Sunday, November 8, 2015

REVIEW: 'Brooklyn Nine-Nine' - Jake, Charles and Terry Have a Disastrous Weekend Camping in 'Into the Woods'

FOX's Brooklyn Nine-Nine - Episode 3.06 "Into the Woods"

Jake and Charles convince Terry to take a weekend camping trip as a much needed "babymoon," but they soon realize it might not be the idealistic weekend for which they had hoped. Back at the precinct, Holt gives Rosa some important relationship advice and Amy enlists Gina's help to prepare her for an important presentation.

All three stories in "Into the Woods" feature really funny moments. And yet, the episode also feels overstuffed with three plots that are underdeveloped. Brooklyn Nine-Nine has such a terrific ensemble. Every single one of these characters is distinct and makes for so much comedic enjoyment. It's understandable why the show feels the need to highlight that with as many stories that are realistically possibly. But it's also much more compelling when the show pulls back and only does one or two stories - instead of three where everyone has equal screen time but for stories that are only half there.

Jake needing to take responsibility for his actions is a story that has been done before on the show. He has learned the lesson of not counting on others to do the serious work for him while he enjoys all the privileges of being a cop. And yet, it's a story repeated in this episode because it allows for some wacky hijinks. Jake has matured so much since the early days of the show. But it's still important that he's still the guy who enjoys the ridiculousness of the job. That has created interesting character dynamics between Jake and the rest of the ensemble. But in an episode like this one that features him coming into conflict with Terry over being ill-prepared for a weekend camping trip, it just feels repetitive.

The camping story is probably the least effective one from this episode. Part of that is because it feels repetitive with Jake learning the same lesson again. But another part of it is that it's not abundantly clear what the show is trying to do with this story. Jake and Charles take Terry to this horrifying cabin because he needs time away from his stressful life. How he's able to do that with a pregnant wife on bed rest? It's unclear. But he gets there nevertheless. The story wastes the return of Matt Walsh as Detective Lohank. It's basically a cameo appearance that really could have been anyone. But then, the story is just reduced down to Jake learning a lesson. That's still very amusing - especially when Terry, Charles and Jake have to spoon in order to stay warm in the pit. But it still doesn't provide that much value for what Terry is going through right now. Plus, the episode-ending twist of setting off the firecrackers didn't feel like a joke that the show had really earned at that point.

Elsewhere, Amy and Gina have always made one of the most consistently funny pairings on the show. That's because they are so different. They both understand that and they both set out to fix the other. But here, Amy needs Gina's help in order to present her idea for magnetic flashlights to the top brass in the department. The two of them working together can create a presentation that is actually captivating and want people to utilize their product. However, the episode goes straight from them preparing for the presentation (with very little success) to the actual presentation (where they are in complete sync). Both of those scenes were funny. It just felt like the show was missing a beat where the two of them actually bonded over the product and wanted to make this presentation the best that it could possibly be.

And lastly, Holt and Rosa dealt with the power of emotions. The two of them have a complicated history because Rosa is currently dating Holt's nephew, Marcus. But now, Rosa wants to end the relationship and hopes to do it in a way that won't be bogged down by Marcus' emotions. It's humorous to watch as these two emotionless characters do their best to understand why others would feel so many things at once. But it's a story less about the ending of a relationship that has been a thing for at least two thirds of a season and more about Rosa and Holt actually crying together. That's the comedic highlight of the episode. Two characters are bonding in an emotional way that is very unexpected. It also proves that both actors are very skilled at making crying faces funny. That enlightened this episode much more so than any of the other various plot beats tried to do.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Into the Woods" was written by Andrew Guest and directed by Linda Mendoza.
  • The camping story also put together a couple of great comedic moments like the trio doing their best at fishing (and failing) and Charles' insistence that they fell into a hole and not a pit (because a fortune teller told him he would die in a pit).
  • The fact that Jake had asthma as a kid is a story brought up for a moment in this episode. That was never mentioned before and will probably never be mentioned again.
  • The fact that Amy's flashlight idea helped one kid who Gina says is like a mini-Amy is a heartwarming way to end the story. However, it really did come out of nowhere.
  • Holt saying the entire web address that he visited in order to get relationship advice was some hilarious line reading by Andre Braugher.
  • Jake zip-lining into the building in order to bust the illegal operation seemed unnecessary the moment the cold open ended. Fortunately, that was the entire point of the scene.
  • How did Jake recover so quickly from rubbing poison ivy all over him?
  • So, did Charles drink the water from the cabin?