Some of the best episodes in the run of Brooklyn Nine-Nine have been ones in which the officers get out of the station, such as when two parties were held in “Beach House,” or the entire saga of witness protection in Florida in “Coral Palms.” While it’s a little surprising to see one come so early into the final season, it makes sense given the hot-button context of the season’s premiere. Jumping right back into another case with an episode set at the station would have been harder to manage tonally than just getting them away from police work altogether. One wonders if they’ll actually solve another case before the end of the series.
The trip to Captain Holt’s Lake House — capitalization intended as it’s named after Kirsopp Lake and nowhere near an actual body of water, of course — allows for Jake to pull a “parent trap” to try and get his daddies back together. The writing shifts from the macro issues of systemic racism to a character-driven episode that leaves all of that behind but maintains a consistent, funny tone with some of the show’s most unpredictable references ever — find another show that can work Kirsopp Lake, Das doppelte Lottchen, and corn crakes into its script.
Rosa returns, which already feels like something the writers will find a way to do every week, to help get Holt back together with his husband, Kevin. Jake is spiraling at the news that they separated, explicitly stating his plan to “parent trap” his daddies while also mentioning that Rosa is his mean older sister and Amy is his mom (which is troubling). The gang agrees to finally take Holt up on his offer to go to his second home in the woods for bird watching, which Jake agrees to do despite a Pokémon Go community event he’s going to have to miss.
Rosa decides to preemptively take an edible for anxiety to kick in right when they get here, and the subplot of her being extremely high for the bulk of the episode allows Beatriz to play entirely different chords than she did last episode, a reminder of her underrated range. Meanwhile, Amy is having trouble getting baby Mac to sleep and Boyle offers to impart his “nip tips” (tips that nip a problem in the bud, of course). She declines at first but quickly realizes that she needs assistance with her fussy baby, and Boyle knows a thing or two about kids, even if he needs to rethink his branding.
After Holt gives the gang the tour of all three sitting rooms, even the master one, Kevin arrives, thanks to Jake messing with their shared calendar like the problem child that he is. Holt and Kevin exchange a “knockdown fight” of deadpan factual statements, but Jake is intent on reigniting the passion between the two men. It starts with Holt sitting in some sap, “like a sap,” and moves to give Kevin a dribble cup that forces him to change his shirt while his husband changes his pants. The mock turtleneck for Kevin and the exercise shorts for Holt is this couple’s version of a thirst trap.
While Amy is getting help from Charles, her husband is moving to step three, a romantic picnic for the two men, centered around Operation Corn Crake. Terry and Jake convince Kevin and Raymond that there are rare birds nearby called corn crakes, insisting that one was spotted in the nearby woods. As the two men search separately, Holt mimics the corn crake mating call, and Kevin responds. It’s an excellent bit of goofy comedy built from two men’s obsession with a rare bird.
In a bit of true silliness, Boyle locks Mac in a room, and rushes to break him free before Amy can find out and hurt Boyle for the mishap. Meanwhile, the picnic attracts bees, which sting Kevin and cause his face to swell up. Even the love of his life has a swollen face, Holt can’t bring himself back together with Kevin because he’s too mad after realizing that Jake has been playing games with him. It wasn’t a calendar error. It was Das doppelte Lottchen (aka Lottie and Lisa, the German book that inspired The Parent Trap, which only Kevin and Raymond would know).
Back in the cabin, Scully and a very-high Rosa work together to crown a Chip-ion in a round-robin tournament. While Hitchcock is truly missed, there’s something promising about subplots pairing Scully with a different officer each week (although the Hitchcock Facetime jokes are already getting a little stale).
On the trail, Holt describes the nearby corn crake to Kevin, who can’t see through his swollen eyes. It’s a unique romantic moment for a unique couple, but it first appears to not be enough. Just as Holt is about to admit his feelings, Kevin tells him, “We shouldn’t spend any more time together.” However, Jake rushes to the rescue when he discovers that Holt’s corn crake call wasn’t the right one. Kevin wasn’t responding to a rare bird — he was responding to his husband. It’s a bit sudden and thin in terms of writing, but it works and Holt says that they’re going to start couples counseling next week. While the quick turnaround of their marriage after not even a full episode apart feels rushed given the seriousness of Holt’s tone last episode, it is nice to think these two are on the road to recovery. It would have been kind of tragic for the series to end with them separated.
Overall, it’s an episode that spins its wheels a bit and feels longer than it is, but that also has enough unexpected sources of humor to balance out the wacky physical comedy like locked doors, allergic reactions, and a very high Rosa. It’s not as ambitious as the season premiere, but a solid follow-up in that it counters the internal division of that half-hour with one about how much these people still truly need each other. After all, they’re family.
• Andre Braugher’s delivery of “I’m a trash man who only knows trash birds” produced my biggest laugh of the night.
• Are we really going to get no Hitchcock in person all season? Perhaps it’s COVID related, a la F. Murray Abraham in season two of Mythic Quest, who also gave a virtual performance because of pandemic precautions.
• Rosa laughing when Kevin arrives because her edible just kicked in gives Beatriz one of the best moments of the episode, balanced nicely by her awful fate in the final scene, stuck on a road trip with Scully and (virtual) Hitchcock.
• While the double feature structure feels like a way for NBC to get this over with more quickly than I’d like, these two really do fit well together for one hour of TV — an ambitious commentary on how the world has changed since the show began and an old-fashioned episode to remind fans of what they still about The Nine-Nine.