Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s entire premise is one that allows it to have larger-than-life plots and scenarios, even if that doesn’t necessarily mean every episode ends with a shoot-out and a few doves flying around the precinct in slow motion. It’s a show that very much understands how to reconcile those big time situations with smaller, more intimate character moments—and genuine, smart humor—and that’s why it works. “Nine Days,” on the other hand, isn’t an episode that really does much of that at all. Here, the smaller, more intimate character moments in the episode end up mostly coming across as forced, while the only thing “big time” really applies to, with regards to the episode, is how big and over-the-top the plots and character actions are. Despite being a hot streak lately, Brooklyn Nine-Nine runs right into a freezing cold lake (a metaphorical one, not the literal one from “Yippie Kayak”) with “Nine Days.”
The episodes starts off solidly enough by having a cold open that will actually bleed into the rest of the episode: Jake wants to distract and cheer up Holt while Kevin’s in Paris. It’s an admirable thing. And as much fun as the standalone cold opens can be, it’s always nice to see that these bits don’t exclusively exist outside of the “real” world of the show. But what follows in the rest of the episode really diminishes that choice, because “Nine Days” has the unfortunate fate of being an episode that relies greatly on emotions without actually taking much of anything seriously. The closest the episode gets to having a plot that fully works within the context of what it’s trying to do is the Terry/Gina plot, and that one still is plagued with a rushed conclusion (the putting out fires/stretching oneself too thin lesson basically comes out of nowhere, considering how the only characters almost reacting to it are Scully and Hitchcock) and the same broadness that really hurts the rest of the episode’s plots (again, the Scully and Hitchcock of it all, which leads to the hulking out moment).
When I talk about how broad this episode is, I can’t say that with out talking about the A-plot. First of all, the entirety of the mumps plot feels—within the context of the episode itself—more like nine hours instead of nine days. As much as the show keeps telling us time has elapsed, that never once feels true; so there’s already trouble buying that simple concept. So when the episode has a patented Brooklyn Nine-Nine moment in the slow motion scene set to “Hustlin’,” the only thing that really works is the fact that their “slow motion” is just how slow they actually are now... but it doesn’t feel like the result of anything other than it being the next part in the episode script.
Mumps-afflicted Jake brings out Andy Samberg’s more frustrating, over-the-top tendencies, and in the case of Holt… Well, the mumps really doesn’t change Holt unless it’s him Beautiful Mind-ing the word “case”/”kase.” But that’s it. Naming goiters and reminders of testicular pain simply sound like beats from a completely show. Plus, despite how awful all of this is (for the characters), this dead end cold case is one that two very delirious men can solve while Amy apparently leaves her perception at the precinct in this episode. Simply put: Amy’s love of instructions really isn’t an excuse for anything. The episode stretches a suspension of disbelief that even an episode with a plot about sperm didn’t do, to the point where it breaks. Characters may be doing their jobs this week, but there’s nothing behind any of it, besides the fact that the script says it’s so.
As I mentioned above, this episode uses one of the series’ strength for nefarious purposes; it ends up being an episode that has the unconditional love that these characters have for each other explain away characters apologizing for things when they’re in the right (and letting others get away with simply being wrong. The Terry/Gina plot avoids that completely, but as mentioned before, that plot is half-baked as it is. With the Jake/Holt and Rosa/Boyle plots, this the second biggest problem for the former and the biggest for the latter. With Jake and Holt, Jake may be trying to help Holt out, but honestly, the actual execution of the plot feels more about Jake himself than it does Holt and his feelings of loneliness. It gets even worse when Jake throws back the fact that he got Holt his job at the Nine-Nine back, which is definitely a harsh thing to throw back at anyone, let alone someone you’re supposedly trying to selflessly help. Jake lies to Holt about the case to keep him preoccupied, Holt gets upset with Jake for lying, and Holt somehow ends up having to apologize.
With the Rosa and Boyle plot, the reason the idea of unconditional love and forgiveness is such a problem here is that Rosa—as cold as she is and always will be—is absolutely in the right in this plot. I’m saying this as someone who loves my dog so much that I would also be immensely upset with someone for calling him just a dumb dog or interchangeable. But the reason why Rosa is short with Boyle this entire episode is because they have a case they need to be working on, and that’s something that’s apparently under even more scrutiny under the two-week reign of Terry. Boyle is coming to work and very pointedly not doing any work. He’s being extremely selfish, even when Rosa gets a dog for him. The highlight is that Rosa keeps that dog, but that’s only because, unlike Boyle in this instance, she deserves better than a nightmare dog that humps everyone and everything. The combination of Rosa apologizing during the dog funeral she also gives Boyle (despite her already doing much more than any person or television character should have to do in the first place) with an especially immature Scully and Hitchcock in attendance is pretty much this episode in a nutshell.
I’ve said time and time again that this is a very talented cast, crew, etc., which is what makes this episode such a disappointment after another break. It’s all just too much, and not in the way Brooklyn Nine-Nine excels. It feels like a completely different show here. Really, the goiter prosthetics sealed the episode’s fate. In fact, the goiter prosthetics appear to just be the fat prosthetics, used for an equally tepid gag. No more prosthetics, please.
- This week in webisodes Brooklyn Nine-Nine needs: We were robbed by not being able to see Rosa go puppy shopping. As such, there should be a Brooklyn Nine-Nine webseries in which Rosa goes puppy shopping. It’s only obvious.
- Alright, I’ll give it up to Boyle’s dog’s in memoriam video. Michael Bolton—bold choice.
- As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve always liked Andy Samberg, but I’m aware of how people may not or what could strike nerves. This episode is full of those nerve strikes.
- “Trivia Newton-John” is the name of Amy’s trivia team, and she really couldn’t take a step back and think about that recipe? Even the out-in-the-open ways the show is covering Melissa Fumero’s pregnant body can’t make me forgive that.
- Amy: “I’m immune to stuff you haven’t even heard of.”
Holt: “But not immune to braggadocio.” Amy’s facial expression after that is gold.