Tuesday, May 9, 2017

REVIEW: 'Brooklyn Nine-Nine' - Jake Pushes for Amy to Take the Sergeant Exam in 'Cop-Con' & 'Chasing Amy'

FOX's Brooklyn Nine-Nine - Episodes 4.17 "Cop-Con" and 4.18 "Chasing Amy"

The precinct packs up and heads to the Tri-State Police Officers' annual Cop-Con, which is usually the Nine-Nine's excuse for a big annual party. But the squad's fun is threatened this year when Holt asks them to be on their best behavior. Then, Amy suddenly vanishes hours before taking the Sergeant Exam, and it's up to Jake and Rosa to find her before it's too late.

With The Mick having finished its first season last week, FOX is now double-pumping episodes of Brooklyn Nine-Nine for the remainder of its season. On one hand, it could play as a burn off. The ratings haven't been so great since the spring premiere and the show is very much on the bubble in regards to a renewal for another season. On the other hand, it seems like FOX simply wants most of its shows to finish their seasons in May. It didn't want to extend things too far into June even though Brooklyn Nine-Nine didn't come back from its hiatus until a month ago. Both arguments are understandable. But right now, it just means we get two episodes of this excellent show in the midst of a strong season each week. It could run the risk of the two episodes not really pairing well together. But these two - "Cop Con" and "Chasing Amy" - do because they rely on some core character dynamics that are very rewarding to see as things have the potential to change very much in the future.

"Cop Con" is essentially a party episode for these characters. They spend the full running time away from their jobs. Instead, they are at a police convention marveling at all of the new technology that can be used in policing. It's a story that the show has done before in the episodes where the precinct goes through training exercises with other agencies. And yes, some of the gadgets are cool. But it feels very familiar as well. It's awkward when Jake and Boyle claim to hear the noise that only people under 35 can hear. Plus, Boyle freaking out about Jake replacing him with a robot didn't have as much humor as that plot point usually has. But this story isn't ultimately about all of that. It's about the precinct bonding together during this weekend away. It's a luxurious party for them. When one party gets shut down, they stage their own event. They black out and have to then recreate the events the next morning. It's pretty amusing even though it's the same story as The Hangover. But still, it's fun to see just how crazy this party got - including Jake getting hit with a firecracker and Boyle pushing the robot off the balcony. It just has a ton of fun and simple visuals that elevate the story in some strong ways.

Of course, it all ultimately has to mean something more too. Holt wanted the precinct to be on their best behavior on this weekend because he was gunning for a promotion. They failed to live up to his boring expectations. As a result, their behavior reflected poorly on him and he didn't get the job. Instead of it forcing him to lecture the precinct, the story does something completely different. It makes Holt envious of the fun the rest of the precinct had without him. Yes, he has a very different sense of what fun is. He wouldn't like this party. He wouldn't have enjoyed it as much as everyone else. But the camaraderie of the precinct is still strong. The rest of the precinct risked everything to get Holt's laptop back before his big presentation. Even though it was sabotaged because they left it absent in a hallway, they still give Holt a memorable weekend. It just means posing at the thermometer exhibit instead. That is just so random but completely fitting for Holt. The rest of the precinct gets blackout drunk at a party. But they still visibly have as much fun at this exhibit for Holt. It's what makes them so strong as a precinct. And no one can take that feeling away from them - even if that person is played by Andy Daly, who has a tendency to play people who ruin others' lives.

Next, "Chasing Amy" is primarily about the relationship between Jake and Amy. In the past, I've said that not enough has really happened between them as a couple as of late. They are a solid example of how putting two characters together romantically doesn't have to inherently alter the show or the way it tells its stories. It's simply just been something that is in the background and just a common part of these characters' lives. The show is still fundamentally about them at work. This episode provides them with some nice conflict while revealing how much they truly know each other and have changed their ways. Amy still wants to become the youngest captain in the history of the NYPD. It's a course she has mapped out for a long time. Apparently, there's even a schedule that hangs over her and Jake's bed. That's commitment and knowing exactly what one wants for the future. It's also driving her a little crazy. The thoughts of what it would mean if she became a Sergeant are very overwhelming. They are questions for the future of the show as well. Would she have to transfer precincts if she gets promoted? Would she technically become Jake's boss? Those worries are enough for her to go crazy. Those opening moments showing how she's psyching herself out are pretty hilarious to watch - especially with all of the crazy hair.

But it does ultimately come back to the relationship between Jake and Amy. Everyone in the precinct wants to help her. They want her to succeed and achieve her dreams. But it's Jake and Rosa who are tasked with making sure that Amy actually takes the test. Getting inside her head is quite fun and amusing. Yes, Jake says some harsh and judgmental things about his girlfriend. But he also exhibits a strong understanding of her and where she would go in a time like this. It's not surprising that she goes to the library and public records office. The reason why though is very moving and earned. She returns to the spot from "The Bet" where she and Jake had their first big flirtatious moment while working a case. That moment was so great way back in the first season. And now, it's up to Jake to encourage her to take this risk not knowing what changes it may bring to their relationship. That is such a rewarding moment that shows how deeply he cares for her. They are strong enough as a couple to endure anything because they've already dealt with so much. Of course, it's also funny when Jake's Die Hard moment fails completely. Those hijinks don't get in the way of Amy taking the test though. She does. And now, everyone simply has to wait and see what the results will bring. A shakeup could be very interesting moving forward.

"Cop Con" - B+
"Chasing Amy" - B+

Some more thoughts:
  • "Cop-Con" was written by Andy Gosche and directed by Giovani Lampassi.
  • "Chasing Amy" was written by Matt Lawton and directed by Luke Del Tredici.
  • There simply wasn't enough there with Holt's feud with the Andy Daly character. Holt was proven to be right in the end. This guy was manipulative and villainous who hid it behind a nice and pleasant exterior. The character just didn't add enough value to the overall story. 
  • It was surprisingly sweet to see Scully in a romantic story. Amy and Gina helped him because they genuinely cared about him trying to woo this perfect match. They weren't cynical and doing this just to make fun of him. That's what made it so rewarding and special in the end. 
  • Holt and Terry have a very strong friendship. And so, it's a little weird that their fascination with trains has never come up before. Plus, it's great when they realize that literally no one else cares about this obsession of theirs. And thus, they need to accept the other's different opinion. 
  • Stories that are about Gina and Boyle being siblings are always a ton of fun. She usually wants nothing to do with the Boyle family drama. But frequently gets caught up in it anyway. Here, the entire family is fighting over dough that she doesn't care about but has received for some reason. 
  • The cold open with Jake pranking Hitchcock is the more memorable one of the two. It's short and simple. But it has such a dark twist to it too with Hitchcock almost drowning because of the harmless prank going awry. 
  • Sarah Baker shows up as Amy's one legitimate friend who enjoys going to trivia nights with her. She doesn't like Jake at all which is a very fun dynamic. He claims to be impressive with knowledge but can never prove it when under intense pressure.