Sunday, November 30, 2014

REVIEW: 'Brooklyn Nine-Nine' - Jake Invites Sophia and Teddy to His Work Trip with Amy in 'The Road Trip'

FOX's Brooklyn Nine-Nine - Episode 2.09 "The Road Trip"

In an attempt to add a touch of romance to their work trip, Jake invites his girlfriend, Sophia, as well as Amy's boyfriend, Teddy, to join them at a B&B. Rosa adamantly refuses to admit to Terry and Gina that she is sick. Charles is eager to help Holt with his anniversary breakfast.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine has been in a funk for the last couple episodes. The character work and interactions remain strong - but it has often paired them with silly and non-sensical main stories. The show definitely needed this road trip to get its spark back. It more than delivers - even though it's largely about Jake and Amy pining after each other. Jake's declaration of him liking Amy was a big moment at the end of last season and the start of this one. And yet, he couldn't act because of Teddy's presence in Amy's life. However, his pining for her was fueling the majority of their interactions together. It was quite a breathe of fresh air when Jake met Sophia. She is this perfect girl for him who can appreciate all of his wacky shenanigans and be just as fun and silly.

In "The Road Trip," Brooklyn Nine-Nine does something that a lot of will-they/won't-they sitcom couplings don't do. Amy admits to liking Jake in that way too. But now, the roles are reversed. She has ended things with Teddy but Jake is happily committed to Sophia. But things are more complicated now because both people are aware of how the other feels - instead of going back-and-forth pining after the other in agony. It's a refreshing change-up. Jake even gets to have a bit of fun with it in the end by teasing Amy. That is just like him so it doesn't come across as mean-spirited. It comes across as fun and how he deals with these types of emotional issues. Again, it doesn't change anything but it is incredibly nice for both of them to know exactly how the other feels should something present itself in the future. It probably dooms Jake's relationship with Sophia. It's not so great to have a ticking time bomb with that relationship - even though I still think Sophia is a lot of fun and brings out good qualities in Jake.

Back at the precinct, Holt and Boyle are a combination that is rarely shown but incredibly effective because they are essentially polar opposites. Boyle is emotional expressive while Holt is pseudo-robotic and pragmatic. They both raise equally good points during Boyle's cooking lesson for Holt's anniversary breakfast with Kevin. It seems like the building blocks for a great odd couple pairing - especially in the end when Holt listens to Boyle (through reading his food blog) and turns out to be a wonderful chef. It's that kind of fun that makes this dynamic between characters so fascinating to watch while also being incredibly rewarding in the end.

And then, there is Terry and Gina dealing with a sick Rosa who doesn't want to admit that she is sick. Stephanie Beatriz is wonderful as Rosa but she's often not allowed to be as over-the-top wacky as the rest of the cast. The cure for that of course is pumping her full of non-drowsy cold medicine. Her rolling around in the chair is wonderfully out-of-character and so hilarious because of how much we know it is uncharacteristic for her. The focus is so much on her that the actual plot progression with her Giggle Pig task force isn't even relevant. We are simply too busy laughing as she destroys the glass in a door in order to escape from a locked room. It's over-the-top ridiculous but in a way that shows her as capable of accepting the help from others. That is wonderful character progression in an episode that does just about everything so right.

Some more thoughts:
  • "The Road Trip" was written by Brigitte Muñoz-Liebowitz and directed by Beth McCarthy-Miller.
  • Jake's reaction to the room of a thousand dolls was great even single time.
  • I would have loved to see more of the conversation between Jake and Sophia as they patched things up and decided to still be going strong in their relationship.
  • Nervous Amy is the funniest version of Amy. Her trying to act normal was all over the place and it was so great to watch.
  • The one thing Holt and Boyle share is a bank and even that joy is eventually taken away from Boyle. 
  • Jake and Boyle's undercover outfits to take down a smuggling operation involving cargo ships were great. Plus it allowed Jake to build a new persona yet again. This time it was Von Ton Tucker, a gruff, punch-you-in-the-gut sailor-man who's taking a break on dry land but just until his girlfriend gets out of lady jail. And Boyle is Twink Tucker, who got the job to support his drug habit but continued with it because of his love for seagulls.