Sunday, October 4, 2015

REVIEW: 'Brooklyn Nine-Nine' - Jake and Amy Face a Major Challenge in Their New Relationship in 'The Funeral'

FOX's Brooklyn Nine-Nine - Episode 3.02 "The Funeral"

The Nine-Nine gets another personnel change that could put Jake and Amy's budding relationship at risk. Terry assists Holt with an important public relations matter. Rosa and Gina try to convince Charles to rethink his affection for a fellow officer (Archie Panjabi).

It's a bit redundant of Brooklyn Nine-Nine to open its third season with a pair of episodes that both explore whether or not Jake and Amy can date without it changing their work dynamic. Fear of what change could bring to the precinct is what brought them together. These first two episodes have shown that it is difficult for things not to change as a result of the two of them dating. But it is shown as the two of them questioning if this relationship should be anything serious or not. They love their jobs and don't want to compromise that just because they are interested in each other. This episode forces them to examine things more closely as the Vulture has ordered the two of them to break up.

The show has done an excellent job in not having the work environment create obstacles for Jake and Amy's relationship in the early going. Everyone at the precinct is okay with the two of them being a couple. There is no rule saying that they can't be together. That puts all the responsibility on the two of them to figure out if this is working. That's a refreshing change of pace because it puts the emphasis on the characters and not the story. That is always well appreciated. This episode does give the two of them an obstacle to overcome in the Vulture. The reveal that he was the precinct's new captain at the end of the premiere was exciting because he's a familiar face and the squad has a dynamic with him. They don't like him. He is almost counterproductive to their desire to get things done. And yet, the only thing he does as captain is stand in the way of love. It does completely feel like something the Vulture would do in this situation. But it also made this episode feel a tad more formulaic than the story was last week.

Everyone has to learn what's worth fighting for in the wake of so much change. This shakeup at the precinct could be see as a stunt in order to change up the formula for a few episodes. It's easy to predict that Holt will eventually find himself back at the Nine-Nine as captain. So the show needed to make this ongoing story of him being in PR and the Vulture taking over the Nine-Nine compelling for the short time that it's going to be the structure for the series. The show is able to handle it because all of its stories are always filled with immense comedic and emotional beats. Jake and Holt are in similar situations right now. They are at risk of losing their dream jobs and have to find the energy from within to stand up and fight for it. That's what this episode is about. Jake isn't willing to give up on his relationship with Amy just because the Vulture threatens to demote him to a beat cop again. Similarly, Holt isn't ready to stop hoping he can return someday to the Nine-Nine as captain just because he's no longer there and stuck in a meaningless desk job.

The comedic hijinks of this episode come from Jake and Amy trying to use the Vulture's own tactics against him. Jake wanted to befriend their new captain so he wouldn't be as horrible as he first promised. And yet, that only made their lives worse. The Vulture isn't a completely bad detective - even though he only learns of Jake's backstabbing because Scully butt-dialed him. But that leads to a fun structure for this episode as Jake and Amy hatch countless plans to foil the Vulture's order to break them up. The backdrop of all of this happening at Captain Dozerman's funeral also makes the story more compelling and funny. No one from the Nine-Nine really liked the guy. They are all trying to get on with their lives while at the funeral. But they still have to act the part and be respectful. That's funny. Jake and Amy are trying to catch the Vulture in his deceit but they keep running into obstacles like the bagpipe player and Dozerman's widow.

In the end though, Jake and Amy are able to continue exploring their relationship because Holt got the Vulture to back down. They made their intentions known that they won't give up simply because the Vulture has ordered them to. Sure, Jake's toast was very weird given that he was talking about Amy but had to make it appear like he was talking about Dozerman. But that was enough to get all three of these characters out of their funk. Jake and Amy are more committed than ever to get this to work while Holt is no longer wallowing in sorrow. Holt does this for Jake and Amy in order to protect the integrity of the precinct. That's a major victory and shows just how strong the precinct and these characters are.

Some more thoughts:
  • "The Funeral" was written by Luke Del Tredici and directed by Claire Scanlon.
  • Boyle's story about having sex with a stranger at the funeral was very weird. It's telling that this will be a big season for Charles looking for a meaningful romantic connection. But the specifics of him in this particular situation weren't that great.
  • Also, Archie Panjabi came across pretty flat in her scenes with Charles. It's a big deal for Charles that this isn't a woman who he can form a connection with. But it's a story entirely about Charles and doesn't really do anything with Panjabi's Lieutenant character. So it makes it curious why she was cast in the role in the first place.
  • According to the Vulture, you either like nip slips or you don't. You can't learn to like them. Yep, he is becoming more of a douche this season.
  • Terry misses Holt so much. The two of them drinking at the bar was a fantastic scene - from Terry dancing after just one drink to the two of them agreeing that everything is garage should be Holt's message of hope.
  • Jake: "I'm going full douche."
  • Jake: "Once again, Scully's butt is the downfall of this precinct."
  • Gina on Holt: "Yeah, he let me choose the music on the way over here which leads me to believe he's given up on life."
  • Charles to Gina and Rosa: "Tell that to me in an hour when we've had sex 23 times."
  • Holt: "Look, the alcohol has rendered me a simpleton."
  • Holt: "Everyone I work with is a stupid face - especially Brice."