Sunday, May 20, 2018

REVIEW: 'Brooklyn Nine-Nine' - Jake and Amy's Wedding Feels Special in an Unexpected Way in 'Jake & Amy'

FOX's Brooklyn Nine-Nine - Episode 5.22 "Jake & Amy"

Jake and Amy's wedding day is majorly threatened, and Charles and the whole squad rush to help save it. Amidst the chaos, Holt hesitates to open the email that will indicate if he has won his campaign for Commissioner, despite Gina's encouragement. Terry gently pushes Rosa towards a potential love interest.

All of the previous season finales of Brooklyn Nine-Nine have ended on massive cliffhangers that could have drastically changed the foundation of the precinct - Jake going undercover for the FBI, Holt being transferred to public relations, Jake and Holt going into the witness protection program, and Jake and Rosa falsely being sent to prison. The creative team had the confidence to end those seasons that way because they either already knew that FOX had renewed the show for another season or felt very strongly about the odds of coming back. Plus, it never took more than a few episodes to ultimately get the Nine-Nine back to how it has always functioned. It's been a nice thing to expect from each season finale even if it is never the show at its absolute best. In "Jake & Amy," the show simply couldn't function the same way because the creative team simply didn't know if FOX would renew the comedy for a sixth season. They were left in limbo when crafting this story. And thus, they had to produce an episode that could essentially function as a series finale for the show. After making 112 episodes, the writers felt the need to offer a satisfying ending should this be the last glimpse everyone gets of Jake, Holt and the entire precinct of characters. The creative team was right to be afraid of this potentially being the last episode of the show. FOX did cancel the comedy after five seasons. This is the series finale for them. But in a whirlwind 30 hours, the show went from cancelled on one broadcast network to picked up for an abbreviated sixth season on another. NBC is where the show will air next year. Sure, it won't return until 2019 which may throw the annual Halloween heist in danger. But it's so uplifting to know that this show will continue to tell such inspirational and fun stories for another year. As such, this finale offers just enough closure while delivering a strong distillation of what this show does so well.

The finale is centered around Jake and Amy's wedding. It's the story that the entire season has been building up. It was such a surprise when Jake proposed during the last Halloween heist. It was a way to reinvent the formula of that story while producing such a shock for both Amy and the audience. It was one of the best moments the show has ever produced because it was so unique to this show and this couple. They've been planning for this wedding ever since. And yet, the show chooses to follow the typical sitcom pattern of having everything fall apart on the day of the wedding. Their venue gets a bomb threat from a former criminal they put away - well, Amy was the arresting officer which makes Jake jealous that she has an arch-nemesis now. Amy's veil gets ruined and the ring bearer can no longer come. Even the cake gets destroyed which makes Holt so disappointed in Cheddar. It's such a cliche for weddings on sitcoms to go awry like this. As such, it's expected that the makeshift ceremony the characters are able to pull together at the last minute is much more special than the ceremony they planned for months. Here, Boyle is able to quickly pull everything together to transform the precinct into a place of beauty fit for this ceremony of a relationship he is extremely invested in. It was always inevitable that Jake and Amy would get married in the precinct. It's where they met and fell in love. So many of their milestone moments have happened at the precinct. Their closest friends work there. They are still surrounded by loved ones even though both of their families are completely absent - likely due to scheduling conflicts with Bradley Whitford, Katey Sagal, Jimmy Smits, etc.

And yet, the familiarity of it all just washes away when the audience and characters are in the moment of listening to Jake and Amy's vows to one another. It's so special and reveals just why the two of them are such a perfect couple. The sweetness of it all comes out long before Jake and Amy realize that they can still have a special wedding today. Jake makes a grand and sweet gesture simply by saying all of the disgusting or horrifying places he could be and still want to marry her. It's such a wonderful moment that brings out the best in Andy Samberg as the romantic lead of a sitcom. That only continues at the ceremony when he's delivering his vows. He talks about how crazy today was while also being par for the course for the life they've built together. He understands and cherishes that every day with Amy is crazy. That's what makes it so special. He is willing to chase that for as long as they are together. It's such a beautiful moment because it does reference so much of the history of the two of them as a couple. The show has been building to this moment for a long time. And that's what makes it so special when Amy's vows are also significantly better because it highlights how much she has grown. Usually, a day like today would be carefully planned by her. Everything would need to go exactly as she wanted otherwise it would be a major disaster. In this moment though, she sees just how special it all truly is. She is surrounded by the people she wants most in her life right now. She accepts that it's through these relationships that people can handle the unexpected. She knows life can be complicated. But she is so ready and happy to share whatever life brings with Jake. It's so emotional and moving. It's exactly what this finale needed to be.

