching our heroes both deal with an exile that’s running much longer than planned, and in seeing them finally take action themselves to return to Brooklyn. And this first part of “Coral Palms” smartly leaves the rest of the cast on the shelf for the week. Much as I’d love to see Terry, Rosa, Gina, and the rest, Brooklyn is a show that’s had trouble juggling stories even in the most traditionally-structured episodes. Here, we got to focus entirely on the Greg and Larry situation, exploring it to its greatest comic potential, and we’ll get to catch up with the rest of the gang later.

While Peralta’s the one who has frosted his hair, it’s Holt who seems to have thrown himself more thoroughly into this new life: befriending Rhea Perlman and the rest of the walking club (and then being offended when Jake usurps his position within it), becoming overly invested in his job at the arcade (where the boss is played by Andy Samberg’s Lonely Island pal Jorma Taccone), and even pretending to be straight (yet so ignorant of the subject that he thinks the most convincing lie he can tell is to keep mentioning how heavy a woman’s breasts are). And Holt’s miserable performance of the rap song at the kid’s party was another reminder of how the comic genius of Andre Braugher is almost never in what he’s given to say (or rap), but in his delivery.

Plot-wise, very little of this makes sense – It’s one thing for Santiago to stay in Brooklyn, but wouldn’t Kevin have come with his husband? Why wouldn’t Jake and Holt immediately tell their U.S. Marshal contact (Maya Rudolph, not getting a ton to do) about the threat of a viral video revealing their location to Figgis? – but plausibility questions with this show really only feel troubling when the jokes aren’t clicking. Here, they were, so I went with it all.

What did everybody else think? Glad to have the show back? Were you frustrated to not get the full ensemble, or was it smart to just focus on Jake and the captain for at least one week?