After two episodes of new captain shenanigans, Brooklyn Nine-Nine decides to get back into the groove of “normalcy,” focusing more on the every day work life of the characters than the characters’ reactions to all of these changes. Based on those first two episodes, the audience obviously know things are different at the Nine-Nine, but there’s still no real indication as to how things are different in terms of the actual casework. Dozerman had his tablets and intensity, but we never saw any real cases under his captaincy, and The Vulture is, well, The vulture, but we still have yet to see any real cases under him either. With “Boyle’s Hunch,” there’s still not a real hint about what life is like now that The Vulture is in charge, but it’s at least an episode where the show isn’t teaching the audience how to feel about the characters’ new lives. “New Captain” and “The Funeral” were made to acclimate us to this new era, and since they both did pretty good jobs, there’s no need for that here.
“Boyle’s Hunch” really brings back the concept of the Full Boyle in the A-plot; only this time, it’s in a way that’s welcome and actually reciprocated. After last week’s attempted sexcapades with Archie Panjabi’s Lt. Singh (who will hopefully return), Boyle has recommitted himself to finding “the one,” and now it looks like that search isn’t going to be a long one. Sure, Genevieve (who is somewhat of the female Boyle, right down to using one of his three favorite shampoos) being a perp is a pretty obvious reveal: She and Boyle meet at a courthouse, and the show has already done the cop/lawyer coupling with Jake and Sophia. But even with the obvious beats, the plot is funny enough to carry the episode, and it very much does.
As uneven as the rest of the episode is, the A-plot absolutely nails it. However, even if it didn’t, it would all be worth it for Jake and Boyle’s rendition of “My Humps” (“My Hunch”), a highlight in an A-plot that serves as a solid reminder that the Jake/Boyle friendship doesn’t just mean Boyle being Team Jake. The plot also serves as a reminder that nine times out of 10, Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s guest casting choices are on point: The joy of seeing Mary Lynn Rajskub is only comparable to the joy of seeing James Urbaniak (who is having a pretty good comedy year in 2015) only moments late. Rajskub’s interplay with Joe Lo Truglio is an instant success, so hopefully future episodes will continue to nail it. Boyle’s belief in Genievieve could have easily blown up in his face at any point in this episode, but it’s great that it doesn’t, because he can’t be the butt of every joke—just most.
By the way, now the only single person in the Nine-Nine (besides the soon-to-be-divorced Scully) is Gina. Step up your game, girl.
While this episode isn’t really a reaction to the recent changes in the Nine-Nine like the first two episodes have been, there is a plot that works pretty well within that context: the Holt/Amy/Gina plot, which focus on Holt’s role in NYPD public relations and what that means outside of a bullying Wuntch and “PAAAIIIN.” The trio’s plot ends up being the most poignant of the episode, despite having all the ingredients for something “wacky” in Amy’s overwhelming need for Holt’s approval, Gina’s refusal to approve of Amy, and a modelling situation.
There were plenty of conversations among viewers last season about the show not addressing current events. As much as it would feel out of place for there to be a very special episode of Brooklyn Nine-Nine, police corruption and/or brutality constantly being a part of the news made it a little hard for some to watch a show where the world of cops was a hijinks-filled one. There’s no rule that says a comedy can’t give social commentary (Black-ish and The Carmichael Show have proved that on a week-to-week basis), and even though it’s never been Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s style, it’s not as though it’s a show that couldn’t handle such a thing. After all, Brooklyn Nine-Nine has always been a show that can carry emotional weight—its characters and their relationships depend on that.
So having the reaction to Amy and Holt’s new NYPD campaign be one of rage and frustration is a pleasant surprise (as weird as that sounds), as is the compassionate reaction and change to said campaign. The surprise is partially because of the fact Brooklyn Nine-Nine is actually addressing issues like this but also because reveal of the vandalism sort of comes across like Gina making it her personal mission to prove herself right. Because Brooklyn Nine-Nine hasn’t been too rooted in the real world like this before, the absurd is easier to believe at first. But once the show explains it, it works.
However, as important as this all is, Gina being right doesn’t work as well as it could, simply because her initial warnings rely on some of Gina’s worst tendencies when it comes to criticizing others: She’s very much in insult mode, without any constructive thoughts to add to the conversation. This is the same episode where she also says “us” when talking about cops (even when Holt later tells her she doesn’t count as one), so it’s a bit of a step forward and a step back with a character who is typically just really funny.
And even though this is a pretty weighty plot, there are still plenty of funny lines—Melissa Fumero gets back into stealth MVP mode from the moment Amy says “Shut up, Ray!”—and visual gags—Gina’s told you so shirt and poster Amy’s Hitler mustache—here. But “Boyle’s Hunch” does have a bit of a tone balancing problem, which is perhaps a necessary side effect of it getting real (compare it to “AC/DC,” where Jake keeps injuring himself and everything still remains a product of the show’s surrealism). Going right back to the very beginning of the episode, the cold open is pretty funny based solely on Jake’s tarantula names and the characters’ brief reactions to it, but it’s also a very, very over-the-top, broad way to open the show.
The cold open honestly belongs in the same world as this episode’s Rosa/Terry plot, which is ultimately either a good or bad thing depending on what you look for in Brooklyn Nine-Nine. If you look for even a little character or plot advancement, it’s a bad thing. If you look for a plot based on ice cream, you’re in the right place. The plot is extremely inconsequential (like a “The Jimmy Jab Games” situation, to lesser results), and it really banks on the idea that you can’t go wrong with the duo of Terry Crews and Stephanie Beatriz. In theory, you can’t, but it’s one of the biggest cases of the show causing audiences to ask: “Do these people even have jobs?”
Brooklyn Nine-Nine season three still has yet to have a true case-of-the-week—as Jake and Boyle stumble into this one due to romance purposes—and it’s most obvious during a plot like Rosa and Terry’s. The plot reads greatly like a moment of not knowing what to do with these two characters this week, especially since they’re stuck in a plot with practical non-entities, Scully and Hitchcock. Remove the plot completely, and the episode is probably better and more cohesive, albeit an episode missing two characters who deserve so much more (and Scully and Hitchcock). In the words of Rosa Diaz: “No, Terry. There are no winners here.”
- This week in webisodes Brooklyn Nine-Nine needs: Jake and Boyle Sing The Hits. Well, their renditions of the hits. It’s between that and a shampoo review vlog from Boyle. The vlog would probably turn dirty (see: his comment on fourth graders).
- “Framed! Art joke.” Jake is basically the happy sidekick to Boyle in this episode, and it works really well. As does his art gallery hipster disguise.
- Terry: “And who throws away a spoon?! It’s the easiest utensil to clean!”
- “This campaign, like three-out-of-five Backstreet Boys, is inconsequential.” First of all, Gina is absolutely right on the Backstreet Boys thing. But who does she believe are the important Backstreet Boys? If it’s not Brian and Nick, she’s wrong. Gina couldn’t possibly be an AJ fan, right?
- So… Where’s The Vulture?