Brooklyn Nine-Nine Recap: Vaginal Gandalf

Brooklyn Nine-Nine

Season 3 Episode 8
Editor’s Rating 4 stars
BROOKLYN NINE-NINE: L-R: Andy Samberg in the “Ava” episode of BROOKLYN NINE-NINE airing Sunday, Nov. 22 (8:30-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX ©2015 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: FOX

Brooklyn Nine-Nine

Season 3 Episode 8
Editor’s Rating 4 stars
Andy Samberg as Jake Peralta. Photo: John P. Fleenor/FOX

After hosting a precinct-wide Thanksgiving at Amy’s house in season one, Brooklyn Nine-Nine skipped the holiday entirely last year. This year, it’s decided to split the difference, acknowledging Turkey Day without actually celebrating it.

The precinct spends the run-up to Thanksgiving trying to handle two simultaneous crises: Terry’s wife Sharon (played by Merrin Dungey, who you may remember as Jennifer Garner’s BFF on Alias) finally gives birth to their third child, and after the precinct’s internet goes down, the detectives are forced to process bookings by hand — or by fax, until Scully and Hitchcock plug in too many old machines, setting the whole assemblage on fire.

An anxious wife in labor while her husband is out-of-pocket is about as hoary a sitcom plot as they come, and the show doesn’t do much to innovate, aside from updating the obstacles for a modern context. Sharon had a bad birth with her twins, so she wants to go natural this time, complete with a birth plan and two out-of-pocket doulas. I find it a little implausible that Sharon would stick around the precinct for hours, waiting for her husband to show up when she could call a friend (presumably, someone is watching Cagney and Lacey) or simply take a cab home. But set budgets aren’t unlimited, so we get to witness the miracle of life — or, as Gina dubs it, “disgusting animal kingdom nonsense” — largely within the precinct, with Jake as the bumbling substitute father and “godhusband.”

This being TV birth, nothing goes right: Jake’s soothing Barry White impression quickly goes south (“I’m doin’ a bad, bad job, girl”), a trip to get CDs is cut short by an angry mob that still hasn’t had its paperwork processed, and Jake manages to set off the emergency sprinklers when he tries to turn off the fire alarm. Meanwhile, Terry and Rosa take the first subway ride I’ve seen on B99 in at least a season, only to get stuck on the train when another woman goes into labor. Then, instead of just taking another train or getting into a cab, they hijack a police motorcycle. No wonder everyone in this show’s bizarro version of New York owns their own car.

So much was going on with the birth plot that I forgot that this was also the Nick Offerman guest episode — a bummer, as it ended up being kind of a waste of Offerman and his “glorious beard,” as Andy Samberg perfectly describes it. I’ve been looking forward to seeing Offerman appear as Holt’s ex all season, assuming we’d get an episode centered around that. He only shows up about two-thirds of the way through this episode, for two very short scenes that are free of what could’ve been some really weird and funny sexual tension. Instead, he and Holt are on the outs for a particularly goofy reason — Holt threw his outrageously expensive antique-wooden duck decoy off a bridge, apparently because its beak was too small. (More pertinently, there was also some possible cheating with a guy named Dave, but Offerman denies it.)

In any case, Offerman’s character is an OB-GYN, and he saves the day by convincing the hospital-averse Sharon to go in for treatment, a decision that ultimately pleases her, considering she gave birth to a 14-pound newborn daughter. There is literally no chance in hell that she gave birth to that 14-pounder vaginally, much less looked dewy-fresh in her hospital bed right afterwards, but whatever, show, continue to ignore the realities of childbirth like every sitcom that has preceded you.

I’ll at least give B99 progressivism points for featuring a female character who not only refuses to coo over babies, but firmly believes “childbirth is a horror movie.” That would, of course, be Gina, who has to take 90 minutes to herself after learning what an episiotomy is. (Also: She can only coach Sharon through her breathing exercises by pretending she’s in a Channing Tatum movie.) Her squick factor may be a little overexaggerated for comedic purposes, but I’m still down with seeing a show acknowledge that not every woman is 100 percent comfortable with babies or pregnancy, to the point where she may need to go “Howard Hughes [her] hands.” At least she didn’t pull a Hitchcock and get them trapped in a pneumatic tube.

Other Notes:

  • All flashbacks to ’70s-era Holt are amazing, but the one of him quietly pushing the duck off the bridge in full Shaft mode may take the cake.
  • Nerd alert: Sharon thinks Holt is like an Ent (or as Terry puts it, “one of those judgmental trees from Lord of the Rings,”) but Jake takes the cake by referring to a doula as a “vaginal Gandalf.” Terry is horrified, but Sharon kinda agrees!
  • Boyle may be the least sexy member of the precinct, but his willingness to bust his way through paperwork despite a hand cramp is apparently a turn-on for Amy.
  • “You didn’t do anything, it was all Scully.” Hitchcock: “We’re a package deal, everyone knows that!” Cue a B99 tradition: the no-look five.
  • Gina is devastated that the internet is out, as she desperately needs to know if Balloon Boy grew up hot.
  • An actually clever comeback to “I think my water just broke”: “Don’t worry about that, we’ll just get you another one … Oh, you mean your body water. That’s much worse.”
  • Don’t try to tease Terry about going on a sexy getaway with his 37-weeks-pregnant wife. “We’re gonna eat pie in bed.” Now that is the title of my sex tape.