Sunday, September 27, 2015

REVIEW: 'Brooklyn Nine-Nine' - Jake & Amy Explore a Relationship While Changes Come to the Precinct in 'New Captain'

FOX's Brooklyn Nine-Nine - Episode 3.01 "New Captain"

After Holt is transferred to the NYPD Department of Public Relations, the new captain's (Bill Hader) arrival causes the precinct to dissolve into chaos, despite Terry's best efforts to keep everyone on point. Meanwhile, Jake and Amy face the aftermath of their "for reals" kiss.

Over the course of the series so far, Jake and Amy have gotten really close as co-workers and friends. Yes, they tease each other but that comes from a place of respect and friendship. They both see each other as great detectives. They do have a level of understanding that only comes from knowing each other for a prolonged period of time. And now, the show is actively exploring their romantic feelings towards each other. It's a story the show has earned the right to do. Both of them are very effective and funny characters on their own. They both have distinct personalities that are able to compliment the narrative in many different ways. This new level of intimacy and closeness could make things awkward for the show this season. If they are going to be a couple worth caring about, the show needs to have a direction and purpose for the story.

Fortunately, Brooklyn Nine-Nine has always handled Jake and Amy romantic moments well. The second season was a great and nuanced take on the slow build of their relationship. They were each aware of how they other felt. They just had to know when was the right time to commit to a relationship. Holt leaving the precinct is a big deal for both Jake and Amy. This squad has gotten so much stronger and better under his leadership. They don't know how the workplace will change without him. It's comforting to know that they are there for each other in order to talk. They are stability for the other. They know a relationship has the potential to destroy the current work environment. But they also want to be with each other more than anyone else.

"New Captain" is a great premiere because it forces Jake and Amy to figure out what their relationship is while the precinct is adjusting to their new captain, Seth Dozerman (a fantastic Bill Hader). Dozerman is essentially a crazy lunatic who cares about efficiency and also has some serious health problems. He comes into the Nine-Nine hoping to make it even better than before. He is very work oriented and wants everyone to work harder than they've ever worked before. Putting so much stress on their work responsibilities freaks Jake and Amy out a little bit. They have to navigate what it's like to work under Dozerman while still exploring something incredibly personal to them. They met at work. So it's not that surprising that they both carry these personal feelings into work. They both have the greatest of intentions to follow strict rules to keep their relationship the same as they figure things out. But their passion isn't able to keep those rules in place.

This episode does a great job of taking unexpected twists. Jake and Amy's relationship doesn't go how either of them planned. It also reverses the audience's expectations of them as a couple. They want to keep things light and breezy so as to not ruin their professional dynamic. Things are awkward in trying to maintain that and obey the rules they've set in place. They don't want to tell anyone at work, they don't want to put labels on their relationship and they don't want to have sex right away. Over the course of this episode, they break all of those rules relatively quickly. In their pursuit of something casual and less awkward, they sleep together on their first date. So now, every joke Jake makes about the title of Amy's sex tape is now the title of their sex tape. It's a humorous and unexpected approach to the story that keeps things fresh.

It's also apparent that Jake and Amy won't be able to keep this relationship a secret for very long. They do their best to fool their co-workers and their personal questions. It's mostly just Boyle who is inquisitive but he is relentless in putting the two of them together. He is over the moon when he finds out that they have gotten together. But that reveal doesn't come until Jake and Amy kiss in the evidence room, Captain Dozerman walks in on them and then dies from an actual heart attack. It's an outrageously funny twist for the premiere. Their love killed a man. That forces the two to step back and look at their relationship. They can't keep things light and breezy because that's what led to the two of them making out in the evidence room. They are exposed to the entire precinct. Terry voices everyone's shared opinion that he doesn't care that the two of them are together. He just cares about it getting in the way of their work obligations. Jake and Amy were reckless on the job all for the sake of excitement in keeping their relationship a secret.

Now, their relationship is out in the open. The precinct doesn't care about the two of them dating and working together. So, it's basically up to Jake and Amy to decide whether or not this is going to work. It puts all the pressure and responsibility on the two of them and not their surrounding circumstances. That's a refreshing prospective. This relationship will either work or not because of Jake and Amy. No one else is a deciding factor in their future. When Amy wants to hit pause for a bit, it's devastating for both of them but she thinks it's the rational thing to do. They couldn't follow their rules which led to some destruction at work. If the relationship is going to work, they have to trust their emotions and be open with each other. Light and breezy won't work for the two of them. They have to be more serious. Both are willing to take that next step. It just took them a minute to determine just how serious they want this relationship to be. It has the potential to drastically shake up the show. But it also carries a high reward for making it even better.

But the show's workplace hijinks are still apparent throughout this premiere as well. Holt and Gina are still prominent fixtures even though they are no longer working at the Nine-Nine precinct. They have moved over to the PR department to face the wrath of Wuntch and the embarrassment of putting on a pigeon mascot costume. They have to find the strength to put up with all of this in order to regain some respect in this profession. Meanwhile, the precinct is given yet another new captain at the end of the premiere. Terry is doing his best to make sure the precinct keeps working despite all these leadership changes. But that doesn't prepare anyone for the realization that the Vulture - aka Detective Pembroke (Dean Winters) - will be the new captain at the Nine-Nine. It's a horrifying prospect for everyone in the precinct. The Vulture proclaims that their lives are about to get so much worse now that he's in charge. It's a leadership change that is incredibly personal to the characters. They all have a relationship with the Vulture which should inform how well they take orders for him in the future. That's an exciting place to be at the end of this first episode back.

Some more thoughts:
  • "New Captain" was written by Matt Murray and directed by Michael Schur.
  • Rosa has a poor adjustment to Dozerman's new rules that say everyone has to complete a task every 55 minutes. She doesn't want to be constantly monitored. It's fun watching as she hides her tablet and pours coffee over it. But she still proves herself capable of following the rules - even though she still enjoys just bringing the hammer down on the device more.
  • It's sad to see Bill Hader go so soon. He was absolutely hilarious as Captain Dozerman. And yet, it was also the perfect kind of one episode character. Someone almost too crazy and ridiculous to work on an ongoing basis but who was used so strongly for the enjoyment of one episode.
  • However, I'm already anticipating Hader getting subbed for a Guest Actor Emmy next year. He's great and deserves it but those voters don't really watch this great show.
  • Boyle's enthusiasm for Jake and Amy is so great. But he's also a little too close and invested in them as well. Amy doesn't have anyone to talk to about work except Jake but Jake has Boyle who is also there for that moment when they get back together.
  • Captain Dozerman: "Boom! I've already established authority with my sense of humor."
  • Captain Dozerman: "It also has backgammon on it which I couldn't delete but you are not allowed to play."
  • Jake: "Hope it wasn't a mistake. Title of your sex tape. (Gasp!) Title of our sex tape!"
  • Captain Dozerman: "Tell my wife I loved her. Work Ethic."
  • Gina: "This man is a Timberlake and you need to stop treating him like a Fatone."
  • Boyle: "This is not how you and Amy are suppose to end. You're suppose to grow old and die as you're holding each other as your cruise ship slowly takes on water."
  • Boyle: "Light and breezy is how you describe a linen pant suit not a relationship you care about."
  • Gina: "I figured PR would be the easiest path to launching my reality show, Linetti Set Go." Holt: "I thought your reality show was to be called Gina in a Bottle?" Gina: "No, that was my fragrance line. Keep up."  
  • Holt: "Let's blow some tiny minds."