On the surface, “House Mouses” is Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s version of Buffy The Vampire Slayer’s “The Zeppo,” giving Scully and Hitchcock (the titular “house mouses” of the Nine-Nine) the spotlight to prove their worth as a team and as cops outside of the world of paperwork. But as far as changing characters’ or the audience’s perception of Scully and Hitchcock goes, this episode doesn’t exactly do that. While Terry addresses in this episode that the two of them are actually good at what they do, they’re not even surprisingly good at field work. Even a slightly, almost competent Scully and Hitchcock are still the forever befuddled Scully and Hitchcock. Unlike Xander’s role in “The Zeppo,” there is no moment in this episode where things click for Scully and Hitchcock and they get their moment to show that they’re not incompetent. Instead, at their most extreme—in the field—their very existence puts their and their colleagues’ lives at great risk.
Jake does a lot of things though. Jake is the one who gets Scully to spill on his and Hitchcock’s terrible plan; Jake is the one who goes full Matthew McConaughey for their turn as the Dallas Buyers Club; Jake is the one who comes up with the ideas for them to get out of a hostage situation. On that last one, while Scully and Hitchcock’s particular set of skills come into play, neither of them would have actually thought to sweat profusely or get a rolling chair up a flight of stairs (things they are great at) in order to save the day. Ultimately, they really are one trick ponies, which is both what makes this episode and hinders it. They’re lovable doofuses, and that doesn’t just change even when they’re out to prove themselves. Then again, nothing changes even when they’re out to prove themselves, and that is disappointing. Scully and Hitchcock can’t even be kings for a day, and while that’s “realistic” given the circumstances and it closes the book on ever having to see them in the field again, it’s bittersweet.
However, the episode deserves props for doing something different, giving two characters who could easily wear thin with more screentime a shining moment in terms of the show as a whole. As inept as the characters are, it’s still all funny. In fact, “House Mouses” is really just a goofy episode that doesn’t care to factor in the emotional or even story beats as much; it just wants to be goofy, and it is. The celebration and chair-gifting at the end is only a means to keep Scully and Hitchcock out of the field. Amy, Gina, and Rosa’s bonding is the result of strange task-related behavior presumably during work hours. Holt and Boyle’s situation is the pretty much the same as other Holt and Boyle situations in this season, only it has a fanboy Holt in the mix. This isn’t a big episode, and it doesn’t act like it is, which is another way the episode is really not “The Zeppo” of Brooklyn Nine-Nine.
The Holt/Boyle plot is one that is easy to pin down as soon as Jake gets way too excited without thinking about who Captain Holt would consider a “high profile celebrity.” This episode in general is easy to pin down from top (the “French” office supply basket in the cold open) to bottom, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It just means that the episode is much more focused on the laughs than it is thinking outside of the box, even with atypical focus on Scully and Hitchcock. And it’s a comedy, so really, that’s not a bad thing.
This is a straightforward and possibly in-your-face funny episode, which is why we get the arguably questionable but still funny Scully and Hitchcock plot. It’s why we get the twist of Holt turning into a fanboy over celebrity oboist John William Weichselbraun (Brad Hall), with Boyle playing the straight man. Holt’s celebrity moment is so on-point for Holt, and the idea of Boyle being the one to keep his head out of the clouds works in contrast. This is also the first episode of the season to have a Holt/Boyle plot or interactions where Holt doesn’t completely treat Boyle like an unimportant cog, so even when he demotes him from lead detective on the case, it’s not uncomfortable to watch. Petty Holt can be too much on occasion, but this is just the right amount.
As I implied with the “task-related behavior” classification of Amy, Gina, and Rosa’s story in this episode, that’s a plot that really boils down to being a checklist for the ladies of the Nine-Nine. It’s face your fears plot, which also isn’t new, but Melissa Fumero, Chelsea Peretti, and Stephanie Beatriz all nail said plot checklist. The plot is really just comedic beats taking the forefront, and that’s how we get Amy in a trunk, Gina in a wig, and Rosa in the most intense display of “psyching” oneself up. Sometimes it’s just fun to watch funny people be fun and funny together. There—that’s the episode and show in a nutshell.
“House Mouses” a funny episode, filled to the brim with great line-readings, as unsettling as some are. But it’s also an episode that’s just as integral as Scully and Hitchcock when you really think about it. It gets the job it’s actually supposed to be doing done. It’s a very fun, goofy episode—but it’s also the type of episode you can just keep on in the background while focusing on other things. Again, that’s not exactlya bad thing, but “House Mouses” won’t go on to be the most important episode of the series or even the season. It will, however, remain the most fun episode of television to have one character call Dianne Wiest “so sexual” and have another character shout out “I’m not sticking because I’m so juicy!” That’s commendable.
Also, what’s the deal with classical musicians?
- This week in webisodes Brooklyn Nine-Nine needs: We could use webisodes for each face your fear task, really. How did Amy do in the trunk? Why don’t we check out Gina’s conversation with the business folks? Did Rosa pass out, not from the blood draining but from the screaming fit?
- The cold open with the French care package, as funny as it ended up being, really was a sign for what was to come in the episode. At no point did any of the detectives realize who it was for. Gina really should do all of their jobs for them.
- Jake: “What celebrity was it, sir? Was it a Chris? Hemsworth? Evans? Pratt? Pine? Brown? Cross?” To me, this is the most important line Jake Peralta has uttered and will ever utter.
- Before the reveal, I guessed the “celebrity” would be a world renowned cellist. At the oboist reveal, I realized a cellist would be too obvious and have a greater possibility of actually being a celebrity.
- Jake Tom Sawyer-ing the situation with Scully and Hitchcock certainly makes plenty of sense in terms of him only wanting the bigger cases, but at the same time, the fact that Jake puts them in charge of any case in the first place (even at the small stage it was first at) just reads as him wildly missing the mark. Understandably, there has to be a catalyst for this plot, but getting to this point—thanks to how Scully and Hitchcock have been portrayed in every single episode—because of Jake wanting to pass off the case to anyone doesn’t really work.
- Rosa: “Sorry, I can’t. I’m… under 17 years old.”
- Vampires probably wouldn’t be a good topic of conversation for Rosa, would they?
- Holt: “It’s a signed copy of his book of mouth exercises. Reed It And Weep. Reed. With two e’s. It’s my favorite joke of all time.”
- I will say that Jake being held hostage alongside his colleagues again feels too soon given “Yippie Kayak,” but if Brooklyn Nine-Nine wants to have Jake be held hostage every episode, I’m certain they would make each hostage experience something fun.