Review: ‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine’ stages a more complicated ‘Halloween IV’ caper

A quick review of tonight’s Brooklyn Nine-Nine coming up just as soon as my safeword is “cabbage”…

“Halloween IV” opens with Holt and Peralta each trying to dismiss Santiago’s standing as the reigning Halloween heist champion, since the contest originally began as a bet between the two of them when they weren’t getting along. These days, though, it seems that anybody can somehow win the contest, as we see again when Gina outsmarts everyone with a little help from her false teeth and one of Amy’s boring pantsuits.

On the one hand, I get why Goor and company would want to expand the field as this annual tradition continues. As it is, these episodes must be harder to write than most Brooklyn installments, because they have to keep the audience surprised about who’s winning, while also playing fair with them, while also functioning as a comedy. Keeping it Jake vs. Holt for years on end with only minor variations would make that task even tougher. But once Amy stole the trophy out from under the guys last season, it’s turned the whole thing into a free-for-all. If anyone can compete, and win, it takes away some of the fun, as well as the play along at home factor, from the original dynamic. “Halloween IV” tries to suggest that Terry will be this year’s interloper, which is misdirection while Gina appears to be absent after the rollerskating mishap, but we’re now at a point where I’m almost expecting Scully and Hitchcock to accidentally win next year, and then Lohank the year after, and on and on.

Still, “Halloween IV” had its comic moments: the guys’ increasingly loud announcements after Amy tried to do a quiet one for Scully’s sake, Holt’s weird pronunciation of “kaboodle,” Jake’s growing unease around the creepy Boyle body double, to name a few. And even if a part of me is annoyed that the game is now open to all the characters, hearing Gina give her big victory speech with a pronounced lisp due to her missing front teeth was fun.

What did everybody else think? Is this a tradition the show should be continuing, or might they be smart to emulate what You’re the Worst just did with Sunday Funday?