Friday, April 10, 2020

REVIEW: 'Brooklyn Nine-Nine' - The Squad Competes in the Annual Heist Across Three Holidays in 'Valloweaster'

NBC's Brooklyn Nine-Nine - Episode 7.11 "Valloweaster"

The squad competes to determine who is the greatest human/genius.

In 2019, the television industry aired 532 scripted shows across numerous outlets. The way people consume content now is different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, it's less necessary to provide ample coverage of each episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site provides shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of NBC's Brooklyn Nine-Nine.

"Valloweaster" was written by Luke Del Tredici & Jeff Topolski and directed by Matthew Nodella

Every season the audience expects an episode solely devoted to the Halloween Heist. It is an annual tradition. The viewer expects the show to stick to a specific formula while also demanding an outcome that is surprising along the way and at the end when all is revealed. It's always difficult to pull off. And yes, the event probably peaked with the surprise of Jake proposing to Amy. But it continues to be fascinating to see how the show tries to shake up the formula of this story. Of course, this premise allows all of the characters to act even more insane than usual. And yes, that does push the boundaries of what is acceptable behavior. Holt installs a camera in Jake and Amy's bedroom. That is horrifying. Amy tricks Jake into attending fake therapy sessions that she listens in on. That's also horrendous. Rosa too was closely monitoring Jake as he let out all of his feelings in that intimate and private space. It's all in service of being crowned the greatest human/genius in front of the entire precinct. That's all this is for really. It's the bragging rights amongst the precinct. But it's also just a lot of fun to see how the premise has devolved into chaos over the legitimacy of each victory. In the early seasons, there was a clear and concise winner. The fifth season threw that idea into question with Holt insisting that he has the cummerbund while Amy only received a knockoff for a proposal. And now, people question if they should reward themselves in hindsight for all the times they helped someone else win. Each season offers the incentive to name a new member of the ensemble the victor. There really haven't been repeat champions. The characters themselves may dispute that fact. Jake, Amy and Holt are absolutely the most competitive. However, they have easily been fooled by Gina and Terry in the past and Rosa here. This is Rosa's year. The premise changes in this episode. It starts as a flashback to Halloween 2019. Because it no longer airs episodes in close proximity to the holiday, the show has had to become more creative with this annual tradition. Last year, it became a Cinco de Mayo heist. And now, it becomes a heist played out across three holidays - Halloween, Valentine's Day and Easter. Apparently, these holidays are the only days in the year in which the detectives are free to engage in such a frivolous activity. Sure, the audience could try to see if the events of this episode line up with everything that has already occurred this season. It's clear that Amy is in a pumpkin costume for the first portion because Melissa Fumero has to hide her pregnancy. That is no longer an issue for the later holidays. It's also fun to explore the precinct being divided into pairs and needing to be handcuffed together. Again, that creates the understanding that more than one person will emerge victorious from all of this. But that isn't true in the slightest. Instead, Rosa gets to declare victory as she details exactly how she fooled her colleagues during all three heists of the past year. It's a clever story. One that also embraces some horrifying behavior like Rosa influence the eating behavior of both Cheddar the dog and Scully. That is insanely manipulative and disruptive all in service of the chaos she witnesses at the end of this episode. But again, that is such a satisfying moment because it's exactly what Rosa would want from all of this. And yes, it does continue the tradition of allowing a new member of the squad to step into the spotlight and win this praise. Of course, it also sets the expectation that Boyle will pull off a victory next season as he is the only person who hasn't done so already. It's less of a priority for Scully or Hitchcock to ever come across as competent enough to win. They are the easy jokes because they hinder the ability of everyone else in the precinct to emerge victorious. That is a problem for the future though. Right now, it's just a delight to watch as the squad tries to accommodate to the ever changing rules of the heist while also just accepting that no one can ever truly make sense of this magnificent achievement. Chaos and insanity may reign. However, it offers a sense of true camaraderie despite how horrifying these people look from both the objective viewer and the other people who happen to work at the Nine-Nine. After all these years, it could grow exhausting. That may be especially true for a year that demands three heists take place over an increasingly dwindling time. But again, that highlights how well Rosa performs and that she may have the only true claim as the three-time champion of the heist.