Brooklyn Nine-Nine Recap: A Trolley Named Charles

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Photo: Eddy Chen/FOX
Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Episode Title
The Wednesday Incident
Season
2
Episode
16
Editor’s Rating
3/5

I’d hate to be among those responsible for coming up with 22 episodes’ worth of plot every season, but by any reasonable standard, “The Wednesday Incident” is an air ball, doing pretty much nothing to move any of Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s recurring plotlines forward and not delivering many laughs with its one-off, hit-the-reset-button premise. Sending the prickly Kevin Cozner on a Holt-centric investigative mission with Jake and Gina should have been a slam dunk, but it fails to generate many sparks.

Indeed, the episode’s major highlight is its hangout scenes with Andy Samberg and Chelsea Peretti, whose real-life childhood friendship rings totally true onscreen. They have a natural, easy comic chemistry, from Gina suggesting they solve their quandary via Peralta’s suicide to Peralta doing his best Holt imitation as they stroll down the street. (“Dammit, it’s morphing into British!” “Do your catchphrase!” “Peralta, that’s enough!”) Jake and Gina are rarely paired for plotlines, but I hope the show considers putting them together a little more often.

The show also could have taken advantage of the opportunity of this mismatched trio exploring Holt’s private life to reveal some goofy secrets about him, but what we get is pretty much in line with what we know: He eats at a diner because he hates fancy food (and orders an absurdly spartan breakfast of a hard-boiled egg yolk and room-temperature water, which there’s no possible way a guy of that size could survive on), then goes to a painting class, where he paints the same rock over and over again, and finally wraps up with fencing.

Given that Holt, while decidedly more cultured than his co-workers, still clashes frequently with Kevin over his cop-centric lifestyle, it would’ve been fun to see his “secret” involve him doing something totally wild and out of the ordinary (remember how he went Hula-Hooping?). Instead, the reveal that he got mugged and “lightly stabbed” is a little sweet and sad, but not really in keeping with his character: There’s no way Holt would have wandered around in a funk instead of pulling that security footage and going after the guys who mugged him, especially given that his “secret shame” isn’t that he caved, but that he took them on despite being outnumbered. And his husband somehow didn’t manage to notice for an entire week that he’d been wounded, even if it wasn’t a serious cut? The whole plotline is meant to be a heartwarming peek at Holt’s vulnerability both outside of and within his marriage, but instead, it’s just kind of a head-scratcher.

At least the Holt story line doesn’t wander off into total nonsense, unlike the frankly bizarre B-plot in which Boyle attempts to get a gentle-seeming old man to admit to anyone else but him that he pulled off a series of bank robberies. Instead of playing with the potential suspense of whether Boyle’s right, we find out right up front that he is, via a series of not-particularly-funny confessions from the perp when Amy and Rosa are out of earshot. Then the show quite literally just kills the plotline by having him drop dead during an interrogation, and ties it in a bow with the completely implausible idea that Amy was able to trace the serial numbers on a dollar bill the guy gave her for a soda. Seriously, was this guy’s crime spree just to steal about $15 in singles? And the moral takeaway is ... that Charles is a good cop, despite being a weirdo? I’d figure Rosa might have figured out that one when he took a bullet for her last year, but hey, maybe she needs reminding. (After all, this is a man who cracks cases over wheels of Brie and buys his shoes in the children’s department.)

Meanwhile, we get a brief mention of Marcus, but it’s been a long damn while since Nick Cannon has actually appeared on the show — this has to be the longest guest stint I’ve ever seen in which the guest star doesn’t actually appear most times he’s mentioned. (His last appearance was a very brief one, four episodes ago, in “Beach House.”) Hopefully he’ll be back in action when we get the Boyle-Linetti parental nuptials in two weeks (I was wrong about it being the season finale), when the show will also be a bit more back on track.

Notes:

  • Holt’s longtime diner waitress, Diane, is played by Katie Dippold, who used to write for Parks and Recreation and will be writing the forthcoming all-lady Ghostbusters with Paul Feig. I kind of hope the choice of name was a little bit of a shout-out to Kyle MacLachlan’s unseen Twin Peaks confessor, since this Diane obviously knows plenty about Holt’s problems with Peralta (“You are too old to behave the way you do.”)
  • The only person who has no problems with Peralta: Charles, of course. On his perp: “He’s messing with me because I’m not intimidating like Terry, or dignified like Jake, or funny like Jake, or model-handsome like Jake.”
  • You can really tell a show is scraping the bottom of the barrel when a scene ends with a reference to “Get Out of My Dreams, Get Into My Car.”
  • Rosa is a realist when it comes to getting others to admit their faults. “Just admit that you ruined everything and turned our lives into a living hell. No biggie.”
  • Today in Santiago Sex Tape Titles: “Blast of cold air coming out of that box.”
  • Holt hates pictures of family and rubber-band balls. “If you love someone, you’ll remember what they look like.”
  • Unquestionably the best moment of the episode, though it had literally nothing to do with the rest of it: Terry getting a street performer to go away by besting him at break-dancing. “You beat him in a dance-off?” “I destroyed him.”