Graphic: John P. Fleenor (NBC)
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Maybe it’s just me, but for me, the first character that comes to mind when I see a Brooklyn Nine-Nine episode titled “The Bimbo” is not Captain Raymond Holt. (It’s Boyle, honestly.) The reveal that he is the titular bimbo is one that comes out of left field—both for Jake and the audience—and from that point on, an already funny episode only gets funnier as the “hot piece of ass” designation continues to haunt Holt (and as Andre Braugher and Marc Evan Jackson continue to recite these lines). Because no one watching Brooklyn Nine-Nine (or the characters of the Nine-Nine) see Holt as anything other than a refined, intelligent man; in fact, when his rivals challenge him on that, while he can often grow more immature, he ultimately gains wins over them because of said intelligence. Only, here in “The Bimbo,” he isn’t on a level enough playing field to go the immature Holt route: Instead, we get flustered Holt, the “working class bimbo,” getting into kerfuffles.

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Madeline Walter and Paul Welsh’s script loves hitting the absurd beats of fighting from beneath Holt even harder than Holt’s brain, and it succeeds in doing so. There’s something so delightfully early ‘90s sitcom about the repeated use of the word “bimbo,” especially as it all wraps up to lead to a very special lesson about standing up for your loved ones. (The B-plot is just a line of tape in the middle of the room away from having that same vibe.) “The Bimbo” also sees Joe Lo Truglio step behind the camera and into the director’s chair this week, while Boyle plays a fine back-up to competitive Terry. And with its flashbacks and unexpected bits (from the party limo to the precinct grill to the Harry Potter a capella group), Lo Truglio gets to do a lot for his Brooklyn Nine-Nine directorial debut, while getting a great episode to hang his hat on.

With “The Bimbo,” Brooklyn Nine-Nine gives us a classic Holt/Jake work father-son team-up for the A-plot and a classic over-the-top (and with zero actual stakes) squad competition in the B-plot. Somehow, the episode doesn’t devolve into absolute chaos, despite the continued escalation from scene-to-scene. Yes, the episode introduces the idea of Scully and Hitchcock being in two places at once when it comes to free food, but even that makes sense here, because: “Life finds a way.” But even looking at the A-plot, while there’s certainly a solid episode in a Jake/Kevin plot—with the two of them hiding their secret team-up from Holt the whole time—the episode isn’t afraid to throw that idea out the window by the end of the next scene. The B-plot, of course, blows up the idea of morale-boosting by the end of its first scene. “The Bimbo” goes from point A to point Harry Potter to point Gina statue to point Z, never slowing down.

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“The Bimbo” also plays with the standard bit of the perpetrator being aggressively obvious: Dean Wesley Allister (Oliver Muirhead) is the obvious choice from the second he calls Holt “Policeman Raymond” and refuses to shake his hand. (In fact, my first note about him is that he “def did it.”) The obvious conclusion is that he gets his comeuppance by being arrested for his crimes. Instead, Allister still gets his comeuppance but not for being a criminal, as Randy the janitor (Bob Stephenson) ends up filling that role; he gets it with the public embarrassment that comes with learning that he’s “been asleep at the wheel” due to his underestimation of others he considers lesser. Then there’s the intense satisfaction that comes from Kevin standing up for Holt and verbally taking Allister down.

On the other side of the episode, one of the best things about Brooklyn Nine-Nine is how insanely laser-focused (not laser pointer-focused) its characters get when it comes to competition. In fact, over in the A-plot, Holt/Jake make a quick aside about the third Halloween Heist, the recurring aspect of this show that most brings out that competitive nature. So after the weak Terry/Amy plot in “The Therapist,” this week’s Terry/Amy plot is an even better follow-up to their upstairs/downstairs plot in “Hitchcock & Scully.” “The Bimbo” even touches on it very briefly, but with both characters now being sergeants, there’s interesting potential in a professional competition between the two of them because of that. But better yet, this plot addresses one key point about the squad and their competitions: how the rest of the Nine-Nine must feel about these crazy misadventures. What begins as a decent gesture from superiors to boost morale becomes a game of one-upmanship that would never really lead to anything other than, supposedly, a winner.

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(And it’s such an insane thing to dwell on when it’s very clear that after a week of competition, Team Jeffords has absolutely smoked Team Santiago—who only won with the Coney Island trip, to Terry’s four other wins—anyway.)

At the same time, the episode isn’t just a farce detached from reality. The B-plot ends with the peak of humanity—being blissfully antisocial in your place of work, which is what we should all strive for—but I’m referring more to the reason behind Holt’s flustered actions in this episode and Kevin’s part in all of this as well. Despite how ridiculous the idea of Holt being considered a dummy is, Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Andre Braugher are still able to get some genuine emotion out of the plot in a way that makes you want to root for Holt vs. Allister and the Classics department. Early in all of this, Holt tells Jake that he’s afraid Kevin will eventually open his eyes and realize that Holt’s “beneath him,” and there’s absolutely nothing to laugh about—yet it’s a moment that doesn’t feel out of place in this episode. That’s because Brooklyn Nine-Nine has already established that, while Kevin and Holt are obviously perfect for each other, their marriage is still far from perfect; and Holt’s career has a lot to do with that. But it’s not an obstacle because of the shallow reasons someone like Allister notes in this episode, which makes Kevin’s eventual outburst on Holt’s behalf work.

