Monday, May 7, 2018

REVIEW: FOX's 'Brooklyn Nine-Nine' and 'The Last Man on Earth' (May 6)

Various FOX reviews for May 6, 2018:

Brooklyn Nine-Nine - Episode 5.20 "Show Me Going"
The Last Man on Earth - Episode 4.18 "Cancun, Baby!"

In 2018, it's impossible to watch every scripted show out there. There are over 450 of them. It's even more impossible to even provide adequate coverage of some of them. Great shows slip through the cracks. Some shows take awhile to figure themselves out. So as a way for me to provide more coverage, I'll just be writing some paragraph reviews of the various shows that aired new episodes on FOX from May 6, 2018. Enjoy!

Brooklyn Nine-Nine - "Show Me Going"
Written by Phil Augusta Jackson and directed by Maggie Carey

Brooklyn Nine-Nine has made the pivot to dramatic storylines on a number of occasions. The detectives have investigated the worst criminals - including serial killers, drug kingpins and robbers. The show has always been able to find the humor in those experiences. It mostly came from Jake typically having the wrong reactions in any given moment. He just finds police work so cool that he's not always sensitive to what has just transpired. Of course, he's a more nuanced character than that. And now, the show tells an active shooter story where Rosa responds and the rest of the squad doesn't know what's happening with her. It's a story that gets its power from not knowing. It always seemed unlikely that the show was going to kill or injure one of its main characters. That's simply not what this show does. But the show also got to have a nice conversation that highlighted the power of honest communication during times like these. Jake's way of compartmentalizing isn't the appropriate reaction to this and that essentially makes him more of the bad guy this week. He wants to spring into action and have his big hero moment to help save Rosa. But that's not required of him here. The story is essentially about him learning to cope with this difficult situation and being there to support his friends while they are going through the same thing. Of course, the show probably shortchanges Rosa's experience a little too much. She's not really allowed to have a reaction to being involved with this kind of situation. She is trained to handle herself when something like this comes up. But that doesn't prepare her for the uncertainty of the moment itself. It's still so rousing to see her return to the precinct by playing a prank on the rest of the characters followed by a loving hug from Gina and Amy. That's heartwarming and really special to watch. But the show also struggles a little bit in finding the right balance of comedy and drama with this story - with the various plot points trying to find the humor in the uncertainty of the situation and mostly just producing extreme reactions through physical jokes. B+

The Last Man on Earth - "Cancun, Baby!"
Written by Rich Blomquist & John Solomon and directed by Nisha Ganatra

This could very well be the last episode of The Last Man on Earth ever produced. FOX has yet to make the decision on its future but the ratings have it firmly on the bubble. As such, I have conflicting thoughts about this as a potential series finale. The show was obviously building to a cliffhanger. The season ends with the survivors being surrounded by the mysterious group of people from the underground bunker. The finale provides no further clarity on who they are or what they want from the main characters. And yet, that could also be a perfectly fine ending because of the story that happens before that reveal. The show has followed a pattern of the characters moving every season because of some new threat to the home they chose to live in for a little while. They have yet to really plant their roots in this world. They have one aspect of repopulating the planet down by having children. Carol and Erica are pregnant once again too. But they've always chosen to prioritize luxury and convenience above sustainability. This season has pointed out that the world is no longer as big as it once was with the supplies quickly dwindling. New survivors have come and gone from the group. The core family remains the same. And now, it's up to Tandy to point out that the best place for them to stay for the rest of their lives is this ranch that he and Mike found last week that had the goats and the oranges. It's a place built to survive. It's the sensible option. Of course, it's really surprising that Tandy is the one making this pitch to stay here. He is ready to find his forever home. He wants to put down roots here to ensure that he and his family will be safe for the rest of their lives. He sees that as the next step of rebuilding the world. They can't just continue to run off to some gorgeous location and pick a house to stay in for a couple of months. That story always ends the same way. Tandy is breaking that pattern because he has had enough of that life. Sure, he also understands that Mike and Jasper still have more exploring they want to do throughout the world. And thus, they aren't quite ready to make this commitment to this new plan. That's perfectly fine too. It's a sweet ending that would be perfectly fine as the closing story of the series. Plus, the show always had the urging for twists and cliffhangers. So, it could be satisfying to see the gang go out like this. Of course, it would be just as great to see this new group of people introduced with the show exploring if this ranch or the bunker is the best place to sustain new life. A-