It seemed inevitable that the final season of Brooklyn Nine-Nine would bring back some of the most beloved guest stars, especially Doug Judy, aka the Pontiac Bandit, played by the immensely likable Craig Robinson. The Office star’s general affability carries a pretty mediocre send-off for Judy, which sees him taking Jake Peralta for one final ride. What’s perhaps most interesting about this only sporadically funny episode is that it leans into a fan theory that’s been gaining steam: Peralta will quit the force in the series finale after realizing that while he’s been a very successful cop, the job never quite fit his personality. The scenes in which Doug tries to encourage Jake to leave it all behind are the episode’s most fascinating, because they hint at where the writers could eventually leave Jake: outside of the 9-9.
In retrospect, there are a number of hints in this episode (and season) indicating a major life choice for Jake is in the works. It opens with Jake expressing how tired he is this morning, and even if that’s because he was up until 5 a.m. playing “a realistic pizza-parlor simulator,” life is taking him away from police work. Fatherhood, games, police corruption — not necessarily in that order — it can lead a man to drastic decisions. As Doug tells him late in the episode, “You’re more than just your job.”
Long before then, Trudy Judy comes in with Dog Judy, who has a giant boner (lame bit), and reveals that Doug has been arrested and is going to prison. Cut to Trenton, where Jake chats with Doug in County Jail. They tried to wipe Doug’s record, but he had a warrant in Jersey, and he’s off to prison. He wants one last moment of joy, one final adventure, which entraps Jake into agreeing to take Doug to the clink the next day. Doug agrees, and Jake plans some “Sexy-Ass Surprises.”
The first is a ride in a Pontiac Trans Am! Doug asks Jake for a pen to show him a trick learned from a “Mind Freak” and gets himself out of his handcuffs. At this point, Jake should realize that this is part of Doug’s plan to escape his prison sentence, but that’s a logical realization and this is Brooklyn Nine-Nine, so a certain suspension of disbelief is required to enjoy the Pontiac Bandit episodes. They work because of the chemistry between Samberg and Robinson, smoothing over the idea that Jake values friendship and common interests so highly that it turns him into an idiot.
Speaking of common interests, Sexy-Ass Surprise No. 2 is a “classic outfit change,” revealing some very impressive outfits covered in tigers and toucans, along with a ring that says PB&J — Pontiac Bandit and Jake. After the quick change, they hit the road and Doug starts scrolling to DJ, revealing SAS No. 3, a track for the pair of BFFs to write a song to, and so they do exactly that. It’s horrible. A lot of room for uhs, but also a diversion into “strapless technology.” It’s literally painful. At least it ends in a funny A Star Is Born joke.
On a food break, Jake reveals that he “smorgasbord-ed it” and got all of Doug’s favorite treats, including Cheeseburger Cracker Combos. It leads to a slightly meta moment about something that once thrived and is then “just pulled from the streets.” Kind of like Doug. Kind of like Brooklyn Nine-Nine.
Charles shows up in his RV and offers to assist in bringing Doug to prison so it doesn’t get Jake kicked off the force. Jake is putting his job on the line. So Charles makes them join the Boyle Bus, where Doug reveals the entire trip to prison has been a carefully orchestrated plan to escape from Jake. They argue over how much they know each other, leading to a high-stakes trivia contest about who is the better friend, a very funny idea that fits the show. After all, true friendship means way more to Jake Peralta than things with more severe consequences, like breaking the law.
The name of the game is “Who Knows Mo’? Friend or Foe? Are you For Real or Just Fo’ Sho?” It’s a little wordy but wonderfully Boyle. And some funny details, like Jake not liking the word “buttress” and Doug hating meringue, emerge during the game. The game ends in a tie before Jake has to answer whether Doug has an earring. He gets it wrong, but it was all a distraction anyway … but on Jake’s part! He was stalling to wait for backup after texting Holt. But sexy twist! Doug changed Holt’s contact to Trudy’s in Jake’s phone, revealing their location and making it easy for them to pick Doug up. Slurp, slurp.
They switch cars, trying to outrun the Judy Crew. That’s when Rosa calls to sing a song with 35 verses and no choruses for one of Doug’s sexy-ass surprises. Here’s where the episode gets interesting. Doug tells Jake that he should lose the badge and that he would make a “dope Realtor.” He could be the go-to guy for all of One Direction’s property needs! While this might be true, it doesn’t give Doug the right to get Jake fired.
After a funny beat in which Doug tricks Jake into believing “overwhelmtion” is a word, they end up in his final trap. They reroute to a remote location, where it almost looks like Jake is going to be killed! Doug chooses his friend’s life over freedom. Not for long, of course, and the final tag reveals Doug is in Amsterdam, happily living on a diet of Stroopwafels.
In the end, it’s not the best episode for the Pontiac Bandit, but a lot of this season is already feeling like echoes of things that the show used to do better. It’s just entertaining enough because the characters are still so very likable, but it’s less of a victory lap and more of the final leg of a marathon — a little tired after all this time.
• My favorite line comes from Boyle: “If you get fired, I will swim out into the ocean until I am too tired to swim back, and I will sink to the bottom, and then I won’t have a job.”
• Meringue is totally a trick food.
• Apparently, Cheeseburger Cracker Combos really were a thing and really were discontinued. Although I bet Jake actually could find a box of them in the back of a bodega somewhere.
• Stroopwafels! Also a real thing. Excuse me while I go get some.