Thursday, August 12, 2021

REVIEW: 'Brooklyn Nine-Nine' - Jake Seeks to Prove Himself as an Ally After Rosa Makes a Difficult Decision in 'The Good Ones'

NBC's Brooklyn Nine-Nine - Episode 8.01 "The Good Ones"

Amy returns from maternity leave. Jake and Rosa work a difficult case.

In 2020, the television industry aired 493 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 season premiere of NBC's Brooklyn Nine-Nine.

"The Good Ones" was written by David Phillips & Dewayne Perkins and directed by Cortney Carrillo

The final season premiere starts with a bombshell. Rosa has quit the force. She has left following George Floyd's death. She could no longer work within an organization that was fundamentally racist. It was a difficult decision. She has devoted her life to this place. The Nine-Nine has always functioned as a strong and loving family. One that highlights and celebrates the true diversity of America. It's one precinct though in a world where abuse by the police is all too common and accepted. Many of the characters have operated with the optimistic hope that they could change the system from the inside. They simply had to work hard to rise through the ranks and implement changes every step of the way. The system hasn't changed though. It's still fundamentally corrupt and abusive. Rosa can no longer reckon with that. And so, she leaves. She doesn't condemn or judge her friends for staying. She knows it must be a deeply personal choice for all of them. She has embraced a new job as a private investigator helping people who have been assaulted by the police. She is committed to this work. It's a new way her actions can force change in this institution. She is continuing to pursue the same fight. Her tactics have changed. It's not done with any animosity to the Nine-Nine. Jake internalizes all of this as judgment against him and what he does on the job. It's ignorant and offensive for Jake to declare himself as one of the "good ones." In that statement, he acknowledges a systemic issue that plagues the institution he has devoted his life to. He also refuses to accept any personal accountability for those continuing problems. He cannot see himself as contributing to them. He truly believes he has fought against such injustice and inequality. And yet, he can't deflect from that responsibility. It only allows these embedded problems to remain the same. Jake eventually sees the error of his ways. His actions are much more crucial than how he wants others to perceive him. He can't just be a performative ally. He has to do the work without expecting credit for being what should simply be seen as a decent human being. He is made uncomfortable. That's what the world requires of him. It's the only way he can truly reflect on what has led to this moment. Even then, the only justice for Rosa's client seems to be getting the charges dropped. That's enough for her to recommend Rosa in the community. It's not enough though. The system is padded by bureaucracy. Even if a captain wanted to do the right thing, the decision has to be supported by many additional levels and eventually take years to even find a conclusion. That gives the impression that it's too much work to follow through on what's right. That's horrifying. It's the outcome of this case though. Jake and Rosa can only do so much. Jake yearns for more. He wants to help. He also has to listen to what is needed by the people who are most often victimized. Even embracing some elements of perceived progressive change may not alter the hearts and minds of the people who make up these institutions. The police union rep works in an office with a unisex bathroom. That can clearly be seen as an effort towards inclusion. It doesn't change his behavior. He cares about the NYPD, his mother and Billy Joel. That's it. And so, he continues to stomp on the rights of others even when working from a place that wants to be viewed as accepting. It's all a performance even when the monstrosity is so blatant along the way. That does afford the show to find the comedic moments of this changing world. It has always enjoyed being a silly and whimsical show that happened to be set in a police precinct. That means something else in 2021. The show has told serious stories before. These characters are good at their jobs. Their decisions as detectives are never questioned. They arrest the true criminals. That clearly weighs on them differently now as they have matured alongside the rest of the world. It means Holt and Kevin have separated. That is a bombshell that comes at the end of the episode. Their marriage has been strained previously. They have always worked through it. This time may be different. The moment of declaration is given with the utmost severity. Amy is a true friend in offering her comfort and support to Holt. He still doesn't quite know how to process it or even share it with others. His mood and behavior has changed. Amy noticed that after a year away on maternity leave. She knows the world has changed. She wants some stability at work. That may be impossible given everything that has happened. Having these conversations is good though. It can go too far as Charles does repeatedly. The intention is commendable and worthy of recognition. That shouldn't be the point. However, this is still an effective story told about a subject with so much complexity and nuance to it. It can be simple as well. It's a call for human decency. That shouldn't be this hard. It is because of the ingrained issues within the systems that run the world.