Brooklyn Nine-Nine doesn’t tend to do long guest arcs, and when it does, most serve to introduce outside love interests, from Nick Cannon to Eva Longoria to Mary-Lynn Rajskub. (Kyra Sedgwick is the one exception, but Wuntch has been out of the picture for most of this season.) So it’s definitely a new move when the show introduces a new cop for more than a one-off, and that’s what they’re doing with Jason Mantzoukas’s Adrian Pimento, who’s going to be around for at least a couple of episodes.
Mantzoukas, who’s been basically everywhere in the last few years (recent credits include Transparent, Review, Comedy Bang! Bang!, Broad City, and, depressingly, Dirty Grandpa) is playing to type with Pimento, an unhinged psycho who resembles Rafi from The League. The difference is, Pimento has a reason for his madness: He’s just emerged from 12 years undercover with the mob, where he was known as Paul Snead. His job description apparently consisted of beating people to death with his fists … or whatever else was handy. As a result, he no longer blinks, “Because every time I close my eyes, I see a fresh horror.” He’d previously kept them moist with other people’s blood.
This obviously makes Pimento an object of fascination for cop-heroism-obsessed Jake, who also went undercover with the mob in the hiatus between seasons one and two, and who still brags about it on his answering machine. (Though, as he later admits, he spent most of his time helping the mobsters use the internet without AOL.) He recruits Pimento to help him solve a B&E case but, of course, gets more than he bargained for when Pimento starts breaking into Jake’s apartment and into creepy abandoned warehouses.
It turns out Pimento is doing those crazy things for normal reasons, namely because he’s afraid to sleep at home and he’s hidden away family photos (“Pimento’s mementos!” Jake inappropriately jokes) to protect his loved ones. Nonetheless, his crazy, wild-eyed freak-outs run a bit counter to B99’s established tone, which is more friendly and daffy than envelope-pushing. That doesn’t necessarily lend itself to a character who’s near-constantly holding Jake at gun- or knifepoint, and at times, it seems like Mantzoukas has been brought on to give the show an “edginess” that doesn’t necessarily match everything else.
Presumably, we’ll see more of Pimento next week. The one aspect that I think could be fun is that Rosa is insanely attracted to him, as she has a thing for creepy guys (including the Vulture, the ShamWow guy, and the evil gremlin from Gremlins). Seeing Rosa get excited about anything is always a recipe for laughs, and I think Mantzoukas’s mania might play better against her laconic vibe than it does against Andy Samberg’s high-energy sweetness.
The other problem with hiring a new cop? The show has to shove the rest of its sizable cast into the undercard, so there are actually two three-person plots in this episode. One is a total sitcom cliché: The janitorial department is run by a heretofore unmentioned petty tyrant named Mean Marge (Kate Flannery), and when Boyle explodes a pressure cooker full of goat stew all over the break room, she refuses to clean it up — or let the cops do it — and stops picking up their trash as well.
The premise makes for some fun lines from Terry, Amy, and Boyle, especially when Marge threatens to reveal each one’s indiscretions via their trash. (Terry, confronted with the fact that he throws away some of his kids’ drawings: “They just draw so many, and they’re all so bad!”) But the revelation that Marge just wants to be loved and recognized is pretty ho-hum — it’s definitely a plot you’ve seen before, and not a particularly well-executed one.
The other secondary plot revolves around Gina, whose film credentials (namely being re-Vined by Rob Kardashian) land her the gig of directing a video to help the precinct earn a grant from the M.C. Guffin Foundation. Despite that admission of pointlessness, things end up going off smoothly, if only because of some full-bore Chelsea Peretti weirdness. After Holt and Rosa balk at her planned special effects — a smoke machine, making Rosa ride around on a wheelchair that she plans to replace with a CGI horse — Gina takes the liberty of hiring actors to play them. The fake Holt in particular gets a few great moments as he tries to imitate the genuine article, confessing that he’s given him a rich backstory of being addicted to pills.
- This episode includes a really well-done take on a classic joke as Holt and Rosa try to prove their (nonexistent) rapport. Holt: “We finish each other’s …” Rosa: “Sentences.” Holt: “Don’t interrupt me.”
- You cannot kill Terry with goat stew. “Terry’s gonna die saving the president, or Terry’s never gonna die!” (Incidentally, those old-school pressure cookers are absolutely worth being afraid of — I once had a dangerous incident with one, so I was on tenterhooks waiting for Boyle’s to inevitably explode.)
- As Gina’s final video illustrates, I don’t think Sarah McLachlan will ever be able to live down that ASPCA ad or recover “I Will Remember You” from punch line status. Poor lady just wanted to help some dogs.
- Nice cameo from B99 story editor Tricia McAlpin as Pimento’s cashier at the supermarket, where he briefly returns to be a bag boy. “Bag boys don’t have partners.” “Actually, cashiers and bag boys need to be totally in sync, because …” “Shut up, Maggie!”
- The only people Pimento remembers from his pre-undercover days are, of course, Hitchcock and Scully. “The only way they’re getting rid of us is in a body bag.” “It happened once, but it was a false alarm.”