Tuesday, September 20, 2016

REVIEW: 'Brooklyn Nine-Nine' - Jake and Holt Adjust to Life in Florida as Greg and Larry in 'Coral Palms Pt. 1'

FOX's Brooklyn Nine-Nine - Episode 4.01 "Coral Palms Pt. 1"

Jake and Holt remain in Florida, adjusting to their new lives under the Witness Protection Program while Jimmy Figgis is still on the loose. Their one human link to their regular lives is U.S. Marshall Karen Haas (Maya Rudolph), but their anonymity may be in danger when a video of them goes viral.

Every season of Brooklyn Nine-Nine so far has ended with someone leaving or being forced out of the Nine-Nine precinct. In Season 1, Jake decided to go undercover with the mob. In Season 2, Holt was transferred to the public relations department of the NYPD. In Season 3, Jake and Holt fled to witness protection after Jimmy "The Butcher" Figgis threatened their lives. It's clearly a pattern for the show. The start of every season has focused on the circumstances that reunite the makeshift family at the precinct. Every season has had varied lengths for these mini-arcs. Jake wrapped up his undercover work in the mob in just one episode. Meanwhile, it took around four or five episodes to get Holt back as captain of the Nine-Nine. Basically, everything has to be brought back to order by the time of the annual Halloween episode. But it's still always a mystery of how long things are going to take for that to happen. "Coral Palms Pt. 1" is the first episode of the entire series that focuses exclusively on Jake and Holt. They are dealing with their new lives in Florida. Six months have passed since the audience last saw them. What the other characters back in New York are up to is still a mystery. It's an interesting but really inspired way to start the season.

This premiere highlights how isolating the witness protection program can actually be. Being in the NYPD is all that Jake and Holt ever wanted to do. They achieved their dreams of being a captain and a detective. They've had a lot of fun over the years together. They both have grown so much because of the other person being in their life. Fortunately, they still have that bond even though they are now living in Florida under the new names of Greg (Holt) and Larry (Jake). This isn't where they want to be living. This isn't the life they want. They had found happiness in New York. And now, all of that has been taken away from them because of Figgis. Now, they have to fill their days with power walking and working at a place called Frank's Fun Zone. It's completely beneath them. And yet, this is the life they need to be living to ensure that they aren't killed by this madman while he's still out there.

It should come as no surprise that it's difficult for Jake to completely give up being a detective. He is never one to just sit around and let others have fun catching the bad guys. The only connection to his former life is Holt. And now, Holt has made new friends in the community. He's immersed himself in the local news and gossip. Meanwhile, Jake is still a loner. He's sad and depressed. He's been that way for months. He's not making the most of their situation. Frankly, there's not a whole lot to actually get excited about. Holt's focus is just on getting a promotion at his new job. It's a position he's extremely overqualified for. And yet somehow, he struggles to get it because the owner thinks he's a carefree stoner. Jake doesn't want to make the most of this situation. He wants to solve the case and get back to Amy as soon as possible. Their sole contact in the marshall service just wants to quiz them about the backstories of their new identities. It's great when Jake has to painfully admit that Failure to Launch is his favorite movie instead of Die Hard. Jake doesn't want to give up his identity. He wants to hold onto it fully believing he'll return to New York one day. Things aren't looking his way though. Marshall Karen Haas says they could be looking at an indefinite stay in Florida. That's the worst thing Jake could hear right now.

So, Jake works on the case. Holt is able to figure out he's doing so quite easily. He knows Jake so well that he knows something is amiss when Jake says Holt is right about their situation. This premiere is entirely about Jake and Holt once again butting heads. It's a familiar formula for the show. Jake is the loose cannon who doesn't like to follow the rules while Holt is the strict captain who follows the rules for a reason. Their partnership has evolved past those initial differences. But Holt can still get upset at Jake when he starts compromising their safety in this town. Jake investigating Figgis by himself could lead to the mobster finding them in this town. That would lead to a completely new move to some other part of the country and not back to New York where Amy and Kevin are. Holt doesn't want to go through all of this again - especially if Jake learns nothing from the experience. The back-and-forth between them is really quite entertaining. This premiere doesn't make a whole lot of progress in bringing the two of them back to New York. And yet, their interactions are so phenomenal as they have to deal with this completely different environment.

