Melissa Fumero (left), Terry Crews

Much like in real life, it’s sort of a staple in sitcoms to have certain people realize that, despite the amount of time they may spend with each other, they’re not exactly the best of friends. They may be technically close friends through family or other friends, but for some reason, they’ve never really had to do “friend things” with each other. It’s more than a casual friendship, and it might not even be a thing where there’s an inherent dislike or difference between the two. They’re just not “friend friends.” Call it a fact of life. The second episode of Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s sophomore season not only hits that point just right, it returns the series to form in a way that was somewhat absent in the season premiere.

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The friend dynamics in Brooklyn Nine-Nine are such that they mostly come from a place of Jake’s specific connection. Jake and Gina’s friendship is the lifelong one, much like the relationship between Andy Samberg and Chelsea Peretti. Jake and Diaz’s friendship comes from cop school, which, as 21 Jump Street taught us, is the ultimate bond. Jake and Boyle’s friendship appears one-sided at times, but that’s only because Boyle doesn’t know how to do anything other than go all in. They’re still brothers, regardless. Jake and Santiago’s friendship is based on their partnership and lingering romantic feelings. So where does Jake stand with Terry?

In a way, the Jake/Terry plot in “Chocolate Milk” is a continuation of the lesson from “Undercover” about Peralta having to learn that he can’t control everything. Yes, he technically learned his lesson, but that was ultimately a means to a Santiago end, and Jake Peralta is simply not the type of character who can completely give up even the chance of being able to control the world around him. After all, he needs to be the best at everything he does, and being a “work friend” is simply beneath the categorization of “friend friend.” In Jake Peralta’s mind, there’s no doubt that anyone and everyone would consider him a “friend friend,” just like there’s no doubt that a baby would solely drink chocolate milk (and none of this dark milk nonsense).

While the episode spends a good portion on the A-plot focusing on the friendship between Peralta and Terry, it also proves to be another standout episode for Terry Crews. Saying that regularly might eventually make these reviews sound like a broken record, but when you have Terry Crews acting high and talking about how the doctors (well, their anesthesia) made him a “superhero” (“and black!”), as well as crushing Andy Samberg with all of his manly weight, the constant praise is necessary.

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Despite the fact that the plot does end with a “friend friend” declaration, Terry and Peralta don’t really have to be the best friends in the world. The point all of this really makes is that, in a show where all of the combinations of characters end up striking gold, it would be preposterous for the show to outright avoid such a pairing.

“Chocolate Milk” is honestly an episode that has Brooklyn Nine-Nine firing on all cylinders, with both the B-plots and C-plots serving as a reminder as to why the first season of the show—as well as the series as a whole—is just so special. Kyra Sedgwick’s appearance as Deputy Chief Wuntch (not “wench,” as I heard the first few times) is a pleasant surprise, with her no-nonsense, stony demeanor going head to head with Captain Holt. Holt going to the natural assumption—given his past on the police force— that Wuntch hated him for being gay and rejecting her sexual advances is all worth it just to witness another time in which Holt’s emotions get the better of him. After all, he is a man who wears his heart on his sleeve.

Seeing Holt actually hate someone is bizarre. Andre Braugher is on a whole other level with the subtleties in both his voice and his face, when to the casual observer, it looks like he’s acting the same as he does any other episode. Again, not to sound like a broken record, but the reason why the show gets this praise is because it has a scarily great cast, one in major need of the praise they get. Petty Captain Holt is a force to be reckoned with, but then again, so is a grade-crazy (and a Captain-adoring) Santiago. This might actually be the Santiago highlight of the series so far: Watching her stand up to Holt about his behavior toward Wuntch, not backing down even a little as she would usually do, only to walk away and realize what she just did is the type of thing that makes an audience root for a character who, on paper, is just a Type A suck-up.

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While the first season had the competition between Jake and Amy for closed cases, episode re-ordering and general shift in focus quickly made that an obsolete concept. Captain Holt shaking up the way things were done to make the precinct more efficient was met with derision (from Jake), but to now have a looming threat of precinct shutdown—even if the chances of that ever actually happening are slim to none, given the premise of the show—is a realistic and solid way to make the police aspect of this show matter. This is especially true if the show continues to have A-plots where the cases don’t really matter.

