Welcome back to my weekly review and recap of “Brooklyn Nine-Nine.” To catch up on previous coverage, click here.
Amy Santiago is a terrific character and she’s one who always, always, always deserves more screen time. In recent years comedies have become increasingly populated with talented and hilarious women, despite the exhaustive belief that women “can’t be funny” with examples in the form of Parks and Recreation, Broad City and You’re the Worst to name only a handful. Brooklyn Nine-Nine has set a fantastic model for how female characters should be written on network television. Rosa, Amy and Gina are all given the same amount of respect as their male counterparts, and they’re all given the same allowance of how they play with comedy perimeters, whether it’s playing a line with a certain delivery and quickly making a character their own, or inching towards the broader, physical side. Amy Santiago and Melissa Fumero’s delightfully odd way of portraying her idiosyncrasies is a key example of just how funny this show can be, and in this season’s Halloween centered episode “Halloween III” she makes damn sure that everyone knows she isn’t just a sidekick to the leads.
Last years Halloween episode faltered because it made Jake too obnoxious, putting him at odds with the rest of the characters, and turning the easily enthusiastic character into one that veered into man-child territory, a tired trope and one that had no place in the universe of Brooklyn Nine-Nine. This year, the writers smartened up and wrote Captain Holt and Jake to be on the same, irrationally competitive page, their Halloween heist being something that they’re both equally invested in and just how willing they are to behave childishly in order to win the tie-breaker (with Jake winning the first year and Holt winning the second). Andy Samberg and Andre Braugher continue to have a strong chemistry, and as was the case with last weeks “The Oolong Slayer”, it works to level the playing field and it’s always fun to see Holt be brought up to Jake’s level of playfulness.
Their competition also leads them to separate themselves from someone who could be their greatest asset. The two pick teams, with Rosa and Boyle being Team Jake and Terry and Gina being Team Holt, and neither wanting Amy on their team. Captain Holt believes that being Jake’s girlfriend will lead her to being a mole for him, and Jake believes that Amy’s adoration of Holt would make it easy for her to betray him; their reasoning clearly hurts Amy’s feelings.
So much so that Amy brings it up to Jake, only for Jake to believe that Amy is working for Holt and gaining intel. So, she switches sides and goes to Holt, only to have the same thing said to her again, as he believes she’s hiding a camera in her bra.
“Because the cleavage cloaks the camera with their curves!”
The challenge of stealing the briefcase itself sets the episode up for some bigger and broader laughs, with some great excuses for some physical comedy. I was a particular fan of Rosa sneaking into interrogation room to cut into the briefcase while Boyle and Jake distracted Gina, and when Holt, surprisingly nimble, rolls through a window to steal the crown from Jake’s desk and he’s’ distracted by taking pictures with Terry’s daughters.
This is when things begin to unravel, when in haste Holt is forced to put the crown into the garbage, only for the trash to be taken from a janitor (and at this point it isn’t too hard to guess who took it) and they’re lead on a chase to find out where the “janitor” lives in order to win the heist. Of course by the end we realize it was Amy who orchestrated everything, feeling justifiably annoyed at how both Holt and Jake both pushed her aside for their own game. Amy ends up proving that she isn’t simply Holt’s admirer or Jake’s girlfriend by stating the obvious out loud. She was able to outwit both of them, making them race up a 16 floor building, in Jake’s case vomit, and point a foolish finger at both of them for leaving her out of the fun. It’s a great moment for the character alone but also for female characters in comedies who are often delegated to being one dimensional, characters who are simply just someone’s girlfriend or admirer. Amy is so much more than that, and she’s what I’d like to see more of in basic comedies. She’s strong on her own and she can out detective Jake and Holt if she set’s her mind to it, making her both a strong ally or adversary.
Amy Santiago is deservedly crowed the queen of the Nine-Nine by the episode’s end. Creating a Halloween episode gets to do what the series hasn’t been able to do in a while and create one plot for all of the characters to take part in, rather than breaking them into three groups, meaning they can wring out as much comedy as then can with all of the actors interacting and playing off of one another, all the while introducing some smaller character beats such as Gina possibly being set up, with Boyle introducing her to his new girlfriend’s brother.
Another great episode of season three, and infinitely better than last years Halloween episode.
I guess we’re going to have to wait another year for the Jake and Holt tie breaker.