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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine: "Pontiac Bandit"

Illustration for article titled Brooklyn Nine-Nine: "Pontiac Bandit"
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Brooklyn Nine-Nine returns from its winter hiatus with the sheen of its Golden Globe nominations. The show itself got a best comedy/musical nod, and Andy Samberg can now forever be known as “Golden Globe nominee” in the best comedic actor category. Even as someone with genuine affection for the show, I saw the noms and thought, “Really?” I fully believe in the bull-shittiness of awards in general, but the recognition for Brooklyn Nine-Nine was still a surprise.

At least it’s nice to see Samberg earning his recognition in “Pontiac Bandit.” While Samberg is the show’s marquee star, it’s not secret that I think he’s one of the show’s weaker elements. But he worked in “Pontiac Bandit,” and, in small part, it’s due to Jake Peralta’s failure. He messed up, without a last-minute, miraculous reprieve. I kept waiting for it to happen as Craig Robinson’s Doug Judy/Pontiac Bandit drove off into the sunset—that Peralta would somehow figure out a way to save his own ass. But that moment never came. It was unexpected. First, we’ve seen Peralta talk about being a great cop without ever actually seeing the results. Then we saw him being a good cop. There were failures along the way, but those moments were undercut with deep sarcasm, as comedies are wont to do. But now we get Peralta eating a large plate of humble pie, with nothing giving him a victory. It’s an important step in expanding the character.

I loved the Pontiac Bandit plotline. While I am admittedly a sucker for any references to the three-breasted woman in Total Recall, my affinity for this episode was in large part due to the chemistry between Peralta, Diaz and Judy. Peralta had been in search of said bandit for eight years. So when Diaz comes up with a perp who says he has info on the dastardly dude, Peralta will trade Diaz’s collar to get his guy, even if that means losing Diaz’s trust. Peralta and Diaz work in the same way that Peralta works with Holt. His wackiness is counteracted by her stoicism, but without the imposed mentor-mentee relationship of Holt and Peralta. I also liked that the storyline deepened the Diaz-Peralta relationship. Here’s a unit that lives or dies based on trust in each other, and their years in the academy together accounts for Diaz’s high bullshit tolerance for Peralta’s shenanigans. And very few guest stars have worked as well as Robinson has. He could have been overly annoying, what with playing off Peralta’s out-thereness, but Robinson worked perfectly off both Samberg and Stephanie Beatriz (“Space is scary! You saw what it did to Sandy Bullock!”). He’s the best use of guest-star so far. (Although, we’re about to meet Holt’s husband…).

I wasn’t as keen on the subplot involving Boyle’s return to work after being shot by the Free Style Killer, a switch from my usual thoughts wherein the ensemble-based subplots usually overshadow Peralta’s actions. Boyle is scooter-bound and helpless, despite his protestations. Because he was injured in the line of duty, he’s given special treatment by the precinct, including scratching and lunch-decision privileges. Chelsea escapes to a place out of Boyle’s reach (up a flight of stairs), and everyone else follows her. It felt messy in comparison to what Peralta and Diaz were doing, despite funny moments, particularly the physical comedy; Terry helping Boyle at the urinal was quite wonderful (“This cast is amazing. It's got a special crotch hole, it's like a doggy door for my penis.”). Take the Holt-puppies punchline: I knew there was going to be payoff, bringing the two plots together at the end, but it felt disconnected from everything else that was going on. For a show whose ensemble works extremely well together, this plot did everything to pull everyone apart. But it also placed more importance on the excellent main storyline that kept this episode going.

Stray observations:

  • “I thought my lunch choices were, quote unquote, 'An adventure in diarrhea.” “Today, we take that adventure with you.”
  • “I don't look like a cop now.” “No, you look like a Boyz II Men Easter album.”