Even though Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s setting is right there in the name, I’ve never found it to be particularly effective at communicating a sense of place. Last season, there was the occasional concession to regional flavor, like the arson at the old-school pizza joint and Peralta’s questioning of a (poorly) Brooklyn-accented family during Thanksgiving. But for the most part, this show could be called Cleveland Nine-Nine and it wouldn’t matter much.
So if the show isn’t going to actively engage its rotation of perps with, say, street-level drug dealers or the Russian mob or any of the less-than-savory (and, admittedly, less-than-comedic) elements that make Brooklyn Brooklyn, it’s nice to see it finally take on a wide-open Brooklyn target: hipsterism. Unfortunately, it doesn’t do much once it arrives there, even though the contrast between the hard-edged cops and the soft locals should make for ripe comedic fodder. Instead, we get a brief appearance from Moshe Kasher, an admittedly hilarious riff on artisanal chocolate milk (“This is teat-to-mouth raw cow’s milk. The bitterness of the chocolate brings out the sourness in the milk.” “That’s the worst part of both of those things!”), and not much else. I can see why the show didn’t want to touch the hipster third-rail early on, as it was developing its voice, but it seems like a wasted opportunity to bring it up this far on and then pretty much dump it after one scene.
Meanwhile in wasted opportunities, Kyra Sedgwick’s Deputy Chief Wuntch didn’t really work here. Sedgwick’s unquestionably an appealing presence (someone please tell me where I can find the person who did her awesome makeup and feathered hair in the ’70s flashback), and it makes perfect dramatic sense to introduce a potential threat to Holt. Yet her tone seems out of place, as if she wandered into the Nine-Nine from CSI: NY and plans to return there at episode’s end. Holt’s permanent sangfroid is one of Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s perennial sources of humor (his no-affect appreciation of Boyle’s “grandcaptain” joke was great), but I’m not sure pitting him against an even icier person is the way to go — if he’s going to have a longtime enemy, I’d prefer for her to be one that loosens him up and knocks him off his guard a little. Though I did like the reveal that their animus had nothing to do with Holt’s being gay and everything to do with a series of increasingly escalating crimes against each other (Wuntch shot Holt, Holt tried to get her kicked off the force, Wuntch destroyed Holt’s personnel file, and most important, someone embarrassed someone else in front of Derek Jeter).
But, plot quibbles aside, I laughed at “Chocolate Milk” — a lot. This episode might have had more great laugh lines than any previous installment, from the increasingly ludicrous puns surrounding Terry’s vasectomy in the cold open (“No need to be so testes!” “Now playing: Scrotal Recall!”) to the truth-bombs he was dropping under anesthesia (“What do you think of Captain Holt?” “He needs to smoke some weed.”). Incidentally, has there ever been an episode of television in which a male character happily got a vasectomy without either changing his mind at the last minute or suffering crazy consequences? Most vasectomies these days don’t involve more sedation than an Ativan (or even require a scalpel), but based on watching TV, no wonder Peralta thinks it involves cutting your penis off.
Arguably the best laughs of the night came from Santiago, whose teacher’s-pet tendencies became useful (and funnier) in the context of Wuntch’s grading of the precinct. (She doesn’t even mind being called a teacher’s pet, because “people love their pets.”) Melissa Fumero wasn’t always the most reliable comic player on this show, but she’s gotten increasingly deft: Her expression of shock and horror after standing up to Holt was great, as was her responding to Holt’s well-intentioned A by asking if his system has pluses and minuses. It’s probably a good thing that she doesn’t know that she’s being analyzed and rated on a star scale in these parts — especially since there are just as many stars as grades, and it’ll probably feel like we’re just being weird. Though I could certainly use a basket of ripe, crispy pears.
- I didn’t even get around to mentioning all of the great Gina bits in this episode, from her analogy of Peralta and Terry’s friendship to a “work-appropes” sweater to her horror at Boyle’s description of their hookups. “I didn’t strike you when you said ‘knocking boots,’ but ‘bone bros,’ I cannot abide.” Also, don’t leave her alone with the files or she’ll sort them by perp hotness.
- Peralta on getting trapped under Terry: “He changed the shape of my skeleton forever.”
- “When’s the last time you had a carrot?” “Well, it’s my least favorite type of cake, so rarely.”
- Diaz has hardly had any screentime so far this season, and Scully and Hitchcock were also offscreen this episode. Looking forward to seeing more of all three soon.
- Insulting people via text: The struggle is real. “Your ideas are dum-dum batter in a stupid pancake, you steaming pile of human fences. I assume that was autocorrected from feces.”