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Brooklyn Nine-Nine: “The Road Trip”

Andy Samberg (left), Eva Longoria
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A wise woman once wrote: “Jake and Amy sitting in a tree…” The rest of the saying had to do with the couple’s will-they/won’t-they situation, but it was also severely lacking in rhyming scenarios, thus the trailing off with ellipses. Regardless, it still remains a relevant saying when it comes to the latest episode of Brooklyn Nine-Nine, “The Road Trip.” Only the tree in which the two characters are sitting is a maple-syrup themed bed and breakfast called The Maple Drip Inn.

Getting right down to it, every character is firing on all cylinders this episode, even in the B- and C-plots. The episode breaks up into three plots: Amy and Jake spending time upstate for a prisoner transfer (which becomes a disastrous double date), Boyle helping Holt learn to cook for his and Kevin’s anniversary, and Terry and Gina trying their best to take care of a sick Rosa. Everyone has something to do in this episode, with the pleasant surprises of Boyle and Holt getting the chance to spend some much-needed one-on-one time and Rosa being taken out of her comfort zone due to the common cold.

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Boyle and Holt are two characters who don’t really get any alone time together, despite how amazingly easy it can be to get laughs out of the contrast of Boyle’s intense need to commit fully to every little thing and Holt’s need for life to be as beige as the “food” of his dreams. Instead of taking to cooking like he did with Kwazy Cupcakes, Holt finds himself completely out of his depth in Boyle’s world (although he turns out to be a natural), and despite how big a blowhard Boyle can be when it comes to his hobbies, it does wonders for his character by allowing him to be in charge and not simply be the butt of a joke. Strangely, Boyle’s manic nature in combination with a more low-key personality is not a well the show goes to outside of his moments with Rosa, but it can clearly be a winning combination.

That’s just the tip of the episode’s iceberg, though. “The Road Trip” really is another excellent episode for the ensemble, maintaining the strength of the series as a whole alongside the drama of the entire Jake/Amy relationship. Unlike the first few episodes of this season, Jake and Amy’s past or present (or even future) feelings for each other don’t come across as too much too soon (“Undercover”) or tacked on for angst’s sake (“The Jimmy Jab Games,” although “angst” might be too strong of a word when it comes to a sitcom like Brooklyn Nine-Nine). Instead, the revelation of Amy’s possible reciprocal feelings for Jake actually comes off just as organically as her wanting to break up with Teddy, a character whose mentions this season have mostly come in the context of the relationship not being all that it seems:

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  • In “The Mole,” Amy tells Gina that her relationship with Teddy is not perfect.
  • In “Lockdown,” Amy’s sole plans for Thanksgiving are Teddy’s Thanksgiving pilsner bottling. (And she doesn’t exactly worry about missing it.)
  • In “USPIS,” Amy admits she’s been hiding her smoking from Teddy.

In fact, Amy’s decision to break-up with Teddy falls right into the same category as the continuity about Amy’s smoking habit. Brooklyn Nine-Nine, for all of its wackiness, is an extremely well-planned and thought-out television show.

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Also, when all is said and done, Jake Peralta is a character who means well. So of course he would want to help Teddy and Amy’s relationship in its time of trouble, just like he would want to fix his failed attempt to fix things with his own particular brand of shenanigans when Amy tells him she plans on breaking up with Teddy soon. The difference between “The Road Trip” and earlier episodes in the second season is that none of Jake’s behavior actually has to do with his lingering feelings for Amy—at least, there’s no one around to tell him that it is. Instead, he can just be free to be the “spectacular” friend that he is.

As a result, Sophia gets to show off the same terrible improvisational skills as her boyfriend, slapping him under pressure and coming up with “Jericho” as a safe word that would never come up in actual conversation. It’s the second episode for the couple, and they remain on the same wavelength, with the two of them being appropriately terrified by the creepy Room of a Thousand Dolls (and some puppets), high fiving over Jake being great at being “un-romantic,” and doing their best to help Amy out with her Teddy situation. Eva Longoria fits in quite nicely with Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and it’s actually a shame that she and Amy are on “opposite sides” of the Jake triangle, because if anything, Sophia interacting with other characters than Jake would only be a win for everyone.

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Also, Sophia calling the Jake/Amy situation “all very high school” can be considered a criticism of the act of love triangles in workplace comedies in the first place, but as it actually stands in this episode, everything is handled surprisingly well and maturely from the characters the audience is supposed to care about. Sorry, Teddy. It remains to be seen how it will actually end, with there only being one more episode left in Eva Longoria’s arc as Sophia, but hopefully it doesn’t devolve into the high school drama that Sophia is wary of in this episode. If it does, at least we’ll always have the Room of a Thousand Dolls.

