Brooklyn Nine-Nine Recap: The Tri-Swamp Area

Andy Samberg as Jake, Melissa Fumero as Amy. Photo: John P. Fleenor/FOX
Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Episode Title
Coral Palms Pt. 3
Editor’s Rating

As an action-comedy, Brooklyn Nine-Nine has always struggled with the action half of its identity, but after last season's credibly tense "Bureau," I was hopeful that it might have cracked the code. The third and final installment of the "Coral Palms" trilogy is certainly an improvement over the show's previous action-heavy episodes, but it's definitely still a bit subpar. I haven't seen Fox's new Lethal Weapon reboot, but given the expectations for that franchise to have both comedy and credible action scenes, my guess is that B99 looks slow-paced and low-budget by comparison.

With that said, "Coral Palms Pt. 3" features some nice bits of staging in the arcade ambush scene — I especially liked Scully telegraphing information from the claw game and Rosa attacking from the ball pit. And Melissa Fumero does a particularly good job of showcasing Amy's hesitancy behind the trigger when Figgis had Jake at gunpoint, and when she has him in her sights as he escapes. But after all the buildup around him, I wish the previously unseen Figgis (Eric Roberts) turned out to be a more interesting character. He's too smarmy and dumb to seem truly threatening, he doesn't have any funny comedic quirks, and he can't get across any good jokes. The only moment that felt truly tense was when he unexpectedly capped Jim O'Heir's sheriff character — I'm sure mine was not the only household in America where someone cried out, "Jerry! Nooo!" (On the upside, Sheriff Jerry is going to be fine, and is very excited about his disability payments.)

While B99 may not always deliver in the action department, the joke department is fully covered this week. Given how much narrative it had to pack into "Coral Palms Pt. 3," I'm impressed that it was able to work in some funny character threads, like Charles using his new-dad status to parenting-shame Terry, or Jake and Amy struggling to find their footing as a couple after six months apart. Their relationship is always going to sit on the show's back burner, but I appreciate that when they do have a issue, it squares with the characters' motivations. Too many TV couples get placed in constant conflicts that make their relationships seem less credible. Jake and Amy's conflicts strike a gentle balance that works with the show's tone.

In terms of relationships that have changed, I've really enjoyed seeing Holt divorced from his traditional role as the tough boss, which has given us some of Andre Braugher's loosest, most fun work. His hangout scenes in the storage facility with Gina are hilarious, and really highlight the fact that these characters have been through a lot together. I particularly liked the revelation that they have regular "daily dishes" full of "hot goss," if only because that is a spinoff that I would absolutely watch. (The scene in which Gina tries to lift the injured Holt into a truck with "BOOST MY BOTTOM" and "I'M BOOSTINNNNGG" is also hysterical.)

Finally, I'm excited that the group's decision to ditch their jobs to save Jake and Holt leads to realistic consequences, namely being forced by Ken Marino's none-too-bright new captain to work the night shift. While I'm sure that won't last forever, with Holt presumably getting out of witness protection and back into his old job, I appreciate that the show is throwing some narrative wrenches in its own path. In past seasons, B99 simply reset the board after similarly weird situations. Of course, I'm also pumped for Adrian Pimento's return, possibly getting to meet Nikolas, and lots of other fun stuff back in Brooklyn. See ya, Florida, it's been fun.

Other Notes:

  • The best joke of the episode: Terry's attempt to make a video for his kids if he dies. His lullaby of "go to sleep, Daddy's dead, but his ghost's always watching" made me laugh so hard that I had to pause the TV for a couple of minutes. Terry Crews never gives less than his all, and he's so fun to watch.
  • The scene where Holt casually reveals the slice of rebar in his leg is seriously the grossest. (Jake: "I saw inside of you. How are humans alive?!") I like how they played Holt giving himself surgery as being much harder for Jake than it was for him.
  • Gina gets some great bits in this episode, from donning her "fresh wizard" garb and taking her "Ambis" for the trip to Florida to her hilarious scene where she spouts a made-up language in order to snag a hand truck to carry Holt. "Garbanzo marinara pizzeria ristorante ahhhh."
  • I will deeply, deeply miss all of the great potshots at my home state of Florida. I loved the fake newscast that opened the show ("The most high-school sports, the most lottery numbers, and the most weather in the tri-swamp area!") and Jake's richly deserved hot take on Florida pizza: "It's the most disgusting thing I've ever tasted, it somehow burned my mouth and was cold at the same time."
  • I also love the way B99 continues to subtly rip gun culture in the South, with Gina buying a gun from a rest-stop vending machine and finding another gun in the lost-and-found at the storage facility.
  • As expected, it takes Jake all of a few hours to confess his kiss with Holt to Amy: "You want to know if there was tongue. I can tell you decidedly there was not"; and "Good talk. Don't die. Holt had very soft lips, wish I hadn't said that one either."