Tuesday, December 6, 2016

REVIEW: 'Brooklyn Nine-Nine' - Jake and Holt Try to Help CJ with a Drug Case in 'The Overmining'

FOX's Brooklyn Nine-Nine - Episode 4.09 "The Overmining"

Captain CJ is having major problems with a big case, and Jake and Holt find the motivation to help him out. War ensues when Terry enforces a green initiative and tells Gina to get rid of her precious space heater. Rosa and Boyle take a break from the night shift to visit a foot massage parlor.

The cold opens on Brooklyn Nine-Nine have always been so fun and inventive. They are largely just their own self-contained things that have very little to do with the plot of the actual episode. That's not always the case. But more often than not, they are just a simple and amusing way to start the episode with an easily executed joke. The show has gotten really good with them over the years. There have been a number of great ones. How "The Overmining" opens may be one of the most laughable moments the show has ever done. That may sound hyperbolic and giving it too much praise. But it was such a simple setup with immediate payoff that resulted in a laugh that lasted well into the title sequence. It works as well as it does because the audience has a strong grasp on these characters. It's funny to just watch that awkward silence between Jake and Boyle after Jake asks how Boyle's weekend was. Boyle has always been eager to make a pun. So him coming down with a "Diane Wiest Infection" is something in character and funny. Jake not having any reaction is also great because it's unclear if he just doesn't get it or if he just doesn't know what to do with that saying. And then, Boyle just explaining the pun with as much delight as possible is the final punchline that sells the whole bit. It sets a high bar for this episode which it mostly lives up to.

These last two episodes have returned the focus to the precinct and how the entire squad is still working the night shift. It was punishment for going to Florida to help Jake and Holt out of their situation in witness protection. It's symbolic and important that they are ultimately the ones who get the entire squad back on the day shift. It's also funny to watch how they have differing approaches to the task. They need something to happen with Captain CJ. What that is keeps changing which forces both characters to act quickly on their feet. Jake wants to do whatever it takes in order to get CJ either fired or transferred. The opportunity has arisen. Jake can manipulate CJ's failure to his benefit and get the squad back to where they belong. But Holt is much more concerned about being a good police officer and doing what's right for the entire community. He's not letting his selfish desire to get back to a normal schedule affect his decision making process. That's an interesting conflict between the two of them. It gets even funnier when CJ just starts to annoy both of them until they can't take it any more. After the cold open, the funniest scene of the episode is when Jake and Holt go undercover and CJ just won't stop talking in the ear piece even after they yell at him. Again, simple setup but a phenomenal payoff in the end.

The jokes are great but the back-and-forth between Jake and Holt makes the story work. This episode does a solid job of reminding the audience of just how seriously Holt takes this job. Yes, he still has amusing reactions to things. He's just as furious at CJ talking in the earpiece as Jake is. But he holds professionalism above all else. That shines through in this story. It's something that was really necessary right now because of the increasing worry that Holt is becoming too broad of a character to take all that seriously. This story reenforced the ideas of why he was such a great and unique character in the beginning. Plus, he is still able to have fun in the end as well. He's ultimately responsible for restoring balance to this world. He's the one who gets CJ transferred out of the precinct. Jake spends the whole episode trying to manipulate the situation to his benefit. He tries making CJ looking bad to the higher ups. He tries to help CJ succeed by catching this infamous drug dealer for him. But none of it works. It all just keeps CJ at the Nine-Nine. Holt's plan is what ultimately works. He just had to plan a simple situation where CJ showing off his incompetence to the world would get him out of command. Holt does stoop low for selfish reasons. In that moment, he is no better than Jake. He even has to use the fake word that Jake came up with: overmine. But again, it's all suppose to be worth it because Jake and Holt can return to the precinct and share the good news with the rest of the squad. That's such a rousing moment to end the episode on.

All of this comes at a moment where the squad finally learns how to deal with and lead during the night shift. It has stopped being a struggle for most of them. They've just found a way to cope with their new situation while also pining to get back to their normal schedules. Boyle and Rosa's subplot is pretty funny as well. At first, it seems like it has nothing to do with police work. They are just going to a 24/7 foot massage parlor in order to deal with the stress of the job. It's a little place that Boyle found. It has put a renewed sense of pep in his step. That upbeat energy doesn't exactly gel well with the night shift. It's amusing watching him talk up this place. As always, he does so in the grossest details possible and even starts making moaning noises. This place transported him and he wants to share that with Rosa. The story takes an even better turn when she falls in love with the place as well. It's one thing for Boyle to be excited about a foot massage. It's completely different for Rosa to be. Of course, there is a predictable nature to this story as well. It always feels too good to be true. In the end, that's exactly the case. The place is actually a front for money laundering. That's an expected reveal. But it's still incredibly amusing to watch Rosa and Boyle discuss the merits of keeping it open. It doesn't work. They still bust in and arrest the people. But they do so filled with regret over losing this luxury they just found. And that ultimately makes this a fun and light story.

Elsewhere, this episode throws Terry's leadership skills into question once more. Just last week, he had his doubts about how good of a leader he really is. Jake was able to inspire him into action. This time, it's up to Amy and Gina. Terry is feeling bummed out because he didn't pass the lieutenant's exam. That was an ongoing story that was mentioned a couple of times last season but didn't ultimately go anywhere. And now, the show is telling the audience how difficult it is to pass this test. It means Terry will be able to continue being the sergeant in the precinct for awhile. A promotion possibly could have taken him away from the Nine-Nine. So, he's staying but questioning his methods because he can't get people to cut down on their energy consumption. It turns into a battle of the wills between him and Gina. Amy is the only one who knows the truth about Terry and wants to help him get this win. But it's a story that is so much better when it shows just how extreme Terry and Gina are willing to go in order to win. Gina risks catching on fire just to prove that she won't back down. Meanwhile, Terry is willing to drive energy costs up by giving Hitchcock and Scully personal space heaters as well. He does so in the hopes that that visual will cause Gina to back down. Of course, she has to have adjusted to seeing disgusting things from Hitchcock and Scully by now, right? Instead, she backs down not because of what Terry does but to give him a win and make him feel like a winner again. Gina can be a very self-obsessed person. Just like at her carelessly locking Amy in a closest despite her claustrophobia. But she is still capable of doing good things to others to make them feel better.

Some more thoughts:
  • "The Overmining" was written by Luke Del Tredici and directed by Dean Holland.
  • Ken Marino's appearance as Captain CJ was a delightful guest role earlier in the season. So, it's not surprising at all that he was brought back to finish up this arc of the night shift. Plus, he's even more important to the story in this episode than he was previously.
  • CJ's incompetence extends to not knowing how to use the phrase, "That's gonna leave a mark." That's another really amusing running joke throughout the episode. So is Jake's admiration that CJ can come up with catchy musical hooks.
  • And yet, CJ is the one who ultimately stops the big drug dealer from running away. He just so happens to open the car door just in time for the criminal to run into. Of course, it was an accident. He was just getting out of the vehicle because he saw a huge spider.
  • Terry failed his lieutenant's test largely because he ran into a problem when he got up to use the bathroom. The small desk was literally stuck to his body. That is just a fantastic visual that is just as funny every time I think about it.
  • Holt is absolutely right in saying that journalists deserve to be seen as heroes in today's world. But it's also wonderful that he knows so many reporters and Jake is just confused by all of it.
  • Boyle to Jake: "Like yeast!"
  • Amy: "Like they say, 'Test time, diaper up.'"
  • Rosa: "You're under arrest for ruining something great." Boyle: "And money laundering."
  • Terry: "Is that mayonnaise or sweat?"