One of the biggest problems Brooklyn Nine-Nine has had in its second season is a sense of stagnation, even with the brief moments of change where characters momentarily grow or create new character dynamics. Part of that is the wear and tear of the 23-episode season, which has made a lot of the episodes feel like stalling tactics, especially past the Giggle Pig arc. It doesn’t help that these last few episodes of the season are clearly the ones that “really” matter, as bleak as that sounds.

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As the penultimate episode of season two, “The Chopper” clearly ends up mostly being the set up for the finale, but it’s still a very solid episode with a good A-plot. In fact, you could even call the A-plot “epic,” just like the case Jake brings to the precinct’s attention. After the death of Carl Mather, one-fourth of the Fulton Street Four, Jake jumps to the (correct) conclusion that one of the Four is killing off the others to keep the $21 million they stole all for himself. It’s a major case, and because of that, Holt assumes Chief Wuntch and her “little rat claws” will transfer the case over to Major Crimes—which is why Holt continues to harp on it (assuming it’s a case they’re doomed to fail) as soon as Wuntch gives the 9-9 the case, with her full support and whatever resources they could possibly need.

There has been some criticism of Holt’s somewhat petty and immature behavior whenever it comes to Wuntch all season, and luckily here, Brooklyn Nine-Nine even addresses that as it prevents Holt from seeing how “epic” of a case he, Jake, and Boyle are on. It also ends up being Holt’s downfall—as consequences should come from Holt’s uncharacteristic immaturity—as it prevents him from seeing that Wuntch’s evil plan isn’t to see him fail but instead to see him succeed to a point of giving her a reason to promote him back to job where he doesn’t get to do good police work but instead works as a figurehead. This comes off the heels of Holt making it clear in this episode that the worst time of his professional life was when he was working behind a desk in the public relationship department:

“Before I came to the 9-9, I was rotting away behind a desk in the Public Relations department. All I wanted was the chance to do good police work again.”

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This candid confession from Holt to Jake makes it all the more crushing when it turns out that sending Holt back to that hellscape (as the head of Public Relations) was Wuntch’s plan from the very start. The episode ends with a miserable Holt, in shock, and continues the second season of Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s undercurrent of sadness as it heads into its season finale. While Terry possibly leaving the 9-9 was dangled and immediately taken off the table in last week’s “Det. Dave Majors,” “The Chopper” basically goes forward with a better executed version of that concept.

The case is also a good one for super cool cop guy Jake—as opposed to wannabe super cool cop guy Jake, also seen in “Det. Dave Majors”—as the unlimited resources from Wuntch allow for him to live out the dreams he constantly has and the reason why he became a cop in the first place:

Jake: “Sir, with all due respect, this is an epic case. It’s the reason I became a cop. Hunting down a murderer, recovering millions in stolen money rappelling out of a chopper with a knife. Between my teeth.”
Holt: “Why would you jump out of a helicopter with a knife in your mouth?”
Jake: “It’s called a chopper and the knife is in my mouth because both of my hands are holding giant machine guns. And that’s how it’s going down!”

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As ridiculous as it is, Jake, Boyle, and Holt leaving the chopper in slow motion as “Ante Up” blasts on the soundtrack is pretty damn cool. No, Jake doesn’t have a knife between his teeth, and he’s not carrying any machine guns, but he is “Deathblade,” and that’s all that really matters.

Sadly, while the plot with the magnet school field trip is an amusing detour from the main plot, it never really gets off the ground to be anything more than that. In fact, the scenes come across like a lesser version of the at-risk youth storyline from season one’s “The Slump,” sadly without the added benefit of a Gina dance performance. Amy’s stories of her childhood and time as a magnet school student are actually more sad than they are funny, and Gina’s connection to the pre-teens… Well, it exists. The biggest highlight is Rosa and Terry’s throwaway exchange about enrolling one twin into the magnet school’s preschool program—

Rosa: “Why don’t you just get one of them in then let them take turns going to school every other day.”
Terry: “That’s crazy. (beat) I asked my wife and she said no.”

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—because whenever a show treat twins as though they’re literally the same person, it’s hard not to laugh.

“The Chopper” gets the job done when it comes to setting up the finale, which isn’t always the case with penultimate episode. Hopefully it’s an epic ending to the season.

Stray observations:

  • This week in webisodes Brooklyn Nine-Nine needs: This week, there is no webisode. Instead I have a group poll. Which is a better memoir title? Go Ahead: Jake My Day or Case Closed, Jake Open.
  • Amy: “Oh my god, did you hear that George W. Bush died?”
    Gina (not looking up from phone): “Who dat?”
  • Wuntch: “Hello, Raymond. How do you like my new office? 20th floor.”
    Holt: “Yes, I never thought I’d see you this high up without a broom under you.”
    Wuntch: “Enough niceties. Have a seat.”
  • Boyle: “You know how to fly a chopper?”
    Jake: “How hard could it be? It’s just a big fan that goes in the sky.”
  • Amy: “I haven’t listened to rap music in three years. I don’t know the lingo!”
  • Jake: “Or we could take—”
    Holt: “We are not taking a helicopter.”
    Jake: “You know I was going to say chopper.”
  • Call signs: Deathblade (Jake), Rum Tum Tugger/Adolf Hitler/Sidewinder (Boyle), and Captain Raymond Holt/Wet Blanket/VELVET. THUNDER. (Holt)
  • Terry: “Rosa, I should have listened to you.”
    Rosa: “Yeah. Everyone should listen to me all the time about everything.”
  • Good to see Boyle got out of selfie mode to take a picture of Jake with the mountain of money at the end.

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