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With "Admiral Peralta," Brooklyn Nine-Nine brings curses, cakes, and (of course) comedy

Illustration for article titled With "Admiral Peralta," Brooklyn Nine-Nine brings curses, cakes, and (of course) comedy
Graphic: John P. Fleenor (NBC)

After the past couple of weeks of Brooklyn Nine-Nine not acknowledging the fact that Jake and Amy are finally pregnant, “Admiral Peralta” begins in a way that makes that choice make a lot more sense. (Comedically, as there is the unspoken-but-realistic explanation that Jake/Amy may have found it too early to announce the news. Even though Boyle had that whole magical realization at the end of “Ding Dong”...) This is the second time Brooklyn Nine-Nine has had to handle a real-life pregnancy with Melissa Fumero, with both times playing around with and lampshading the very obvious TV belly-hiding tactics used throughout. This time around, the tactics and lampshading have ultimately lent themselves to Fumero actually playing a pregnant Amy. And as TV audiences often joke about just how ridiculous it is that actresses hide their real-life pregnancies in the most ridiculous ways, Brooklyn Nine-Nine takes that concept and has its characters exist in a world where someone would just so happen to think that that is, in fact, the proper way to hide (and not draw obvious attention to) a pregnancy.


But it’s not and everyone watching knows it’s not. Because if anything, it only draws more attention to the real-life pregnancy. And that also ends up being the case for the squad all realizing that Amy’s pregnant, before she and Jake can properly announce it. The belly-hiding bit here is pretty similar to and works as well as the glass-breaking bit in “Dillman,” and while Brooklyn Nine-Nine already had Fumero doing all that ridiculous belly-hiding even before Amy was actually pregnant, it doesn’t take away from the success of the bit.

With that particular plot point out of the way, the episode can then move on to dealing with Jake’s family issues, Amy and Rosa sort of doing police work*, and Terry’s dreams of joining the NYPD band as a flautist.

* I’ve noticed people are keeping track of the Nine-Nine actually doing police work at this point.

In the case of police work, despite the description from the official episode synopsis (“Amy and Rosa work a high-profile case.”), the Amy/Rosa plot has the least going on in this episode. It does, however, fall in line with the squad of the Nine-Nine being exemplary figures in a world full of the opposite, to the point where even the presumed incompetent (Hitchcock and Scully) are able to redeem themselves big time—both on a competency level and a moral one. At first, I immediately questioned Hitchcock and Scully screwing up the case paperwork like they did, as: 1. Their series introduction noted that they were useful when it came to paperwork. 2. At this point, Hitchcock and Scully need to have at least one redeeming quality as detectives. “Admiral Peralta” doesn’t betray that about the characters, instead having their “screw up” be the result of them honoring the request of an undocumented witness. The plot doesn’t turn this into a “lesson” episode though, and once the paperwork issue is explained, Brooklyn Nine-Nine is ready to wrap up the plot just as quickly as it explains it. There is no alternative course of action taken in order for Amy and Rosa to still crack the case—and the episode doesn’t even have the characters try—which has to count as a loss for the (regularly struggling) Nine-Nine and a failure in the Mayor’s eyes. (It’s unclear if it will actually have an effect on the precinct though.) But there’s a win in the sense that Brooklyn Nine-Nine is a show that’s able to depict police officers getting suspended with pay in a positive way.

Plus, Hitchcock and Scully not understanding how elevators stop is definitely worth it.

The Terry/Holt/NYPD band plot is an obvious winner from beginning to end, simply because it blends competitive Holt and compulsive Holt. (Fine, I’ll admit it: Any and all versions of Holt are “the best Holt.”) The plot also gets Holt’s treatment of Terry back into the groove of constructive criticism instead of straight-up mocking. In a nice bit of back-to-back episode timing, Holt channels the spirit of J.K. Simmons in Whiplash for something that’s technically inconsequential but still understandably important for a character like Terry. The beats for this plot—from the tough coach to the easy audition—are obvious, but they’re also so well-executed that it doesn’t even matter. I know it’s preaching to the choir to say that Andre Braugher deserves an intense amount of recognition for his performance as Raymond Holt, but it’s really hard to beat Holt comments about the “Muffin Man”/”Garbage Man,” both in his too serious attempt at coaching Terry and in his backhanded “lesson learned” speech at the end of the plot.


