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Brooklyn Nine-Nine - Trying & Ding Dong - Double Review

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“Casecation” was an episode that ran extremely hot and cold. Conceptually, it works: like season two’s “Stakeout”, putting two of the lead characters together for an extended period of time in an uncomfortable situation can be successful. And plenty of “Casecation” worked — but plenty of it did not.

Sadly, for season seven’s “Trying”, the aspects which did not work a year ago involved the details of Jake and Amy potentially becoming parents. The same was true this time around, and it was somewhat tragic to see, especially given how well constructed the episode was at times.

For example: the sequence where time quickly passes as Jake and Amy try, Hitchcock searches for his true love, Boyle and Rosa have more and more guinea pigs to deal with, and Holt learns his beat. The latter two storylines were a means to an end; constructed largely, it would seem, to benefit the former two. But it was thoroughly entertaining watching Holt start to learn Russian, realise how to be nice with the dog and how not to have a trash bag thrown at him. It was thoroughly entertaining watching Boyle pretend his lunch is the guinea pig food, and Rosa’s fury at him naming all of the animals Claire. Hitchcock’s search for love through a dislodged tooth was quintessentially Hitchcock, and entirely grim, but enjoyable enough. Even The Amy Way was fun during the montage.

The problem was that Jake and Amy’s story, by-and-large, wasn’t interesting. Melissa Fumero’s pregnancy was hidden last time; this time, the show clearly wanted to take a different approach — and so this storyline was never going to end any way other than conception (more on that later). As a result, all of the drama over their struggles failed to ring true. Since the move to NBC, Brooklyn Nine-Nine has failed to handle sensitive issues with the same level of nuance as in five years on FOX, from the sexual assault episode, which felt far more like a PSA than an episode of one of television’s best comedies, to Gina’s distance from the Nine-Nine.

The conception angle has fallen firmly into that category, with two episodes devoted to exploring it seeing the show suffer. It’s why the reveal at the end of “Ding Dong” is so welcome. One hopes that the show’s approach to these two characters is less heavy-handed now that Amy is actually pregnant — although there may have been more faith in that wish over on FOX.

“Ding Dong” is far more successful than its predecessor, focused largely on Holt’s final battle with the now-deceased Madeline Wuntch. Ding dong, indeed. Every good hero needs a good villain, and Wuntch was a more than worthy adversary. So her death is a sad moment for Holt, who loses the person who challenged him the most, and it’s a sad moment for us, losing Kyra Sedgwick from the show after years of cameo appearances paving the way for so many of the funniest and most memorable one-liners of the show. It feels as though Brooklyn Nine-Nine will feel lesser somehow for the absence of Wuntch, viewers now deprived of those creative jabs that, cruel though they are, brighten up the show. Who will Holt now call a goat?

Her departure was weirdly heart-warming as Holt, striving to win for one last time, finds himself realising that he’ll miss her. The fake memorial service was fun, as was the role her nephew played in trying to ruin Holt. And we got one final tirade of insults from Holt and Rosa. Rest in peace, Madeline Wuntch — you grackle.

Jake’s search for company at the Kwazy Kupcakes: The Movie premiere provided a solid B-plot. Even outside of the overall arc of him becoming a father, the inevitable outcome was that he would take the kids by himself, but the way we got there was great. Terry and Boyle shamelessly bribing and guilting Jake into picking them worked nicely, as did the boxing match — it was obvious in the comedic moment that Boyle would hold his own/win, but that didn’t detract. We should remember, though, that Holt and Gina were the obvious choices to take to the premiere. It may have even replaced “Moneyball” as Holt’s favourite movie.

Two episodes: one which continued to highlight the rough transition from FOX to NBC, the other a pleasant reminder of the show’s joys even in the midst of a minor character dying. I know which episode the show should seek to emulate for the rest of the season.

Case notes:

Dessert before dinner sounds fun, although goes against Holt’s mentoring advice.

Holt acknowledging that Terry wasn’t one of his favourites was harsh but hilarious.

“I’m just saying, Wario cheats. It’s a stupid game” is incredibly relatable, even if I’ve never played “Mario Party”.

Scenes with Terry showing off his strength >>>>>>>>>>>>> scenes where Terry isn’t showing his strength.

Presumably, those balloon arches at the original memorial service were birthed.

What did you think of “Trying” and “Ding Dong”? Leave your thoughts in the comments!

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