There hasn’t been much strife in the surprisingly relaxed Peralta-Santiago romance this season, so we were probably overdue for TV’s newest will-they couple to get the first real test of their relationship. (Aside from that whole weird moment in which Jake almost proposed to Amy to win the Halloween heist, anyway.) The reason they end up going to the mattresses is an actual mattress: a lumpy “dumpster mattress” that the perpetually broke Jake considers a feasible sleeping location.
How does he justify that? Well, he does give Amy the good lump.
The mattress kills Amy’s back, preventing her from getting the rest she needs to be the best grammar Nazi she can be, so when the couple take their relationship “from the sheets to the streets” chasing a new drug called Taxi — Gigglepig is so last season — the conflict over the former ends up screwing with their ability to execute the latter. Though Holt’s unsure if he should let Jake and Amy work a case together, he eventually agrees, and the case pays the price when their hotel-room fight distracts a perp and makes him realize his room is being surveilled.
This mattress tiff is standard sitcom-fight material, but I liked how the writers handled this particular conflict. Much like a real fight, it slowly progresses from a jokey mutual understanding of “we’ll deal with it, we’re not actually fighting” to a full-bore fight at the same pace as the case unfolds. Sitcoms often take small domestic complaints to DEFCON 5 from the jump — especially when they’re made by a woman — but the simmering resentment between Jake and Amy is bottled up until it explodes in a much more genuine fashion.
In its first two seasons, B99 had a pretty tenuous relationship to reality, even by sitcom standards. But this season, things have gotten more grounded, and I’m enjoying the show’s willingness to dwell on emotional beats, like Amy and Holt’s stop-and-frisk talk or Rosa’s confession of her relationship fears to Holt. Best of all, it knows how to make fights funny without making the characters unlikable, a deft move that many shows cannot pull off. (Sample fight dialogue: “My butt is so serious it should be wearing spectacles. Your butt is the butt that’s not serious.” “My butt is serious! I made all kinds of changes. I bought orange soda for you.” “For the last time, Orangina is not orange soda!”) A genuine-feeling conflict, a genuine-feeling resolution, and lots of good jokes the whole way through: If there’s more to want out of a network sitcom, I haven’t found it.
Nevertheless, the show still struggles to create a solid trio of plots all the way through an episode. Last week, the A-story was iffy and the smaller plots were strong, but this week, things reverse with a pair of implausible snoozers on the B-team and C-team. Boyle feuds with Holt about the captain’s beloved vintage convertible, Gertie, which he inexplicably enjoys cross-parking into Boyle’s reserved spot. (What happened to Holt’s typical punctiliousness?) Of course, it leads to a scrape when Boyle tries to pull out, and of course, Holt denies responsibility.
Watching Boyle try to grow “some b-bone” against the fearsome captain is definitely funny, but the episode skips out on that conflict early when Gina teaches Holt a lesson about his arrogance, by way of a humble $14 cupcake left in his chair. (I won’t even mention the implausibility of this show’s continued insistence that each and every cop in Brooklyn owns at least one car — or two, in Holt’s case.)
Also defying plausibility: Rosa is somehow a Big Brother in Big Brothers Big Sisters. Her relationship with her “little brother” Sam is classic Rosa — “No one cares, stupid.” “Screw you, Rosa.” [Both bump fists] — but it’s hard for me to believe that even softhearted Terry would encourage her to go easy on someone who shoplifted a smartphone because it was “just lying there and I didn’t think things through.” A pack of gum, this is not, and while sending the kid off to jail wouldn’t be an answer by any means, I can’t exactly fault Rosa for being angry, and I don’t completely understand why her super-strict ballet teacher — who does get results, she admits — was sufficient enough to quell her fury.
At least Terry got some validation. Terry loves validation.
- Something that Terry does not love: bathroom talk. Violate the rules and it’s no Doc McStuffins for a week.
- Jake, on the other hand, loves that Mr. Met made a No. 2 in his bathroom. “That’s a memory I will cherish forever.”
- Orangina isn’t the only high-low conflict in Amy and Jake’s relationship: Jake doesn’t know who Will Shortz is, leaving Holt aghast. “Really? Never heard of the puzzle-master? Santiago, is this who you want to be with?”
- The whole “To the Window, To the Wall” sequence in the mattress store was really fun, especially Jake and Amy collapsing on the bed, staring at the ceiling, when the salesman entered: “God?” “It’s Brian.”
- Some oddly great, trenchant commentary on drug dealers this episode. Jake on Taxi: “Drug dealers have gotten so creative. It used to just be ‘crack,’ and then they’d be like, ‘We’ve got a new one, what are we gonna call this? I dunno, ‘crank?’”
- Then, later: “Well, druggies are lazy.” “He deals in uppers.” “Oh, we’re screwed.”
- But the funniest moment of the episode was when they showed Charles driving into work while singing the theme of Charles in Charge to himself. I nearly spit out my drink. If my name were Charles, I guess I would do that, too?