Sunday, December 13, 2015

REVIEW: 'Brooklyn Nine-Nine' - Jake Gets into a 'Die Hard' Situation and Must Rely on Help from Terry & Charles in 'Yippie Kayak'

FOX's Brooklyn Nine-Nine - Episode 3.10 "Yippie Kayak"

Jake, Charles and Gina are involved in a real-life "Die Hard" situation while off-duty on Christmas Eve, and Terry must leave his family celebration to try to save the squad. Meanwhile, Amy tries to prove she's just as tough as Holt and Rosa.

It's very good that Brooklyn Nine-Nine doesn't go the typical route for Jake and Amy's first Christmas as a couple. Jake is very on top of things and has already gotten her a present. The audience never sees what it is but it's important that he got it. Instead the person he has forgotten to get a great gift for is Charles. That's a nice twist that gives this episode a lot of fun energy. Over the years, the Jake-Charles friendship has at times skewed too one-sided with Charles always enthusiastically doing anything for Jake while Jake just makes fun of everything that interests Charles. But it's a dynamic that works because on multiple occasions Jake has really come through for his friend. He is there to support him as well. That's what has always made this dynamic so compelling to watch and why it's such a big deal that Jake forgot to get Charles a present. Sure, it's not that great that it then leads to a comic adventure where the two plus Gina go shopping for the gift while making sure that Charles doesn't figure things out. But there's still so much to this story that makes it much more personal and thus more gripping to watch.

Jake, Charles and Gina's trip to a big department store in search of a gift quickly turns into a hostage situation. It's a very serious story filled with life and death stakes but it still has a current of comedy because it allows Jake to play out all of his Die Hard fantasies in real life. Jake always envisions himself as the John McClane of the story. He wants to be the one to save the day. He thinks it's cool despite the severity of the situation. These are professional criminals who are robbing the store and have already thought of a way to get out of the building without getting caught. This is a real scenario not a drill that he runs with the rest of the precinct. He needs to be the one to stop these criminals and keep the hostages (including Gina) safe.

The hostage situation is the only reason why it would okay for Jake to call Terry and interrupt his big family holiday celebration. He faces ridicule from his brother-in-law Zeke again just to be there for his second family. Terry didn't want anything to ruin this happy occasion with his family - largely so Zeke wouldn't call him Barbara Corcoran when he's clearly a Lori Greiner. But Terry is the only one from the precinct who is able to give Jake and Charles support from the outside. It's because of Terry that the man in charge, the Vulture, doesn't blow the operation. That's funny and hints at a possible promotion for Terry in the future.

More importantly though, Jake allows Charles to be the true hero of this story. After Gina is kidnapped when she goes to get the materials for a flamethrower, Jake and Charles are able to knock out a few of the bad guys. They learn that they are Canadian and less cool than the fantasy Jake created in his head. But Jake never let this fantasy keep him from doing solid police work. He put all of his trust in Charles. He knew that his friend could save the day once Jake is also taken by the criminals. Fortunately, he was right. Of course, Charles doesn't have the same appreciation for Die Hard as Jake does. He completely messes up McClane's catchphrase - which they never could have used on FOX but the show came up with a very amusing alternative. But it's still a very rewarding moment because it features Charles saving the day. That's the kind of sacrifice that makes it the perfect gift. Charles isn't furious when he finds out the truth like he would have a few hours ago. He instead understands just how much value is in his friendship with Jake because Jake selflessly sacrificed himself just to give Charles the chance to stop the criminals. That's a gift that is much more valuable than any silly cologne.

However, it's very silly that Holt, Rosa and Amy are given a completely separate story to keep them distracted and busy long enough so that they don't become important to the main story until the very end. The hostage situation is enough to get Amy into the freezing water just to pull Holt and Rosa back to reality. But other than that, the story really didn't have any amusing or comedic beats. It kept them away from the main story and it's a little questionable why that decision was made. Obviously, the main story is mostly about Jake, Charles and Terry. They are the ones who are defined the most by this hostage situation. But would having Holt, Rosa and Amy outside with Terry really take away from a lot of that story? Their presence would have been better than the Vulture's who is largely just a one-note character here. It is amusing that the Vulture sees this as Taken instead of Die Hard but that's about it. Amy is in a relationship with Jake. And yet, she really isn't allowed to react to this dangerous situation. Sure, it's great that she's off defining herself in a different story. But if that relationship is suppose to have purpose this season than the show needs to do more in showing why it's suppose to be so good. They've been dating for a couple of months now. They make a fantastic pairing. But any kind of growth is slow moving because the show doesn't want their relationship to define every single story they are a part of this season. That's a fun way to do things but it also makes it seem like the relationship is only important every few weeks. It's great in the cold open when Amy is telling Jake about her plan to actually gift Holt a present this year - and it goes horribly awry. But it's still distracting when this serious thing is happening to Jake and Amy is away dealing with an incredibly silly matter. And then, she only kisses him because she needs to warm up not because she's so glad that he is still alive.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Yippie Kayak" was written by Lakshmi Sundaram and directed by Rebecca Asher.
  • Being cold a lot of the time really isn't enough to suggest that Amy isn't tough. In fact, she has proven herself in many ways over the years that she is just as capable as everyone else at the precinct. So again, this story is just incredibly silly and distracting.
  • Though I do rather enjoy Holt and Rosa's newfound friendship where they agree to do stuff just to avoid any kind of personal responsibilities.
  • It's great that Gina finally gets her flamethrower in the end - though she quickly becomes drunk on the power it has.
  • Jake tries to reason with the man about to kill him by saying that it would be wrong and odd to have killed eleven people. That doesn't came across as well as an even number. It surprisingly doesn't work.
  • But if Terry gets on the fast track to becoming a captain, won't that take him away from the Nine-Nine? Also, who could easily replace him if he leaves?
  • Terry after Zeke calls him Barbara: "He didn't even make me one of the good sharks. I'm clearly a Lori."
  • Jake after he knocks out Matt, the criminal: "That'll teach you to have a dumb normal name."
  • Terry once Gina finally gets her flamethrower: "Somebody take her down!"