In a strange turn of events, the Die Hard episode of Brooklyn Nine-Nine didn’t end up being titled “Hostage Situation.” Maybe that would have been too on-the-nose though—and it definitely wouldn’t have allowed for a sperm euphemism to be the title of another one of the best episodes of season three. (By the way, much like “Yippie Kayak,” “Hostage Situation” is also one of the best episodes of Brooklyn Nine-Nine season three.) This is an episode that opens with Captain Holt engaging in a dance-off with street youths and then never quite quits being that surreal. Jake and Boyle are in a battle with a frizzy (which is smartly a part of the plot) Kathryn Hahn over sperm; Amy physically abuses poor, innocent Terry; Gina is brought in to work on a big police case. It’s an extremely manic and broad episode (though not as broad as “The Swedes”)… But it’s also intensely funny. Such is the world of Brooklyn Nine-Nine.
Plus, it has one of the most character defining lines of the series:
Jake: “I had to learn how to shave from watching Home Alone.”
Boyle: “That makes sense. It’s like Die Hard for kids.”
Brooklyn Nine-Nine is on a hot streak right now, earning points with very strong individual episodes despite a season-long narrative arc that’s not as clearly-defined as season two’s. Take the Boyle/Genevieve storyline for example—as good as the past few episodes have been, the complete absence (or even mention) of Boyle’s new love interest has been slightly off, especially when an episode like “Hostage Situation” dives head first back into their relationship. On the plus side, the Boyle/Genevieve relationship has been extremely well-defined from the moment in began back in “Boyle’s Hunch,” but that was episode three of the season, and the last episode it was a part of (the also terrific “Halloween, Part III”) was episode five. However, it does help that someone like Mary Lynn Rajskub isn’t going to completely disappear in the cracks of romantic Brooklyn Nine-Nine pairings by not being onscreen like Nick Cannon’s Marcus did.
When Boyle tells Jake he’s ready to settle down with Genevieve—as any man who asks about a woman’s “uterine climate” should be—it’s understandable that Jake would be worried that his best friend is doing too much, too soon again. It’s the character, after all. But from the moment Genevieve and Boyle met, it was obvious that the two were perfect for each other, idiosyncrasies and all. When you’re that weird and that in sync, you’ve got to lock that down. That’s what makes the A-plot of “Hostage Situation” work, even when it feels like the plot of an early 2000s sex comedy. It’s a quest for sperm, and it’s one of the most noble and romantic plots to occur on the show—even with the possibility of Boyle bullying a senior citizen priest. An episode like “Hostage Situation” is a reminder that while almost everything about Charles Boyle could read into “sad trombone” territory, he’s a highly empathetic character. It’s a combination of the writing for the character post-season one, but much love should be given to Joe Lo Truglio’s lively performance in the role.
When Jake says the the “hostage situation” is “exactly what we’ve trained for,” that actually covers the plots for the the rest of the episode. Of course, Amy using her training is what begins a downward spiral in her interactions with Terry, and Gina’s “training” has led her to bungle up Captain Holt and Rosa’s case. All of the plots in this episode are arguably job-centric plots, even the “hostage situation” plot, making this episode the exact opposite of the “don’t these people have jobs” line of questioning that even the best episodes of Brooklyn Nine-Nine can face.
That actually brings up a major point in the workplace comedy aspect of Brooklyn Nine-Nine: To compare the show to its predecessor, Brooklyn Nine-Nine is a lot like Parks And Recreation in the way it easily makes the audience care about the professional parts of the show and the character’s career advancements. That’s honestly an often overlooked aspect in workplace comedies, as there’s a tendency for both shows and audiences to just accept the status quo of professional standings from the beginning of the series. They end up neither caring for or about promotions and shifts in job titles, despite how unreal that is to work life. When Brooklyn Nine-Nine asks its audience to care about these characters career paths, even when it’s something as “minor” as an application for a mentorship program, they do. When Terry points out that it makes more sense that Amy would apply for a mentor position and not a mentee (a SAM and not a SAM, you see) and Amy realizes that too, it’s a victory for a character the audience is invested in.
The same can be said for Boyle finally standing up to Eleanor (even if he is still friends with her husband Hercules) and even for Rosa and her ability to manipulate a situation based on her knowledge of all of Gina’s eccentricities. It makes these super broad plots—again, Jake and Boyle are on a quest for sperm, Amy keeps injuring Terry, and Gina has to help crack a case because the perp knows her from high school—grounded. It’s what makes Brooklyn Nine-Nine the show that it is, and it’s the perfect way for the show to ring in the new year, in a new time slot.
As both a critic and a fan, I found myself really latching on to the emotional weight and development of Brooklyn Nine-Nine season two, eagerly awaiting where all the characters would land by the end of it. I’ll admit that season three has been a bit more difficult to pin down. Season one was all about the precinct coming to terms with the new regime under Captain Holt (and introducing these characters, of course), and season two made it clear that these are characters with aspirations, both professionally and personally. Now in season three—past those initial episodes—there’s ultimately a sense of stasis, especially as we await the future of the Jake and Amy relationship. (Based on general television tropes, I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop, only at this point, I can honestly say I’m afraid for it to drop.)
Luckily, the show is currently giving us some of the more technically “perfect” episodes of the season and series as a whole. In fact, consider the difference between Brooklyn Nine-Nine season two and season three like the difference between Buffy The Vampire Slayer season two and season three: The former hits the emotional highs and lows to make it a great season, while the latter just cranks out stellar episodes on a weekly basis. It makes it easier to just enjoy the ride that way. The only question to ask right now is whether or not the destination will be as out of nowhere (but perfect) as a Raymond Holt dance-off to defuse the situation.
- This week in webisodes Brooklyn Nine-Nine needs: You Got Served, With Captain Holt
- I’m not docking the episode any points, but I do have to address a few minor things: First of all, you expect us to believe that Gina wouldn’t be at Terry’s self-defense class? Did you not see the man’s arms? Then, there’s the fact that adoption doesn’t exist on television, even when alternative methods are brought up about having children. Also, there simply wasn’t enough Kathryn Hahn. The proof is in the fact that there’s never enough Kathryn Hahn.
- Holt: “You call that dancing? This is dancing.”
Jake: “What. Is. Happening?”
Holt: “I’m defusing the situation.”
- Holt: “Dancing over. Situation defused.”
- Scully: “And that’s what you get for lying about free strudel. Karma’s a bitch.”
Terry: “Get outta here, Scully!”
- Holt: “The question is: Why would someone want to talk to Gina?”
Gina: “That’s very rude.”
Rosa: “It’s obvious why the guy wants to talk to a civilian like her. He’s stalling.”
Gina: “That’s not so rude. Maybe he wants to talk to a normal person instead of two rude cops.”
- Gina: “Honestly, I think crime’s kinda cool.”
Gina: “Yeah, you get it.”
- Jake: “Eleanor.”
Jake: “You just said your own name, bud.”
Boyle: “It’s the only one left.”
- Rosa: “On more than one occasion, she’s called me Gina. That’s her own name.”
- Jake: “You cannot use his sperm! You cannot use his sperm!”
Boyle: “My son would be your brother!”
- All of these quotes are insane out of context.