Brooklyn Nine-Nine is a show that can do pretty much anything it sets its mind to. That’s really not an easy task, which is why it’s important to point that out at times. It’s not necessarily a perfect series, but more often than not, when Brooklyn Nine-Nine wants to go big, it makes it look effortless. Earlier this season, Brooklyn Nine-Nine made that clear with its Die Hard episode, “Yippie Kayak,” and now the show is doing it again with its own ode to the heist genre, “The Bureau.” (They even get Rosa to fill the contortionist role!) After a somewhat underwhelming dive (in large part to the set-up nature of the episode) into this season-ending arc, “The Bureau” picks things back up and absolutely nails everything it sets out to do. And that’s even before Captain Holt discusses Sex And The City. At length.
I’ve brought up before how disappointing it can be when Brooklyn Nine-Nine seemingly throws members of its extremely talented ensemble to the wayside, but “The Bureau” is one of those episodes that fully utilizes everyone on the team, even having the storylines naturally intersect (as they would in “real life”) without causing any plots to stumble. Take Terry and Gina’s part of the episode for example: They have their own plot regarding the Nine-Nine’s “leak,” and the show not only addresses the fact that no one else is helping them, but it also allows them to still have a presence in the A-plot. Because why wouldn’t they? Besides being experts in the fields Jake and Holt need help him this week, they’re also all-in on Operation 225641441636324. Having a subplot this week doesn’t negate a greater plot, and when Brooklyn Nine-Nine acknowledges that, everything just gels more.
Plus, Terry and Gina’s plot is just funny, since you can’t really go wrong with the dream team that is Terry and Gina. I realize every combination in Brooklyn Nine-Nine is essentially a dream team in their own way. But this dream team makes the idea that there could even be a leak in the Nine-Nine (on top of everything else that’s going on) very, very fun, and it also reminds the audience that Gina really is an integral member of the team, even though it sometimes may not feel like that.
Then there’s the Amy and Boyle plot that ultimately brings everything to a head in the A-plot. With Jake back in New York, undercover Texas prisoner Amy is allowed to shine like the awkward little badass she is. and Boyle is forced to handle things without Jake’s approval or disapproval. Of course, the key component of Amy and Boyle being left to their own devices is the fact that they’re both very awkward people. Yet, somehow, this plot leads to what turns out to be one of the least cringe-worthy Boyle scenes ever. Three seasons of Brooklyn Nine-Nine have obviously shown just how weird Boyle can be and just how much the cringe humor can be stretched with him; but here, Boyle’s idiosyncrasies actually turn out to be a good thing, just because Amy tells Maura Figgis how “sensitive” he is. When put into a situation where he has to play the honeypot to get information out of Maura, Boyle’s constant bragging about how irresistible he is actually ends up being true.
Sure, the show goes right back to cringe humor as soon as Genevieve calls with the good news about their adoption, but the point remains that Boyle can get the job done, no matter how awkward he is. And he can even break the heart of a convicted murderer to the point of her opening up with Amy. On second thought, maybe Boyle and Amy are the true dream team.
But those are all just small examples in comparison to the A-plot itself. “The Bureau” brings out the big guns from the moment Dennis Haysbert shows up in a flashback as Holt’s former partner and FBI agent Bob Annderson, and it’s like the sitcom heavens open up. Dennis Haysbert and Andre Braugher’s attempts to out-deadpan and out-“gusto”each other are a dream come true. And it’s a dream I never even knew existed until this very episode. Jake’s “there’s two of them” is perfect, and the only thing that could make it better is… Is there anything?
And there’s literally something for everyone in just the montage in this plot: gratuitous Rosa yoga; Holt learning everything he needs to know about Sex And The City; gratuitous Terry pull-ups. The only thing missing is the episode hiding Melissa Fumero’s pregnant belly, and we’re already past that. The execution of the actual heist is just as good, with Brooklyn Nine-Nine adding Ocean’s 11/Entrapment/Leverage and the like to its high concept repertoire. There are even blueprints! Every piece of this episode puzzle finds a way to build on the previous pieces to such a satisfying and intriguing conclusion that it will be especially impressive to see how things go down in the finale.
Ultimately, Bob’s reveal as the bad guy (with “ScarJoe” as his disposable minion) is a bit telegraphed—he’s a guy who never cut corners all of a sudden cutting corners, after all—but that doesn’t take away from the episode. After all, Brooklyn Nine-Nine isn’t exactly a show that tries or needs to pull one over on its audience. Plus, the material and performances, both leading up to and after the reveal, are all so strong that it’s appropriately disappointing when Bob turns out to be the bad guy.
“The Bureau” is the first episode of this arc that could possibly stand completely on its own as a great episode, even with the baggage of the arc. Everything’s on point this week, and it’s all leading up to a possibly even bigger season finale next week. None of this changes the previous aimless nature of this season, but it certainly shows that Brooklyn Nine-Nine is very capable of being more than just “reliably funny” on a weekly basis.
Plus: Dennis. Haysbert. Saying. Clown. Boobies. Enough said.
- This week in webisodes Brooklyn Nine-Nine needs: Forget webisodes—Holt needs a Sex And The City podcast, ASAP. He needs it. We need it. Just do this one thing, Brooklyn Nine-Nine.
- Holt: “I called you here to discuss where we are in Operation 225641441636324.”
Holt: “I assigned a numerical value to each letter in the word ‘Pimento,’ which I then squared.”
Jake: “Oh, Captain. How dare you try to sneak math into this?”
- Maura Figgis: “What’s with all the questions, Regis?”
Amy: “Actually, it’s Michael Strahan now.”
Maura Figgis: “WHAT?!?”
- Terry: “Did you see this morning’s newspaper?”
Gina: “No. I get all my news from a text message chain with my friends. The attorney general might step down! I’m kidding—it’s a gif of a rabbit eating spaghetti.”
- I’m actually surprised that there was pay-off to the “ScarJoe” nickname. I didn’t expect Holt to find out. Thanks a lot, big mouth Peralta!
- Jake: “Interesting. So what you’re saying is our only option is: to break into the FBI and steal the files.”
Holt: “Don’t be absurd. Bob, I apologize for the absurdity.”
Bob: “I see no absurdity. Actually I think Peralta’s right. Let’s plan a heist.”
Holt: “Bob?” Holt should have trusted his gut.
- Jake: “You do yoga?”
Rosa: “Helps keep me centered. If you ask me about it again, I’ll hunt you down and rip your face off.” Aww, best friends.
- Gina: “So there’s Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte, and Samantha. But New York City is really the fifth character.”
Holt: “Hmm. What about Steve? He seems nice.”
Gina: “No, Steve is nothing. No one likes Steve.”
Holt (taking notes): “‘Steve is nothing.’”
- Gina: “What makes you so sure that there’s a leak? It might’ve just been that the reporter was really good at his job, like that hot blond surfer was at TMZ.” This is the most specific joke of the episode, and it’s my favorite. It transcends, really.