Holt takes Jake's files away from him. All of that hard work is now completely meaningless. So, Jake tries to get back at Holt by corrupting the new life he has built in Florida. That means infiltrating his new group of friends - which includes Rhea Perlman who finds herself easily amused by both Greg and Larry's small talk banter - and taking the assistant manager job from him at work. It leads to a great reunion scene between Andy Samberg and Jorma Taccone. They are always so funny together. And here is no exemption as Jake fully props up the rumor that Greg is a complete stoner. Jake abuses his newfound power. It produces a pretty hilarious montage - including Holt being the lead performer at a child's birthday party, Holt cleaning out the nest where a homeless man and a raccoon are sleeping and Holt in a hot dog costume needing to "me so corny." Jake obviously has a lot of fun with all of this. And yet, it produces a moment that could ruin both of their lives. It's a lot harder to stay hidden in today's world. All it takes is one person posting something to the Internet to ruin their covers. That could potentially happen here after a woman takes an embarrassing video of the two of them being hit by go carts in the hopes that it will go viral. It's a solid setup for a story. It shows that it truly takes a lot of work to remain hidden under these aliases. The two of them need to work as a team to get the video. But it's not until after everything is done that they truly work together.

Jake is the one who gets the video back. He doesn't tell Holt the full plan and it works anyone. Holt believes Jake is being irresponsible and reckless with both of their lives yet again. He's not. He just uses misdirection to fool the woman into handing over her phone without even knowing it. He's very smart in that regard. But it forces things to become quite tense between Holt and Jake. They no longer have to work together and now will actively avoid each other. And yet, this whole experience has been exciting. Holt has disappeared into his life in Florida. But he misses New York just as much as Jake does. He felt alive for the first time when Jake was risking it all. He loved because a detective again. It took all of this happening to get him onboard with trying to find Figgis himself. The two end the premiere united. They believe they can do this together. They've always made a very effective team in the field. And now, they'll need to be great because they are going up against a man who wants both of them dead and no one can know that they are undercover cops. It creates a tense situation for them. The clock is counting down. They post the video in the hopes that Figgis will come to find them. So, they'll have precious little time to get ready for his arrival in Florida.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Coral Palms Pt. 1" was written by Dan Goor and directed by Michael McDonald.
  • The rest of the ensemble is an important part of this show. The Jake-Holt relationship is a core part of the series. And yet, the interactions with the rest of the cast are great as well. So, I wonder if they'll be completely sidelined in this story to get Jake and Holt out of witness protection? Or if the show will find some way to include them as well?
  • Jake would seem to be the one more capable of handling an ATV. And yet, it's Holt who has real experience with the vehicle and manages to handle it with relative ease. Meanwhile, Jake is completely clueless. He doesn't know how to turn it off or where the horn is.
  • Holt reveals that he has a tattoo somewhere on his body. After that reveal, Jake becomes obsessed with figuring out what it is and where it is. He hopes that it's not a picture of him on a dragon. And yet, he fears that is. That just seems too silly though.
  • How much are Jorma Taccone, Rhea Perlman and Maya Rudolph going to play into this arc in Florida though? Tacconne and Perlman are representative of the life Holt and Jake are living but don't want to be. Meanwhile, Rudolph is the agent who they'll have to keep in the dark regarding their own investigation.
  • Jake does not do well with snake removals. Though it's not surprising his cover as pest control is actually needed in a Florida high school.
  • Just the way Holt kept saying "camera phone" was really funny - especially when the camera on the new camera phone was different than the camera on his camera phone.