Sunday, October 18, 2015

REVIEW: 'Brooklyn Nine-Nine' - Jake and Holt Team Up to Catch a Serial Killer in 'The Oolong Slayer'

FOX's Brooklyn Nine-Nine - Episode 3.04 "The Oolong Slayer"

When investigating a serial killer, Jake enlists Holt's help in an attempt to solve the case off the radar. At the precinct, Rosa and Amy are forced to deal with demands from an old adversary and Terry discovers a new obsession.

Over the show's three seasons, Brooklyn Nine-Nine has made its detectives investigate some truly horrific crimes. It's a comedy but it's still realistic to the job these characters are actually doing. And yet, that largely comes across with various misdemeanors. Some episodes don't even feature a crime to investigate at all. Only on occasion does the show tackle murder. It gives the gruesome act the reverence it deserves while still maintaining its integrity as a comedy. It has always been one of the best things about the show. And yet, the premise of Jake hunting a serial killer had the potential to get way too serious and grim. However, the show once again manages to give the respect the story deserves while still keeping things humorous.

Jake and Holt team up to catch the Oolong Slayer in order to feel important with their jobs again. Holt is hating everything he is being asked to do as the head of public relations. Meanwhile, Jake isn't able to investigate any serious cases because the Vulture is handing all of them over to the Major Crimes Division. When Jake sees that the Slayer has hit once again, he is determined to catch him even if he doesn't have the resources and support he usually has. Holt and Gina are the people he turns to in this time of need. Jake and Holt have always worked well as a team solving crimes. In fact, it's much more enjoyable than when they are simply opposed to each other over some plot point. It forces Holt to be a little more silly while Jake gets to be a little more mature. It's great for both characters while still keeping the spark of their dynamic strong.

The show also needed a big case to signal bringing Holt back to the Nine-Nine. At the start of this season, it was unclear how long Holt and Gina would be in PR and the Vulture would be the captain of the precinct. It was a story that generated a lot of fun and amusing stories in these first few episodes of the season. And yet, it also feels appropriate that it has come to an end. It feels right that a serial killer case was enough to bring about this change too. It's something that could carry a ton of consequences should they be exposed for working on it. But it also carried so many rewards as well. At one point, it seemed as if they were defeated. Jake and Holt got the wrong man and Wuntch and the Vulture placed them on a 7 (later 10) day suspicion. That wasn't enough to get them to stop investigating though and they finally caught the right man. Plus, Jake was able to bargain the credit to get Holt placed back in charge of the Nine-Nine. It feels so good to have things back to normal - almost Amy levels of excitement!

However, the two subplots of the episode felt very subpar and formulaic. As soon as Charles mentioned his new favorite snack, it felt inevitable that Terry would eventually get addicted and soon gain a ton of weight. Actors putting on fat suits in order to get a laugh hasn't been that strong of a device comedically in awhile. It was established that Terry used to be fat - which makes him more vulnerable when it comes to his physical appearance. And yet, this story just didn't click together all that well. It largely served as a reminder that Terry's wife is pregnant with their third child. She is on bed rest which means a new addition to the family will be coming soon. All of that is filled with prospect. But Terry getting fat again just didn't do anything really unexpected or original.

Similarly, the Amy and Rosa story was meant to be a grand farewell to the Vulture even though that wasn't apparent until the end of the episode. The two of them booking his band to play at his own surprise birthday party was a strong resolution to the episodic story. However, it doesn't feel like that good of a place to end the character's time as captain of the precinct. Sure, he exerts his power and influence in trivial ways - mostly by getting the squad to repeat ridiculous and insulting things like "only misdemeanors, wieners." But this farewell didn't feel as big as it could have been. The episode is about Holt returning to the precinct. And yet, it never really says goodbye to the Vulture. That was a strange direction. But again, all of it is fine because Holt is once again in charge of the Nine-Nine.

Some more thoughts:
  • "The Oolong Slayer" was written by Gabe Liedman and directed by Michael McDonald.
  • This was a fantastic episode for Chelsea Peretti as Gina though. Her introduction of Wuntch, sneaking up on Jake and Holt in the bathroom, telling Jake he needs to pay his bar tab and her re-entrance into the Nine-Nine were all fantastic.
  • The running gag about needing to re-name the phrase "task force" was also very strong. Apparently, "do group" is a phrase that will stick. But for how long?
  • I guess Bob didn't do his job well considering Holt was able to investigate this crime with Jake without Bob ever finding out and reporting it back to Wuntch.
  • Speaking of Wuntch, I wonder how well she is taking Holt getting his old job back? Not well, I would assume.
  • Holt on Wuntch: "Look Gina, is that a talking raisin?"
  • Jake: "The perp wasn't there to take anything. Except lives. I've always wanted to say that."
  • Gina on the men's bathroom: "The acoustics are amazing!"
  • Jake: "That's what globes are for!"