“Brooklyn Nine-Nine” just concluded a pretty terrific first season. I did a long interview with Mike Schur about the evolution of the show and some of the plots set up in the finale, and I have a few thoughts on the episode itself coming up just as soon as I have reliable tittle-tattle…
That’s how you do a sitcom season finale, boys and girls. “Charges and Specs” probably wasn’t the funniest episode of the season, but it brought a bunch of character arcs to a head, gave most of the cast members a moment to shine, and ended in a place that could (as Schur notes in our interview) either fuel a whole bunch of stories at the start of next year or be waved away quickly if the writers aren’t feeling it.
We start off with a drunk Jake announcing that he’s just been fired from the NYPD, and of course we assume that this has happened because he once again disobeyed Holt. And he does that at the beginning of the episode. But as we move along, Holt takes Jake’s side – thanks in part to the amazing spectacle of Amy Santiago disagreeing with her commanding officer (“I’m Amy Santiago, and I’m done talking”) – and we see that for all of their differences that will continue to fuel comedy for (hopefully) many seasons to come, there’s a level of trust between the two that didn’t exist at the start of the season. Holt eventually goes along with Jake’s rogue investigation, and Jake in turn follows Holt’s advice to get himself fired, without even knowing about the FBI investigation yet. It brings that relationship to a strong place while still leaving conflict between them, and it in turn forces Jake to be 100 percent serious with Amy for a moment in telling her how he feels. And it does all that while allowing all of Jake Peralta’s dreams to come true: a trip to the thrift store to try on ballroom dancer costumes, an actual major undercover operation like his ’70s heroes participated in (though without one of his ridiculous fake names). And it also provides an opportunity for Captain Holt to once again be amazing, here by showing off his ballroom dancing skills even as he’s identifying Jake’s best route upstairs.
Vivian dumping Charles with no explanation felt a bit like the show trying to hit the eject button on Marilu Henner so they could get back to Boyle intra-office romance hijinks. But the fallout of her dumping him was hilarious, whether Boyle in the Neo costume, Boyle’s burnt hand making it “really hard to manipulate my egg sack,” or Boyle waking up in bed not with Rosa, like we all assumed, but with Gina, much their mutual horror.
Add in some amusing flashbacks for Holt (the most business-like break-up of all time) and Terry (being dumped in Japanese), Jake’s mangling of the “Friday Night Lights” mantra, and you’ve got yourself a splendid farewell (for now) to what has fast become one of my favorite shows on TV.
So go read the Schur interview and then tell me: what did everybody else think?