Brooklyn Nine-Nine Recap: Ms. Pac-Man’s Nipple

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Photo: Fox
Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Episode Title
Halloween II
Season
2
Episode
4
Editor’s Rating
4/5

I’ve already come out strongly in favor of Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s all-cast-antics episodes, particularly when it comes to reprising one of my favorites, last year’s Halloween team-up to steal Holt’s Medal of Valor. This year, the quarry was his watch, a gift from Kevin Cozner’s dying father (but please don’t call it the “death watch”). And even though I could see two of the twists coming from a mile away — Holt winning this year because Peralta beating him twice would throw off the balance of power between the two, and Fingers the thief stealing the watch once he got a chance because duh — I still enjoyed watching it all go down.

I sometimes worry that Peralta, while hilarious, can be kind of a void at Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s emotional center, in part because there isn’t anything he really wants. Having a central character who’s generally an unassailable class-clown doesn’t leave a lot in the way of vulnerability; even Peralta’s biggest flaw, his issues with money, was resolved pretty tidily (he just swapped apartments with Gina, whereas, as far as we know, Charles may well still be living in his ex-wife’s boyfriend’s basement apartment). Of course, the chink in Peralta’s armor is supposed to be Amy, but I’m still struggling to buy that — last week, he couldn’t get her off his mind; but this week, no mention of it. A few lines of flirting or tension would have been pretty easy to build into this caper-style plot and would have gone a long way towards easing the feeling of romantic whiplash.  

This is all to say that I really enjoyed watching an episode in which Peralta desperately wants something — indeed, has something to lose — and doesn’t get it. It was fun to watch him wriggle for a change, fun to see the rest of the Nine-Nine challenge their ringleader (Holt: “I asked them if they wanted to embarrass you, and they instantly said yes”), and surprisingly moving to see how gracious a loser Peralta was when he realized he’d been had. And, of course, watching Holt get his turn to recap how he drafted the whole precinct into his plan was a blast, from Terry kidnapping Charles to Hitchcock struggling to get his bear head off. (He still had it on when everyone was revealed in the two-way mirror.) Like so many great ideas, it began with a Franz Bluheim–related word cloud. Is there anything more enjoyable in this world than watching Andre Braugher express pure glee? I can’t wait to see what 2015’s Halloween bet brings.

The precinct’s other cool kid also flirted with vulnerability this week, as Gina got herself “danced out” of Floorgasm for missing too many rehearsals. Much as I love Chelsea Peretti, who regularly slams the show’s best lines out of the park (“My life is literally a Step Up movie”), she struggled a bit to sell her sadness about getting the boot and the whole going-to-night-school thing, perhaps because Gina has been written as such an inveterate liar that any vulnerability at this point seems a bit specious. It’s refreshing to have a grouch character who doesn’t secretly have a heart of gold (her rejection of Amy’s tutoring offer was priceless), but I’m still not entirely sure what Gina cares about or desires (even if it’s just getting away with slacking on the job) underneath her above-it-all façade. Not that I should care overly much, considering the current situation led to “Mr. and Mrs. Terry Jeffords” busting out dance moves to “Push It.”

Other notes:

  • B99 is just nailing the cold opens these days. Charles’s Halloween costume try-on was another classic. “Ms. Pac-Man’s nipple?” “No, that’s brown!” “Why would you know that?”
  • I loved the staging of the raid on Holt’s office. Peralta: “No need for somersaults!” Rosa: “Disagree.”
  • They’re really getting their money’s worth with Joel McKinnon Miller’s opera training on this show.
  • Boyle to Peralta: “You’re the Champagne of friends!” Aww.
  • Brooklyn native Jake Peralta does not know that Brooklyn is surrounded by water.
  • All nods to Arrested Development, especially in the form of dead-dove jokes, are always welcome.
  • “I’d say thank you, but even for a criminal, your customer service has been abysmal.”
  • The World Series is knocking the show off the air next week, so catch you all on November 3!