Eva Longoria (left), Andy Samberg

Brooklyn Nine-Nine is a show about friendship. Take away all the investigations, the Wuntch puns, all of Rosa’s leather: What’s left is all of these characters’ friendships with each other. Because the show has that foundation, everything else can easily build off of that. Knowing Terry and Jake’s friendship partially informs how the Jake/Sophia relationship will wind up in this episode, and knowing Rosa and Amy’s friendship (and Amy and Holt’s friendship/mentorship) informs how the union rep storyline will unfold in this episode. These friendships are a good part of what makes Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s characters so dynamic, and the day that is no longer the case—the day there are too many cooks that spoil the broth—is the day it’ll probably be best to close up shop on Brooklyn Nine-Nine.

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“Jake And Sophia” splits the main characters into three teams: Jake/Terry, Rosa/Amy (with the help of Holt, who unfortunately has much less to do this week), and Gina/Boyle. Jake and Terry find themselves in court for a diamond heist trial, Rosa pushes Amy into running for union rep against dirty politician Scully, and Gina and Boyle have a battle to the death. Well, that last one is actually a battle for a hotel room, but the way Gina approaches everything in her life makes it only a matter of time before such a thing happens.

In a show of pretty nice continuity, the episode follows-up on how things went with Jake and Rosa’s friend Katie in the aftermath of “The Jimmy Jab Games.” The quick flashback to the date shows that it is possible for someone to be even more closed off than Rosa, while also proving that for all of her good intentions, Rosa isn’t exactly the best matchmaker in the world. Jake lays it all on the line with Terry:

“Not to overstate, but I’m definitely going to die alone and work is all I have.”

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Dazzling women “with a badass cop story” makes so much sense as Jake’s signature move; Jake being the hot shot cop obviously means that he’ll want to share all of his hot shot cop stories to any woman who will listen. It’s also good to see Jake’s problems with dating stem from his near inability to talk about anything other than his work and not because of a secret pining for Amy.

The episode also throws more fuel into the fire that is the discussion of Jake’s sexual prowess. While it’s clear that Jake is not a virgin, the question remains whether or not he knows what he’s doing when it comes to sex. This is both on an intellectual level and on a quality level. Here, he refers to coitus as “colitis,” and his post-”colitis” routine involves being the little spoon (“It makes you feel safe!”). It doesn’t come across as the the writers changing Jake’s intelligence based on the episode’s circumstances, but it is enough to make his entire sexual history possibly very troubling.

And now Sophia (Eva Longoria) is in that sexual history book! Jake and Sophia are star-crossed lovers—he, from the cop side of law & order, and she, from the hell space of defense lawyers. The running joke of all cops hating defense lawyers is one that’s usually resigned to Internal Affairs characters, but since last week’s episode had an Internal Affairs representative do some pretty shady things, the joke wouldn’t land her. NTSF: SD: SUV::: actually did their own spin on that trope with Ellie Kemper in the episode “Whack-A-Mole,” and the boys and girls in the Nine-Nine essentially feel the same way about Sophia here. It’s an interesting take here, because Terry makes it clear that hating defense attorneys is the reaction of “any rational adult.” Amy literally boos the news of this hook-up, and Boyle, who constantly makes others say “ew,” is disgusted by the entire situation.

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Sophia is a character that is nowhere as over-the-top as Jake, but there are nice little touches throughout the episode that make it clear why the two of them work for now (and that she’s most likely not going to be a stick in the mud love interest). Her post-wing ingesting exclamations of “drink the ranch!” and proceeding to drink the ranch early in the episode, as well as her stealing Jake’s saying about “stuff” are good moments for introducing this character who is supposedly Jake’s perfect match. They’re both just as disgusted by each other’s professions, and they’re both just as competitive over dumb things. She probably knows more about sex stuff, but that’s not a low bar to clear. They’re each other’s Hans Gruber (who think they’re John McClanes), which makes them a lot alike but possibly also terrible for each other in the long run. Just imagine two Hans Grubers (who think they’re John McClanes) dating.

All of this is of course secondary to the fact that Sophia is played by Eva Longoria. The interesting thing about Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s “big name” casting this season—with Kyra Sedgwick, Eva Longoria, and soon, Nick Cannon—is that, instead of it being too much and reeking of stunt-casting, it actually serves as a reminder that this is one of the most seamlessly diverse shows on television. There are plenty of thinkpieces on the matter, but the thing about watching Brooklyn Nine-Nine is that it’s never in your face about the fact that it represents the diversity of New York City a lot more than most shows set both there and anywhere in the world. Every once in a while, I’m struck by how colorblind (for lack of a better word) and real the casting on this show is, and stopping to think about it just makes me appreciate the show even more.

