Andy Samberg as Jake, Andre Braugher as Captain Holt.
Last year’s “Stakeout” is the first thing that comes to mind when I think of Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s low points, so I wasn’t necessarily pumped for another episode that puts Jake and a second character in forced isolation. Although “9 Days” covers a lot of well-trod territory for the show — which has also already had plots about Jake and Holt working a case from Holt’s house, and both Jake and Rosa trying to work through an illness or injury against their colleagues’ advice — this pairing works, thanks to sharp writing and the continuing genius of freshly minted Critic’s Choice Award winner Andre Braugher.
Eschewing the show’s usual stand-alone cold open, “9 Days” dives right in, explaining that Holt’s a bit off these days because his husband, Kevin, is still away on a teaching assignment at the Sorbonne. Jake’s closed all his cases (and bragged loudly enough about it that Amy couldn’t hear the neighbors’ usual fighting and make-up sex), so he decides to un-bury a cold case about a mobster gone AWOL to distract Holt. Unfortunately, the very first interview in the case exposes the pair to mumps, a diagnosis they receive from a doctor played by The Office’s great Oscar Nuñez. I didn’t know anything about mumps, so this episode was both entertaining and highly informative! I was particularly crushed to learn, like Jake, that sour candy is apparently the worst thing to eat if you have it. The mumps also causes extreme testicular discomfort, leading to Jake’s first-ever collaborative “Cool cool cool cool cool” — literally the only circumstance in which I can imagine Holt joining in.
Isolating two characters together (with occasional appearances by Amy, who’s characteristically up-to-date on all her vaccinations) often tempts writers to segue straight into bickering (see the aforementioned “Stakeout”). But introducing the case early on provides a good framework around which to build a lot of physical-illness humor, since it’s easy for Holt and Jake to digest information in small doses between bouts of passing out, hallucinating spaghetti as snakes, and “Beautiful Mind–ing” by repeatedly scrawling the word case in the window frost. Things do get a little bit bickery toward the end, which is uncharacteristic for Holt, but the narrative gambit mostly builds the pair’s likability instead of moving to crush it, which has never been a good move for the show.
Of course, it’s rather convenient that all of the information and video on an eight-year-old cold case is digital. To pull off what’s essentially a double A-plot, something had to be sacrificed — including the big raid at the end, which gets offloaded to an offscreen SWAT team. There is time, however, to poke more fun at Amy’s terrible cooking skills, since her utterly preposterous baked-ziti recipe (with seven cups of salt and 18 of oregano) turned out to be a secret code. “Nine onions?! Amy.” “How am I the bad guy here?” At least she’s still got her nationally ranked membership in a bar-trivia team called Trivia Newton-John.
It’s a rarity that Brooklyn Nine-Nine can score a hat trick by balancing its hefty cast into equally compelling B- and C-plots, but this week was an exception. Charles losing his dog (and Rosa learning to feel human feelings) and Terry taking over the precinct in the wake of Holt’s illness were both strong, character-driven choices. It makes total sense that a dog whose only joy in life was humping things would be Boyle’s best bud, though I wish Joe Lo Truglio, who usually plays broadly to great effect, had signaled his grief more believably. Still, I loved his admission that the late Jason got him through his divorce, as well as his inability to overlook Rosa’s “motorcycle helmet for a heart.” Despite once thinking that “all dogs are basically the same,” Rosa now has a new puppy! (I think it’s a yellow lab.) That may be pandering, but it’s the kind of pandering that I can get behind.
While Gina’s weird mentorship-crush thing with Terry is still a bit strange, I also thought the show nailed exactly how Terry would react to being put in charge: He tries to work twice as hard, shouldering the burden for everyone else when they screw up. Being a boss is actually all about putting out fires — an uncommon bit of wisdom from self-taught “miracle of movement” Gina — and as the precinct’s de facto mom, it made total sense that Terry would try to exceed that goal. Only Terry, however, would have the brute strength to cause structural damage to Holt’s office when it didn’t work out.
- Jake’s mump is named Simon. Holt’s is Balthazar, because it’s “an evil demon that spits fire in my throat.” Balthazar eventually gets a counterpart named Penelope because Holt is not a fortunate man.
- Also, it’s a bit weird that both of them got the mumps, since the vaccine, administered to most people in childhood, is 88 percent effective. But, hey, what do you expect from a showrunner whose production logo is literally the words, “Not a doctor”?
- Gina believes that “C-minus is the perfect grade. You pass, but you’re still hot.” (This is probably why she’s only now getting around to finishing college.)
- Given what we know about Boyle’s dad, it makes total sense that his grieving advice is, “Real men don’t cry for more than three days.”
- I love that this show continues to find ways to get Scully to sing opera.
- “Bump in the road? More like a MUMP in the road.” (Cue laughter from Holt and Peralta, cue immediate screams of pain.)