Sunday, December 14, 2014

REVIEW: 'Brooklyn Nine-Nine' - Jake and Charles Spend a Lot of Time Together & Captain Holt Smiles in 'Stakeout'

FOX's Brooklyn Nine-Nine - Episode 2.11 "Stakeout"

Jake and Charles' bro-mance starts to crack when they volunteer for an eight-day stakeout in very close quarters. Meanwhile, Captain Holt's nephew, Marcus, comes to Brooklyn and captures Rosa's attention.

The characters on Brooklyn Nine-Nine are fun and it has been a great pleasure watching the show find new and creative ways to pair them together. The theme of "Stakeout" is seeing how the people at the precinct perceive their co-workers. It's an idea that is strong from the cold open to the very end. And yet, I don't think it challenged the core defining characteristics about these characters as strongly as they could have. It was still a largely enjoyable episode. It just probably could have been a lot stronger if it had a few more minutes.

Jake and Charles' partnership is a dynamic the show found early on in its life. They are willing to put up with the others' oddities because they have so much fun together and can trust each other on the job. And yet, putting them in a room together for a stakeout over several days is the biggest challenge they've ever had to deal with. They are fine putting up with the wacky ticks the other displays in small doses. But actually spending so much time with the other only makes all of those tiny things add up to one annoying person. Not only do they put an end to their friendship, they actually ruin the entire stakeout operation. The time they spend in the confined space is never really about the people they are spying on. It's about the increasingly annoying traits that they both exhibit. Across those seven or eight days, they are rapidly on the decline. They are willing to prove that they are friends who never fight and don't need Terry's suggestion of "alone time." But they are slowly slipping away from each other - by putting lists up on the wall of what the other can't do and then increasingly adding to it. It's almost astonishing that they got any work done considering they both spent so much time writing things down on the wall.

Things get so bad that they both want to end their friendship and Jake asks for a new partner. It's only after they miraculously catch the bad guy and have each other's back on the job do they remember how much they appreciate the other. Jake really does say it best in that they are like brothers. It is a sweet moment to end on. It was also a necessary beat for this plot because I really did not want to sit through a couple of episodes were Jake and Charles weren't friends. As the plot for just one episode, it works.

The two subsequent subplots both had strong ideas but not enough actual plot. Terry is making a birthday present for his girls in the form of a book featuring characters who resemble the various people at the precinct. Amy and Gina both read it and don't like the way they are depicted as being a pushover and a bitch respectively. It's just a children's book after all. We know that Terry respects both of these women and their friendship. So it seems kinda foolish that Amy and Gina would both get so insincere about the way Terry might see them.

And then, Captain Holt's nephew, Marcus (special guest star Nick Cannon), stops by as a new native to the city and sparks immediately start flying between him and Rosa. It's nice to see her be the focus of a romantic subplot after spending the first part of the season busy with her drug task force. It puts the character out of her element a little bit. We've never really seen the romantic side to Rosa. It's still very mysterious. But we now have the potential to learn more. It pairs Holt and Rosa together in a weird way. Their morning after bump-in at the Holt house was awkward but very hilarious. Holt simply could not understand seeing one of his detectives walking down the stairs after his nephew. They sort things out in the end - but it's only to agree not to talk about this with each other. That's certainly the way both would handle this situation. And yet, I'm really intrigued to see how Rosa and Marcus interact together and if this is a romance that could be a recurring thing - or just a one-time hookup.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Stakeout" was written by Laura McCreary & Tricia McAlpin and directed by Tristram Shapeero.
  • I continue to enjoy the show's commitment to Holt discovering the Wuntch-lunch connection. He stayed up all night and that's still the best jab he could think of.
  • The cold open works so well because Holt is vastly different than how he usually is. It's all because of his relationship with Wuntch. He is smiling and it's up to Jake to suggest doing the mature thing and not say anything at all.
  • Hitchcock really wants to be Jake's new best friend whenever Charles is out of the way.
  • I love that Marcus can figure out who everyone is in the precinct simply by what his uncle has told them. You don't have to be a detective to solve that one.
  • Holt to Wuntch: "Wuntch time is over. Boom, did it! Haha! Had it both ways. No regrets."