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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

With “The Negotiation,” friendship (and weirdness) makes the Nine-Nine go 'round

Illustration for article titled With “The Negotiation,” friendship (and weirdness) makes the Nine-Nine go 'round

Even more than Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s Halloween heist episodes—which bring joy with how expectedly elaborate them are—the Doug Judy episodes are all about the audience knowing what they’re going to get. You’re going to get some Jake Peralta/Doug Judy bromance (best friend bromance, even); you’re going to get some “Rosa, Rosa, Rosa” and other musical numbers and cues; you’re definitely going to get some Doug Judy making promises to Jake that he just can’t keep. All of these promises tend to be about the status of Doug going or staying behind bars, because, when a character is introduced with the word “bandit” as part of his nickname, you’re going to get some bandit-like behavior on his part. The “saving grace,” in a way—because Doug Judy is a criminal, one who keeps eluding arrest and very blatantly messing with the cops—is that he isn’t a violent criminal. Jake Peralta isn’t constantly letting a serial killer (who he’s buddy buddy with) get past him, even though it would be interesting to see Brooklyn Nine-Nine try to put its patented brand of levity into that type of scenario.


Now is not that time though. So the reveal that Doug Judy has taken hostages is the type of thing the audience will want an answer to before we get into the typical Doug Judy episode shenanigans. After all, there’s no way Jake’s best friend would intentionally hurt people. In fact, Doug overcorrects so much that he pays all three hostages $500 out-of-pocket. The last time Doug showed up, he received “full immunity” and a clean slate. But the show also addressed the fact that Doug’s the kind of guy who can’t truly give up a life of crime; he enjoys the thrill of it all too much. A thrill you can’t get with the “monsters” known as child celebs. Trouble finds him, which is why he ends up forced into robbing a jewelry store.

The thing about Doug Judy is that he always manages to give Jake a way to live out his cop movie fantasies. They simultaneously play both the buddy cop and the hotshot cop/the one that got away dynamics when they’re together. And with this episode, Doug even gives Jake the hostage negotiation scenario of his dreams… as well as the opportunity to take down a major crime boss. Jake literally gets to yell at Doug about his bosses potentially taking his badge for this.

The other thing about these episodes is that they work really hard to avoid the obvious Boyle/Jake/Doug Judy best friendship love triangle that you’d expect and even kind of need from this show. But perhaps that’s because the Brooklyn Nine-Nine writers know the universe of the show would implode if that ever happened. Why else would they avoid such a thing in what could possibly be their last Doug Judy episode? Then again, maybe it’s better to be optimistic about this type of thing. As Jake himself points out:

“Can they wait 12 months? I usually run into him about once a year.”

“The Negotiation” obviously exists to have another chapter in the Pontiac Bandit saga, and as such, the other stories in this episode aren’t all that fleshed out. (They don’t really need to be, as I’ll explain.) Even the story that relates to Holt’s quest to become Commissioner isn’t really about Holt’s quest to become Commissioner.

Here, there’s the appearance of a member of the Commissioner Selection Committee... who’s really just a plot device in order to get to the real story: The My Fair Lady-fication of Hitchcock. Or My Bare Lady-fication of him, if we’re going with his version of things. (Personally, I’d prefer a Selfie-ing of Hitchcock, mostly because I want to manifest John Cho on to this show.) It’s hard not to enjoy a good makeover montage, which is the real meat of this particular story; it’s not as though we really get to see Eliza Doolittle Hitchcock in action, except from afar. But Holt and Terry get to shine as Hitchcock’s joint Henry Higgins, whether it’s Holt crying out “NO!” even before the makeover or their general reactions to everything Hitchcock says, does, or thinks. Because Hitchcock is a disturbing man. Honestly, he might be the show’s attempt at providing levity to a serial killer story.

“The Negotiation” makes pretty interesting choices in how it deals with its non-Doug Judy stories in the first place. While Hitchcock obviously refuses to change and of course hits reset on his makeover—which, to be fair, was only the result of an hour and a half of work—the Boyle/Amy/Gina plot goes from point A to C without really including point B. But that’s actually the joke, as the “and let me guess” part confirms. After Boyle drives Amy/Gina to quit, typical plotting suggests we’ll see that Boyle was wrong to let the two go. But he wasn’t—after all, Amy’s idea was to not sell fresh sandwiches—and there’s no need for a moment where he panics and thinks he is. Instead, he simply apologizes for his Nana Boyle-possessed behavior after the fact and promises never to have them work for him again. Because the world doesn’t make sense when Boyle is the alpha over Amy or Gina.