As for the rest of the episode, the Amy/Rosa plot continues the case of the show leaving the audience wanting more. Having Amy not go after what is clearly the perfect position for her simply because she doesn’t want anything to get in the way of her path to captain-hood is such an Amy thing; it’s essentially her giving up her idea of fun to succeed in her career, but it all eventually ends with Amy getting to “have it all.” One day, “Mom Cop/Cop Mom” will be sung about Amy. With the time it has, the plot does give the audience a lot of the Rosa/Amy friendship, with Rosa pushing Amy to follow her dreams, once again being the heart of an episode. She and Amy literally get into a fight in this episode because of her decision to look out for her friend’s well-being. So when she comes up with the campaign slogan “Pick Amy, dummies,” it’s not just a funny joke about how Rosa is a robot person—it’s something she honestly thinks will help Amy’s case. All Scully has is fake golden boats, an insatiable need for party subs, and the very misguided belief that Amy is his best friend; even Hitchcock doesn’t understand that last one.

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Meanwhile, Gina and Boyle’s plot in the episode—the battle for a hotel room they were originally supposed to have their matching robe sexcapades in—ends with a contemporary Drive Me Crazy situation. To explain, their parents, Lynn Boyle (Stephen Root) and Darlene Linetti (Sandra Bernhard), are now about to embark on a “romantic adventure” in the wake of Gina and Boyle’s own “poke pals” arrangement. In Drive Me Crazy, the single parents of Melissa Joan Hart and Adrian Grenier’s characters end up in a romantic relationship just as soon as their children do, if not sooner. That’s how the movie ends. It’s a strange movie.

All of this being said, “Jake And Sophia” isn’t uproariously hilarious or as quotable as the earlier episodes of this season. However, it still brings something to the table. In fact, the line readings are some of the best of the season, and that actually elevates the episode’s quality. It’s still a fun and funny episode of television. But in a lot of ways, the humor in “Jake And Sophia” is subtler than that of the previous episodes. That almost makes it sound like a damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation when it comes to criticism of the show, I know. But a subtle Brooklyn Nine-Nine is still more over-the-top than a “crazy” Manhattan Love Story, if such a thing were ever to have existed. On the opposite side of the spectrum is “Halloween II,” an episode which I criticized for being too wacky. Generally, Brooklyn Nine-Nine is able between the two extremes, but there’s nothing inherently wrong with it tilting strongly in one of those directions over the other. A low-key Brooklyn Nine-Nine is still a good episode of television.

Stray observations:

  • I apologize so very much for how late this review is. Technology can be fickle. Fickle and terrible. Mostly terrible. I also apologize if my two Hans Grubers/John McClanes point spawns some out there fanfiction. But also, I’d feel pretty important if that happened, so I take back said apology.
  • This week in webisodes Brooklyn Nine-Nine needs: It’s a toss-up between two web spin-offs. Either Back Me Up, Carl! or Amy The Insult Comic Cop. “No, thank you.” or “It gets really personal. Did you know Hitchcock is technically a bastard?”
  • This week in Gina loves to mock Amy: “Maybe she fell into another dimension where she’s interesting.”
  • Jake: “I see what you’re saying: Your wife’s awesome, and I should do everything in my power to be with her, physically.”
  • Amy: “Writing things down is nerdy? What do you do?”
    Rosa: “Just forget stuff like a cool person.”
  • Amy: “Lord knows I have enough poster board at home.” What is Amy campaigning and making signs for in her home?
  • Gina: “Tina Knowles, Beyonce’s momager, has contacted me and wants to audition me tonight. I’ve transcended you now.”
  • Gina: “You defiled the most sacred and the most high. Miss. Tina. Knowles” There’s absolutely no way I can capture that line reading, which, as I mentioned, was constant throughout this episode.
  • That also brings me to one of my favorite parts of the episode: the fact that Holt’s old boss was named Lengarry Len Ross. It’s only shown in the credits, but in the episode itself, you can actually see “Len Ross” on his badge.
  • Jake: “Great. I can be mature.”
    Sophia: “Says the guy who uses a sunglasses case as a wallet.”
    Jake: “Stuff can be two things! Open up your refrigerator? Boom! Air conditioner! Life. Hack. Carl, back me up.”
  • Amy: “He also said if you voted for him, you’d get a golden boat. That’s not real.” Would that I could include MP3s with all of these quotes.
  • Holt doesn’t have much to do this week, but he sure knows how to pull the “power move” of turning around in his chair.
  • I’m just going to leave my Sophia/Jake/Amy theories to myself. Unless you want to know them in the comments. But you can probably guess what they are.

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