Of course, Jake and Sophia aren’t the only ones pulling their weight in this A-plot. “The Road Trip” might just be a worthy episode for Melissa Fumero’s potential Emmy submission. She has no “Is everything okay?” monologue moment (although, those are big shoes to fill), but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t deserve the recognition. Amy’s stress over breaking up with Teddy manifests itself in some of the most classic awkward Amy ways—“He said he was really looking forward to a romantic evening, and I panicked and yelled ‘LOL’” and “TEDDY IN DA HOUSE!” are instant classics—and it’s become clear with every passing episode that Melissa Fumero can take any line and make it truly hilarious. With the episode refusing to dwell on her possible feelings for Jake (and the way Teddy decides to air quote everything about that), the focus can simply be on the character and actress herself. Sure, there’s a look from Amy in the end tag, one that says we haven’t seen the last of this will-they/won’t-they, but it’s also a look that does more to move along that storyline in a subtle way than Rosa telling Jake he isn’t over Amy. Simply put, Amy is a good character and Melissa Fumero is a good actress. Congratulations.

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Plus, how could Amy not break up with a man who earnestly says “I got the thrills for the pils!”? That stuff’s not cute.

Over in the precinct itself, Stephanie Beatriz also gets to continue to do great work in this episode, with a drugged up Rosa bouncing off the walls and paying people like Hitchcock compliments (still in her own Rosa way). Like a good portion of this season, it’s a plotline that relies on the Terry/Rosa friendship, one that is very much one of mutual respect and support. It makes sense that Terry does everything he can to keep Rosa from overworking herself during her cold (and to acknowledge her cold), just as it makes sense that Gina simply locks Rosa in a storage room to keep the demon away. Stephanie Beatriz is rarely able to step outside of that surly Rosa state (barring her brief moments of being voice of reason), so it’s fun to see her portray the character differently, while still staying within the “constraints” of the character. It’s not like Rosa becomes a shiny happy person here, but it’s refreshing to see her do something different, if only for an episode.

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Simply put, this is a good episode and Brooklyn Nine-Nine is a good show. Congratulations, yet again.

Stray observations:

  • This week in webisodes Brooklyn Nine-Nine needs: Ping Pong Deathmatch: Amy vs. Claire.
  • This week in Gina loves to mock Amy: Gina does not get to mock Amy in this episode, but she does get to accuse sick Rosa of being a vampire. I can see it.
  • Which reminds me: I realize they’re two Latina women, but Melissa Fumero and Eva Longoria do not actually look alike. Just putting that out there.
  • Jake: “You can just tell him it’s Cupid calling. Wait, no, that’s insane. Tell him it’s Detective Peralta from the Nine-Nine.”
  • “Twink Tucker.” Oh, Boyle.
  • “Yes. I can do it. I can be normal. I can totally be normal.” Oh, Amy.
  • “My favorite meal is a simple roast chicken and potatoes. It was the only dish my mother knew how to cook, and when I eat it, I feel as though I am once again inside her womb.” Here’s one more “Oh, Boyle” for good measure.
  • Gina: “Do you have cholera? Is it typhoid? Are you a vampire? My horoscope said to wear a cowl neck today and I laughed.” Bonus points for not going for “Is it ebola?”
  • Rosa: “Hello? No there’s no Michael here. You have the wrong number. Goodbye.”
    Hitchcock: “I’m Michael!”
    Rosa: “That’s a dumb name. But it’s yours and you should be proud of it, because you are the greatest detective I’ve ever known.”
    Hitchcock: “No doy.”
  • Amy: “It’s not just the pilsners. There are so many reasons I want to break up. That sounded bad, didn’t it?”
    Sophia: “As a lawyer, it’s my duty to tell you to shhh.”
  • Terry (to Rosa): “You literally have been in a coma since yesterday.”
  • Jake: “Sometimes you gotta just rip off the band-aid and let the scab bleed all over the place.”
    Amy: “That’s not the expression at all.”
    Jake: “I’m 100 percent it is.”
  • I clocked Jake saying “Oh noooo…” at 10 seconds. Each second was more beautiful than the last.
  • I must have rewound Sophia slapping Jake at least three times. Ah, young love. Actually, I rewatched that entire dinner over and over again.
  • I guess I should have mentioned this last week, but I didn’t: I don’t hate Ed Helms. I’m sorry. Andy was honestly one of the few characters I could still stand on The Office until those last few seasons.
  • I wish I could come up with something as catchy as the “bravelength” for the Jake and Sophia wavelength, but I can’t. I’m sorry about that too.
  • If you consider episode titles a SPOILER, then don’t read this part: The next episode is “The Pontiac Bandit Returns.” For those wondering, “Pontiac Bandit” was my favorite episode last season. Now you know.
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