Jake Peralta has the yips. And it's only the third time we’ve hung out with him.
“The Slump” does two interesting things: It throws Peralta off his game early on in the series, and it helps marry the more cartoonish aspects of Brooklyn Nine-Nine with its more straight-faced ones. The former intention is an important one for a new series. The latter, though, proves the strength of the series even in its infancy.
For the past two episodes, Jake’s skill has been telegraphed through his investigative actions, his colleague’s own reactions to him, and his own ego. His ability as a detective is a definitive part of his character, but it’s only the third episode and he’s lost his mojo. Barney, for instance, didn’t get the yips until three seasons into How I Met Your Mother. HIMYM’s yips worked because the audience had spent three seasons watching Barney womanize and his friends put up with it. We’ve known Jake for less than an hour when he loses one of his main definitive character traits. But it works, partly because Brooklyn Nine-Nine feels quite assured for young series.
What this episode also proves his how deep the talent pool is on Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Diaz and Santiago are tasked with leading a group to recruit teens onto the force. Despite Gina’s eagerness, she’s not a cop, and therefore banished from shaping young minds. Also, it is entirely possible that she is a crazy person. Santiago can’t connect with them because she’s not from the streets, like Diaz, who is surprised to find that her tough lady shtick doesn’t work on them either. Enter Gina, whose tactic to connect with the youth of Brooklyn is an interpretive dance set to Christina Aguilera’s “Beautiful.” Chelsea Peretti has a dry ridiculousness that has been her main asset as Gina, but her physicality, loping and emoting around the room, as the teens, Santiago, and Diaz watch in disbelief (and possible horror), was one of the show’s funnier moments thus far. It saved what would otherwise be an uneventful B-plot retreading on the comedic territory of adults being unable to connect with teenagers.
The same compliment can be extended to Terry Crews. Last week in the stray observations, I commented on just how amazingly elastic his face is. His character’s mix of über masculinity—his cure for Peralta’s yips are 10,000 sit ups—and his inner softness are so perfect for the character of Terry. From Scary Terry (“This is taking too long long. I’m going to miss the farmers market!”) to his sadness, rather than anger, at his inability to put together the princess castle for his daughters, Cagney and Lacey (“What kind of castle has wheels?!”). Like Dwight from The Office and the aforementioned Barney on HIMYM, it’s Gina and Terry who allow Brooklyn Nine-Nine to transcend the notions of workplace comedy into something weirder and, in the case of Gina, more surreal. The trick will be keeping these two in check—unlike Dwight who went from office weirdo to a danger to his colleagues. Yet, Terry, at least, remains grounded. He’s not always the punchline of the joke. He’s still a sergeant and he’s still a respected member of the precinct, an important distinction to keeping him from going too crazy.
It’s not just Gina and Terry who are able to hold up their end of the goofiness of “The Slump.” While Holt is—I believe the term is—“messing witchya” when it comes to his superstitions involving Peralta’s slump, it expands on the character. Holt is not just exasperated looks and life lessons for Peralta. He can be funny too. Yet, it remains in the service of expanding Holt’s role as Peralta’s unofficial rabbi (to steal Santiago’s term from the pilot). Other characters are starting to become more fully-formed as well. Boyle is a divorcé, Diaz came from the streets and Santiago didn’t. While Peralta may have been thrown off his game early on, the other characters are beginning to become fully-formed beyond the traits that are introduced in the pilot. I’m pumped to see them evolve even more.
- I loved that each character’s favorite cop movie said so much about them: Peralta’s love of Die Hard centers around John McClane’s supercop status, Diaz loves the gratuitous violence of Robocop, while Terry is into Breathless. Terry loves foreign films. Last week, he loved yogurt. I love finding out what he’ll inevitably love next. On that note: “A hot cup of Téa Leoni.”
- I know the contest established in the pilot is used to show that Peralta is in a slump, but I’m still weary of it. It wasn’t mentioned in the last episode and I wouldn’t complain if it wasn’t mentioned again, especially because the issue of Peralta and Santiago’s possible romantic tensions hasn’t been an issue since they haven’t really worked together since the pilot.
- Andre Braugher’s face after Peralta says they’re becoming homies is so A+ it hurt.
- I mentioned Peretti and Crews’ physicality, but Melissa Fumero also looks likes she might have a few tricks up her sleeve. The way she moved her body during her opening Mission: Impossible-themed pep talk, as well as her facial reactions, demonstrate more than what she’s given us. I’m looking forward to seeing what she can do.
- “This is Jeffrey Dahmer’s corduroys all over again.”
- “Yes sir, I will make better mouth.”
- “Fly to Montreal. Check into a classy hotel. Bone a stranger.” This the first time I’ve found something Diaz has done to be genuinely funny.
- “You had me at no paperwork.” “That was the very end of the sentence.”