Tuesday, February 9, 2016

REVIEW: 'Brooklyn Nine-Nine' - Jake Reunites with His Old Partner and Charles Is Jealous in 'The 9-8'

FOX's Brooklyn Nine-Nine - Episode 3.15 "The 9-8"

The Nine-Nine host the detectives from the Nine-Eight, their neighboring precinct, reuniting Jake with his old partner (Damon Wayans, Jr.). Charles is immediately jealous and tries to reclaim his best friend status with Jake. The rest of the precinct tries to be welcoming to the Nine-Eight, but it doesn't go as well as they had planned.

There is a lot of familiarity in the main story of "The 9-8." Brooklyn Nine-Nine has told stories about Charles becoming jealous of a new potential best friend in Jake's life before. It's been a really funny concept. It's a story that shows just how strong Jake's friendship with Charles is. They bring out the best in each other - even though they both have some pretty weird and outrageous personality traits. They make each other better on the job. This latest outside threat to their friendship comes in the form of guest star Damon Wayans, Jr. playing Jake's first partner on the job, Stevie, when he was just a beat cop on the streets of New York City. The show gets a lot of great humor out of the differences between these two partnerships. But at the end of the day, it also felt like a story that wasn't completely fleshed out and wasn't as memorable as some other instances of this same plot device.

The conflict of this episode comes when Stevie is investigating a criminal who just so happens to be a part of the same operation that Jake and Charles are surveilling. It means Stevie gets to come on the stakeout with the two of them. However, it largely amounts to Charles being the odd man out of the picture. Jake and Stevie have such a fun rapport too. It's so amusing to see them refer to themselves a the "Beatsie Boys." Flashbacks also showcase just how many fun and cool action-driven moments the two of them have had on the job. Jake and Charles have had plenty of great moments as well. But this episode deliberately points out that Stevie is the fun one who wants to bust down doors and make some arrests. Meanwhile, Charles is the sad sack who wants to follow protocol and make sure that the arrests are actually completely valid. Charles' method is of course the correct way to do police work. But Jake is allured by the fun and excitement of the world as Stevie presents it. With Stevie, they get to do freestyle jams in the car and completely forget that Charles isn't in the vehicle with them. With Charles, Jake tries to make him feel included but it winds up creating more tension than it should.

All of this is building up to the revelation that Stevie is a dirty cop who will plant drugs in a known criminal's apartment just to get him off the streets. It's something that Charles notices right away. Stevie claims to have found drugs in the dishwasher - even though Charles already checked there and it was completely clean. This conflict shows just how much Jake trusts Charles as a partner on the force. In this instance, Jake believes what Charles has to say which forces an uncomfortable talk with Stevie. That's a confrontation that happens in a very cramped supply closet - aka the only place a private conversation can be held in the precinct right now. It's a great use of physical space during this fight between the two friends. Stevie has to Donkey Kong punch Jake because there isn't enough room to do a full size punch. That's a great line. But all of this does distract a little bit from the actions underneath it all. Stevie is willing to bend the law in order to arrest criminals. That's something that Jake and Charles would never do. It's a serious offense and Stevie winds up getting arrested himself. And yet, this is a show that never takes crime all that seriously that often. In this moment, it's more about the fun chaos that comes from Jake and Stevie getting into a fight and later the trio jamming out to a Toni Braxton song. But the motivation behind this conflict really felt underdeveloped which did ultimately take away from the plot.

Jake and Charles have to team up with Stevie because the Nine-Nine is hosting the detectives from the Nine-Eight precinct following a water line break at their offices. It means the Nine-Nine is much more chaotic than it has ever been before. All of the detectives are forced to share their space with a visiting detective. This episode showcases that some of the regular characters can be horrible people. But it also shows that these detectives from their neighborhood precinct aren't a whole lot better either. Some of the partnerships are annoying because of the character traits of the regular characters. Rosa is met with her worst nightmare in the form of a woman who loves talking about her personal life. Meanwhile, Holt has to share his office with a captain who outranks him but really isn't all that effective with his job. And lastly, Amy has to work in the same space as an officer who needs a service dog for his disability even though he clearly doesn't have any physical ailment and she is very allergic to it. All of these pairings provide some solid comedic beats throughout the episode.

But the show hits its peak in all of these conflicts once a massive brawl just breaks out in the precinct. It all starts because Jake is rightfully arresting Stevie for his crimes. But it motivates the rest of the detectives to assault the people who've been annoying them all day long. It shows just how childish all of these people can be. They let these trivial things get in the way of them doing an effective job as police officers. Terry and the other detectives tried to work around the issue by working outside. But they were forced back in by Holt who needed his squad to be generous hosts even though he is so frustrated with the other captain. Holt quickly stops the brawl later on as well. He takes this job seriously and it's a disgrace to him to see all these officers acting in this way. And yet, he too used the brawl to his advantage to get the Nine-Eight officers out of his squad. It shows that he can be serious while manipulating the situation to his advantage in an amusing way. That has never been questioned before. But here, the execution allows for some great payoff to the rest of the episode.

Some more thoughts:
  • "The 9-8" was written by David Phillips and directed by Nisha Ganatra.
  • The show really hasn't done the best job hiding Melissa Fumero's real-life pregnancy. It's largely amounted to Amy wearing lots of layers everywhere she goes and objects covering up her belly. However, this episode does a much better job at covertly covering up that fact than the last couple.
  • The most annoying thing to Holt about this new captain taking over his office is the fact that he is changing the perfectly set lumbar settings on his chair. But even that isn't enough for him to pull a Gina and kick him out of the space completely. Holt really is a great professional.
  • In the battle of musical moments, Jake and Charles taking on Toni Braxton's "Unbreak My Heart" was the winner - especially once they were annoyed that Stevie wanted to sing along as well.
  • Hitchcock and Scully are really quite useful this week. It's because of their need to use the microwave that Terry, Amy and Rosa get the idea to use the outdoor space to get their work done. Plus, the duo later create the perfect distraction for the other detectives to sneak all the equipment outside. They just randomly start a fire in the sink.
  • Apparently, even the technology in the precinct hates the Nine-Eight detectives because the printer immediately jams once Holt says it (and the detectives) need to go back inside.