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Brooklyn Nine-Nine - Debbie - Review: "A strange episode"

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Farewell, Officer Debbie Fogle. You were fun in your three appearances, but now it’s time for you to head to prison for ten years — and miss five Olympics in the process.

“Debbie” is a strange episode. There’s plenty to laugh at in it, from the seemingly endless shenanigans of the titular character to Holt and Amy’s read-off, but something about the episode felt off. It’s the first example this season of the show seeming different to its five years on FOX, after a handful of such instances in season six.

Among the biggest shifts in the move to the Peacock Network is the occasional reliance on crude, bleeped out language, starting with Amy’s “This ‘B’ needs a ‘C’ in her ‘A’” back in the season six premiere. It’s taken to more extreme lengths here in terms of volume, with the dialogue incorporating Jake’s insults to Amy on several occasions. Jake’s misunderstanding in Mexico was funny for both the shock value and the easy nature of guessing his thoughts; here, it’s often simply a tirade of swears, with no great context. Bleeping out language when it’s unclear what’s being hidden rarely works, and it didn’t here.

Nor did Jake playing along with Debbie by feigning romantic interest. Straight Holt works because Andre Braugher’s stone-face portrayal makes it comical instead of sad — and it has been done in the context where the Nine-Nine have been in control of a situation (*). Jake’s move here is entirely out of desperation, and it comes off as cringeworthy rather than comical. Debbie latching onto the “babe” line was doubtless part of the problem.

(*) Sure, Jake and Holt are forced to go into hiding, but they have full control — or, at least, full grasp — of their covers.

The story does provide interesting development for Rosa, with her admitting that she was left to deal with problems solo when she was younger, and that although it made her who she was, she wished her parents had supported her with everything. Rosa’s progression from terrifying and extremely private to the somewhat open, often emotional character she is now has been an impressive journey, and one that has bettered the show. Stephanie Beatriz nails it every time, and although the show should be wary of how far down the open path it goes — Rosa has to have some semblance of a secret past, else she begins to transform into another character altogether — but it has been very enjoyable thus far.

Mentor Holt and mentee Amy going head-to-head in some way is always entertaining, and the show delivered the goods again this time. Their rivalry did highlight a curious thing about Terry, which is that he’s regularly great as a character when somewhat out of role. That is, to say, his “fanning the flames” to get Amy and Holt to read faster — Terry loves productivity, but Bradley loves especially when Terry encourages his colleagues to do more chaotic or competitive things to increase that productivity. Also a joy from that story: Boyle claiming he’ll get more out of his reading than Amy and Holt will from their speedreading, only to be proven inevitably wrong. Slow and steady wins the race, so says nobody.

“Debbie” marks the first drop in quality during season seven, the first time that the new year has felt like copying the weird, less-than-stellar spirit of a rocky sixth season. Simply one bump in the road, hopefully.

Case notes:
Finally, Hitchcock’s consistent use of the ladies’ restroom proves useful, if not essential, because everyone else had seen through Debbie’s lie already. This is not an endorsement for Hitchcock to continue.

Quite why Jake had 16 copies of Blind Melon’s first album, when Three is a Magic Number, is anyone’s guess.

“I’m kind of like a low-maintenance plant.”

Holt using “pwned” is terrific.

Coked-up Debbie coming up with ideas like “It’s hamburgers, but the pickles are coins” needs to meet regular Andy Dwyer.

I cannot hear Epcot without instantly thinking of The Americans.

What did everyone think of “Debbie”? Let us know in the comments!

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