Now three seasons in, Brooklyn Nine-Nine has made it clear that it’s very eager to embrace change. Stagnation can kill a series’ quality, and Brooklyn Nine-Nine apparently sees that and has decided to make sure that no one can ever say that stagnation was ever one of the series’ problems. Despite being a relatively young sitcom (and television series, in general), Brooklyn Nine-Nine isn’t (or doesn’t appear to be) very complacent. Even with a stacked cast and fantastic creative team—as well as an established and effective groove—Brooklyn Nine-Nine isn’t afraid to step outside its comfort zone and grasp for more.
(But even though Brooklyn Nine-Nine is consciously changing as the seasons change and the characters grow, the series is still very much a sitcom with its own set of rules. The day Brooklyn Nine-Nine introduces Jake’s new-found love of ventriloquism with a murderous dummy named Jevil is a day I’ll print out every one of my episode reviews and literally eat my own words.)
Stepping outside that comfort zone and grasping for more is basically what Jake and Amy find themselves having to do in “New Captain.” The episode begins right where season two ended, so there’s a new captain in the precinct, but there’s also the fact that Amy and Jake just kissed in the file room. It’s actually more important, depending on your perspective on things. While the stress of the new captain is a major part of the entire episode, this really is an episode about aftermath, and the aftermath of Jake and Amy kissing absolutely affects the entire series.
I’ve made it clear that I don’t care too much for (well, about) any of the Jake/Amy relationship stuff on the show, but I can’t deny that this episode is really smart for avoiding any of the traps of unnecessary will they-won’t they nonsense. Part of that is the characters getting sex out of the way almost immediately. And in case anyone was worried about how that would go, the Jake and Amy make sure to acknowledge the fact that they have great sex together. The episode also makes sure to get the secret kiss out in the open to their friends and colleagues fairly quickly, not trying to drag it out. There’s no dragging out of their attempts to keep it “light and breezy” either.
And when Jake and Amy choose to just be friends—the total sitcom cop-out to keep the status quo—the show flips the script and throws it out too, having them instead decide they can be a couple and the same people (and detectives) they always were. Instead of dragging out the possibility of the relationship for much more seasons, Brooklyn Nine-Nine has found perhaps the best time to pull the trigger. As much as one can joke about Jake and his troubling or unsettling way of going through life, the Sophia saga in season two was the show’s way of maturing Jake on a personal and emotional level—“preparing” him for his inevitable relationship with Amy. So his emotional immaturity can’t be an excuse for the failure of this relationship, at least not this early on. Brooklyn Nine-Nine could easily have pulled the standard, yet completely unnatural, sitcom choices to shoot itself in the foot with this storyline. But it doesn’t, and that’s both shocking and admirable.
In terms of characters, the part of the Jake/Amy stuff that doesn’t work in this episode is actually neither Jake nor Amy’s fault. It’s actually Boyle’s fault, as Boyle is sadly not so much of a character in this episode as he is the very model of a modern Jake and Amy shipper. Season two found a good groove with Boyle—complete with his obsession with shampooing another person’s hair, which remains in this episode—and one that made for intrigue going into season three. There was no accidental sex with Gina this time, so the season could start any way for Boyle.
Unfortunately, the intrigue for the character is eliminated in order for him to solely be the champion of Jake and Amy. If the show is doing almost everything right with Jake and Amy in this episode, it’s the Boyle stuff that leads to it only being “almost.” This is an episode without a case-of-the-week, so the personal moments are already amplified, but Boyle’s investment in Jake and Amy still manages to be over-the-top. It’s also a matter of the character not acting anything like a real human being, as he makes sure to make sure both Jake and Amy know he needs them to be together. There’s no accounting for either of their feelings or thoughts when it comes to Boyle’s behavior in this episode, and for anyone to randomly be watching for the first time, they would just assume that’s Boyle’s role in the show: being the resident Jake/Amy shipper.
