Sergeant Terry Jeffords is the closest thing the Nine-Nine has to a straight man, so he tends to get shafted in the plot shuffle. As Holt’s character has gotten wackier with time, Terry has grown to be the primary voice nay-saying his co-workers’ antics. Nonetheless, Terry Crews has proven himself to be one of the most eager-to-please comic actors I’ve ever seen, and he’ll do just about anything for a laugh — from putting live animals on his head to busting through walls to flexing his pecs one at a time. It’s always a pleasure to get a Terry-centric episode, few and far between as they may be, especially when it focuses on a preoccupation other than his wife and kids.
Those who haven’t watched Brooklyn Nine-Nine from the jump may not know that Terry has a nerdy side: Over the years, the show has made references to his studies abroad in Japan, his excellent artwork, and his love of French New Wave cinema. So it makes sense that when Terry was a friendless, overweight boy, his mind was blown by the Skyfire Cycle, a series of overstuffed fantasy novels in the Wheel of Time vein.
The mystery plot, in which the books’ author, D.C. Parlov (Fred Melamed, delightful as usual) receives death threats that Terry and Jake investigate, is an above-average one for the show. It even has some clever twists. I liked that the hoary clichés of the overweight nerd freaking out over the addition of a female character and the author appearing to fake his own death threats were both red herrings, and that the real culprit had a pretty good reason to make those threats, namely that Parlov slept with his wife and sister. Comic mysteries are often best when there are no real villains — just a series of logical circumstances that pile up. After all, can you really fault a fantasy author for not personally responding to every letter he gets from kids and fans?
This episode’s nerd metric is doubly off-the-charts, as Holt and Kevin’s plotline revolves around a classic math puzzle, the Monty Hall Problem. (If you’ve never heard of the Monty Hall Problem and were dismayed to have gotten it wrong, like Holt, take heart: Even Nobel Prize winners answered incorrectly. This graphic explains why Amy and Kevin are right.) Of course, it’s not actually just about the math. There’s a nice psychological underpinning with Holt and Kevin’s relationship being affected by the night shift (owing to a lack of boning, as Rosa so concisely argues) and Amy’s weird dad issues around Holt and Kevin doing it. Kevin is an automatic plus in any episode, and for such a heady plotline, the show makes it work.
The Boyle-Gina plotline was the one that fell flat for me. There is so much potential in introducing Charles’s weird extended family, given what we already know about his relationship with his dad, but there just isn’t enough time dedicated to what makes the Boyle cousins tick, beyond a love of beige and a love of saying “I love you” at weird moments. Although Gina’s best lines often come when she spit-roasts nerds (first and foremost Amy), she doesn’t have any knockout ones here. I like that the show is continuing to intertwine Charles and Gina’s families, which is a dynamic it hasn’t touched on for a while, but this story line could have been more interesting and sharp. It was an opportunity to offer some insight about Charles, given that it features 20 other Boyles who act just like him. On the upside, Gina’s right: The sunshine in Aruba should be great for the collective Boyle psoriasis.
- Most viewers probably didn’t notice, but this episode aired out of order. It was originally supposed to run in October, but got bumped for game six of the World Series. (It was clearly crafted as a stand-alone for exactly that scenario, and nicely so.)
- Gina’s callback of “Tent singular?” with “Grave singular?” is pretty great. I also like that she came armed for her debate with Aqua Sox.
- Holt has been forever changed by his time in the Nine-Nine. There’s no way season-one Holt would have been so cool with Jake going Full Bullpen. Nevertheless, considering the 40-minute lecture he gives Rosa for discussing boning with him, it seems like he’s still got plenty of pent-up irritation.
- I find it delightful that Terry loves Lush products. Emotionally healthy men enjoy smelling like vanilla!
- Charles’s cousin Sam somehow manages to purchase a new shirt at Mervyn’s, which has been defunct since 2008. Despite being “very weak as individuals,” the Boyles apparently have some pull.
- I love how Jake has been part of basically every ‘90s trend. In this episode’s flashback, he tells a newscaster that he will “never turn [his back] on ska,” and pantses Patrick Ewing in full skater-bro mode.
- My favorite joke of the episode is super-simple, but likely made any couple who’s ever tried to tell a story together cringe with recognition. Holt explaining the Monty Hall Problem: “There are three doors, behind one of which is a car.” Kevin: “You’re telling it wrong. There are three doors, behind one of which is a car.”