Winter sweeps bring internet-beloved guest stars aplenty to the Nine-Nine. Nick Offerman dropped by last episode, and this installment features a surprise appearance from none other than Neil deGrasse Tyson. Ah, the perks of sharing a network with America’s favorite scientist.
Apparently, Tyson is gym buddies with Terry, and he takes time off from his busy Twitter schedule to inspire Gina, who’s still plugging away at her college degree, to pass an important astronomy test. Gina, being Gina, is thoroughly nonplussed, greeting him with a hilariously deadpan, “Who dis?” (Her follow-up: “How do you know Terrence, space-tie?”)
Tyson may be a gifted scientist, but he’s not a gifted comic actor, and the show knows it: his two jokes, both groaners, end quickly. His presence is mainly meant to attract some new blood to the B99-iverse — you can practically hear network execs salivating about how these guest appearances will play to younger crowds, hopefully pulling them away from their damn Reddits for a minute.
Luckily, Tyson’s blink-and-you’ll-miss-it turn allows for yet another tremendous Terry Crews moment: an astrology-themed dance-off, intended to educate Gina in the only language she can understand. If there’s anything more joyful than watching Melissa Fumero and Terry Crews frolick around while singing complex facts about astronomy — complete with planet-themed outfits! — then I haven’t found it. Clearly, neither has Gina, whose reasons for education start and end at Terry’s pecs, the flexing of which she ends up choreographing in a ridiculous final one-two, one-two. I don’t know why people aren’t hiring Terry Crews to be in every film and show they’re making, because dude is willing to do just about anything for a laugh.
Meanwhile, Jake and Rosa are dealing with a guest-star influx of their own: Swedish cops Soren and Agneta, played by the punishingly attractive duo of Anders Holm (of Workaholics) and Riki Lindhome (the Garfunkel of Garfunkel & Oates). They’ve come to town to help bust a diamond-heist ring, after Jake and Rosa inadvertently caught a perp with a priceless necklace at a fish market. Despite not being a romantic item, the duo are creepy-close, holding hands wherever they go; Soren even donated sperm to Agneta and her husband via Tupperware. They may be creepy, but they’re also a destabilizing influence on Jake and Rosa, whose friendship Rosa values because “we don’t talk about our love lives, or our families, or anything that’s on our minds. That’s why you’re my closest friend in the world.”
But for Jake, who’s trying to figure out what to do for Amy for their six-month anniversary, this arrangement might be a little too withdrawn (especially since his other bestie, Boyle, is offering only the enthusiastic suggestion that he “put a baby in her”). Their conflict amplifies when he finds out about Rosa and Marcus’s breakup, despite that having happened a few episodes back. This whole plotline, while interesting in concept, didn’t quite work for me. For starters, Rosa has always been a secret softie when it comes to being a romantic confidante for Jake. She’s usually the one who sets his head straight with regards to Amy and his previous girlfriends, and while I could see Jake getting irritated when she’s not equally open about her love life, her not helping him out is a bit unprecedented for the show.
The real problem is that the episode’s comedic pace doesn’t quit for a second to acknowledge the emotion. It’s an ongoing problem for B99, but one that’s largely improved this season: The show can be afraid to sit with a dramatic moment before returning to the goofs. Both Stephanie Beatriz (with the Marcus breakup) and Andy Samberg (with Jake’s deadbeat dad) have proved themselves capable of playing a legitimate dramatic scene, so this conflict could have been more rooted. Instead, it seems like it got cut for time to squeeze in all the guest stars and goofing on Sweden. Those parts were great — Lindhome and Holm were both hilarious — but it made the resolution, when Rosa fesses up to having a new boyfriend, feel a bit thin.
The funniest plot of the week had no guest star, though, as we learned that Boyle was the bad boy of collegiate squash, and Holt enlists him to compete in Kevin Cozner’s place in an important tournament. Despite his repeated attempts to stay calm and have fun (a mantra he repeats roughly 168 times, according to Holt), his boss wants him to “unleash the beast,” and eventually, he does. Seeing Joe Lo Truglio go full McEnroe on a squash game, breaking rackets and insulting the competition (“You butternuts ready to get squashed?”), is pretty much heaven.
- The cops of B99 are very well-educated. Terry graduated magna cum laude from Syracuse (“Terry killed it in college!”). It won’t surprise anyone that tenderhearted, musical-loving Boyle graduated from Sarah Lawrence, where he skipped squash his senior year to act in Starlight Express.
- Agneta: “Everyone is allergic to dust! That’s what sneezes are.” Rosa: “You’re what sneezes are!”
- It can’t be a coincidence that the Swedish perp Jake and Rosa investigate is named Karl Ove. Guess someone on the writing staff got pretty into My Struggle.
- Gina will not truck with anyone who talks trash about Earth. “That is my house.”
- I love that the saga of the destroyed vending machine — which was blocked off by caution tape for most of the season — continued in the cold open, when the replacement model is consumed by flames after an ill-advised Champagne christening. (Also, that everyone wore a suit to the event, including Scully and Hitchcock — everyone but Rosa, that is. She’ll be buried in that leather jacket.)
- Holt and Kevin are basically insufferable (can you imagine if they were a real couple?), but their little exchanges are always great. “Ratatouille?” “The rodent chef.” “Yes … far-fetched.”