“Admiral Peralta” is an episode with two strong plots and one that’s light but still successful with the little it does. But something technically small but successful that sticks out in this episode is also something Brooklyn Nine-Nine has been struggling with lately in episodes with weaker subplots: creating some semblance of interconnectedness (instead of complete separation) between the plots. Like how Boyle starts in the Terry/NYPD band plot, only to seamlessly tag himself out and move over to the Peralta family A-plot… while Holt tags into the Terry/NYPD band plot and transforms it into the Whiplash homage. And Amy, naturally, pops up in the A-plot—even when she’s still working on her own thing—because it’s a plot focusing a great deal on the sex reveal of her and Jake’s baby. Compare it to in “The Takeback,” where Jake goes on a trip to Miami for a bachelor weekend with a bunch of criminals… and Amy, his wife, apparently has no thoughts on that at all.

As for the A-plot (with the titular Admiral Peralta), Jake’s daddy issues are well-documented territory for the show, as both a humorous and pretty sad part of the character’s DNA. So it makes perfect sense that these issues and Jake’s understandable worries would come into play once he and Amy were finally able to conceive. With the pregnancy out in the open and the follow-up that is the sex reveal party, it all segues nicely into Jake sharing the news with his father.


The plot takes a bit to warm up, as Roger’s (Bradley Whitford) status as a Bad Dad character somewhat peaked is his original introduction. But once Captain Roger Peralta, Admiral Walter Peralta (Martin Mull), and Detective Jake Peralta are all in the same room—after the Captain punches the Detective—things really start to work. It’s a great mix of the chemistry between Whitford, Mull, and Andy Samberg and the material that’s provided for them, as the generational “curse” (of Peralta fathers not getting along with their sons) is something that makes sense for Jake to both worry about and attempt to disprove with every fiber of his being. Roger’s petulance toward his own Bad Dad—and the inverse, with how withholding Walter is toward Roger—is just as fun a dynamic as their twisted, devilish bonding over people breaking bones. Of course Jake won’t be a bad father, and having two very Bad Dads in action around him only confirms that. Well, that and his ability to keep his thumbs where they belong (on his hand).

But the funniest part of the whole plot—and possibly the whole episode, only challenged by Holt’s “Muffin Man”/“Garbage Man” bit—is the reveal of just how bad of a cleaning job the Peralta men did after they attempt to “Bird Box” their way through cleaning up the sex reveal cake that was accidentally knocked over. “Admiral Peralta” is a Brooklyn Nine-Nine episode that loves a sight gag, as well as one that loves to play with flashbacks, flashforwards, and its camera angles and transitions. These are all things in Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s bag of tricks already, but Neil Campbell’s script allows director Linda Mendoza to have a lot of fun using all of them. The cold open flashback, Boyle’s entrance and then the “1 minute later” teary-eyed Boyle, the smash cut reveal to the cake mess (and subsequent flashback), the Whiplash-inspired close-ups as Holt coaches Terry. This episode loves the visual humor as much as it does the verbal and situational, and it’s even more fun for that.


Stray observations

  • Boyle: “Ooh, fun. Terry’s playing the flute.”
    Holt: “At work. Who are you, William Wonka?”
  • Terry: “They’re so mean now.” We all know Terry has kids, but this season, we also know that Terry’s kids are very mean now. Remember, they said he looks “like a giant triangle.”
  • Usually I would include a lot more quotes here, but I wasn’t able to rewatch the episode this week to get all of that in order. As always, I trust the comments to fulfill the quotes quota. Especially when it comes to Holt’s “Garbage Man” stuff.
  • I appreciate that the cold open “flashback” sort of retroactively excuses “Dillman” giving Amy nothing to do but hold a file folder in front of her stomach. However, the past few episodes really haven’t given Amy much to do even when she’s leading plots (like here and with the vending machine).
  • Die Hard superfan Jake purchased Bruce Willis’ parenting book, “Cry Hard With A Vengeance.” I feel like that might be the most Neil Campbell-y bit of the episode. That, or naming Admiral Peralta “Walter Peralta.” It kinda rhymes!
  • As this episode mentions, this is not the first thumb Roger Peralta has cut off.
  • We learn that Amy’s status as Sergeant means she can even suspend Hitchcock and Scully—with pay—in the first place. That’s technically something we kind of knew, because of her rank, but the show hasn’t really done much with her promotion other than giving her rookies for a bit and having her do office manager work.
  • I didn’t mention it in my review of “Dillman,” but I was originally worried that the glitter bomb was going to be a gender reveal attempt gone very, very wrong… and the worry was more about Brooklyn Nine-Nine deciding to do a gender reveal. “Admiral Peralta” is an example of the show handling that concept well though, as it’s specifically a “sex reveal” party (with Jake noting it’s revealing the baby’s biological sex and not gender). Of course Amy would want to know in advance and plan accordingly.

Contributor, The A.V. Club. Despite her mother's wishes, LaToya Ferguson is a writer living in Los Angeles. If you want to talk The WB's image campaigns circa 1999-2003, LaToya's your girl.