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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine: “AC/DC”

Illustration for article titled Brooklyn Nine-Nine: “AC/DC”
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The return of Brooklyn Nine-Nine immediately brings the audience back to the world it has grown accustomed to: a world where Jake can’t stop being the real life version of the super cops he saw in the movies, Boyle and Terry can’t help but worry about that fact, Gina and Amy’s relationship turns more and more into a sibling rivalry as the days go by, and Holt and Rosa find themselves being different sides of the same coin. These are all major parts of season two, and while “AC/DC” isn’t the best of said season, it’s still a very useful episode to re-enter the world after a month and a half-long absence.

“AC/DC” begins right in the thick of things, with Boyle and Jake tailing Tom Olson, a burglary perp who’s been committing crimes up and down the coast. While that sounds like an interest case-of-the-week, it’s really not, because this isn’t about Olson; it’s all about Jake and his inability to let things go, even when it finally takes a physical toll on him (though the mental has always been there, with his “can’t stop, won’t stop” attitude). What starts as a badass “top of car foot chase” turns into three cracked ribs and three broken toes. The injuries escalate, and it all leads to Jake getting hit by a police car and suffering from internal bleeding:

Jake: “That’s where the blood’s supposed to be.”

“AC/DC” is a good episode for Andy Samberg to stretch his over-the-top acting muscles. The way he sells Jake’s increasing physical pain is great, especially as he tries to lift a box of evidence. (The sound he makes in that moment is the perfect sound of anguish.)

The longer the episode goes on, the more it takes on the general likability of Jake as a character, which makes it necessary for Jake to have a good reason for his behavior. After all, this is the episode that follows one where Jake can’t just let Rosa and Amy do the job of finding out who’s sabotaging him on their own. His general guilt over taking time off once in his career (to go to noted terrible place, Philly) and people getting hurt in his absence makes a lot of sense, and it even fits with his own abandonment issues. Just one mistake is enough for him to never want to make another mistake (and let anyone down) ever again, and that’s why he is as great of a cop as he is. It’s admirable in a lot of ways, although it’s just as unhealthy as Terry points out during this episode.

As for the B and C-stories, they’re connected by a dinner party (sort of) at Holt’s home. The idea of Holt and Rosa finally having to have the double date they’ve been dreading since Rosa started dating Holt’s nephew—Holt has used the excuse that Rosa’s sick “eight times” already—is one that can’t help but lead to laughs a-plenty. And it does lead to that, as these are two human beings who process human emotions and rituals in a way most don’t. Them enlisting the help of “intimacy buffers,” Amy and Gina, is smart thinking on their parts, but it ultimately doesn’t even come into play for them. Once the Rosa pregnancy scare comes into the plot, the dinner is barely a factor at all, as Rosa and Holt spend quite a bit of time speaking privately in the living room while neither Marcus nor Kevin think to check on them.

So here’s the thing: There’s nothing wrong with Rosa having a pregnancy scare. In fact, it leads to the hilarity of Holt reacting to it, shocked, confused, and afraid to say anything too personal or possibly offensive. The problem, however, is that Rosa has a pregnancy scare while she’s in a relationship with a character who is barely even a character.

On paper, “AC/DC” is the perfect episode to finally make Marcus even a little bit interesting. The brief moment when it looks like Marcus at least knows what Kevin is talking about with regards to food feels like something worth caring about… until it’s just as quickly revealed that he doesn’t. He has no personality or character, which makes his introduction as the nephew of Holt, a character whose personality is that of a stuffed shirt (at least on the surface), feel unnecessary. There’s no comparison to be made between the two, because only one is even a character. Think of it like this: I know about the same amount of information about Tom Olson (the episode’s perp, in case you already forgot) and Marcus. I think I know even more about Olson, because I at least know he has a brother. In this episode, Marcus appears to barely know Rosa, as he doesn’t even realize that this double date is an uncomfortable situation for her, especially during the dinner itself.


Luckily, Rosa and Holt are more than strong enough characters to carry this plot. It really helps that, despite the fact that they’re both deadpan characters, that they couldn’t be more different. Rosa is cool—that’s just a fact. But Holt is very much a nerd. He’s a strange man with strange hobbies (or at least, interests), who knows strange things most people wouldn’t know. His small talk topics are about orchids and the Hubble telescope. Those are the things that excite him, along with coming up with Wuntch-related zingers. Rosa, on the other hand, is too guarded to even let the world know if she possibly has such nerdy interests or even a family. It makes their interactions more unpredictable than one would initially assume.

Amy: “It’s my mom’s famous nicoise salad.”

Gina: “Amy, all your cooking stinks. Why would you even get involved with tuna and egg?”

Amy: “No one else seems to mind it.”

Guy: “We mind. We really, really mind.”

The C-story doesn’t have too much of an impact on the episode as a whole, but the few beats it does have a pretty amusing. That’s because it’s impossible to fail with the combination of Gina and Amy, especially this season. Gina and Amy’s relationship being like that of two sisters isn’t even something the episode itself outright says, but at this point, it’s hard not to read the pairing like that. Gina has moved past saying she downright dislikes Amy, but that’s not going to stop her from teasing her in her attempts to play things cool. Amy cracking open a bottle of wine at Holt’s porch and Gina stepping up for Amy about the terrible food she made at the end of the episode are sweet moments for the two of them, and it’s moments like that that make Gina’s teasing of Amy feel like it’s from a place of love and no longer possible malice.


Plus, Gina was right about Amy’s cooking and in throwing it out of the train.

There are three episodes left in this season, which means there are two episodes to finally make everything this season has been building really come together. “AC/DC” is a funny episode, one that is really solid for the series’ main characters, but being the 20th episode in a 23-episode comedy, the wear and tear of such a lengthy season is definitely showing. Let’s just hope that’s not the case for the end of the season.


Stray observations:

  • This week in webisodes Brooklyn Nine-Nine needs: Sex Ed With Captain Raymond Holt
  • The episode plays with time lapses time twice, first fast-forwarding to a four days later, then a week later. I think that’s (at least the four days later) partially to blame for some pacing issues in the episode. Amy doesn’t come across as having four days of freaking out about Holt’s dinner party, nor does Rosa (and her weirdness only comes when it has to do with pregnancy scare).
  • Boyle: “Official trip nickname: AC/DC. Atlantic City Dude’s Club.”
    Jake: “Yeah, that’s gonna change.”
  • Rosa: “You could say you’re sick.”
    Holt: “No one would ever believe that.”
  • Amy saying “later, skater” is a top Amy-ism.
  • Jake: “Atlantic City Detectives Club.”
    Boyle: “Okay, fine. You know I can’t say no to a good nickname.”
  • Boyle: “Cover yourself, Jake! It’s your friend Charles Boyle, from work!”
  • Boyle: “That’s right, everybody! It’s time for AC/DC Part 2: Atlantic City Destruction Crew.”
  • Some technical difficulties led to this review being posted ahead of time. Sorry to anyone who was spoiled due to that.