Andy Samberg (in a hat)

A sequel is a very tricky creature. There are usually expectations (either good or bad) going into a sequel, and if a sequel doesn’t live up to the expectations of the original, there’s the question of why the sequel was even made. This time around, “Halloween II” has to live up to the standards of Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s first season classic, “Halloween.” That was an episode of television that taught us all that Halloween is both “Christmas for jerks” and “the busiest and spookiest night of the year,” as well as the fact that ‘stume is a perfectly acceptable abbreviation for “costume.” Unfortunately, despite a promising start to the episode, this sequel ends up missing the mark.

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The problem with Brooklyn Nine-Nine is that the “bad” episodes are still at least decently humorous episodes of television. That’s sort of a nonsense problem, but it still exists. Lesser episodes of the show may feature a lack of cohesion, but the audience can always rest assured that there will be an endless supply of quotable jokes. Now there’s nothing wrong with being a joke factory, but that’s not exactly what Brooklyn Nine-Nine is selling, and this episode is the perfect example that Brooklyn Nine-Nine can’t simply rest on those joke laurels.

“Halloween II” starts off well enough, rehashing the heist bet from the first, this time with Peralta offering to do “five-druple” weeks of unpaid overtime if he can’t steal Holt’s watch by midnight. What follows is a general reminder that Andre Braugher is funny in any situation, not just going head to head with Kyra Sedgwick, and Peralta’s intentionally disastrous display for Holt’s benefit is absolutely brilliant. Diaz does a completely necessary somersault, Scully sings opera, Boyle drops a deuce, and Peralta never stops letting his crazy eyes do the talking. That last point is non-stop throughout this episode, and it is most likely truly a constant in the insane version of Brooklyn Nine-Nine in which this this episode exists.

The twist of Dan “Fingers” McCreery stealing the watch for himself is perfectly acceptable, as the very idea that Peralta would trust a criminal to help him with this is a bad one from the start, but everything become a a mess after that. “Halloween” introduced the fact the the precinct is more of a zoo on Halloween, so the last thing Peralta and Boyle would be allowed to do is go on a low stakes adventure (especially given the final twist of the episode—what would Wuntch say about such inefficiency on Holt’s part?), and that’s just the beginning of the questionable parts of this episode. Prior to the final reveal, this is an episode of Brooklyn Nine-Nine in which Peralta gives his shoes to a criminal (instead of arresting him), parks in front of a fire hydrant and gets his car towed, gets Tokyo Drifted in a shopping cart, ends up on a party bus where his badge and wallet get stolen, climbs an impound lot fence like a crazy person, and has his car destroyed.

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The only thing missing in the series of events is Peralta losing his magic rabbit’s foot or body swapping with Boyle at the beginning of the episode. It’s that atypical of the show, which is already plenty absurd in it’s own right. “Halloween II” is an outlier in the series, especially when taking into account that Andy Samberg is probably at his most Andy Samberg in this episode. The ensemble has done well to keep the schtick in check, but as Peralta’s eyes get crazier and his night gets worse, Andy Samberg’s acting gets bigger and bigger. Big and funny are not mutually exclusive, but they are not synonymous—and the former is not what has made Brooklyn Nine-Nine no successful. Here, it’s no longer over-the-top within reason, and that’s a blanket assessment of the whole episode.

Even with the reveal from Holt—as amusing as it is to hear Holt say how he did it, word cloud and all—the episode makes even less sense in hindsight. Early on in the episode, an emphasis is put on the safety pumpkins that Terry, Diaz, and Santiago are assigned to pack and distribute, along with how extremely time consuming they are. How those three are able to be in on the plan and still get all of the work done makes no sense. Since they clearly don’t have Gina’s help on the pumpkin front, that means they don’t have an extra hand from those not involved with this plan. In fact, that’s probably because no one else in this precinct would want to help any of these crazy people. Case in point: this entire episode.

“Halloween II” is the first episode of the season without a lesson and any relationship drama, and perhaps because of that, it comes across as less fully realized than any of those other episodes. The original “Halloween” makes the twists of this episode a necessity—a straight up “heist” wouldn’t cut the cake—and that partially leads to the episode’s downfall. The episode has all of the jokes of any other episode of Brooklyn Nine-Nine, only without taking a step back to make sure the episode as a whole works. While the season premiere suffered slightly from being a crash course introduction to the world of Brooklyn Nine-Nine, “Halloween II” suffers from forgetting that it’s in that same world. It’s a rare misstep in a show that’s known what it’s wanted to be since episode one, so there’s no real cause for alarm. Let’s just hope “Halloween III” (or “The Jimmy Jab Games II”) is better.

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Stray observations:

  • This week in webisodes Brooklyn Nine-Nine needs: This one is a no-brainer. “This is Charles Boyle for Jake Action News!” I assume that in Jake Action News, Boyle is the only anchor. Hitchcock used to do weather, but after last week’s incident, he can no longer be trusted.
  • CODENAMES: Diaz, The Dagger. Terry, The Hammer. Santiago, The Hall Monitor (“Yeeeeaaahh! Suck it!”), Hitchcock and Scully, Hitchcock and Scully. Boyle, The Deuce (“Deuce. It’s like ace but twice as cool.”)
  • “Fingers” was honestly more of a magician than a pick pocket, now wasn’t he? Speaking of…
  • Diaz: “What’s with the tux?” Peralta: “I decided to class up this year’s event. I bought it off a disgraced magician and it is chock full of scarves.”
  • Peralta: “No need for the somersaults.” Diaz “Disagree.” How can anyone say Diaz lacks a certain joie de vivre?
  • Back during “Halloween,” Floorgasm was just a mentioned but unseen presence. Now, they’re breaking up with their creator through only the words of their body.
  • Gina calling Santiago an “inquisitive little ferret” just feels right. May she never stop randomly insulting her.
  • Gina: “I can’t help it if my life is literally a Step Up movie.” Hopefully she’ll find her Jenna Dewan (I’m assuming she is the Channing Tatum of any relationship) in one of her college courses.
  • Terry: “You’re being super irresponsible. You have a baditude. That’s a bad attitude.” Gina: “I love that.”
  • Peralta: ”Captain Raymond Holt, you are an amazing police captain slash genius. But be warned, I started planning next year’s heist just this minute.“ Holt: “Good. Then you’re only three months behind.”
  • There is nowhere near enough of the Mr. and Mrs. Terry Jeffords dance routine, and that is a disappointment.

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