Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine treats us with the greatest trick of all

Illustration for article titled Brooklyn Nine-Nine treats us with the greatest trick of all

So very often, Brooklyn Nine-Nine goes to a place where it strains realism (or whatever can be the closest to realism within this sitcom world) with the amount of extracurricular activities the detectives of the Nine-Nine have within the precinct. I’ve often called it the “Don’t these people have jobs?” dilemma, because obviously they have jobs—pretty important ones—but they find ways to go off onto ridiculous tangents that have very little to do with anything police-work related. It happened a couple of weeks ago with the Moose Tracks subplot, to slightly disappointing results. It happened early last season in “The Jimmy Jab Games,” which was an instant highlight in season two. And of course, it’s the main underlying question surrounding the Halloween episodes of Brooklyn Nine-Nine, which is what leads us to tonight’s episode, “Halloween, Part III.”

With episodes as specifically about goofing around as the Halloween ones and “The Jimmy Jab Games” (or even less competition-centric like last year’s “Beach House”), there’s a leniency given to the members of the Nine-Nine when it comes to not doing any work; though, in the case of Halloween, that’s probably a big night for civilian shenanigans. As I talked a bit about in the context of last year’s “Halloween 2,” these types of wacky episodes sort of hinge on characterization. Unlike the first Halloween episode—which made great strides to make it clear that Jake Peralta is a very good, smart detective—the second one relied on a dumbing down of the character in order to change up the formula and have Holt and the gang finally pull one over on him.

However, “Halloween, Part III” gets back to what works and then some. It not only makes Jake competent, it puts Jake and Holt on an even playing field. It’s something that the show couldn’t have convincingly done in those first two seasons; it’s something that needed to happen after all of the shifting in the Nine-Nine this season. Sure, like last season’s Halloween episode, the end result of “Halloween, Part III” is pretty obvious. That’s merely a symptom of knowing the Halloween episode structure thanks to the first one. But like with any sitcom—or television show in general—it’s perfectly alright to be obvious and predictable, as long as it’s well-executed.

“Halloween, Part III” is absolutely well-executed.

The cold open being another Boyle pile-on is the beginning of the predictable but well-executed world of this episode, and it’s a very solid start to the episode. It shows a very specific type of camaraderie for everyone—Holt included—to go through the trouble of buying and wearing Halloween costumes just to take them off to continue the tradition of bagging on Boyle’s costumes. It’s a tradition that isn’t so much mean-spirited as it is a cathartic prank for the other 364 days of the year when the crew puts up with all of Boyle’s eccentricities, from bizarre food to hair-washing.

As for the main episode itself, as soon as Amy gets picked last (then not at all) for teams, it’s apparent that she’s going to be the one to win the crown. Season one had Jake, season two had Holt, and season three can’t really be a tie-breaker without calling one “better” than the other. As the conclusion of a trilogy, “Halloween, Part III” has to be spectacular, and it is. Jake pulls a Mission Impossible down a vent. Holt drinks a soda pop. Rosa does a somersault out a window. Twice! Terry enlists his wife and twins for subterfuge. Boyle puts roaches in his pants. Gina turns down her (mostly) perfect love match. Amy wears an unnecessary fake mustache. Everyone plays their part in this episode, and they function like the well-oiled machine they often are in official capacities.

An episode like “Halloween, Part III” is the type that just works in combination with everything—from the writing, to the character interactions, to the actor’s performances—so if this all sounds overly praising, that’s because it rightfully is. Plus, it’s not just a filler episode, as it continues the Boyle/Genevieve plot while also giving Gina a love interest (who just so happens to be Genevieve’s brother) in Nadia/Leo (Josh Casaubon). In fact, a couple of episodes ago, I even pointed out how strange it felt that Gina was the only one in the Nine-Nine without a paramour, so it’s nice to see that Brooklyn Nine-Nine intended to use that as a specific plot point. It’s also a terribly candid look into how things are in the Boyle-Linetti family, with family dinners that often feature slow-dancing.


Plus, despite being an ensemble show, Brooklyn Nine-Nine typically works best when it acknowledges how alike Jake and Holt (of all characters) are. They’re not just competitive, they tend to think alike. And even with different outward personalities, there’s a reason they’re both so good at their jobs. That’s how Jake ropes Holt into so many of his cases, after all. Hijinks ensue, but as far as an episode of Brooklyn Nine-Nine goes, this is far from a filler episode. So raise a glass, both to “Halloween, Part III” and the Queen of the Nine-Nine, Amy Santiago.

Stray observations

  • This week in webisodes Brooklyn Nine-Nine needs: Typically, I’d suggest the Hitchcock/Scully/Amy fungus cream mystery, but we get enough in this episode. How about Alias 101 with Rosa Diaz? Please, I beg of you, Brooklyn Nine-Nine.
  • Terry: “Is this meeting about something?”
    Jake: “It’s about EVERYTHING!”
  • Gina: “You’re very intense about vents.”
    Boyle: “Yeah!”
  • Got to love that Jake’s decision to have kids (which Rosa sort of supports, and that’s after their elaborate handshake) is simply because they make him look strong in comparison.
  • Honestly, there are simply too many things to quote in this episode, especially from Holt. Especially when talking about cleavage. I’ll leave the rest to you.