As the rest of us wearily trod back to our offices on this first post-holiday Monday, Brooklyn Nine-Nine is bringing the jealousy hard by sending its normally office-bound squadron on vacation. I knew that Boyle’s ex-wife was definitely better off than he was (after all, he was the one living in her basement), but color me surprised that he had partial custody of a beach house that swank, December–February timeshare be damned. Of course this wouldn’t be much of a story without some trouble in paradise, and the show found a very good way to keep tonight’s conflict in line with its backstory: Poor Holt, so discriminated against in his days as a detective, now understandably longs to pal around with his co-workers. Problem is, he’s the boss, but it’s hard to deny wanting to grant him some good times after decades of being shunned by “racist, homophobic golf cops,” as Peralta puts it.
This is the second time in a four-episode stretch that the show has gone to the well of having Peralta bring along a well-intentioned surprise guest who ruins a vacation, but unlike Teddy in “The Road Trip,” we already know Holt will find his way and be accepted within the group for his weird, buzzkilling, recorder-music-loving self. (“Real Ray or Fake Ray” turns out to be a pretty fun way to do it — I’m disappointed that we only got to hear two of Holt’s joy-hating utterances, especially given the quality of Andy Samberg’s Andre Braugher impression. The man despises birthday candles!)
Unfortunately, that means that a lot of other potential story lines that would fit well in this episode have been given short shrift, first and foremost, the still-so-barely-simmering-it-requires-a-microscope-to-see romance between Jake and Amy. As a veteran of boozy weekend group getaways, I can attest that they nearly always bring up some kind of underlying romantic angle, and especially considering Six-Drink Amy was boozing it up, I’m surprised that the writers didn’t even take a two-minute detour to try to shore up that particular dynamic. Former bang bros Gina and Boyle, not to mention a new guy in Rosa’s life who would certainly have made season-one Boyle megajealous, are also left unplumbed here, despite the free-flowing liquor. The best we get is Gina’s most naked admission yet that she’s head-over-heels for Terry. (“How untethered is Vacation Terry from his wife?” “Very tethered.”)
But while the conflicts in “Beach House” are feather-light, the episode has a fun, easygoing vibe that B99’s frequent juggling of multiple plot threads often obviates. Vacation Terry’s commitment to his fanny pack, what happens when Amy gets extra-drunk, and Scully and Hitchcock’s desire to rope Holt into investing in an offshore casino are barely plotlines, but they fall nicely into the overarching sense of relaxation and play in the episode, and even when they don’t necessarily go anywhere (I could have told you at minute four that Six-Drink Amy was a depressive, something even the show found so unfunny after all the hype that it didn’t even bother to elaborate on it), it’s a pleasant, meandering ride with plenty of good jokes to spare. I’m especially happy that the show continues to push Rosa, who didn’t have much going on in the first half of season two, with this new romantic plotline — I still think Nick Cannon is a very cute snore, but watching Boyle get her to admit her feelings, then seeing her gleefully bound into her room to send a shirtless text, warmed the cockles of even my holidays-addled heart. Vacation may seem like a distant shore for all of us right now, but it’s nice to know that it’s always sunny on TV.
- All of the lines about Scully and Hitchcock’s casino plan were solid gold. “How much does it cost to raise a sunken ship?” “Answer: less than a casino makes in a year. Hopefully.”
- I knew it was coming, but Andy Samberg nailed dropping that bowl of minestrone on his leg in the cold-open. It was a quality fumble. (God knows how many pairs of clean pants they had to go through to get that one right.)
- Holt may not be much fun at parties, but he’s right about one thing: Who the hell is supposed to discern the difference between four-wheel drive and all-wheel drive?
- I love that Kwazy Cupcakes continues to be a recurring joke. Terry likes to play it well-hydrated, with a Sheryl Crow soundtrack, though he’s not above the occasional airplane bottle of schnapps. The fanny runs deep.
- Today in Things Rosa Hates: small talk, calling people “baby,” and the word boo. Say it again, and she’ll shoot you in the stomach.
- God bless Andre Braugher for having enough of a sense of humor to let the writers show him IMDb-ing his closest Hollywood analogue, Blair Underwood.
- “You are a true friend, and a hot little piece.” “Good-bye, Four-Drink Amy, you sloppy sicko.”