Tuesday, April 25, 2017

REVIEW: 'Brooklyn Nine-Nine' - The Precinct Goes Out in a Blaze of Glory in 'The Last Ride'

FOX's Brooklyn Nine-Nine - Episode 4.15 "The Last Ride"

In what could be their last case as partners, Jake and Charles go to great extremes to apprehend a local bike thief. Terry shockingly isn't in the lead for "Mr. Nine-Nine" (the detective who has solved the most cases), leaving Rosa determined to boost his ego. Amy spends some precious time with Holt.

"The Last Ride" is a really fun and amusing episode of Brooklyn Nine-Nine. There are some serious stakes to it. The precinct is shutting down after a lot of talk about it in the previous two episodes. So, everyone is worrying about this being their last day as co-workers. That's a nice hook for an episode. It allows for some wonderful absurdity in the actual police work as well as some really solid jokes in the office dynamics. Yes, the main story works a lot more than the two subplots do. In three-story episodes, the two subplots often feel like they are condensed down and don't always hit the necessary beats to make the stories land. These two stories feel even more minor and purposeless than normal. And yet, they are a lot of fun as well. Again, Holt simply listening off a number of things is just hilarious to watch. Andre Braugher continues to be so good in this role. So, a story can just be about him teaching Amy the proper handshake, how to sleep, what people are really saying in their introductory phrases, etc. Meanwhile, it's amusing that Hitchcock holds the record for most arrests ever for the Nine-Nine. That's absurd but as Terry puts it: "New York City in the 1980s was basically The Purge." The resolution with Rosa lifting Terry's spirits was logical. But it also felt like simply giving those characters something to do this week as well.

So, the main story features Jake and Boyle doing one last case together. It's a simple bike theft. That's all that headquarters is assigning to the precinct. It's not a case that inherently means the detectives can save the precinct by solving it. It's just a minor case that may not even get solved in the span of a day. And yet, Jake sees it as an opportunity to do everything he's always wanted to do while working a case with Boyle. That dynamic has always been so infectious and fun because they are both overly enthusiastic. They have wildly different opinions on various things. Boyle has frequently functioned as Jake's hype-man. But over the seasons, the show has proven why their friendship is so meaningful. It's not just a one-sided thing where Boyle is obsessed with Jake but Jake doesn't reciprocate those feelings. Instead, it's a friendship where they both appreciate the opportunity to take out the coolest car in the impound lot and wear cool leather jackets to go catch their perp. All they need is the right attitude towards this case for their spirits to be lifted. And no one is going to tell them they can't do any of this.

Of course, the case takes on a new meaning as well because the person who stole the bike also happens to work for the biggest heroin dealer in the city. That means this case really can save the precinct if Jake and Boyle arrest the criminal before the deadline. All hope for keeping the precinct together is on these two. They are still allowed to work this case the way they want to. It doesn't suddenly become a group effort even though the scale of the sting has now grown more substantial. Instead, it continues to be an intimate and personal thing with Jake and Boyle. They are still allowed to be silly. It's fantastic to watch Jake fail to be an impressive bike rider. He feels he needs to infiltrate this gang in order to make his way to the top. Instead, he's put in a race with the worst biker the organization has to offer. That guy still rides circles around Jake - even after Boyle intervenes. It's hilarious to watch. Jake always sees himself as this badass cop who can constantly pull off cool looking tricks. At times, he is successful in doing that. When he busts the bike thief, he slides across the hood of the car. But most of the time, Jake falls to land or look as cool as he hopes. In this case, that means failing to jump over a hill to win the race. Instead, he misses the landing and crashes.

And yet, everything is not for nothing. Boyle was able to plant a tracking device. So now, the detectives know exactly where this big criminal is located. They've assembled a tactical team and are ready to make the bust. However, they have a choice to make. They could arrest the criminal and save the Nine-Nine from shutting down. Or they could wait to arrest the criminal and his drug supplier even though they'd miss the deadline. It's a question of morals. Do Jake and Boyle do what's best for them personally or what's best for the city? In the end, they choose to protect everyone in New York by waiting for the supplier as well. It shows that both of them are capable of being great at their jobs even though it may get in the way of what they want. They love working at the Nine-Nine. But their duty is to the citizens of the city and not to their friends. It's an emotional moment. One that works amazingly well because it's funny to watch too. Jake and Boyle know that the other is crying but are holding up binoculars to pretend that they aren't. They aren't fooling anyone. So, it's a nice moment of emotion and laughter. Plus, they are successful in their bust as well.

Even though Jake and Boyle miss the deadline though, the precinct stays open. The detectives will be able to stick together. After all of this teasing that they'll be torn apart, they aren't. It's a tad lackluster because seeing them scattered around the city could have been a fun premise for an episode. And yet, it's understandable why the show ultimately doesn't go through with it. It would have been a little too ridiculous for the show to close down the precinct only to have it inevitably reopen sometime in the near future. Plus, it's fun that after putting all of the attention on Jake and Boyle's case that it's ultimately Gina who saves the precinct. She doesn't care for this job at all. In fact, she's perfectly fine with moving on to bigger and better thing. She spends the entire day pranking people - which is largely just getting them to drink cement. And yet, she also encourages her followers to reach out to the commissioner to save the precinct after she records a speech from Holt talking about the closing. It's a silly way to resolve this story. However, it's a fitting way for this show to deal with it as well.

Some more thoughts:
  • "The Last Ride" was written by David Phillips and directed by Linda Mendoza.
  • The visual of Jake and Boyle carrying a bunch of cool weapons for their latest drug bust is incredibly funny. There are so many cool tools that they want to play with. And yet, it's impossible for them to take everything for this operation. Largely because it's all too heavy. Only Terry could handle it all.
  • Jake always comes up with elaborate backstories for the undercover aliases he creates for the job. Boyle tries to do so as well but isn't as successful. And yet here, Jake really loves Boyle's backstory for Chip Rockets - even though he claims he stole it all from a movie he saw.
  • Amy has spent four seasons trying to get Holt to be her mentor. She looks up to him and craves his advice on all subjects. And now, he reveals that he actually has been mentoring her. That's a fun reveal - especially when it comes to Amy's reactions. Yes, she's sad when they get all the mentoring done in one day. But Holt then reveals he has more binders of information as well.
  • Hitchcock and Scully are almost always paired together in whatever joke or story the show is telling. So, it's always fun when the show singles out one over the other. And thus, it's nice that Hitchcock has importance in Terry's story. Plus, he's able to solve a case when Terry isn't.
  • The cold open this week largely just confirms that the precinct will be shutting down. It's fairly straightforward. And yet, it gets its brief moment of humor from Jake trying to include someone from the precinct who isn't a part of the inner circle. It fails horribly.
  • Where did Gina get all of that cement in the first place?