Review: The Pontiac Bandit returns as ‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine’ takes a cruise

A quick review of last night’s “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” coming up just as soon as I bring my own shuffleboard tang…

While “The Cruise” didn’t offer the deliriously stupid heights of Jake and Holt’s misadventures with the mumps from last week, it was one of the season’s most well-balanced episodes, with something to offer from all three storylines, the welcome return of Craig Robinson as Jake’s arch-nemesis Doug Judy, and the promising introduction of Niecy Nash as Debbie, Holt’s temperamental opposite of a sister.

Robinson’s annual appearances are always a highlight, because Doug’s deep affection for Jake only tends to make our hero crazier for his inability to catch the guy. The cruise setting gave it a different feel from previous Pontiac Bandit stories – though I wish the show had made more use of Paul F. Tompkins as the captain – and hung a light on the ongoing compatibility issues for Jake and Amy without piling on too much.

Given Doug’s song about Rosa, it’s a shame the episode couldn’t have conspired to put her on the boat with the others, but she had a fine little C-story with Charles where they competed over the apartment. Short, sweet, nicely contrasted the temperaments of the two detectives as they had their, as Boyle put it, “good old-fashioned suck-off” with the landlord, but didn’t take up too much space from the main plot or Terry and Gina trying to help Holt get away from chatty Debbie. And the payoff to that story, with Holt setting up a fort in his office like he did for Debbie when they were kids, was a nice reminder that for all of Andre Braugher’s comic genius on this show, he’s also, you know, one of TV’s great dramatic actors of all time.

In fact, let me leave you with a contrast. On the one hand, you have Frank Pembleton coaxing a confession out of an innocent man, just to prove a point:

On the other, you have this from last week’s episode:

He’s too good for all of us.

What did everybody else think?