A better episode than its partner on this penultimate night in the history of Brooklyn Nine-Nine still disappoints a bit, in part because of what it sets up in its first few scenes — Captain Holt is retiring, and Jake is desperate for one final cool case — but also because it feels like the writers are kind of bringing this complex season to a close in what could end up being a pretty shallow manner. But first, a cool case! Yes, let’s do that! Nine-nine!
Sadly, what follows pushes a bit too much toward O’Sullivan and wacky high jinks that feel dated and weaker than the show deserves in its end run. Yes, it’s a bit funnier than the worst episodes of this season (and ends with a genuinely touching moment between Holt and Kevin, which the two characters deserve), but this final send-off for “Peralta & Holt” doesn’t really even live up to its potential for one cool final case, since it’s more focused on putting the pieces in place for where Holt, Amy, and Jake will end up when Brooklyn Nine-Nine closes its doors next week.
Holt’s idea of a final cool case before retirement is the police-reform proposal that Amy has been working on, so they need to keep his news secret so that she can focus on exactly that. After a big time-jump from the opening scenes, the episode divides into two wacky cases and a vow renewal ceremony for Holt and Kevin.
Terry, Boyle, Jake, Amy, Rosa, and Scully go early to help set up for the event, which features prominent Cheddar action (always welcome) and whimsically folded napkins. Jake spins off to find Holt, who is hiding because he’s working on their special day. He got an email about the report, and there’s a closed-door meeting that day in which the union is going to claim they fudged their numbers. Holt is going to pretend to be watching porn instead of doing his job, because that’s a better alternative to Kevin. Gasp! Someone changed the numbers! O’Sullivan hacked into the system and fabricated numbers. Amy would never do that. She loves numbers!
A case! Jake is going to prove that O’Sullivan hacked into the system. Holt and Jake plan to break into his basement and get the laptop while O’Sullivan is lured away by a Billy Joel superfan named Geronimo Rodriguez, who will really be Terry Jeffords, the resident Billy Joel fan because he lip-synced to “Uptown Girl” one time. Santiago and Terry will keep him busy long enough to get a fingerprint to unlock his laptop. But who will be on Cheddar duty? Rosa suggests a bone, but Cheddar is not some street rat! Andre Braugher deftly sells the comedic tension of an important day being potentially destroyed, as he always does; despite all the hiccups this final season, Braugher has been a steady reminder of the show at its best.
Jake wants Holt to go undercover as Maxwell Maxwell, but the captain reminds him of the danger of using films to influence police work (unless said film is The World of Mosses, a documentary about exactly what it sounds like), so they will instead be gas employees named Mitch and Henry. Yawn. Meanwhile, Amy and Geronimo — sorry, Terry — go undercover, and Jeffords drops the news that Holt is retiring, which basically makes his protégé catatonic. She’s gotta hide while Terry does the undercover work.
“Mitch” and “Henry” go to O’Sullivan’s house, where Holt is forced to basically seduce the union leader’s mother in a series of pretty unfunny, un-Holt-like scenes. As Amy spirals out while Terry tries to get O’Sullivan’s fingerprint with original “We Didn’t Start the Fire” lyrics, Mrs. O’Sullivan pulls a gun on “Maxwell Maxwell”! Holt keeps trying to seduce the old lady, but it backfires, trapping them in the basement. They cut the landline so she can’t get a hold of her son while Cheddar indulges in shrimp (special occasion) at the ceremony. Love the line, “He’s a dog, not a supervillain” about Cheddar. He’s a super-dog, Rosa.
Terry scrambles to get the fingerprint as he is forced to listen to Amy monologue about her grief over Holt’s retirement. Terry yells a bit about having an identity wrapped up in a single person — Amy in Holt, O’Sullivan in Billy Joel. Sure, fine, although it feels like a really shallow way to bring Amy’s love and respect for Holt to a close.
Of course, as with all things Nine-Nine, the missions succeed in the end, and everything comes back to the ceremony, which allows for some tender moments between Kevin and Holt, along with the reminder that his name is Kevin Cozner (even though he’s probably never seen a movie starring his near-namesake). Holt had fun being Maxwell Maxwell, and still made it back in time to affirm his love for Kevin. That scene in O’Sullivan’s basement with him being uncertain about whether or not to retire feels a bit meta, considering the conversations the show’s writers must have had about coming back after the events of 2020. They may not have “devoted their whole life to this” like Holt, but everyone here has been invested for almost a decade. Perhaps the most telling line regarding that decision is Kevin’s final one during the ceremony: “We really have to go!”
There’s one more issue that needs to be put on the table before the finale: Amy’s police reform proposal. Is the show really going to end with Amy solving police corruption, getting promoted to chief, and the 9-9 saving the day for cops across NYC as Holt becomes the deputy commissioner of police reform? That feels too shallow for the issues at play in this season’s very existence, although the writing lately makes it feel very possible. If Amy is going to “make a real impact,” there better be a counterpoint that reflects how hard that is to do in the real world. She does mention that she will struggle to be an equal parent in the final scene, adding to the theory that Jake is going to leave the force, possibly even becoming a stay-at-home dad. We will know next week.
• Boyle’s joke about Lieutenant Peanut Butter being vengeful is a great reference to the history of the show. The final season should have had more Easter eggs like those for the fans still committed to the officers of the 9-9.
• Holt purges a marital tax code to have room to remember his vow ceremony forever. It’s a great beat for the character because Braugher sells it as something Holt believes is true and even romantic.
Also love that Holt doesn’t bother to learn the names of children, even Jake’s.
• It’s almost over! What do you want from the finale? Can it save this rocky season?