Like the other Doug Judy episodes (at their simplest), “The Negotiation” is solid overall and good for a lot of ridiculous laughs. While it’s an even more predictable plot than before—which can happen with five seasons of appearances from a character who serves a very specific function—it’s an episode that’s driven by all of these characters and their weird little friendships. Yes, the B and C-stories are pretty small potatoes (or meatballs) in comparison to the A-story, but they also make up for that in the quotability and general weirdness of it all.

Seriously, while Jake and Rosa are dealing with a hostage situation and eventually taking down another crime boss, the rest of the crew is dealing with meatball sandwiches and Hitchcock. But the character interactions and quotability thrust these weird, somewhat junk food-y plots into a better spot than they typically would be. To quote Terry and Holt:

Terry: “Oh, they’re looking at us. Act natural.”
Holt: “Spreadsheet, spreadsheet.”
Terry: “Crime.”
Holt: “Crime. Precinct, precinct.”


That’s it. That’s Brooklyn Nine-Nine in a nutshell.

Stray observations

  • This week in webisodes Brooklyn Nine-Nine needs: Boyle obviously needs to be the host of his own Gordon Ramsay-esque cooking competition show. Preferably one where he yells at his friends.
  • Jake: “Oh my God. My prayers have finally been answered.”
    Rosa: “You prayed for a hostage situation?”
    Jake: “Yes, I did. Every single day.” Jake doesn’t even miss a beat when he says that, and then he almost needs a moment alone to himself once he learns the hostage-taker asked for him by name. But you know what? The very fact that Doug Judy did this and requested Jake means he technically gave his best friend another engagement/wedding present. Best. Friend.
  • Dennis Kole (Chris Bauer, who really sells the character’s bitterness as the worst negotiator ever) is another reminder that every police officer outside of the Nine-Nine crew are simply varying levels of corrupt and bad at their jobs.
  • Kole: “Here’s a little advice: I don’t like you two.”
    Jake: “Not so much advice as it is a hurtful statement based on limited interaction.”
  • Kole: “That’s all negotiating is: Two liars lying to each other, until one liar stands too close to the window and gets shot in the head.”
    Jake: “That can’t be all negotiating is.”
    Kole: “Yes, it absolutely is.”
  • Kole: “I can’t believe that idiot thought he could just waltz in here and do my job. It’s hard to be a negotiator. Of my first 50 jumpers, 49 died.”
    Rosa: “You only talked down one person?”
    Kole: “No. He jumped too, but he landed on this woman who broke his fall. She died, but you can’t count that against me.”
    Rose: “I definitely can.”
    Kole: “Yeah? Well, save it.”
  • I feel like Rosa probably should’ve heard through the grapevine what Doug Judy’s been up to, since his high end car brokering to celebrities kind of overlaps with her own hobby of fixing up old cars and selling them to celebrities.
  • Doug: “You mean Pam and the two Bobs? They’re not hostages. I prefer to call them ‘collateral friendships’. I gave them 500 bucks out of my own pocket.”
    Bob #1: “Thanks again, Doug.”
    Bob #2: “You the man, Doug.”
    Pam: “Actually, I’d rather still not be a hostage.” It is no surprise when Pam later rats Jake out. Classic Pam.
  • Also, Bob #2's played by Ernie Reyes Jr., And since Jake Peralta’s the type of character I’d like to believe has plenty of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret Of The Ooze opinions, this drives me crazy.
  • Rosa has no problem arresting Doug Judy the second she sees him, so clearly she never got the message that she loves him.
  • The way Boyle screams and grunts in both joy and absolute stress over the opening of his food truck is something I relate way too much to.
  • Gina: “I’m not off, but I come and go as I please. It’s part of my charm, like an outdoor cat.” You know, it’s probably for the best Gina wasn’t around during Holt’s Commissioner review.
  • Boyle (to Amy): “Do I look like Jake to you?!? … Then why are you trying to screw me?!?”
  • Jake: “Wow. That’s dark. My parents didn’t read to me at all. I just watched cartoons until I fell asleep. Do you think that our childhoods shape the adults we become?”
    Rosa: “They do. And cartoons shaped you into a naive little frog.”
  • Just to be clear: Hitchcock and Scully are the linchpins in two separate plots this episode. The Nine-Nine is a mess.

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.