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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s return reveals the true “Monster In The Closet”

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It feels so good to have Brooklyn Nine-Nine back. With all the recent discussion about having some sort of an escape from current world issues, Brooklyn Nine-Nine is exactly the type of show that needs to be on right now. It’s not that Brooklyn Nine-Nine is fluff—far from it—but it is a series with such an optimistic outlook on life, even when things go horribly wrong, that it’s hard not to want to get lost in such an aspirational world.


So even when the universe’s signs go out of their way to muck everything up for the Nine-Nine on their path to an ultimate celebration of love and happiness, that’s not the end of the road. In fact, it ends up making the road (which is also love, by the way) even longer. It’s a bit of a messy metaphor, but it’s still something to appreciate in a television series and a piece of pop culture in general. Well, that and plenty of Nancy Meyers and Nora Ephron references. Brooklyn Nine-Nine is really killing it on the reference front these days, isn’t it?

If there’s one thing this current season of Brooklyn Nine-Nine has consistently going for it (outside of the “Coral Palms” episodes), there’s a nice bit of structural similarity in certain episodes that could easily but doesn’t exactly come across like repetition; it feels more like understanding of what structure works best for certain plots and in executing them to their best ability. “Monster In The Closet” has a lot in common with “Halloween IV,” as it is another episode that truly taps into the characters’ tunnel vision when they become task-oriented (no matter how relatively small the task). Only, this time, the tunnel vision is ultimately for a good cause, with very minimal backstabbing and insulting.


Except for when it comes to Amy and Holt. That strange rivalry will never die, as long as there’s an argument about balloon arches and their place in a wedding (or any) setting.

The episode also continues to answer the prevalent question of “don’t you people have jobs to do?” before it can fully be asked, as they’re all off-duty in these 14 hours of wedding planning. In fact, Boyle is at home when the action starts and Adrian Pimento frightens him and his son Nikolaj. This allows “Monster In The Closet” to go on without any speed bumps outside of the plot itself, and for those who might have forgotten what Adrian Pimento’s (Jason Mantzoukas) whole deal is, the episode opens up with the perfect return for the character, courtesy of Boyle’s screams and Pimento’s obliviousness: “Hey, Chuck. It’s Pimento.”


Pimento is at full blast in this episode, as the flashback to him in Uzbekistan prison (why he’s been absent post-Figgis lock-up) proves that even torture can’t hold him down, and… This episode certainly hits a point that is sure to make people who aren’t exactly Mantzoukas fans remain that way. Pimento certainly hasn’t missed a beat in his absence and is still the man Rosa fell in love with, as weird and frantic as that is. Their relationship is still oddly perfect though, and Rosa’s genuine happiness in it remains so fascinating (and enjoyable) to watch. Despite the predictable nature of both Pimento and Rosa sabotaging their wedding independently, the episode’s choice to have them maturely decide to cancel said wedding yet continue to date is a smart one and the type of simple decision that makes Brooklyn Nine-Nine work on a level above plenty of other sitcoms. Pimento’s ruby earrings search, Rosa’s champagne drunkenness—those aren’t really the important things. It’s cliche, but this episode is truly more about the destination than the actual journey.

But make no mistake, this is an episode all about the characters doing relatively trivial tasks and getting drunk. And they do it very well.


Speaking of, “Monster In The Closet,” despite being an episode all about wedding planning, is essentially Brooklyn Nine-Nine at its most hangout sitcom-like this season. The emotional boozing, the breaking and entering, the seat arranging—all classic hangout sitcom tropes, obviously. And to have this workplace sitcom return with this episode is a bit of a bold choice, but it ends up working out. I have to note how this episode continues to the excellent streak really hitting the Amy/Rosa friendship hard; every little moment they share here is much appreciated, funny, and extremely honest to both characters, and Rosa’s request for Amy to plan her wedding last minute (in the “greatest organizational challenge in history”) is the sweetest moment of the episode, as simple and understated as it is.

On the other end of that understated (in any form) spectrum, is the Gina of it all, unsurprisingly. It’s actually a pretty fun choice to have Gina, who is brought on to rein Pimento in, actually share in the crazy man’s sign-based approach to life. Pimento’s presence always tends to shake things up a bit, which makes Jake somewhat of a straight man here. Or, at least, the most mature and sane in this plot. That’s really not too far out of the realm of normal possibilities for Brooklyn Nine-Nine, but down is up and up is certainly down in “Monster In The Closet.” So while Jake being the voice of reason isn’t really that much of a shock, Hitchcock and Scully being the only aspect of the wedding planning to be described as “perfection” certainly is. Obviously they would succeed at creating seating arrangements, considering how much of their lives revolve around sitting, but the bottom never drops out on that one. The bottom never drops out in this episode, really. It’s all rather pleasant.


Except for in the case of Boyle, who acknowledges the reason he and Genevieve aren’t married yet is because of Genevieve’s own hangups. It’s a nice touch in order to address Genevieve at all, who almost feels like a ghost at this point when it comes to Boyle and Nikolaj. But she’s still around, and Boyle’s romantic light hasn’t gone out. There’s hope, which again, is something Brooklyn Nine-Nine excels at.

“Monster In The Closet” is a very solid, funny return to a very solid, funny season of Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Despite the stress that surrounds it, it’s also a rather chill episode, and it gets everyone back into the swing of things without the pressure of a criminal case. The consistency of this episode and season especially counts for Holt and his continued weekly spiral into competitive madness. Sure, a balloon arch isn’t exactly a competitive endeavor, but as Holt sees it as a competition between the other wedding tasks, it somehow becomes that. While “Monster In The Closet” opens adequately when it comes to reintroducing Pimento, it ends splendidly in its decision to have Rosa also love the balloon arch and provide Holt with sweet, sweet “VINDICATION.” You have truly been missed, Brooklyn Nine-Nine.


Stray observations

  • This week in webisodes Brooklyn Nine-Nine needs: Rosa and Pimento review romantic comedies, with emphasis on Nancy Meyers films, of course. Honestly, I need a lot of TV characters to do this, if I’m being perfectly honest.
  • So what are Rosa and Pimento’s favorite Nancy Meyers films? I’m thinking Rosa is a The Holiday girl. Pimento obviously loves Something’s Gotta Give.
  • Jake: “Aww, I love You’ve Got Mail.”
    Rosa: “That’s Nora Ephron, you idiot.”
  • Andre Braugher’s line readings as Holt remain perfect, but none of them are anything compared to Holt passive-aggressively popping each individual balloon in the balloon arch in front of Amy and Terry. That’s art on another level.
  • Amy (when Terry brings up “police work”): “I don’t time to stroke your ego, Sergeant.”
  • Gina (re: not being a cop): “Well you’re not the basis of a character on Empire, Jake, but I don’t throw that in your face every damn day.”
  • Boyle going off on Amy and her mouth/tongue is both amazing and terrifying. He can be so cruel. Now imagine if he hadn’t forgotten to add sugar.
  • Amy: “Oh no, how drunk is he?”
    Terry: “Remember the night they canceled Bunheads?”
  • Amy: “Better than Sleepless In Seattle.”
    Pimento: “Nope, that is also Nora Ephron. Kill yourself.”
    Jake: “Don’t take it personal.”