“Jake is stupid, but he’s smart.”
There it is. There is the perfect description of Jake Peralta. It’s far more eloquent than “Human Puppy Dog-Super Cop Hybrid,” at least. He’s a crack detective, but he doesn’t understand basic hygiene (or health or sex). He’s a great friend, but he also owes all of his friends so much money. He is both stupid and smart, and as soon as you accept that, it’s a lot easier to accept him as person and as a character. Clearly, Jake’s best friend, Terry Jeffords that is, accepts this and is right to spell it out for Jake’s frustrated girlfriend. (If there’s one thing this season of Brooklyn Nine-Nine will be remembered for, may it be the fact that it created a strong competition for the title of Jake Peralta’s best bro with Boyle versus Terry.)
However, Jake being stupid but smart doesn’t mean he can’t see the end is near for his and Sophia’s relationship; it just means he’s going to try and delay it in the absolute wrong way.
“The Defense Rests” is an endlessly amusing episode, as well as slightly heartbreaking, but it’s also a bit… strange. The episode runs a spectrum of tones and emotions, but luckily, it’s able to balance them so it’s not a jarring shift along the way. For starters, the cold open for the episode is downright bizarre, with the precinct apparently being so filthy that it is littered with ants. This isn’t just a matter of Jake being unhygienic—the ants even get into Terry’s beloved yogurt somehow. Jake considers it “an invasion,” Terry calls it “personal,” and Captain Holt decides they should freeze the ants out. It all ends with the ants making their way into the winter coats of each and every member of the Nine-Nine, and as amazing of a sight gag as it is, it’s all just so amazingly peculiar. Even though it’s not a running thread through the episode, it does set the tone for impending strangeness.
“And the only reason I didn’t tell you guys is ‘cause I don’t value you as people. So it’s like, ‘Why be honest?’”
Naturally, the trio of Gina, Boyle, and Amy (featuring Amy’s big ass binder) take the cake as the strangest subplot of the episode, with Gina holding out on her blessing of the union between her mother and Boyle’s father and Boyle trying to get her to change her mind. Back in “The Pontiac Bandit Returns,” Gina and Boyle’s plan to reverse Parent Trap their parents was full of potential, but Boyle immediately flip flops in favor of his papa’s love. In this episode, there’s some emotional motivation behind Gina’s reservations (she doesn’t want her mom’s heart to be broken, which is perfectly valid), but it’s mostly a showcase for ridiculous Gina one-liners and Amy’s binder. Still, the plot is a reminder of the greatest strength of the Gina/Boyle storyline this season—it’s up, it’s down, it’s all around. Along with the great work from Chelsea Peretti and Joe Lo Truglio, its success stems from its unpredictability. That’s an impressive feat when a storyline starts with secret sex.
Then there’s the A-plot and the end of the Jake/Sophia relationship. “The Defense Rests” makes an interesting choice in deciding not linger on the fact that Jake is already very much worried about his and Sophia’s fate in the episode before it all turns to chaos. In fact, in hindsight, it’s easy to see that Jake’s behavior is that of a man who realizes (at least subconsciously) that he’s much more into the woman he’s seeing than she is into him. On the surface, knowing what we know about cops and defense lawyers in the world of Brooklyn Nine-Nine, it makes sense that Sophia would want to keep Jake away from the “Satan’s Charity Ball: Rise Of The Demons,” because of that antagonism alone. However, note how Jake’s immediate reaction when Sophia talks to him about her boss is to make sure that it’s the only reason she wants him to “press pause” and stay away from the party. It’s like he’s double-checking that she’s not done with him, which feels out of left field, at first. Then Jake tells Sophia he loves her, for the first time (and multiple times in the span of one night), and the countdown to break-up is officially on the clock.
For the brief time the show has had Jake and Sophia as a couple, the two of them have pretty much on the same wavelength, with Sophia even going along with Jake’s terrible ideas, no questions asked. So the word “incompatible” being tossed out in the break-out is especially disconcerting. Even though it was obvious that neither Sophia nor Eva Longoria’s stay on Brooklyn Nine-Nine could last forever, it’s a bit of an emotional blow; in such a short time, the character fit in quite well in the show’s world, so the inevitable feels like somewhat of a shock when it finally does happen. On the flip-side, it’s totally realistic and understandable that Sophia would realize that Jake (who puts 110 percent effort into the things he cares about) is much more into her than she is him and trying to phase out of the relationship.
Kudos to the show, however, for not making the break-up a result of the reveal of Amy’s feelings for Jake back in “The Road Trip.” Despite the shortness of the pairing (three months, Sophia says), it’s better that a serious Jake relationship would simply end for mature, adult reasons—not just because the other girl Jake “like liked” turned out to “like like” him back.
Plus: Chris Parnell is wonderful as Sophia’s boss, Geoffrey Hoytsman, and the enthusiasm with which he competes with Jake is another point that’s even better with the knowledge of where the plot is going. Rewatch his betting scenes with Jake with the knowledge that he’s high on cocaine—it will give you a new sense of clarity. As will rewatching season two of Brooklyn Nine-Nine as the evolution of Jake and Terry’s best friendship.
As mentioned earlier, while all of this is abundantly entertaining, as the minutes roll by, it becomes more and more ridiculous that none of these so-called professionals are doing their jobs at any point in the episode. Jake basically “lucks” into finding a perp, and that only partially leads to the end of his relationship. Holt spends the whole episode zinging Wuntch, with Rosa as his sounding board. The interrogation room is used for Gina’s thing. A show—especially a sitcom—can’t and shouldn’t necessarily be tied down by its premise; Parks And Recreation is a science-fiction series now, after all. But Brooklyn Nine-Nine has made a point of having most of its characters be so extremely career-driven and competitive in their jobs, that it makes it all at the more obvious when their jobs aren’t on display.
The competition between Amy and Jake in the first season wasn’t exactly the strongest plot point, but it was a constant reminder that, when all was said and done, these people cared about their jobs above almost everything else. When episodes of Brooklyn Nine-Nine just completely throw out police work (when the precinct is still an integral part of the episode, not in an episode like “Beach House”), something feels off, like the show is missing a part of its DNA. Still, “The Defense Rests” is an otherwise solid episode that hits the emotional beats well when it’s not cranking out the laughs. That’s a winner in my book, but that doesn’t mean the show should forget about the precinct.
- This week in webisodes Brooklyn Nine-Nine needs: I’m honestly still reeling over the insane amount of ants the precinct appears to have. And because Roman Reigns won the Royal Rumble. It’s all very upsetting.
- Sorry for the delay, by the way. You heard it here first: Computers are evil.
- Gina: “So… You choose your dad over me, your co-worker who hates you?”
- I really need to see “Asian Don Cheadle.” I need to.
- Holt: “And the children will sing, ‘Wuntch is gone.’”
Rosa: “What children?”
Holt: “All of them”
Rosa: “Right. That was a stupid question.”
- Amy: “I’m a notary. No big deal. I met the comptroller.”
- Holt (re: Wicked in Boston): “She’s moving to a second class city, and I wanted to rub her nose in it.”
- Also, “chubby Chenoweth knockoff” is especially inspired.
- The television series Roseanne exists in this universe in which Sandra Bernhard plays Gina’s mother. That hurts my head.
- Jake: “My lady left me.”
Holt: “My lady stayed.”