The first four episodes of Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s final season followed a bit of an alternating pattern. One episode would be great, then the next would be fine, but a bit of a letdown. When this week’s first episode, “PB & J,” was a fun sendoff to one of the show’s classic characters, I worried if the second episode would fall back into the pattern. Thankfully, “The Set-Up” was even better and now we have a final season on our hands.
You always wait for that moment when a season of television starts coming together, and I think Brooklyn Nine-Nine hit that moment for season 8.
“PB & J” was definitely the lesser of Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s two episodes, but I thought it worked terrifically as a send-off to the iconic Doug Judy. After an outstanding warrant finally lands Doug Judy on his way to prison, Jake volunteers to transport him so that the two can have one last adventure together before The Pontiac Bandit serves his time. Naturally, Doug Judy uses this trip to plan one last escape from Jake.
Some may not like that this final mind game did not involve much in the way of twists and turns compared to the most complicated of Doug Judy’s episodes, but I felt like that was the point. Rather than use his final episode to try and deliver the most epic, mind-bending, elaborate scenario yet, they used it as an endearing celebration of the genuine friendship Jake and Judy developed. It was just two friends enjoying their time together for the last time.
Of course it was complete with tiger and toucan jumpsuits, mix tapes, a Boyle-run gameshow, and a climax where both characters yet again show that they will help each other out of jams that they rationally probably should not have. Add in Jake getting Rosa to sing to Doug Judy and you have a winner on your hands.
While some may not like the lack of truly complicated twists, with Doug Judy basically escaping just by changing Jake’s contacts and GPS on his phone at the beginning of the episode, I loved it. Judy basically planned on Jake anticipating the kind of elaborate escape that fans may have wanted. Besides, you could tell from the beginning that neither of their hearts were into it. They were going through the motions.
Doug couldn’t let his conspirators shoot Jake, and Jake couldn’t help but give Judy what he needed to undo his cuffs and escape to Amsterdam.
(Side note: I love the little exchange where Doug Judy admits he doesn’t want to be a criminal, he just ended up in the system when he was young and was pushed into the lifestyle.)
You could do much worse for an episode saying goodbye to a character, especially one as iconic as Doug Judy. That being said, this week finally broke the mold with its second episode by delivering one that was even better. “The Set-Up” is the current highlight for Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s final season.
After receiving a call about a bomb on a bus, Jake gets excited about a Speed-scenario, only to arrive and find out the FBI has taken control of the case. In typical Jake fashion, he does not accept this and continues investigating. This leads to a late-night arrest of an innocent person in a bus yard that lands Jake in hot water. In typical Jake fashion, he is sure he was set up and continues investigating the man he falsely arrested.
Even as recently as last season, an episode like this would validate Jake. He would find out his victim really was part of a conspiracy and once again come out on top. It has happened multiple times. Those are the kind of episodes that make Brooklyn Nine-Nine part of the problem regarding police shows. This time he realizes he made an arrest based on the information of a crooked patrolman and ends up being suspended for five months.
In the process, he turns down offers from O’Sullivan to make the whole thing disappear, because he does not want to be part of the problem that lets police avoid consequences for their mistakes and crimes.
Is it too late for an episode like this to undo all the episodes where Jake is validated for acting the way abusive, corrupt cops do? I suppose that’s left to personal opinion. For my part I will take episodes like this later rather than never. Brooklyn Nine-Nine easily could have made Jake the hero yet again and that would be a bigger mistake than finally turning the tables on him and calling out something terribly wrong.
Having Jake away from the force for five months is a big deal. At the very least, it is nice to see the show address how blindly Jake trusts every cop, to the point he was eagerly working with a notoriously dirty cop without realizing it.
Besides the social commentary, “The Set-Up” was also just a wonderfully constructed episode. After O’Sullivan threatens Amy over a reform program and suspiciously shows up to offer union support to Jake, Holt agrees to investigate whether O’Sullivan set Jake up and puts Rosa and Amy in charge of the investigation. Meanwhile Terry and Boyle compete over Scully’s business for their kids’ candy drives.
I love how Brooklyn Nine-Nine lets all these subplots come together. O’Sullivan’s threats turn out to be that he sabotaged Terry and Boyle so Scully would throw fits and lower morale. Amy and Rosa find this out in the best scene in the episode, where they switch in and out while trying to outdrink O’Sullivan so he will drunkenly spill his secrets, with O’Sullivan incapable of telling them apart. They then rush to stop Jake from tailing the man he arrested but end up alerting him when a drunken Ross crashes into flowers.
It is typically the best episodes that manage to take all the wacky hijinks the entire department is up to and tie it all together like this. I had an absolute blast watching Boyle blast Terry in the face with an apple, O’Sullivan’s failed attempts to blackmail Holt and Rosa for their sexuality, Scully’s frustration over his lack of candy, etc.
This was easily the best episode of the season, and the best duo of episodes so far, and I can’t wait to see how Brooklyn Nine-Nine follows up next week.
Line of the Week: “You can’t judge a book by its cover.” “You can if it’s written by David Duke!”
Images Courtesy of NBC
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