Thursday, August 19, 2021

REVIEW: 'Brooklyn Nine-Nine' - Jake and Amy Pursue Major Career Opportunities While Juggling Childcare in 'Balancing'

NBC's Brooklyn Nine-Nine - Episode 8.04 "Balancing"

Jake and Amy create a system to balance work and childcare. Rosa gets a new houseguest.

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.

"Balancing" was written by Evan Susser & Van Robichaux and directed by Daniella Eisman

Jake gets to experience the joy of seeing his son pull himself up for the first time. Amy is aware of those growth developments. She stresses herself out because of what should be happening and how Mac is doing. She can go off on a tangent trying to convince herself that everything is fine and she shouldn't be worried. And yet, that stress still exists. She plans for everything. She wants everything to be perfect. That can set unfair expectations and standards. However, her mind is brilliant and can offer so much good to the universe. Both Jake and Amy are committed to their careers. Sure, they have both had to reckon with what it means to be a police officer in 2021. This episode certainly displays the silly elements the show is known for when detailing this job more than the previous few episodes. Jake is right back to having an archenemy he has been hunting down for years. That plays into the elaborate mentality of the kickass, obsessive nature of this world. He was inspired to join the force based on how he saw it depicted in Die Hard. That movie has guided him through so much of life. He sees things in a more fanciful way than his colleagues. The show encourages these impulses as well. It's hilarious when Terry claps back in saying that he solves his cases before an archenemy can develop. It's a belittling statement towards Jake's ability as a detective. It's directed to a character who is known for being the best closer in the precinct. He is the main character after all. Over the years, he has grown though. He has always been childish. That charm has never fully gone away. He delights in putting maple syrup in his hair in order to kill off the lice that have taken root. He sees it as the fun and convenient way to handle this problem. It's not the most effective treatment. It's easily available to this family. It allows them to address the problem without having to devote too much time away from what matters the most to them. They are willing to look silly. That has no bearing on their performances in this job. Amy is determined to get the funding for her project that will offer some reform to the system. Jake is equally determined to solve the latest murder that connects back to a criminal who has taunted him for years. And yet, they have to care for Mac in all of this too. Their priorities are shifting. It's a true partnership because they understand what's important to the other. They indulge each other's eccentric behavior. They find it cute and charming. It can be overbearing and outrageous at times. It's still being done in the service of something greater. As such, it's perfectly reasonable when Jake steps up to be Mac's caretaker so that the rest of the precinct can function as intended. It means he isn't there for the takedown. Charles has to take the lead. He is perfectly capable of doing so. He was driving this case forward. The friends have long been prone to keep up the illusion of working a case together even when that is glaringly not what's happening. Here, that illusion is shattered because it's simply not reasonable or responsible. Jake is still involved in the overall investigation. He doesn't have to be present for every moment. He doesn't have to be the man leading the charge and being personally involved with the larger-than-life criminals. He acknowledges the importance of Amy's work. That can be a bit more abstract as an overall concept because so much of her story is defined by her preparing for a presentation. It's work she can do herself without having to bounce off of others. It only takes a brief moment to explain the importance. It's a step towards reform by highlighting ways in which these characters seek to implement it. They are effective in their endeavors. It may still present a rosy version of the police and the desire for reform. But it's a nuanced story playing out across the season. This is one step. It's one that embraces some former storytelling devices. As such, it's not as effective as some of the other episodes from the season. That applies to the subplot with Rosa and Holt as well. That is always a reliable character pairing. It continues to delve into the separation of Holt and Kevin. But it also hits the same beats a couple times too many. That makes it more difficult to experience and embrace the progress being made. At this point, the conclusion is inevitable. The tension is gone. It still has humor to be expressed though. That allows it to work. It's not the best. It's still effective.