So ends Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s season two. Wuntch wins, Jake and Amy do it (“it” being kiss), and Boyle quite possibly proves himself to be the one for Rosa. It reads like Opposite Day when laid out all like that, but it’s not. In fact, “Johnny And Dora” is one of the more in-tone, self-assured episodes of season two. It’s the right note to leave the show on, especially with this season’s up and downs. There have been some arguments that season two of Brooklyn Nine-Nine hasn’t quite lived up to the expectations and heights of season one, but I would argue that this season simply had loftier goals than the first; and while it managed to reach them for the most part, the misses in the season were the result of far bigger swings.
The differences in the seasons also partially stem for the undercurrent of sadness that’s been prevalent throughout season two, especially in the case of Jake Peralta. The majority of the lines Andy Samberg has to utter this season come off much less “impressive slacker” and a lot more “worrisome human being,” to the point where his general well-being on a physical and mental health level has to be called into question on practically an episodic basis. The combination of that and Jake’s heartbreak in a real relationship has made Jake’s potential fall when it comes to discussing his feelings with for Amy more of a possibility. Then there’s the threat of Madeline Wuntch, which has also crept its way into this season, with as the 9-9’s own performance is constantly under scrutiny, both because of Wuntch’s antagonism toward Holt and because of the way the precinct often uses its resources (see “The Jimmy Jab Games,” “Halloween 2”).
“Johnny And Dora” tries to bring it all together, finally. The unevenness of the season’s serialized aspects doesn’t completely deserve it, but as a fan of the show, it sticks the landing and mostly makes up for it.
There’s of course the romantic element of Jake and Amy to discuss. “Johnny And Dora” is easily better than the season’s previous Jake and Amy plot points simply because it no longer dances around the situation of Jake’s crush on Amy. In fact, the episode gets right down to it, as Amy confronts Jake about his weirdness in the briefing immediately, and Jake lays it all down there. There’s no longer a need to unnecessarily stretch out this confession to the finale, because this is the finale. Sure, nothing is completely resolved here in the finale, but it’s progress, as Jake and Amy share a secret kiss in a backroom, only to be interrupted by the announcement of the new captain’s arrival before they can talk about what it means. It’s forward momentum, it’s progress, and it’s what the Jake/Amy storyline has truly needed.
In between, Jake and Amy have to work together on a case to capture “Brooklyn’s most prolific identity thief,” Michael Augustine. That leads to an unexpected dinner date, with the two of them undercover as the episode’s Johnny and Dora, newly engaged couple. After Jake’s confession to Amy about his feelings, nearly every thing out of the pair’s mouths comes with the added qualifier that they are professionals who work with each other, professionally. That’s when their mouths aren’t attached to each other, for the sake of professionalism, that is. It’s really an amusingly awkward chain of events.
The only potential problem with the Jake and Amy of it all is that it is perhaps very telling that the foundation of their less-than-platonic relationship is littered with words like “weird” and “awkward.” But after the success of the Boyle/Gina secret relationship earlier in season two, it should be interesting to see where it goes.
Speaking of Boyle, his storyline in this episode is connected to Rosa, as it his her birthday—Happy birthday, Rosa/”Crappy day to you!”—and his attempts to get her to her surprise party end up getting him cut out of her life as a friend. A good portion of season two has also been affirming the friendship status of these characters, even outside the precinct, so when Boyle brings up the little things he knows about Rosa (who he so wants to call “Ro-Ro”), it adds a little more emotional weight to the plot. Then, it hit peak emotion when it gets to the actual party, which is really just a completely rented out bar with Marcus waiting for Rosa.
Marcus hasn’t shown himself to have a personality (see: all of his episodes) or a firm grasp on Rosa’s personality (see: “AC/DC”), and perhaps the final nail in that theoretical coffin of it continuing to be a real relationship is the fact that Rosa’s surprise “party” is all Boyle’s idea.
After the first season’s creepiness with Boyle’s infatuation for Rosa, season two went a long way to course correct. The first stop on that train was of course the Gina/Boyle secret sex relationship, but after that was over, it was just the fact of Boyle being a good detective and friend to all those in his life, including Rosa. There hasn’t even been the faintest whiff of residual Boyle feelings for Rosa (not even in “Chocolate Milk”) in this season, and both have had their own relationship stuff (as well as working as the sounding boards for Jake’s relationship stuff with Amy) this season. The last scene to this plot is even played as friendly as possible for the show, as Rosa thanks and hugs Boyle for being such a good friend. Yet, because of that, it is perhaps the ultimate moment that proves the case for a future Boyle/Rosa relationship, free of weird obsessing.
The potential for the future of Brooklyn Nine-Nine is fully on the line in this finale, as the biggest shift comes in the form of last episode’s cliffhanger. With Wuntch’s decision to promote Holt to head of PR for the NYPD, a huge play must be put in effect to keep the status quo within the 9-9, at least a little. This comes in the form of the possible MacGuffin of “the letter,” and Terry and Gina are put on the case. They’re the perfect choice for this, of course, with Gina’s evil mastermind tactics (after turning her cell phone on to Airplane mode) working to distract a bird nerd receptionist and Terry’s absurd strength working to lift an entire file cabinet out of a records room to get the evidence. That scene alone makes it all worth it, with Chelsea Peretti’s bird sounds and the physical comedy of Terry Crews on full display right in the middle of all the other emotional chaos in the episode.
As for this one last face-off between Wuntch and Holt, the barbs are there, but Wuntch’s sexually charged frisks of Holt leave a bad taste in what is already an intentionally upsetting storyline. It’s played for laughs, but it’s more uncomfortable than anything else. Especially when Wuntch also eventually has the added bonus of being able to leverage the rest of the precinct’s careers against Holt and the letter situation. Wuntch is a succubus, but that doesn’t make the sexual harassment any more acceptable.
In the end, the episode closes in the perfect way for the season, with the pain of Holt leaving looming over the precinct and the anxiety and anticipation of the new captain filling the air. The episode is filled with the potential of Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s third season. That doesn’t fix all of season two’s problems, but it’s as good a way as any to close it all out. To leave this with Jake’s (and the) last words of the season: “Okay. Here we go.”
- This week in webisodes Brooklyn Nine-Nine needs: Gilmore Gab With Rosa. “I just want to see Lorelai happy,” she says. This opens up so many possibilities.
- Poll results: Go Ahead, Jake My Day, by a landslide. Sorry again, Jake.
- Also a nice touch to have police tape block off the empty space where the cold open vending machine once was.
- Jake (as Amy): “Gurlfriend, please. I got hella open cases.”
Amy: “That’s something you think I said?”
Jake: “Word for word.”
- Jake: “Sounds great. In the immortal words of Amy Santiago, ‘gurlfriend, please’.”
- Holt: “I’m not going anywhere. Madeline’s not some invincible succubus. She’s a regular succubus. So she can be defeated.”
- “Don Johnson it.” I typically prefer to Dakota Johnson it, but the Don Johnson thing worked here.
- As an aside: How Jake didn’t immediately fail at undercover work in the mafia remains to be seen, because he has yet to show quick improvisational or characters skills under pressure.