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Even something “hella specific” like their firm handshake and eye contact at the end comes across as something truly romantic for the two of them, as funny as it is. It’s also a nice touch early on that Kevin tells Jake that Holt “can get a little overemotional” when it comes to him, because while that ends up being true—that’s the reason behind the various kerfuffles—it’s not true in the way one assumes (and as established in the mentioned episode, “Safe House”). As this season of Brooklyn Nine-Nine references its past more than any previous season, even better than hearing these references is seeing how these past issues have affected these characters.

Even if it only affects them in a way where the competitions (and shooting your spouse with a real gun) somehow get more trivial.

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Stray observations

  • Thank you all for your patience during my lack of internet access, which led to my inability to see and write about this episode (that I very much enjoyed seeing and writing about) in a timely fashion and me trying to figure out how to exist without internet. Less thank you to an internet provider that rhymes with “Rectum.”
  • Surprisingly, this is only Joe Lo Truglio’s second directing credit. His other is one of my favorite episodes of David Wain’s Wainy Days, “Tough Guy.”
  • Holt: “I’ve crafted an intricate, personal high-five with everyone in this office, except you.”
    Jake: “What? But you hate high-fives.”
    Holt: “Yes, every minute of it was hell. But it’ll be worse for you.” It’s not an exact science, but again, an unrelated cold open leads to a solid episode.
  • The specter of Commissioner Kelly looms over the Nine-Nine, with budget cuts and their inability to get a new fridge—which gets the caution tape treatment—through proper channels… but that turns into something completely unrelated once Terry and Amy’s competitive spirits come out.
  • Maybe the Nine-Nine shouldn’t be allowed to say “snazz” either.
  • The episode smartly notes how quickly the competition no longer becomes about food or Terry/Amy even paying for meals or “the experience”—answering my initial question about how rich cops must be.
  • Amy: “Tell him how good it was, Rosa. Tell him how high our morale is.”
    Rosa: “High.”
    Amy: “Oh, stop gushing, girl.” That final line is excellent line reading from Melissa Fumero, but I must mention how funny Rosa just going along with her friends’ weird things is. The only resistance she shows here is during the “lunch-a-bunch” thing, but she’s down to do “snazz” hands and crush karaoke.
  • Scully: “It’s free food. Life finds a way.”
  • Amy: “Okay—but you can’t win, because it wasn’t a competition.”
    Terry: “So let’s make it a competition. Same groups tomorrow?”
    Amy: “Okay. But let’s agree at the end of this that we’ll still be friends.”
    Terry: “No deal.”
    Amy: “Good! ‘Cause I didn’t mean it anyway!”
  • Jake: “This is insane. You’re the smartest person I know.”
    Holt: “I’ll explain it to you: Among Kevin’s peers, I’m the Jake.”
    Jake: “No, no, no, no, no. I refuse to live in a world where you’re the Jake. Because if you’re the Jake, what does that make me? The Charles?”
    Holt: “The Hitchcock.”
    Jake: “The Hitchcock?! Oh my god. You dropped down so many more levels than I was expecting.”
  • Terry: “Come on, Team Jeffords: It’s chow time.”
    Amy: “We have a cool thing to say too! Team Santiago: Let’s lunch-a-bunch!”
    Rosa: “No, I don’t say that.”
    Amy: “Come on, Rosa. Please?”
    Rosa (mumbles): “Let’s lunch-a-bunch.”
    Amy: “Ah, Rosa said it! Did you hear that? Did you hear it?”
  • Amy: “Honk honk, bitches.”
    Terry: “What the hell?!”
    Rosa: “We rented a party limo, drove to Coney Island for hot dogs, and then did karaoke the entire time. I sang ‘It Wasn’t Me’ by Shaggy. Crushed it.” I might need to bring the weekly webisodes feature back just for the Rosa scenes we’ll never see.
  • Terry: “You’re forgetting about our breakfast at the Empire State Building.”
    Heather: ”It was so cold up there.”
    Gary: “Sounds a lot better than our indoor skydiving lunch. Speaking of which, are we gonna get reimbursed for that?”
    Rosa: “How dare you complain about the Fantastic Flyzone? That was fantastic fun for everyone.”
  • The Gina statue lives!
  • Gary: “I keep having panic dreams about Sergeant Santiago shooting down my lunch ideas.”
    Amy: “Historic walking tours don’t win lunch, Gary.”
    Gary: “No one cares about winning lunch! Please—just leave us alone.” And this is why he gets shot.
  • Holt: “You’ve been caught, Allister!”
    Jake: “Is it happening?”
    Holt: “Caught by me.”
    Jake: “It is happening.”
    Holt: “Me and my rock hard brain.”
    Jake: “It happened.”
  • Allister: “They’re actually very funny: They have Achilles printed on the heel.”
    Jake: “I don’t know if I would call that ‘very funny’.” Nah, it is.
  • Allister: “I suppose I can see how holding any book would seem like a taunt to you.”
    Jake: “I own a book.”
  • Holt: “I’m fine. I’ve decided to stop fighting it and lean into the fact that I’m an idiot. Look at me—playing a video game.”
    Jake: “Oh, which one?”
    Holt: “Times crossword app.”
    Jake: “Not a video game.”
    Holt: “Oh, it plays a little song when you solve it as if you’ve just learned to potty. Yes, yes—play me my dunce’s tune.”
  • It’s nice to see Gary again—and to see Amy go from trying to woo him for two seconds before going back to hating the sound of his voice—but I imagine this won’t lead to even more Gary, due to Drew Tarver’s role on The Other Two. (Which you should all be watching.) But thankfully this episode introduces us to Officer Heather (Sarah Claspell), who makes an even better punching bag… and either has no last name (her name tag says “HEATHER”), has the last name “Heather,” or has the same first and last name (“Heather Heather”).

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