Thursday, August 19, 2021

REVIEW: 'Brooklyn Nine-Nine' - Holt Leads an Operation Against the Police Union to Battle Abusive Disinformation in 'Blue Flu'

NBC's Brooklyn Nine-Nine - Episode 8.03 "Blue Flu"

Captain Holt and Amy manage an understaffed precinct. Jake and Charles investigate.

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 next episode of NBC's Brooklyn Nine-Nine.

"Blue Flu" was written by Carol Kolb & April Quioh and directed by Claire Scanlon

Police unions are the biggest obstacle standing in the way of implementing meaningful police reform. They fight every proposed change every step of the way. They protect the rights of individuals far beyond what others would deem as rational and acceptable. It's all done with the mindset that this profession is inherently necessary and thus requires more protection than any other group. That only leads to corruption of morals and actions though. People aren't held accountable when they abuse their authority. These officers must be trusted in the communities they police. Most of the time though, it serves as a power trip for them. They operate with the entitlement of believing they can do whatever they want with no consequences. People have to listen to those who wear the badge no matter what. Holt believes that the truth will unify the officers who work at the precinct. In reality, they get caught up in the hysteria and fear that their jobs are being unfairly targeted. So many people think that police should be above criticism. Nothing critical can be said about them because of the severity of the job they perform in a world that's only gotten increasingly more criminal. But the officers still operate with the luxury of calling out sick to protest an organizational structure they believe doesn't have their backs in the field. An officer lied in order to create this public story. It's a willful action on his part that deserves punishment. Instead, it's entirely a conflict between the leaders of the precinct and the union representative. It's now clear that O'Sullivan will serve as a major antagonist throughout this final season. It's hard for Holt at first to negotiate with him. No progress is seemingly made because Holt believes he can implement changes and have them respected by everyone who serves under him. When that is met with resistance, he doubts everything he has spent his career working towards. Rosa made the decision to quit the force following George Floyd's murder. That was a personal decision. It also forced everyone to reckon with their position in this organization. It puts into sharp context just how little things have changed despite the best intentions. Even here, the characters are essentially arguing to maintain the status quo. When the Blue Flu sweeps through the uniformed officers, Amy instinctively believes that means crime will go up in the neighborhood. The community needs police on the ground to keep them safe. Holt ultimately produces the evidence that the numbers go down in several metrics that have been causing constant headaches for the NYPD across the years. He would love his leadership to be used as the model for how policing should function in the overall department. He still settles for besting O'Sullivan and forcing him into accepting that the system needs to return to normal. That comes across as a victory. It's not really. It makes everyone much more clear-eyed about the reality of their jobs. They still have to contend with this every day. Rosa is pulled into this mess all the time too. She does so in an amusing way. The mystery of Holt's tattoo is a fun detail included here. But this season is overwhelmingly forcing the characters to reflect on how their dreams match up with the reality of their lives. Charles is made to face his mortality. He believes he will die and leave behind all the people he cares about. He appreciates how much Jake cares about him. His best friend is so generous in his love and support. Charles isn't dying. It just happens to be a gross infection that the show offers plenty of gruesome details about. But again, it forces these serious conversations amongst the characters. Sure, the show can go for the silly jokes as it pertains to Terry's toughness. It can also switch and be incredibly serious about the world that has always existed for these characters. Things are changing. Staying the same can be comforting. It takes an arduous amount of work to make that happen here. That effort may not be worth it in the end. It's still important for these characters though. That highlights their passions and motivations even if the audience now has to look at how they function a bit more skeptically because of the inherent corruption and abuse of their profession. That's the point the show is trying to make throughout all of this. It's being carefully handled while still trying to resemble the essence that made the show so enjoyable to watch. It's great when Holt declares "hot damn" upon making his grand realization. The spirit of the show and its characters is still fun. The stakes are simply becoming more serious and that is respectable at this stage of the game.