Sunday, November 16, 2014

REVIEW: 'Brooklyn Nine-Nine' - Jake Is In Charge of the Precinct While Holt Takes Over Terry's Home Office in 'Lockdown'

FOX's Brooklyn Nine-Nine - Episode 2.07 "Lockdown"

The precinct goes into lockdown mode on Thanksgiving night, and Jake, who was left in charge, is confident in his ability to keep spirits high and avoid chaos. Amy is less confident, as things spiral out of control.

For better and worse, "Lockdown" feels like Brooklyn Nine-Nine reverting back to its initial tricks from the early episodes of the first season - before it truly figured itself out. I understand why Jake does everything that he does in this episode. However, we have seen 28 episodes of character growth and it's disappointing to see him go back to his childish ways so easily. "Lockdown" follows the same structure of Jake not taking anything seriously while an authority figure - usually Holt, but in this case it's Amy - telling him the right way to do things and the other person ultimately being proven right in the end. It's a stale structuring device that I hoped the show had gotten rid of.

On Thanksgiving, Jake is left in charge of the precinct when Holt and Terry decide to go away for the night. Understandably, he wants to lead differently than the two people who are always running the precinct. He agrees to everyone's requests in order to make everyone happy - which becomes increasingly more difficult to do when the precinct goes on lockdown after a box with white powder is delivered. He just wants to keep people calm and comfortable. Jake likes to have fun. To him, informing everyone in the room that the white powder could be dangerous would only cause panic and destruction. To everyone else, it's clear that by informing the people he's stuck there with would create a much safer environment. It's only after he rationally takes charge and tells people what they need to do - instead of the other way around - that they solve the mystery and are let go safe and sound. It's formulaic in a way that harkens back to the day when the show was full of potential. Since then, the show has lived up to that potential and sliding back so easily now only seems worse.

The lone bright spot of the episode comes from the subplot featuring Holt and Terry who have to cancel their plans in order to monitor the situation at the precinct from Terry's home office. It includes a welcome return visit by Jamal Duff as Terry's brother-in-law, Zeke, who always sees Terry as weak and tiny. It too had the potential to become just the same story from a year ago. But it wasn't solely because Zeke had a newfound connection with Terry because he assumed they both have terrible and demanding bosses. The lengths Terry went to in order to keep up that impression were wonderful - especially the bits about the way the food should be prepared. Holt's willingness to go along with the bit only further went towards the playfulness that character has been exhibiting this season - as he is the most excited he's ever been, except we still can't tell because of Andre Braugher's deadpan delivery.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Lockdown" was written by Luke Del Tredici and directed by Linda Mendoza.
  • As much as I didn't enjoy the actual A-story of this episode, it did have some solid comedic beats. I especially enjoyed Charles doing the "Single Ladies" dance with the two hookers, Gina revising her will and Rosa reacting to getting nothing, Hitchcock getting locked outside (and Scully eventually joining him) and the mob all chanting for heat.
  • The cold open, however, was not that funny at all. It worked when it was Amy and Jake arguing over whose form of condolence Holt would appreciate more. And then, the joke of it all was just Jake's signature on his email address.
  • I also found Charles' insistence on Thanksgiving as Turkey Day very amusing. The number 2 stuff? Not so much.
  • Holt on an exercise ball was also great. Of course, Terry would have that as his chair in his office. It's great for the core!