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Brooklyn Nine-Nine - Kicks - Roundtable Review

13 Oct 2017

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Bradley Adams: The Nine-Nine is back together! And delivering an episode much, much heavier than I expected it to be.

Laura Markus: Indeed! I’m a huge fan of the way this show effortlessly weaves the more serious and the comedic tones of it all. This episode was one of the best amalgamations of that.

Bradley: Yeah, this really was. Were you surprised by how serious this one was? I don’t think I really considered that it might be but, on reflection, it feels like that was the only way to go.

Laura: This is a tough question to answer. I spoiled a bit of this episode for myself before I watched it so I saw a bit of the scene with Jake admitting he doesn’t think he’s ready, but even with the spoilers, I didn’t expect it to be as heavy as it was. And I had no idea he was going to stick by his self-reflection of not being ready. It was nearly on par with “Moo Moo” in those scenes. In short, though, yes, I was surprised.

Bradley: I also knew that this wasn’t light and silly beforehand but I’d agree in not expecting the level of sincerity that we ended up getting. In a way, this and “Moo Moo” serve as nice reassurances that the show is very capable of getting this tone spot on. I’m glad, too, that Jake’s psyche was explored and he came to the realisation he did. The prison story may well have felt slightly meaningless had they not.

Laura: Absolutely agreed. Time and time again they have proven they can hit the right notes on the emotional scale. And I’m happy to say that they nailed it again here.

Bradley: Holt’s right in suggesting that Jake’s showing a lot of growth with how he reacted. It’s nice to see that, especially after seeing some of the same old Jake earlier in the episode. He feels like an infinitely more interesting character when we get something like this. These moments have been far more frequent over the last season or so, and I’m grateful for that.

Laura: You can say that again. I’ve seen people complain about Jake’s immaturity (also citing it as a reason they don’t want to watch the show, which I guess on some level I can understand) so getting something like this is something truly legendary for the show, and I really hope it sticks. I loved that scene a great deal. It shows how the both of them have grown individually and in their dynamic, too. And the handshake was so adorable.

Bradley: There's a nice level of mutual respect between the two that has grown throughout the seasons, and this was probably the ultimate culmination of that. Though I do think the show is usually at its best when it is being as silly as possible, these moments work so well when they're nailed. This was. My only concern is that with the Halloween episode next week - a concept I still find odd given that they are airing a new episode quite literally on October 31 - Jake may return, at least temporarily, to his unchanged self. Of course, I want to see him have fun in the annual trickery, but not at the long-term expense of his development.

Laura: That’s a valid concern. But I think we could let it go for this episode, seeing as how Halloween antics are right in his wheelhouse and he can be excused in the name of getting into it. It’s the episodes following which will be the true test.

Speaking of silliness, even though this outing amped up the drama, I found a ton of hilarious comments and scenes. I found myself pausing the episode to laugh quite a bit.

Bradley: Yes, those subsequent episodes are probably my greater concern. The Halloween stuff is fun and I expect it will be again; it just needs to not forget this come the following outing.

I'd call this one the best of the admittedly short-so-far season both for how well it handled difficult material, but also because it had some utterly hysterical moments. Every interaction between Holt and Jake hit one of those two notes, from - in the way of comedy - Jake saying he does want a video game and a fidget spinner to "...and you never retrieved my father's pencil!"

Laura: God, everything involving Holt’s pencil was so funny and so sad at the same time. It’s incredible how they managed to pull this off. Over a PENCIL. Also, yes, the fidget spinner comment was great. The eclipse comment made by Pimento elicited the same feelings with me. I love timely references like these.

Bradley: At its best, Brooklyn does create some of the best comedic television around. This really was Brooklyn at its best in that regard. Boyle was his usual great self and most of the stuff involving Terry's questionable Japanese past was too. Though I think one of my favourite moments, beyond all that, was Hitchcock's creep kit.

Laura: This episode reminded me of “Skyfire Cycle” for that reason, too. That episode succeeded on every single level because every single plot just f*cking worked. Together, apart, it didn’t matter, every moment was flawless. This felt similar to that one because they hit all the right beats in both storylines, and they were relentlessly funny at the same time. And Rosa used my favourite verbiage of describing intercourse again. So there was that too.

Continuity has never been the strongest trait of this show, but I’m pleasantly surprised at how they continue to remember Terry’s year abroad in Japan. It makes me laugh every time. I had a lot of favourite moments. The cold open (Passover brisket!), the jumping off a cliff, the guessing game, “FOLLOW THE FLAN!“, squatting, okay pretty much the entire thing. Hitchcock’s creep kit was also very funny and totally in character. In summation, there were many laughs.

Bradley: It's nice when they stick to just an A and a B plot. C plots - absent largely, I suspect, with Chelsea Peretti away on maternity leave - tend to pull focus a little and generally aren't as good. That happened here and sticking with just the two sides worked wonders.

There's a nice balance between us knowing enough of Terry's time in Japan that any moment from it is hilarious, but knowing so little that it isn't too important. And there were indeed many laughs.

How do you feel about the Rosa and Pimento breakup?

Laura: Great question, Bradley. I feel over the goddamn moon. It didn’t end the way I thought it would but I am so happy that it ended. I tried to buy those two together in the beginning, but after a while, I just felt tired of them. Also, Rosa deserves better. I wouldn’t mind seeing Pimento again, but it should be on his own and free of any mentioning of Rosa.

How did you feel about it?

Bradley: I'm sad this is probably the last time we see Pimento. He's really fun when not overused - his sequence of screaming doing various activities was so simple and yet so wonderful. But I'm not entirely sold on the manner of the actual breakup. It felt odd to me that after so much of her being obsessed with him, she decides to end it now. Then again, I suppose prison changed her as it did Jake, even if we saw very little of her experience.

Laura: There’s a chance we could see him again. Like in last year’s Thanksgiving episode where he was just on his own with Holt - that whole bit really worked for me. I bought the breakup, much like I talked myself into buying their fast engagement. These two rushed into things from the start so it’s only fair that their end would seem a bit chaotic too. And good point there. Hopefully, we see more of Rosa coming up too.

Bradley: True. I'd like to have him back for a cameo. I suppose everything about their relationship was hasty, so why not this? I think we need to see more of Rosa post-prison, given how much of the focus was on Jake during that two-parter. There's little point in sending them both to jail if the development comes almost solely through Jake.

Laura: Yep, you said it very well.

Bradley: So, any final thoughts? Also, what are you expecting for next week? I know you tend to love these Halloween episodes.

Laura: I really enjoyed this episode; it was about as perfect as I ever could’ve hoped it would be. And yes, I do love these Halloween shenanigans. I don’t know how any episode can surpass Halloween III in my eyes, but anything is possible. This one, in particular, has been hyped up so much so I am very curious to see how it goes down. I’ll throw Hitchcock and Scully out there as the potential winners. But I’m not ruling out Rosa. And my batshit crazy prediction? Kevin wins it, somehow.

Bradley: As long as they find some way to make this year's challenge and twist feel inventive, after four years of doing these shenanigans, I'll be happy.

Laura: It’s already a different premise as they’re all facing off against each other for the first time. I have so much faith it’ll be great.