Thursday, April 16, 2020

REVIEW: 'Brooklyn Nine-Nine' - Holt and Kevin Need Jake's Assistance to Track Down Cheddar in 'Ransom'

NBC's Brooklyn Nine-Nine - Episode 7.12 "Ransom"

Holt asks for Jake's help in a case that is exceptionally meaningful to him. Charles and Terry work together on a side business.

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.

"Ransom" was written by Nick Perdue & Beau Rawlins and directed by Rebecca Asher

Episodes of Brooklyn Nine-Nine that feature three separate stories aren't usually the strongest. The stories are typically separated from one another in order to spread the material around to every member of this incredible ensemble. As a result, none of the stories quite seem fully baked. They usually amount to a couple of solid jokes and ideas. That's what makes this episode stand out so effectively. It has a searingly great main storyline featuring Jake, Holt and Kevin. There is a version of this story wherein the entire precinct gets roped into the search for whomever abducted Cheddar the fluffy dog. However, that version of events would have required the case to be a little more complicated in order to provide ample material to characters like Amy, Terry, Rosa and Boyle. That could have been done. But it still would have fundamentally been about the three core characters and how they interacted with each other along the way. As such, the show doesn't lose any of the power by keeping it contained to Jake, Holt and Kevin. In fact, it may be even stronger as a result because it understands exactly what it needs to be in order to work. Jake and Holt have long been polar opposites who respect each other. That contrast may even be starker between Jake and Kevin. And yet, it's always so magical whenever they get to be silly with one another. It's fun watching Holt and Kevin freak out fearing that the absolute worst has happened to Cheddar. And yes, they are right to be concerned. Their fluffy boy didn't just run away. He was taken. Their pride may actually prevent them from tracking the criminal as well. It's a fun role reversal where Jake is the serious one trying to maintain a sense of dignity in this investigation. That is obvious long before an actual role reversal has to happen. Jake and Kevin swap clothes just so Jake can pretend to be Kevin during the handoff with the blackmailer. It's a disguise that only needs the basics of what Holt's husband is like. That is all the effort this criminal put into this moment. He knew he had to be creative and so he set the trade during a Shakespeare event in the park where everyone is essentially dressed like Kevin. It's a fun conceit. One that allows Jake to try over and over again to muster the appropriate amount of enthusiasm for a specific bird in the wild. Holt and Kevin are so in sync but it's also fun to see just how specific and enjoyable their relationship can be. Jake loves them both as father figures. He delights in putting on this role. However, he is the one thrown into danger. Cheddar escapes to safety. The show loves a shot of Cheddar running in slow motion. It may produce that moment whenever Cheddar actually appears. That's how much they enjoy it. But it never gets in the way of the comedy of seeing Holt fight to defend his dog and his colleague long after the pet has been retrieved. That final moment of action perfectly sums up the character dynamic between Holt and Jake. Holt is seriously fighting a criminal in an outlandish battle while Jake delights at every single punch and one-liner. Holt doesn't care that a movie was made about his past. Meanwhile, Jake can only speculate as to how cool and influential Holt actually is. Again, it's just a solid main story all around. Of course, it runs the risk of overshadowing the two subplots. But that isn't too noticeably bad. It's definitely been more jarring in the past. Plus, the subplots understand that they just need a few scenes to work and provide a few laughs while never distracting from the main case. Amy and Rosa's friendship is always reliable while it's great to watch Boyle as he believes he is in better physical shape than Terry. Both stories hit their peaks early and never outstay their welcome. Rosa wants to do something nice for Amy but can't tolerate Teddy's boredom longer than the average person. Terry wants to succeed in business with Boyle but the product literally explodes in their faces. All of this is simple but well drawn for the characters and their long-standing dynamics. That enhances the main plot so that it is the best possible version of itself. It's a contained episode but one that is incredibly effective while packed with so many strong comedic beats.