Welcome back to the Nine-Nine! Like the members of the precinct, I spent much of my summer eagerly anticipating the arrival of our new captain and was tickled by the announcement that the hilarious Bill Hader (who had a pretty good summer going already, thanks to Trainwreck) was going to be the man for the job. But while I’m sure that no one anticipated him lasting more than a few episodes, it took some serious balls to kill off Hader’s Captain Seth Dozerman entirely, 15 minutes into the season premiere. Dozerman, we hardly knew ye, but most of what we knew of ye was a total nightmare.
Considering it probably took longer to shoot that photo of Hader in dress uniform that’s been floating around the internet all summer than it did to shoot his scenes, it’s no surprise that Dozerman was more screaming-twitch mechanism than character. (He did manage to get a couple of good lines in, though: My favorite was his reflection that in addition to getting a diagnosis that he’d die at 64, he also carries “the gene for wet feet, which is interesting more than anything else.”)
But while his narrow aortic valve may have been his undoing, Dozerman did at least manage to live on through his horrible, hectoring “DozerPads,” criticizing the squad’s efficiency in 55-minute intervals. Dozerman may have been more of a loss to computing than to policing, considering they were able to detect tampering, hiding, idle chat between co-workers, and the length of Scully’s bathroom breaks (72 minutes is “about halfway,” apparently). That may explain why the squad spent exactly zero minutes being even the slightest bit concerned or upset about his death, at least outside of considering telling Dozerman’s wife off at his funeral. It was so anticlimactic, in fact, that I honestly wasn't sure if he’d actually died until someone repeated the fact in the next scene.
The show may have tapped out early with Hader’s character, but it decided to go all the way with the burgeoning Peralta-Santiago relationship, which went almost immediately from a “light and breezy” promise of no sex (eliciting perhaps Andy Samberg’s longest-ever chain of “cool cool cool cool cool”s) to winding up in bed together after a quartet of kamikaze shots each. The reward, of course, was the ultimate callback to two seasons’ worth of Amy Santiago sex-tape jokes: “Hope it wasn’t a mistake, title of your sex tape. [Gasps.] Title of OUR sex tape!”
Of course, accidentally killing off your commanding officer when he catches you making out is a pretty hard stop on even the most exciting burgeoning relationship, but I’m glad the “maybe we should go back to being friends” portion of the proceedings was mercifully brief. (I’m also glad because had they stuck with it, I would likely have thrown my television out the window.) Boyle’s adorable enthusiasm for the new couple only added to the pleasure — he already has his best-man speech written, provided they get married on a farm, that is. But not everything is going to be light and breezy, especially considering that while Terry loves love, Terry loves professionalism even more. But with our toes planted firmly in “they’re official” territory, I can’t complain about a few roadblocks thrown in the happy couple’s path.
Roadblocks are par for the course for Holt, who found his first week running the NYPD public-relations department stymied by the ever-looming specter of Wuntch. (I was glad to see that Kyra Sedgwick has signed on for another season’s worth of guest-stints; I think she got almost as much screen time in this episode as the more heavily promoted Hader.) His eight-point community-engagement plan may have gone south in favor of debates over naming the scariest-looking pigeon mascot of all time, but Holt won’t be deterred, especially with Gina, “the human form of the 100 emoji,” by his side. “You’re great, and you make everything you touch better,” she tells him, in what may be the sweetest moment in an episode particularly heavy on the “aww”s.
Then, of course, there’s the other big reveal: With Dozerman in the ground and Holt trapped in PR, there needs to be an actual new captain, and the man to fill those crocodile loafers is none other than Dean Winters’s much-hated Vulture. I love Winters and this character and hope that he’ll last at least a few episodes longer than Hader did. Treat a Timberlake like a Fatone at your peril, Brooklyn Nine-Nine.
- Gina, as usual, has some of the episode’s best lines. On Holt’s pigeon mascot being late for his appearance before a group of kindergarteners: “I told them he got sucked up into an airplane engine, is that alright?” (In honor of the new season, here is an “all the times Gina was your spirit animal” listicle for your delectation.)
- Boyle has a very specific idea of how all good relationships should end: dying while holding each other as your cruise ship slowly takes on water.
- Terry is very committed to upholding a dead man’s wishes, at least when it comes to efficiency. “Get off my back, computer ghost!”
- On the flip side, I hope Rosa got in at least one game of backgammon before she hammered that DozerPad to death.
- The Santiago-Peralta relationship in a nutshell: “So how do we keep it light and breezy? I know: A comprehensive set of rules!” “How am I attracted to you?”