The finale then concludes with the resolution to the other big storyline of the season. Well, resolution isn't actually the right way to phrase what actually happens. Throughout the episode, Holt doesn't want to open the email saying whether or not he will become the next Police Commissioner of the NYPD. It's the job he has been working for his entire life. He's prioritized it above all else. It has ruined relationships in the past. He has only gotten this far because of the support of his friends at the precinct. As such, it's very fitting that he waits to read the news until they are all there to share it with. This is the story that would have created the most problems should the show be renewed for another season. It would be difficult to say that Holt became the commissioner only to somehow be back working as the captain three or four episodes into the next year. That just wouldn't feel right. It would actually feel counterproductive to all of the hard work Holt has put into chasing this dream over the last few years. It also wouldn't be right to say he didn't get the job because that would be a huge bummer. It would simply be the wrong note to end the finale on - no matter what the future of the show would be. And so, the creative team ultimately decided to make it as the latest cliffhanger. It's a way to propel them into story next season. As such, it's a way to tease what would happen next. It's presented in such a way where Holt knows the outcome to this story but no one else in the precinct does because they still haven't learned how to read his facial expressions. Holt not having emotions has frequently been a solid use of comedy over the course of the series. That makes it even more fun and playful to watch happen here - even though it's lame that the audience will have to wait awhile before getting any answers. And yet, the audience should also take comfort in knowing that answers are coming because the show will be back.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Jake & Amy" was written by Dan Goor & Luke Del Tredici and directed by Dan Goor.
  • It's fascinating to see which guest stars the show chose to bring back for the big wedding knowing just how little screen time they would actually get. It would feel weird having Jake and Amy's parents there but essentially treat them as background extras. There would just be no room for them in this story. So instead, the shows opts for Kyle Bornheimer as Amy's ex, Teddy, who is still madly in love with her and Fred Armisen as Mlepnos, who appeared in the pilot and insists that he has never interacted with any of these characters before.
  • The other big guest star of the finale is Jane the Virgin's Gina Rodriguez as Alicia, a potential new love interest for Rosa. It's a story that is very compressed because the finale needs to focus on the wedding. And yet, it's also just a nice hint of what that dynamic could potentially look like. There is certainly chemistry there that would be fun to explore. Alicia seems more upbeat while also realistically knowing how to deal with Terry's freak-outs about the missing veil.
  • Hitchcock and Scully are missing for a large stretch of the finale. Jake presents it as a gift to Amy because he knows she wouldn't want them creating even more problems for this big day. That's a wonderful gift that also provides a solid punchline once they come to the final ceremony having no idea what has happened to the previous venue and the crazy day everyone has had.
  • Gina has a very meta line early on saying that characters are just getting paired off and that she and Holt have the best rapport. And yes, it is fun to see her encourage him to read the email only to back away from the suggestion after seeing just how important it is for him. But it's also just a brief tease of just how hilarious that comedic pairing actually is. Though is it the show's best? That's debatable. Jake's dynamics with Holt and Charles are also pretty stellar. 
  • Once again, I am so grateful to NBC for picking up the show for a sixth season. I'm not ready to say goodbye to these characters and this world just yet. I knew that it was a distinct possibility this year because of the ratings. It could be a challenge for the show returning after many months on a new network. And yet, I'm still so completely excited to see what stories the creative team will come up with next. I'm also appreciating the outpouring of support for the series on Twitter from a wide variety of people - even though the deal to move it to NBC existed before that fan campaign started.