By the way, having seen the commercial for this premiere during the Emmys, I can’t really see anyone deciding to watch this show for the first time or at all because of it. I almost wanted to stop watching Brooklyn Nine-Nine whenever I’d see a commercial for it.
The Boyle character ended season two on such a high note, and here, he’s barely a character. It’s the least organic part of this particular plot, and Boyle’s advice in it is actually stuff that Jake would or could come to eventually. By the way, the Diaz/Terry subplot isn’t too much of anything—though it does showcase Rosa’s anger issues tremendously—but there’s no reason it couldn’t have fit a functional Boyle in there instead.
As for the new captain situation, unlike Boyle when it comes to Jake/Amy, let it never be said that Brooklyn Nine-Nine is selfish. It gets Bill Hader, who is currently tearing it up on Documentary Now and does a phenomenal job here, just for this episode and makes sure to completely shut the door on the possibility of him ever returning to the show. Plenty of shows would try to keep Hader for long as possible, for good reason, but Brooklyn Nine-Nine chooses to go with the big guns quick for the bait and switch of Dean Winters’ Vulture.
It’s understandable how some people could believe that Holt would actually leave the show for good. Andre Braugher is a “name” actor, and as such, some may believe he’d leave the wacky world of the Nine-Nine to get back to being a “serious” actor. If Andre Braugher wanted to leave Brooklyn Nine-Nine to do something else, Andre Braugher would leave Brooklyn Nine-Nine to do something else. Again, Brooklyn Nine-Nine isn’t afraid to change it up, and the idea of maintaining a semblance of realism and shifting leadership roles in a police world falls under both of those criteria. If it genuinely wanted to—and at times, it appears that it does—Brooklyn Nine-Nine could pull a Parks & Recreation and include gradual rises through the ranks. That type of thinking is what made Rosa’s career aspirations one of the more interesting parts of season two. The same could be said about Terry considering a private security job in “Det. Dave Majors.”
While Jake and Amy merely had to stick the landing (and, mixing metaphors, they pass with flying colors), Captain Holt’s transfer is a guaranteed gold comedic plot. The transition from Captain Holt (and Gina) to paper pusher Holt (and Gina) is as funny as one would expect, and the fact that Kyra Sedgwick’s Wuntch remains on the show to tease and torment Holt in his time of tedious torture (naming a pigeon mascot, of all things) makes it all better. As for Gina, as the self-involved character that she is, she blossoms among these no-name PR characters, taking her role as the true alpha of a group. It’s rock bottom for Holt, but at the same time, the new setting revitalizes two characters who weren’t even close to stale to begin with. The lack of interaction with the main cast in this episode is nowhere near as jarring as one would assume, and the plot really subverts a lot of expectations about what can and cannot work in this show—in fact, that’s the case for the majority of this episode. If season two was a season of growth, then season three could quite easily be the season that flips everything on its head, in the best way. Welcome back, Nine-Nine.
- This week in webisodes Brooklyn Nine-Nine needs: Captain Holt Names Things.
- Apologies for the late review. Bill Hader’s role as Captain Dozerman consumed a lot of my thoughts, and we should all be lucky that wasn’t the only focus of my entire review. Because I wanted it to be.
- There’s something strangely delightful about the fact that Dozerman immediately likes Jake. Then again, everything about Dozerman is strangely delightful. His intensity is ultimately something that might not have been able to last here, so Brooklyn Nine-Nine was right to not even try to stretch it out.
- “Hope It Wasn’t A Mistake: Title of your sex tape! Title of our sex tape!” Every episode was leading up to this line of dialogue from Jake.
- “This man is a Timberlake and you need to stop treating him like a Fatone.” The Gina/Holt parts were my favorite parts of this episode, followed by the little Hader. This show has been missed.
- Linetti, Set, Go and Gina In A Bottle. Gina Linetti is an actual genius.
- The Vulture was definitely at his most Dennis Duffy in this episode’s tag, dummies.
- Does Nick Cannon still exist?