Well there ya go Nine-Nine!
After a lackluster episode, Brooklyn Nine-Nine felt like it bounced back for “Tactical Village.” This was a more mature episode, both structurally and in the way it pushed the relationships of each of its characters forward. “Tactical Village” was ostensibly about team bonding, but its main plot didn’t deal with the team as a whole. Instead, it looked at two central pairs, defining their paths for the rest of the season. Going into the homestretch, “Tactical Village” had a depth to it that had been missing from the previous episodes, especially throughout the emotional lives of the characters.
That depth could best be felt when it came to the Diaz-Boyle plotline. Their friendship has been a nice change of course since Boyle and Vivian (Marilu Henner) got together. It allowed their chemistry to grow in a way that made sense, without forcing the template of unrequited love on them. Their relationship began to make sense, in the same way that it worked for Peralta and Santiago in “The Date.” Boyle starts the episode by giving everyone STDs (sorry) for his wedding, but Diaz never receives one. She’s not hurt, because she’s secretly in love with Boyle, but because of the bond they’ve formed since Boyle stopped being so all-consumingly in love with her. They are such naturally different characters, both bucking gender stereotypes without falling into camp due to their respective development, that their friendship is beginning to become one of the richer parts of the show. What’s important is that she’s hurt, not spurned. There’s no malice between Vivian and Diaz, and the episode smartly never devolves into that to demonstrate Diaz’s feelings. Her beef is with Boyle, and it’s Boyle who is the one with the problem. Surely, it’s a plot that will carry itself throughout the remaining episodes of the season.
Existing in the same sphere was the continued Peralta-Santiago love saga, the most inelegant of “Tactical Village’s” plots. Peralta gets jealous when Santiago sees a former fling (Kyle Bornheimer) at their training sessions. As soon as Boyle asked about Peralta and Santiago’s status on the bus ride over to training facility, I cringed. Boyle is better at playing the surprisingly wise advice-giver at the end than the gabbing middle schooler. Yet, placing Peralta in the context of a relationship with Santiago makes him considerably less annoying. The Rex Buckingham route was never going to do it for me, but as soon as Peralta went into Serious Cop Mode, I was considerably more onboard. There’s a way to make Peralta fun to watch, yet, as he says himself, there’s something preventing him from doing so—namely a fixation on boobs and farts. Peralta’s not so bad when he is less man-child with a badge and more an actual man. “Tactical Village” proved he could be the latter and still be funny.
There were redeemable qualities to the Tactical Village itself, namely in the technical aspects of the show. The obstacle scenes were great fun to watch. Last week, I talked about how Brooklyn Nine-Nine eschewed police work in favor of general office politics, but this is a return to form in a way, honing in on situations that are specific to the job (unless your job has cool gun range obstacle courses, in which case, I picked the wrong line of work). Peralta extols the virtues of the course by saying it’s just like an action movie, and the scenes were shot with loving parody of badasses slowly walking forward while they wield their guns in supremely cool ways. (The decoy perp walking away in frustration as he continually gets shot in increasingly ridiculous ways was a perfect sight gag.) When the Nine-Nine races through the course with sped-up framework, it gives the show a sense of action and urgency that most sitcoms don’t get to dabble in. These are the types of tricks that few comedies beyond Brooklyn Nine-Nine can play with, and are in stark contrast to the show’s usual modus operandi of showing the more conventional workplace aspects of police, much like its oft-mentioned forebearer, Barney Miller. I appreciate when they play with a different set of tools.
In my review of “The Apartment,” I took great issue with Gina, who is either characterized as diabolical genius or idiot savant depending on the episode. But in “Tactical Village,” Gina hits her sweet spot. There’s a certain character trope that has existed in comedies since the Romans and Greeks were killing it onstage and has endured through Shakespeare and has evolved into a sitcom mainstay: the servant who doesn’t believe her superior’s rhetoric. Think Geoffrey in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air or Florence in The Jeffersons. This is where Gina exists best. She’s still marked by Otherness, because she is support staff, and not a cop, which seemed to be the purpose of her character’s eccentricities. She can still be a total weirdo, but in this role, she doesn’t have to play sub-intelligent or not of this earth. She can walk into the men’s room unimpeded and has no qualms about correcting Holt’s backwards ‘W.’ Like Geoffrey or Florence, she’s separated from the rest of the group by her position, but her position does not stop her from doing whatever the hell she wants. This is where Gina feels like more of a character, and less of a device for delivering one-liners. It’s a good place for her to exist, and I hope it keeps on happening in future episodes.
- Let’s just all bask in the glory that is Terry Crews dancing in tactical victory. Someone feel free to make a GIF of that and send it to me so I can watch it for all eternity.
- Kyle Bornheimer—along with About a Boy’s Dave Walton—is one of my fave guys whom the networks keep trying to make happen, but he just hasn’t landed the right vehicle yet. That is to say, Worst Week, Perfect Couples, Romantically Challenged and Family Tools were not the right vehicles. But he’s still quite charming!
- Excellent cold open: “Will your first dance be to ‘You Give Me Fever’?” “Will you serve crab at your wedding?” “Do you have herpes?”
- While Scully holds up a shirt that says ‘baby’: “You went upsie downsies?” I laughed so hard.
- Both Stephanie Beatriz and
AmyMelissa Fumero made excellent use of their lines. Beatriz, in particular, gets an A+ for “It would be weird because I’m weird. Woooo-ooooh. I’m leaving.”