And in what could be a step back, the episode veers dangerously close to the Boyle/Diaz nonsense from season one. Instead, the episode makes it clear that all of Boyle’s problems are symptomatic of his own failed marriage and inability to move on from that situation—geographically speaking—and his asking of Diaz to his ex-wife’s engagement party is a simple case of his own “work friend”/”friend friend” situation. Amy, being in a relationship, isn’t an option, and Gina, being his “bone bro,” shuts it down immediately. Diaz is the only one left of the three viable women, as well as the only one who could probably be considered his “friend friend” here. The pathetic aspect of Boyle’s character that came from his pursuit of Diaz last season doesn’t come across as such here, while still keeping him as ridiculous as ever.

Also, the Boyle/Gina aspect of all of this is far less of a “thing” than it was in the premiere—at this point, they just accept that they are secretly “knocking boots,” and they go on about their merry ways in this episode. Boyle becoming a real boy this season is an interesting idea, and it’s a testament to the show that it can do that while still making him have “a real wet mouth” and a “sweet maize head.” (But if there’s one negative from that, it’s that the entire precinct doesn’t get to pile-on to the Boyle’s corn row/”Jamaican Me Marry You” party suit combination.)

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“Undercover” was obviously needed as an episode to reacquaint old viewers, as well as introduce the new. It was essentially Brooklyn Nine-Nine 101, and nothing is wrong with that. “Chocolate Milk,” however, is everything Brooklyn Nine-Nine is about. Unlike Holt, it’s not all sizzle and no steak.

Stray observations:

  • This week, in webisodes Brooklyn Nine-Nine needs: Chocolate Milk, a spin-off where Peralta is “Codename: Chocolate,” and Terry is “Codename: Milk.” Assuming anything else is just offensive.
  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine is such a joke machine, it’ll probably drive me insane trying to catalogue every single great joke in these episodes. So be on the lookout for that mental breakdown sometime around midseason.
  • “He needs to smoke some weed.”—High Terry, on Captain Holt.
  • Having just come from the Strain beat, ”unwanted genital removal” has a much different connotation to me than what Peralta was saying.
  • Speaking of, there’s a new British sitcom called Scrotal Recall, which has nothing to do with vasectomies but definitely needs to be mentioned.
  • Pick your poison: “Tiny Head” or “Microscope Head”? OR “Jakie Lady Hands”
  • “I did not strike you when you said ‘knocking boots.’ But ‘bone bros’? I cannot abide.” The combination of the slap and this line from Gina made this a very good episode for her early on. (But Boyle might want to get out of this abusive relationship as soon as possible.)
  • The sweater story and “Jake, I have no idea what you’re talking about, but good luck!” continued to make this is a good episode of Gina. A little does go a long way, you guys.
  • Also, I never knew I needed to hear Chelsea Peretti say “vas deferens” until this episode of television.
  • Wuntch: ”You embarrassed me in front of Derek Jeter!” Holt: “You. Embarrassed yourself. In front of Derek Jeter.”
  • “Cajole up, Captain!” or “Even teachers need a break, Amy!”?
  • Terry being a “Ross head” when it comes to Friends cuts me to the core. Come on, Terry—you’re better than that.
  • Given Terry’s position of power in comparison to every character but Holt, the show has the opportunity to really figure out where he stands with others as a friend in the future. I doubt they writers will let us down.
  • In a near perfect episode, the A-plot case not being all too important or even that interesting was the biggest flaw. Crime should matter, 9-9! Still: Moshe Kasher as the stabbed barista pairs rather well with Moshe Kasher as the creepy retail guy in this week’s episode of The League, don’t you think?
  • Be honest: Was anyone (or at least anyone’s mom) just a little disappointed that Kyra Sedgwick wasn’t basically playing Brenda from The Closer in this episode?
  • While Boyle looks like a nightmare version of Sean Paul with his corn rows, Diaz’s matching dress works amazingly well. I assume everyone at the engagement party will be jealous. I also must admit, I did appreciate how Diaz’s original rejection of Boyle wasn’t just an “I don’t want to do this” thing. She had a date, but she eventually canceled it to help a friend. Respect.

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