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Brooklyn Nine-Nine - Episode 1.11 - Christmas - Review

Since Brooklyn Nine-Nine is on hiatus until January 7th, I figured I’d do a little reflection of the first half of the show’s freshman season along with some episode review.

Once again it’s an episode with a lesson, but this lesson has a bit more of a twist. Instead of Holt teaching Jake, like the first run of episodes, Jake teaches Holt a lesson that he taught to Jake earlier on in the season: You’ve got work together as a team. Of course in getting to this point was some forced bonding time (curtsey of handcuffs), and a little Wii Tennis (“It’s intuitive.”) We also learned that young Holt was a lot more like Jake, and that’s why he completely changed everything about himself - so it makes sense why he might be taking an interest in Jake’s future and development. This episode’s take on the “lesson-learning” that has appeared throughout the season so far was a good example of the show settling in a bit. While at the start Holt taught Jake a very similar lesson in a very similar way (often something about working together), the later episodes in this first half have had fun and new ways of lesson-learning. And not all of them had an explicit lesson at the focal point either; the Thanksgiving episode was a fun departure as most of the precinct were all in one big story.

In “Christmas” Amy tries to make a Christmas card with photos for everyone in the precinct, and there are no photos of Rosa smiling (and don’t try to flip her frown upside down - it’s terrifying). Following right on the heels of Boyle’s announcement that he’s moving on from Rosa and heading on a single’s cruise, it seemed an obvious set up that Boyle would be the one to get Rosa to smile. However, it accomplished that in an unexpected way, as he actually takes a bullet for her…in the butt. This is an interesting aspect of B99 storytelling that has come up throughout the season so far; it can be very predictable in terms of the resolution of a story, but how it actually gets there becomes a fun surprise. It is one of the only shows though which I feel comfortable guessing the outcome of a story…are there perhaps any betting odds on B99 episodes?... (Also I clearly don’t know how betting works).

This episode had a lot of elements that consistently appear in the series; Jake behaves in a childish and yet amazingly competent way, Amy tries her best to suck up to the Captain somehow, Gina messes with someone’s head (Boyle, it’s always Boyle), Boyle pines after Rosa, Rosa rebuffs Boyle but they share a nice moment, Terry has insecurities about field work because of his family, and Scully & Hitchcock are not doing anything right or important. A little departure in this episode was for Holt, who for the second episode in a row got to break out of his grouchy turtle shell, both “emoting” with Jake, and then having a bit of fun doing some fancy dance moves in the hospital.

Overall it feels like the show is starting to get into its groove a little more. The characters are being employed in a nice balance, as they figure out how much Gina is too much Gina, and start to utilize Jake within the great ensemble a little more. The jokes are funny, sometimes smart, sometimes goofy, often a mix. B99 didn’t have a lot of course-correcting from the start, as can often be found with new series, which is probably due in large part to the experience of showrunners Mike Schur and Dan Goor, coming from showrunner and writer/producer backgrounds on Parks and Recreation - for the most part the season has been very consistent in tone and feel, impressive for a little freshman comedy.

Now over to all of the three B99 fans out there. How are you liking the show so far? Do you think they’re hitting their groove? Too much Andy Sandberg? Not enough crime-solving? Do you want to subscribe to Boyle’s pizza-ranking email? And most importantly, do you prefer for Holt’s codename to be Cold Mountain or Stone Eagle?

Let me know your thoughts on the first half of the season!

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