Sunday, November 15, 2015

REVIEW: 'Brooklyn Nine-Nine' - Jake and Amy Get into a Fight While Rosa Mentors a Young Teen in 'The Mattress'

FOX's Brooklyn Nine-Nine - Episode 3.07 "The Mattress"

Jake and Amy convince the Captain to let them work a case together involving a new street drug, but their new relationship gets in the way. Charles panics when he realizes he's damaged one of Holt's prized possessions. Terry teaches Rosa a lesson in discipline. 

Much like last week's big camping trip episode, "The Mattress" features three stories that it's attempting to juggle in its 20-something running time. This episode has the added benefit of the main story with Jake and Amy having much more significance to it now that they are a couple and the twist that adds to their work dynamic. But the main story also felt very formulaic and predictable. Meanwhile, the two other stories were very thin overall. They were underdeveloped to the point that even when one intersected with the Jake and Amy stuff it still didn't add a whole lot of value to the previous antics of the story. So again, "The Mattress" is trying to juggle too much story in a way that services all of the characters with some not completely there storylines.

This is the first episode to feature a Jake-Amy romance story in a couple of works. They are still just figuring out how not to let their personal feelings affect their partnership at work. In the past, the two of them have been so great as detectives solving cases together. But this is the first time where they are actually handling a major investigation together. They are attempting to get a new drug off the streets. They convince Captain Holt that their relationship won't get in the way of doing their work. But it's abundantly clear before that conversation happens that they won't be able to keep their word. In fact, it always felt like things were going to go terribly wrong - though not enough to permanently damage this relationship.

Jake and Amy are having their first fight as a couple. The two of them are so different that it's a tad surprising that this is their first fight. But it is nevertheless. Amy hates Jake's mattress. It's old and lumpy. She wants him to get a new one. He doesn't see the point because his works just fine for him. At first, this argument doesn't affect the case at all. But the more focus it receives, the more damage it does to both the relationship and the case. Jake and Amy both worry that this argument is a sign that the other just doesn't care enough about this relationship. Amy sees Jake not wanting to get a new mattress as him not thinking it's worth the expense just to make her happy. However, Jake also sees Amy not telling her mother that they are dating as her not thinking it's important enough to tell.

It's only when the Jake-Amy story intersects with the Holt-Charles fight that they have the realization of just how horrible and real this fight actually is. Holt tells Jake about a time early in his relationship with Kevin where they were in a similar situation. Neither one wanted to buy a car in order to see each other more quickly because it was a huge expense and they only just started dating. And then, Kevin made the purchase which showed just how serious this relationship actually was - and why that car is so important to Holt when Charles accidentally dents it. It's not enough to make that subplot work at all. But it is enough to get Jake to take that next step in his relationship with Amy. It's amusing that Holt cares more about their relationship than the case. But in the end, Jake and Amy are able to do both. They follow up on a long shot lead that surprisingly produces results. Plus, Jake shows just how committed to this relationship he is by attempting to purchase a mattress on his phone. At least, it's the thought that counts.

Meanwhile, the Terry-Rosa subplot is off in its own little world that doesn't intersect with any of the other regular characters at all. It's weird but would also be much harder to tie into everything else given its subject matter. Rosa has started to mentor a young kid through a Big Brother-type program. Of course, she mentors him with tough love. And yet, he still gets into trouble by shoplifting. This is probably the angriest Rosa has ever been. That's because she cares deeply about this kid and doesn't want him to quit the program. Her caring is a great story point that goes nowhere. The story is all about Terry trying to get her to approach things with a softer edge. He brings up her ballet past. That's fun for a couple of moments. But it's not enough to make this story feel substantial in a rewarding way.

Some more thoughts:
  • "The Mattress" was written by Laura McCreary and directed by Dean Holland.
  • The cold open about the group commenting on the new gold fish that Hitchcock and Scully have felt more rushed and not as good as the show usually is with cold opens.
  • Of course, the main story has the requisite sequence of Jake and Amy going to the mattress store and jumping on a bunch of mattresses to figure out which one they should get. The salesman always trying to find his way in to make a sale was great. But the sequence as a whole felt very familiar of the story.
  • Holt was surprised that Amy solved the drug dealer's puzzle before he could. That was a great reaction.
  • The sight of Rosa doing ballet was very fun. She is just so tough and that is being paired with something that represents beauty despite the grueling process to be good at it.
  • Jake's disguise on the street is him posing as a man trying to start a conversation about the environment with other pedestrians. Of course that's no one any person wants to talk with in the middle of their commute.
  • Charles being high on Jake and Amy's relationship was very delightful - as was him being kept up all night just like Amy when things turned tense.
  • All the mentions of Amy's mom means she is going to pop up sometime this season to meet Jake, right?
  • Terry: "Dammit! Terry proved the wrong point!"