Brooklyn Nine-Nine Recap: Worthless Man-Hours

Photo: FOX
Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Episode Title
The Pontiac Bandit Returns
Editor’s Rating

In addition to his simply being hilarious, I love Craig Robinson’s Doug Judy (a.k.a. the Pontiac Bandit, a.k.a. Big Sugar) because he opens up a portal to another world where Brooklyn Nine-Nine is less of a workplace comedy and more of a cop show with jokes. That’s an exceptionally hard line to walk week-to-week, especially given the current political climate surrounding cops, and I can certainly forgive the show for restraining itself in that arena (to say nothing of the increased budget it would require). But I can’t help but dig the whole classic 48 Hours/Lethal Weapon vibe every time Robinson shows up, which I think was more of what the show was going for (and often failing to attain) in its very early days. I like the Brooklyn Nine-Nine I have, and I’m sure an entire galaxy of lovable, irascible perps might end up becoming grating, but Robinson’s endearing-slacker vibe melds so perfectly with Peralta’s (and plays so beautifully off Rosa’s sullen deadpan) that it’s hard to resist wanting him to be in every episode.

I’ll also give the show major props for holding off on using Judy sooner, in order to make his appearance the wrap-up to the Gigglepig story line. An established informer, he’s a natural fit in terms of getting to the organization’s heart, even if it means some less-than-comic business with the less-than-captivating Tito Ruiz. (The upside: getting to watch Judy explain to Peralta — er, “Dante Thunderstone” — how to steal a car via his preferred dance moves.) Seeing the task force achieve its Gigglepig success might have been worth it just for Stephanie Beatriz’s hysterical smiling at episode’s end. (“Seriously, look at me, I cannot stop smiling. How do people do this with their faces?”) And though it may crush Peralta, I’m definitely thrilled Judy escaped (via lobster thermidor, no less) — because it means he gets to come back. Get that season-three Pontiac Bandit arc ready — I’ll bring the robes.

I’d been wondering when the show was going to return to the story line of Boyle’s dad and Gina’s mom dating, and I think this episode was the perfect place to do it — their personal machinations provided a nice counterpoint to the action-heavy A-plot. Sadly, Sandra Bernhard and Stephen Root didn’t get much to do here (though they definitely sold their over-the-top affection; after all, presents are old-people third base). But I think this is a better use of the delightful Boyle-Gina pairing than their weird series of hookups, and I can see Gina’s conniving and Boyle’s incompetence in trying to split up their folks paying comic dividends down the line. Not to mention: We got more of Chelsea Peretti killing each and every one of her lines than in the previous three episodes, and that is a Christmas present in and of itself. (My favorite: her rundown of her expressions to “nail those Christmas morning candids.” Sparkle Surprise, for real!)

When it comes to recycling plotlines, though, I can’t say I’m overly thrilled with B99 going back to the well on having Amy desperately try to evade Holt’s no-gifts rule. Her eager-to-please, eager-to-ascend nature, played against his stoicism, is a bedrock of the show, but it’s also getting a bit lazy to do the same plot between them over and over again (Holt won’t let Amy do a thing, Amy finds a way because she’s desperate to please, Holt is a forgiving dad figure, Amy learns a lesson about perfectionism, Holt confers a small favor to make Amy happy). A Santiago who’s not desperate to please is no Santiago at all, but I think the writers could have dug a little deeper on this one. Though considering how much I was laughing at the two other story lines, I can’t exactly blame them for placing their energies elsewhere.

Other notes:

  • Pretty much every word out of Craig Robinson in this episode is hysterical, so forgive me if I miss your favorite joke. First prize: “You’re like a son to me. A white, crispy son.” “How would that work? Am I adopted?” “No, your mother’s just really pale. Almost invisible.”
  • Second prize: “And Rosa, you could be my wife … Rosa.” “Why would you take your wife with you to meet a drug dealer?” “Because we’re partners in everything we do.” (Andy Samberg’s “aww” look really sold that one.)
  • Amy’s bad puns for Holt’s scrapbook were pretty priceless. From Ray to Z won out over Keep Holt-ing On. (As a pun connoisseur, I personally would have gone with Holt From the Blue.)
  • The show really blew out its budget on this episode, between the fire in the cold-open and the garbage-truck crash. Well worth saving for, IMHO.
  • “None of his people will turn on him, just because he bit off a few noses. Babies.”
  • “Yeah, the guy without a daddy is the one with daddy issues. Explain that logic.”