Heart attacks, Dozer-pads, and pigeon mascots highlight a very “light and breezy” season premiere for Brooklyn Nine-Nine, as the series juggles as much as it can in the hopes of easing us all into its fresh, new office situation. There certainly hasn’t been any shortage of changes within the precinct, in-between Captain Holt’s demotion to the PR department and Jake and Amy officially getting intimate, so this week’s episode had a lot on its plate from the get-go. Of course, though, given its recent history of subverting sitcom cliches and spinning beaten-to-death story tropes on its head, I expected “New Captain” to pull us right back into the proceedings with ease. And that it totally did…
…although there certainly were a few missteps along the way. For one, Bill Hader’s surprise guest appearance as the “new” Captain Dozerman was a hit-or-miss affair at best. His boisterous desire for efficiency in the office opened the floodgates to a whole lot of cartoon-ish behavior, as he aimed to get his point across in the precinct by mostly shouting ’till his heart literally gave out. Since none of it lacked much context or reason, this side of the character was jarring to watch, and a bit off-putting in regards to the show’s style of comedy. On top of that, given how much we’ve come to know about the rest of the Nine-Nine, coupled with the rapport they had developed with Holt over the last two seasons, Dozerman never really fit in here. Rosa hated him, and I quote, “more than any cop (she’s) ever known.” The rest of the crew hardly got any interaction with him besides that one scene where he warms up to Jake (“Cho’s before Ho’s.) And Terry supposedly tolerated him simply because he, too wanted more work to be done. The episode did little to accentuate him to the group (which is understandable, considering that he didn’t like humans anyway,) but even envisioning Dozerman as a foil to the Nine-Nine’s laid-back approach to police work was difficult. That kinetic comedic energy that plays off of Holt’s banter with Jake or Amy or the others was nonexistent, so the clashing between detective and captain never had much of a chance to take off into any amusing territory. At least his brief inclusion to the office was a cop-out (excuse the pun) with his second (!) heart attack of the episode proving to be the axe this character was probably destined to get eventually. Here’s hoping The Vulture’s return as the new-new Captain will be the change-of-pace command swap the series is looking for.
While I try to stay on the topic of misfires this week, I’d like to also point out my grievances with Holt and Gina’s side story. Some may have different viewpoints than others, but Holt’s transfer to Public Relations seems like it’s little more than an opportunity for more snappy interaction with Wuntch. Besides seeing Gina pick him up while he was down over not getting to present his eight-step plan for community engagement – which I enjoyed – plenty of time spent on this part of the episode zeroed in on the growing animosity between him and Wuntch. It’s not that I’m not amused or entertained when they butt heads, since a vast majority of their exchanges have been hilarious. I’m just concerned things may fall into a pattern here, especially when you consider that Wuntch spent all that time shutting Holt down because the guys in PR have spent months seeking a name for their new pigeon mascot. In addition, the foundation of this relationship was already established last season, which made these scenes feel a bit extraneous in context. There were definitely some hilarious bits sprinkled in-between (like Holt caving in to Wuntch’s orders in the presentation room,) but all the zingers in the world couldn’t hide the fact that Brooklyn Nine-Nine might be starting to reach into a particular bag of tricks more than it needs to.
Jake and Amy’s kiss left a lasting mark on both Season Two’s finale and Season Two as a whole, so it was a nice touch to have the premiere episode kick off about a mere three hours afterward. Those who have staked out on Brooklyn Nine-Nine since day one were probably hoping and praying it to happen at some point, and one can only imagine how well this week handled such a colossal change in dynamic. Not only did both Jake and Amy address the situation upfront, they did so by actually dating! These two are well aware of their feelings for each other, and besides the fact that they hid this “shocking” revelation from everyone else (until Terry sort of caught them on their bullshit towards the end of the episode,) they were certainly on board with making something intimate out of it all.
Perhaps the best part of all this is that they did so rather quickly, as Jake and Amy had (really good) sex following a slightly awkward first date and a few kamikaze shots. The results of such developments in most sitcoms usually involve awkward small talk involving little to no eye contact, with the sudden realization that it was a huge mistake, some self-wallowing here and there, and then the eventual break up coming right before the episode concludes. In Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Jake and Amy find their crazy night as a big step in the right direction, and use it as a precedent to break even more relationship-building rules that they had built for themselves.
This was the best decision the show made all night, because it neglects to take the easy way out of such a major change in the series and allows the impact of the kiss to take its natural, mostly humorous course. On one end, we got to see Jake finally man up for once and make a convincing plea to make this thing work with Amy. Brooklyn Nine-Nine has constantly pushed to mature Jake into more than the office goof, and his willingness to express his true feelings towards Amy in and out of the precinct is a great place to start. As for Amy, she deserves to loosen up a little. The series has painted her as a bit too focused on work, and maybe her opening up to Jake ‘for reals” will lead to a less restrained, more determined version of Detective Santiago over the course of the year. There’s ample character development that could easily stem from this relationship, and with both parties content on seeing things through, the seeds are planted.
Even when the focus is squarely on a fraction of the cast, this week proved yet again that everyone can still get a chance to shine. Terry, Rosa, and Boyle all played minor roles this week, but that’s perfectly fine – they played off of the office shenanigans all night with hilarious results. I loved that Boyle went all Devil’s advocate on Jake and pressured him to make a move on Amy, especially since he initially had no idea that the two had already kissed and hooked up. Charles’s signature charm was on display throughout (“Light and breezy is how you describe a linen pantsuit”,) and I felt that his forecasting over Jake and Amy’s future together was a fantastic running gag. Terry’s about-face remark in regards to Dozerman’s death (“How you like me now, sucker? I mean, I hope you found peace”,) as well as Rosa’s couple bits with the Dozer-pad, were other brilliant highlights.
“New Captain” could’ve done more with Holt’s move to the PR department besides giving him more jabs to throw at Wuntch, and it kind of took away from the possibility of him enhancing the complexion of that division in future episodes. It also swung and missed with Hader’s Dozerman, who really never had much of a shot at leaving a lasting impact considering how incompatible he was to the rest of the precinct. Luckily, the rest of the episode offset most of these quibbles. Jake and Amy’s relationship rid of practically every “will they won’t they” trope in the book, and left us rooting for them to make this last (or at least develop into something special.) Terry, Rosa and Boyle all had their moments in-between everything else, and Gina was Gina: providing Holt with some much-needed motivation, while providing the rest of us with a whole bunch of great comedic material (“Hi, Gina Linetti, the human form of the 100 emoji”.) It’s good to be back with the Nine-Nine.
As usual, I leave you with the best lines from last night:
- “Sticks and stones, Raymond”
“Describing your breakfast?”
- “My aortic valve is 16% too narrow, which lowers my life expectancy from 103 to 64.”
- I know you’re not a toddler, because my toddlers know that ‘stupid’ is a ‘no-no’ word.”
- “Oh, small plates, casual-chic ambiance, no free soda refills *gasps* Jakey’s going on a date.”
- “You also got a haircut. At some point in your life. I’m sure that’s not your baby hair.”
- “With all due respect, that pigeon is clearly a Ray J.”
- “Tell my wife that I lover her…work ethic.”
- “So what is this? Casual? Serious? I need to know how to make fun of you.”
- “This man is a Timberlake, and you need to stop treating him like a Fatone.”
+Jake and Amy kissing, dating, having (really good) sex, and subverting all sorts of cliches
+Gina being Gina
+Boyle pushing Jake and Amy into a relationship that’s already begun
-Hader’s Dozerman not the best fit
-Too much back-and-forth between Holt and Wuntch