‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine’ Review: Payback

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Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Season 2, Episode 13 “Payback”
Grade: B- 

Brooklyn Nine-Nine has a strong ensemble cast that feels quite natural in spite of all its eccentricities. The show is often at its best when mixing and matching these various personalities to explore the individual friendships that hold the group together. “Payback” focuses on two of the more well-defined relationships in the show: Jake discovers that Terry’s wife is pregnant and attempts to keep the secret from the rest of the precinct (with predictable results), while Captain Holt and Amy revisit the Brooklyn Broiler case. The storylines are fairly standard as far as sitcoms go, and unfortunately don’t provide a very satisfying payoff. Still, there are plenty of great lines from everyone, which helps to elevate an otherwise straightforward episode.

A string of clues leads Jake to the conclusion that Terry’s wife is pregnant, starting with the fact that Terry is suddenly asking that Jake repay the thousands of dollars he has borrowed from him over the years. Jake hopes to be godfather to the child, but Terry will only consider it if he can keep the secret from the rest of the precinct for a few weeks. Of course, he fails, but his guilt leads him to sell his car and repay the last of his debts to Terry. Touched, Terry ultimately asks Jake to be godfather to his child. It’s a straightforward storyline that provides the opportunity for some shenanigans, but the payoff doesn’t feel fully deserved. The relationship between Sgt. Jeffords and Peralta is largely paternal, and only earlier this season, was shown to be mostly professional (“Chocolate Milk” centered around Terry’s reluctance to consider Jake a “friend friend”). While their friendship has certainly grown, Terry’s usual impatience with Jake’s irresponsibility seems at odds with his decision to let Jake be godfather to his new child. It’s a nice clean resolution to the story, but doesn’t quite jive with how their friendship has been depicted thus far.

Meanwhile, Captain Holt and Santiago partner up to reopen the Brooklyn Broiler case, that Amy found a problem with in a previous episode. Amy is as eager as ever to bond with the captain on the investigation, but is disappointed to find that Holt has already solved the case. We do see a more lax side of the captain, however–while staking out the suspect (now an 86 year old man), they enjoy bad coffee and some street meat that Santiago convinces him to try. This also backfires, and the two are soon speeding back to the precinct as the captain is stricken with diarrhea. Amy feels terrible, but Holt comforts her with the assurance that they may one day be able to look back and laugh (uproariously). It doesn’t shed any new light on their particular relationship–Santiago still idolizes her superior, who I suppose has loosened up a bit–but it’s a fun little storyline that might have benefited from more time.

The rest of the cast don’t really have a storyline of their own, but each still manages to land some great moments throughout the episode. Gina makes Jake call people and pretend that she died so she could see how they react (her grandmother did not take it well) as his form of repayment, Scully gets to demonstrate his heart attack faking skills, and Rosa receives date night advice during the cold open. They also enjoy a bit of meta humor while attempting to help Jake crack the password to Terry’s email account–after a series of unsuccessful guesses, Boyle receives an epiphany. The password is “yogurt.” Beaming, he explains his stroke of genius: “Terry loves yogurt.”

Rushed and predictable storylines prevent this episode from truly standing out, but the episode nevertheless manages to deliver plenty of laughs. Thankfully, even when the plot struggles, Brooklyn Nine-Nine has a strong cast and great comedic writing to pick up the slack.

  • “‘Partner’? What is going on? Is this a Make-a-Wish thing? Are you dying? Is it from loneliness?”
  • “Do I even weigh anything to you?” “No. It’s like holding a couple of grapes.”
  • “You don’t outgrow punk, sir.”
  • Captain Holt’s Nutrition Bricks come in Original No-Flavor, and Whole Wheat No-Flavor
  • Boyle has an idea to open a bowling alley, and he seems pretty set on the name Fingerholes
  • “Try his wife’s name, Sharon. Sharon1. Sharon2. Sharon3. This is stupid.”
Will Fan
Movies, television, games, food, coffee, vague lists, naps. Twitter: @will_fan

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