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Brooklyn Nine-Nine - Episode 1.09 - Sal's Pizza - Review

Man, this episode made me hungry. As soon as I’m done writing this review, I’m going to go eat some pizza. Or just go make a boring sandwich. It’ll most likely be the sandwich.

Most of this episode centered around Jake and Charles trying to solve the case of who burned down Sal’s Pizza - the pizza parlor Jake claims serves the best pizza in Brooklyn (although it only ranks 8th best on Charles’ weekly publication). The detectives continually butt heads with Boone, the bumbling and fairly incompetent fire chief (played by the consistently amusing Patton Oswald). Jake questions fellow pizzeria owners as Charles tastes (and spits) each establishment’s pizza. Jurisdiction issues get in the way of their investigation though, and it comes to fisticuffs between the policemen and the firemen.

The fight ends however, when Jake shares a bit of personal history about his attachment to Sal’s Pizza (BACKSTORY ALERT), recounting that his dad used to take his Little League team there after games until he left Jake and his mom. With that Boone breaks down into tears, and Boone, Jake, Holt, and Charles have a four-way hug. The case is solved as Jake realizes one of the pizzeria owners stole Sal’s secret sauce, a fact hinted at by Charles’ taste evaluation earlier.

The story wasn’t the best of the season, though it was interesting to get a little pinch of Jake’s backstory, and Charles’ pizza ranking was pretty great. Even the Captain subscribes - I mean, he is the only one who measures “mouth feel.” The other fantastic bit of the story was Charles going “undercover” with the backstory, “Short hair calico, son’s adopted, wife’s in a coma,” courtesy of Jake.

As the policemen battle with the firemen, Amy passive aggressively battles with Rosa after she finds out Rosa was offered the position of Captain at a Podunk precinct in Ropesburg, NJ. Most of this storyline involves Amy bitterly making a comment about Rosa’s inability to be a good captain as the two stand in various places around the precinct. At the very end of the story came a bit of girl power, as Rosa let Amy know that she’d always have her back, as they’re way outnumbered by they guys in the precinct. It would be more fun to see this story as the two female detectives doing something a little more badass to solidify their female solidarity, as opposed to filing paperwork and driving to New Jersey. Though Rosa dragging a whiny Amy by the ear was pretty amusing.

A little more fun than the Rosa/Amy story was Jeffords and Gina interviewing potential IT candidates. Everyone has their own way of doing things, and Gina’s are certainly more unusual than most, as she interrogated candidates about favorite Jay Z songs and flossed in front of them. And while Jeffords may have thought she was crazy (and he’s right about that), there is, as they say, a method to her madness. Gina used her unorthodox techniques to examine how the candidates would handle the frustrating, frightening, and often disgusting life in the precinct. The only candidate to pass wasn’t a candidate at all, it was “Savant,” the hacker. After her speech to the Captain and Jeffords, she wraps up with, “if I had a mic right now, I’d drop it.” We bet you would Gina, you crazy, brilliant, crazy, crazy person. Though the crazy and brilliant combo is not uncommon in the precinct, as can be seen with most of the detectives (except Scully and Hitchcock. They’re just crazy).

By the way, do police precincts often interview candidates in their interrogation rooms? That would be a little intimidating…

This episode may have been a little light, but the show’s definitely getting a hang on its cold opens. They’ve got an impressive balance of being standalone weird clips, and often tying into the episode in some way. This episode’s exploration of the search history of everyone in the precinct was fun, though I’m almost surprised they didn’t search for anything weirder. As a relatively normal person myself (What is normal? What is home? What are cows? I’m sorry, I got distracted, anyway, like I said, I’m normal), I end up searching for pretty odd things like “1930s australia mens fashion” and “little banjo.”* (*both real searches). What I’m saying is that I think it’s improbable that the weirdest searches were “cheapest date ever,” “daniel craig hands close up,” and “desk yogurt.” Although that last one’s pretty weird…

A lot of Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s stories are fairly predictable. I didn’t have a prediction for the police/fire story, as I kind of forgot to get invested in it, but the Rosa/Amy story regarding the captain position in sleepy NJ, and the hacker-turned-IT guy story both followed very obvious paths. At the same time though, there’s nothing wrong with that. Comedy is not necessarily in the unique or strange, there can be plenty of comedy in predictable, as long as it’s executed well, and overall on B99 it has been. This episode felt like a little bit of a step back from the episodes of the past few weeks in terms of strength, but so far the comedy’s freshman season hasn’t really had any flops - an impressive consistency for a new show.

Just a side note: I’m glad that B99’s been able to do a tag for each episode. I loved Parks and Rec’s old tags, and B99 reminds me of the days when Parks didn’t just have a mini fourth act. That being said, I want to see a little more punch in these tags - I know you’ve got the jokes guys, now prove me right.

Bits from the Police Scanner
- “It sounds like my mom describing her dishware. And she’s dead, so tread lightly with the response.” - Boone, re: “New York’s Finest”
- “You’re not a genie.” - Rosa reminding Amy that she can’t actually grant Holt 3 wishes
- Sergeant Jeffords’ interrogation of the hacker “Savant,” including his incredulous, “Why are you giving candy to a BABY?”
- Scully losing his gun, then finding it in his holster, on his butt.
- “Turn your greatest weakness into your greatest strength, re: Paris Hilton and her sex tape.” - Gina
- Jeffords crushing a Magic 8 Ball in one hand.

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