An episode that highlights one of the many arguments for defunding the police is followed by a goofier, more personal episode about how Jake and Amy will balance police work with raising Mac. It’s broader in tone than the most recent episodes, leaning into physical humor like hair nets full of maple syrup and dick pics, but it does center the relationship between Jake and Amy in a way that’s satisfying. And fans will jump at the fact that it returns to a throwaway line from a few years ago (in “White Whale” from episode 5.21) about killer Johnny Franzia, who has been on a murder spree for the last ten years. Johnny is Jake Peralta’s nemesis, one who Jake has been so obsessed with that at one point he wondered if Holt might be the serial killer. Sadly, the long-awaited reveal of Franzia’s identity feels a bit unsatisfying, wasting the potential for a fun guest star, or really a memorable character at all.
Jake spots the clues left by Franzia in footage of a recent murder scene. After all, there’s a deck of cards, two chairs, two paintings, and two pillows — Deuces are wild! In a classic Nine-Nine setup, Jake’s insane interpretation of the crime scene turns out to be accurate, but he quickly ends up distracted by real life. He and Amy asked Holt to reduce their hours so they could focus on childcare. Mac isn’t pulling himself up yet, but he’s only 10 months old, so they’re still in the window of normalcy, something that would be very important to Amy Santiago.
In the week’s silliest subplot, elevated only because the two performers in it are so good, Holt goes to live with Rosa because he’s not yet back with Kevin. The Odd Couple dynamic is funny because Beatriz and Braugher know these characters so well, but it feels like a subplot that was discarded a few years ago. He’s a lot chattier than she remembered (and than he used to be, really). After all, he told us last week how much he hated small talk.
In the episode’s third plot, Terry and Amy work together on a police reform proposal, but Amy, just like her husband, gets distracted by parenthood. She has to defeat a “HUD” (hot dud) named Austin Grant, who gets everything he wants because he looks so good in uniform, even though what he’s proposing is really “High-Tech Racial Profiling.” Using his competitive experience from when he won Little Mister Michigan, Terry is going to help Amy with the proposal.
While Jake is distracted by fatherhood, Charles works the Franzia case, which sounds so cool that it makes his BFF jealous. It gets worse when Mac’s daycare has a lice outbreak and there are no sitters available. Of course, both Amy and Jake have lice too, which leads to an old Peralta family remedy involving maple syrup, which smothers them to death so much that “you can hear their tiny screams.” (And it also makes Scully horny.)
The sticky situation at the precinct would probably drive Holt crazy, and so it makes sense that the writers would shuffle him off to Rosa’s apartment, where he’s pushing her buttons by talking about his couples therapy ad nauseam. (Cheddar’s French comprehension has regressed!) They decide to get really drunk to erase Kevin from his memory. It leads to Holt sending Kevin a “digital phallus portrait” in the middle of the night.
Back at the station, Amy and Jake are interviewing candidates to take care of Mac. The first was arrested a year ago. The second is a creepy dude with a stuffed tiger who likes to cuddle. The third is a Mary Poppins wannabe who sings a weird song about a fat little fanny. It’s harder than ever to find quality care, and so they turn to Scully while they figure it out. After all, Scully has a room that he’s baby-proofed so that he can nap on any surface. Well, almost every surface. He finds the one unpadded corner and hurts his toe so badly that it’s blurred out, sending Jake and Amy back to square one.
The final third of the episode plays out in the scattershot manner that derails Brooklyn Nine-Nine from time to time. The lice problem leads to blown-out hair and glasses for Amy, which works for his Nerd Fetish, but not for her upcoming presentation. In the episode’s dumbest scene, Jake runs an interrogation through an earpiece to Boyle, which is derailed after Jake starts talking to Mac about his poop and Boyle repeats it to the suspect.
While Boyle threatens to wipe a suspect’s tushie, Holt reveals that he didn’t text the dick pic but sent it over email and Kevin only checks that once a day at 4 p.m. (A very funny detail). They break in to delete the email and Braugher gets the episode’s best joke when he reads the body of the professional email he drunkenly sent in the middle of the night: “Dear Kevin, attached please find a picture of my penis. Sincerely, Raymond Holt.”
The other plots dwindle out in the final scenes. The handyman Boyle traumatized with baby talk has an alibi, which is revealed to Jake via lullaby. But Boyle has new evidence: it turns out that the precinct was bugged by the stuffed animal given to them during the babysitter interviews. Franzia was the weird babysitter. Really? Weird. It feels like an odd ending to Jake’s White Whale, although maybe the point is that Jake’s barely mentioned nemesis was just a loser with a cuddle fetish.
Amy’s presentation looks like it’s going to be a disaster, but Amy pulls it off, even with WAP written on her sweatpants. Despite the good presentation, Terry literally sprays water on the HUD, just like he did back at Little Mister Michigan. That’s a lame bit. Let Amy win out even with blown-out hair and inappropriate attire without making it look like her competition wet himself.
Finally, Mac pulls himself up in front of Jake, giving the episode a bit of heart. He remembers what’s important. And there’s even a hint that Kevin and Raymond could be getting back together after Kevin sends Holt a text with a “Scatter plot with a very robust data set.” Sexy.
• The zinger that Terry doesn’t have an arch-nemesis because he solves all his crimes was a great beat in the cold open, held well by Samberg, too.
• Holt saying “That escalated quickly” is the meme moment of the episode.
• Other than the formality of his dick pic email, Braugher’s best line is how casually he responds to Rosa’s surprise that he didn’t just text it: “We’re not teens.”