Tuesday, April 19, 2016

REVIEW: 'Brooklyn Nine-Nine' - Jake and the Squad Need to Save Holt from the Traitorous Bob in 'Greg and Larry'

FOX's Brooklyn Nine-Nine - Episode 3.23 "Greg and Larry"

After a surprising turn of events in the Nine-Nine's attempt to track down Adrian Pimento's hitman, the precinct drops everything when they suspect Holt is in danger.

The concluding story arc of Brooklyn Nine-Nine's third season has been the most serialized the comedy has even gotten. The show has done stories that have continued across multiple episodes before. This was a season that started with Holt re-assigned from the Nine-Nine and the entire precinct having to work under a new captain. But the stakes with the Pimento/Figgis arc are much more intense. It was an important story arc because it was personal to the detectives. Pimento had inserted himself into the lives of these characters. He was largely a hit-or-miss character when he was at the precinct. But his presence also gave the show some focus during these last few episodes that the season really needed. That was important because large stretches of this season felt aimless. The episodes were still funny but it was unclear what the show was actually building towards with its characters and the story.

"Greg and Larry" increases the stakes in the main story while also bringing things to a fantastic and hilarious conclusion. This show's ability to mix serious situations with comedy continues to be so impressive. This episode didn't even have to rely on the Jake's familial tick of becoming way too excited about a grim crime occurring in the city. Instead, it's much more personal now. Holt has been kidnapped by Bob Anderson - who was revealed to be working with Figgis at the conclusion of the previous episode. Jake has to get into the mindset of this treacherous FBI agent in order to save Holt's life. It's a tense situation. But one that still allows for plenty of fun as Jake does his dueling Holt-Bob impressions, Hitchcock keeps licking unknown substances from the walls of the hospital, and Holt leaves clues that Jake and Terry approach in very different ways of solving.

But rescuing Holt isn't the only thing that the detectives have to worry about in this finale. That happens rather quickly here too. Bob was going to stage Holt's death as an accidental fall from the roof due to bird watching. A story that would completely make since according to Holt. But Terry swoops in to save the day. And yet, Bob still called for backup and dozens of Figgis' men have made their way into the hospital. It means the detectives have to think quickly in order to save their lives and protect Bob as he still holds the evidence they need to bring Figgis down. Again, it leads to some very funny situational humor where the entire team gets to dress up in scrubs and find a way out of the hospital. They aren't able to go unseen by the criminals or the nursing staff. Terry has fun reciting lingo he learned from Grey's Anatomy. He even gets to feel like Sandra Oh for a little bit. But it's Gina who has the most fun when she gets to pose as a psychiatric patient to convince a security guard that Bob isn't an FBI agent being held against his will.

So now, all of the squad has to go underground where none of Figgis' men will be able to find them. That means it's Rosa's turn to shine as she knows exactly how to stay hidden in this city. She brings the entire team back to her apartment. It's a fantastic moment because she has always valued her privacy so much. She welcomes the squad into her home because it's the only way to keep them safe right now. The show continues to do a fantastic job just slowly peeling back the personal layers of Rosa. It gets to the point where Terry is constantly amused by all the new details about her that come to light from this apartment. She has a bowl of fruit solely because the kitchen needed a pop of color. She has enough scented candles lying around for when the power is cut out. She's still the scary woman that everyone at work loves and fears. But it's still so great to see her in a personal environment that forces her to drop her guard a little bit.

Plus, the entire squad has so much fun in Rosa's apartment as well. They have the time to actually interrogate Bob and get him to tell them where the files are. Jake and Holt helped him get those files in the first place. And now, they need to get them back in order to make a case stick against Figgis. It's a tense situation where all of the detectives do their best to get the truth out of Bob. It's honestly just really funny to see all of them have their own approach with this endeavor. None of them work though. Holt is foiled by his own use of words. Jake does a poor job of trying to ruin jazz. Terry was hoping that Bob had kids and doesn't know how to adapt after learning he doesn't. Rosa can't use any of the weapons she has around her apartment to torture the information out of him. Hitchcock and Scully are oblivious to what's really going on. And Gina just wants to talk about her own struggles for a little bit. It's a fun sequence even though it doesn't lead to any actual information.

And yet, the squad is eventually successful in getting Bob to confess which then leads to the arrests of dozens of criminals in Figgis' operation. It shows just how strong Holt and Jake have become as partners across the three seasons so far. They understand each other and know how they will react to any given situation. So, they are able to use that skill set in order to create a situation where Bob is afraid for his life and forced into a confined space with Holt. It's weird how this plan just goes into motion even though the squad doesn't have any time to coordinate it. But it's still so thrilling because of how well Jake and Holt know and trust each other. They understand that this plan will work without needing to share a single word about it. That's very impressive. It showcases that they are an effective team. They will need to be as well because of the big twist that happens at the end of the finale.

The squad is successful in taking down this criminal operation. And yet, Figgis is still at large and considered a threat against all of these detectives and not just Pimento any more. The team is able to celebrate all of the good work they've done on this case. They got criminals off the street and made it so that Pimento could finally come home. This situation forced Amy to realize just how much she really loves Jake too. This has been a very awkward season for the two of them dating. It's been important but the show has struggled showcasing that lately because of how limited Melissa Fumero's real-life pregnancy made her. It's still meaningful that they want to move in together following the day that they've just had. But that only makes it so much more devastating when Jake and Holt have to go into witness protection to keep Figgis from killing them. It's a fantastic final reveal that shows the two of them living normal lives in suburban Florida. It sets up a wonderful premise for the show to pick up on next season. Though hopefully, it won't hinder any of the big personal developments that are delayed because they needed to leave so abruptly. And yet, this finale also proved just how effective a team they can be. So they should do just fine with their lives in Florida.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Greg and Larry" was written by Andrew Guest & Phil Augusta Jackson and directed by Dan Goor.
  • For a little while, it seems like Charles and Amy will miss out on all the action because they are stuck flying back to New York from Texas. They don't and are pretty crucial in implementing the final plan that gets Bob to finally tell the detectives where he hid the files.
  • Also, it's just so amusing to see Amy and Charles spiraling together on the plane. They are freaking out because of the uncertainty with their friends. It's because they have an honest talk that Amy is willing to open herself up to Jake when they finally reunite.
  • The show doesn't even try to cover up Fumero's pregnancy anymore even though her undercover operation is over. She says goodbye to all her fellow inmates and is then able to use her fake pregnant belly to get upgraded to first class seats on the plane. And then, she just shows up in the city with it still attached. It's not really distracting to the main story at all.
  • This whole Pimento-Figgis arc has had its ups and downs as far as a multi-episode story goes. It's been a lot of fun while bringing a new sense of danger to the show. And yet, it's also failed to address one crucial problem. After being undercover for a decade, why was Pimento allowed to return to his old life as a cop if Figgis wasn't behind bars?
  • It seems the show is sticking with its tradition of ending finales with characters leaving the Nine-Nine for an unknown amount of time. In Season 1, Jake left for an undercover operation. In Season 2, Holt was reassigned by Wuntch. And now, in Season 3, Jake and Holt are forced into witness protection. It's a fun recurring theme that hasn't lost its value yet.