Welcome back to my weekly review and recap of “Brooklyn Nine-Nine.” To catch up on previous coverage, click here.
When a comedy is funny not just on it’s big, broad moments, or it’s overall episode narrative, but in it’s little, in between moments, that’s when you know it’s good. A sight gag is an easy laugh, making something funny based just on what you already know about the character is much more difficult and Brooklyn Nine-Nine is a master of this, demonstrated beautifully in this week’s episode “The Swedes”.
The show has such an innate trust in it’s cast that it has absolutely no qualms in mixing up the characters as often as they can, fine tuning the best pairings (Jake and Captain Holt) while also throwing newer ones in the mix (Gina and Amy, Boyle and Holt) and proving that even the less utilized pairs are just as strong and often hilarious as the go to’s. This week we have (like most weeks) the cold open which relies more on slapstick than the remainder of the episode, and then three different plots. This week however all three are serviced with just the right amount of time and plot development, so that even with the awkward four act plot structure the show is able to end on a mark that feels satisfying.
As one of my favorite pairings that doesn’t get utilized nearly enough, Jake and Rosa get what is the funniest plot of the week as they are forced to deal with two Swedish detectives after catching a diamonds thief from their country. Riki Lindhome and Anders Holm guest star as the two detectives who are disturbingly close to one another, especially to Rosa and Jake’s liking, who prefer to keep their friendship based around work rather than their personal issues. Despite thinking the two are too close for a healthy partnership, Jake does wish to be able to confide in Rosa about his and Amy’s relationship, especially with a six month anniversary coming up, wanting Rosa’s opinion on what he should be doing (golden shot glasses being his one genius ides.)
Rosa wants to keep it professional though, and Jake is all too happy to go along with it, especially with Rosa declaring him her closest friend, but even he is thrown when she tells him she broke up with Marcus a month ago and never even mentioned it to him.
Of course the episode is going to end with them making amends but they have some rough goings on the way to it, with Andy Samberg having an excellent episode in the meantime, his clownish and earnest behavior playing great against Stephanie Beatriz’s silent badass mode. Samberg is best when he plays into Jake’s sincere playfulness, and it’s out in great effect here. One of my favorite moments is something that could have been a throw away line when trying to match up to the Swedes, he tells them that Rosa has seen him in his bathing suit with her replying with “you made me turn around” summing up their dynamic.
At the end after they’ve solved the case, Jake being a “bitch” as he described it and Rosa telling him they don’t have to be friends if he doesn’t like keeping things professional, they make up at the bar instead of drinking in silence. Jake made a good point in their argument; talking about their work only was a good method when they were 20 and just starting out, but less good now that they’re adults with lives outside of the precinct. She gives him an idea for the six month anniversary as well as the name of her new boyfriend, even if it does take an egregious amount of shots to get there.
A relatively slim storyline that makes great mileage on the simple notion of Amy and Terry being the nerds to Gina’s cool kid routine, it generates a lot of laughs. The two are trying to help Gina study for her astronomy test, a subject she can’t find any interest in.
With you Gina.
She sits for a good two seconds while Amy shares her fool proof version of studying accompanied with a diagram before leaving and shows no interest in Terry’s causal friendship with Neil deGrasse Tyson and it takes until the two are performing a dance number to reach out to Gina speak before she admits that she ended up studying due to the effort they’d put in. Perfectly Gina while also showing how she’s warmed up to her colleagues, and not just when she’s making Terry dance for amusement.
Putting these two together is coupling the absolute extremes of the precinct, Boyle’s enthusiasm matched with Holt’s monotone. Holt needs help competing in a squash tournament while Kevin is away and enlists Boyle’s help who has played before.
What Holt seemingly doesn’t know is that Boyle’s competitive streak used to get the best of him and he tries his best to reign it in while playing with Holt, who ends ups cutting through the bullshit and telling Boyle in my favorite reading of the night to “release the beast”. They win Holt’s third trophy in a row and are also subsequently banned after Boyle snaps the runner up’s trophy in two.
It’s a pairing we don’t see often but works with Joe Lo Truglio’s manic energy playing against Andre Braugher’s stoicism.
It’s a great episode, one that plays on little laughs more than larger and rightly so when it has a cast of characters so well drawn and pieced together that they can place any group of characters together on a given week and end up with comedy gold.