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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Illustration for article titled In “The Takeback,” iBrooklyn Nine-Nine/i relies on the old tricks of an old friend
Graphic: John P. Fleenor (NBC)
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Compared to the rest of this season so far, “The Takeback” is a very chill episode of Brooklyn Nine-Nine. In fact, it’s arguably the first filler episode of the season; though it’s probably more appropriate to describe it as a breather episode. After all, Season Seven of Brooklyn Nine-Nine has been dense, both in terms of plot and jokes. Remember Debbie, everyone? But while a breather may be necessary for this season at some point, considering that last week’s episode ended with Jake and Amy learning they’re going to have a baby and that this week’s episode sees Holt return to his Captain’s post, the choice for this to be the time for Brooklyn Nine-Nine to take a breather is a questionable one.

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Brooklyn Nine-Nine does attempt to make up for that choice, in a way, by including a long-established recurring character in the form of Craig Robinson’s Doug Judy, the scoundrel and “best friend” of Jake Peralta. You know, it’s easy to just chill when you’re chilling with your favorite bro. But unfortunately, “The Takeback” doesn’t exactly rank high on the list of Doug Judy appearances, and the other plots in the episode range from filler to oddly-timed.

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I’ll get the vending machine plot out of the way now, as there’s not much to it. The Nine-Nine’s work order to have the outlet (where the nonexistent vending machine would be) fixed has gone through, and Amy’s in charge of deciding what kind of vending machine will get the spot. This is another Brooklyn Nine-Nine plot that could easily get the Nine-Nine’s competitive juices flowing, but instead, it’s just a quick presentation from Boyle (who, of course, wants seafood balls) and Hitchcock and Scully (who want an actually good vending machine). That the latter’s dream vending machine has too high a voltage for the outlet to sustain allows Brooklyn Nine-Nine to return to the vending machine-less status quo by the end of the episode. There’s some amusement in Hitchcock and Scully—as expected—getting overly emotional over food and the death of a machine and Terry’s initial appearance at the possibility that there will be a yogurt vending machine, but there’s also not much to this plot.

Going back to the competition of it all, this is the type of plot that would be great if more members of the Nine-Nine (even if they’re randos we’d never seen before) had any investment in the vending machine choice. Instead, it’s a plot that comes across more like something for the also-rans of the episode to be involved in, which is an insult to both Amy and Boyle as character. This is also the first plot in quite some time that goes with complete straight man Amy Santiago, a la Season One. While there’s an argument that Amy has gotten too wacky in these later seasons, at least she gets to be funny, which isn’t the case in this episode.

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As for Holt’s first day back as Captain, while it’s a peculiar choice that Brooklyn Nine-Nine doesn’t have the whole squad together for his return to his rightful position,* this plot works far better than the vending machine plot. Yes, it’s Holt’s first day back on the job, but the first order of business is for him to get all of his things back in order. The choice for Holt to wordlessly inspect his office instead of verbally chastise Terry’s failed attempt to make everything as it was is one of the best choices in Dewayne Perkins’ script for this episode.

But the best choice of this episode is the unaddressed continuation of the bond between Rosa and Holt, proving that proves Rosa’s absolutely one of Holt’s favorites, if not his #1 favorite. (Sorry, Terry.) This season has pushed the concept of Rosa and Holt being on the same wavelength, and it continues to in “The Takeback.” It’s obviously there with the way Holt allows Rosa to dip out of the business card/chewed gum conflict and then swoop back in to take all the credit, but it’s also in the way Rosa is able to get into Holt’s mind to choose the correct chewed gum replacement… to the point that Holt still accepts it even though it’s just slightly off. The plot’s larger point about Holt’s impact as a cop over the years is a solid conclusion to the plot, but the real strength is the way Terry just snaps after Rosa gets the credit for all of his work..

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* As good as this season has been, I still believe the choice not to explore Holt’s demotion as much (and Terry’s apparent interim promotion) was a missed opportunity. I’ve been writing about Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s choice to get back to the status quo as possible after its bigger season-ending arcs for years, but this is the first time where the plot point was exciting because of how much it seemed like it would be part of the season and Holt’s story.

Like the Halloween Heist episodes (which are briefly discussed in the episode), every Doug Judy episode revolves around the twists and turns on the way to the thrilling conclusion. While it’s great that Brooklyn Nine-Nine remains committed to having Doug Judy stay straight—as it really stretched out Jake being good friends with a criminal who constantly hoodwinks him as much as it possibly could a while ago—that somewhat contributes to “The Takeback” not being all that exciting in the A-plot, compared to other Doug Judy episodes. It leads to a happy ending, with Jake and Amy being invited to his wedding. And it even has a heist involved, because as Doug Judy points out: “It was much easier this way.” (He also notes the “classic negging” he used during the whole plan.)

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But the biggest hindrance to this plot—other than Doug Judy actually being on the right side of the law, if you consider that a hindrance—is that it’s hard to get all that invested in how much Doug Judy’s friends hate his “cop friend” and the possibility of them finding out it’s Jake, because Doug Judy’s friends are pretty much the typical inconsequential Brooklyn Nine-Nine criminal characters. They’re no different than the crime lords of the week that the Nine-Nine takes down, meaning there’s no chance of getting invested in them or their thoughts on the Doug Judy/Jake Peralta relationship. The logic for this plot existing is solid and it’s an interesting concept to explore after all these years, but the execution isn’t all that interesting. And the reverse heist (the titular takeback) works as well as it does—on a humor level, as the reversal heist itself goes off without a single hitch—because of the established characters in Jake (whose ASMR bit is the highlight), Doug Judy, and Nicole Byer’s Trudy Judy (introduced in last season’s “A Tale Of Two Bandits”).

Neither Judy sibling is the issue with the plot though—unless you’re of the mind that the Doug Judy character has lasted past its expiration date—especially as Trudy Judy’s newfound butt obsession keeps things interesting throughout. She also doesn’t much care for Jake, which comes into play during the whole story. And unlike her brother, Trudy Judy is still fresh enough to be a true wild card.

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But in talking about all things Doug Judy episodes and staying fresh, it’s worth noting: The slow-mo intros set to old school jams (in this case, “Conga”) and Jake’s undercover outfits in these episodes never get old. But maybe the overall Doug Judy episode format does.


Stray observations

  • The white CEO that Doug talks to in the flashback is named “Travis E. Gates III.” Congrats to Brooklyn Nine-Nine producer Travis E. Gates for finally getting the white CEO treatment.
  • Mark Cuban makes a cameo in this episode, in case that’s something that interests you.
  • The Smush Shush. That’s it. That’s all I have to say.
  • Trudy Judy: “Cops always be coppin’.”
    Jake: “That’s not true. I do bad things. One time I illegally downloaded an O-Town album.”
    Doug Judy: “Dang. That’s one of the hardest boy bands.”
    Jake: “Exactly. They’re scary.” If there is one joke in this episode that was written specifically for me, it was this one. It’s a shame this ended up being a lie. (“I bought it at a D.A.R.E. concert. Came bundled with a sweatshirt.”)
  • Jake: “She’s a grown woman. Just let her see butts, man.”
  • Trudy Judy: “Now I’ma go out there and help your fedora-wearin’, Jason Mraz-lookin’ ass, okay?”
    Jake: “I think I look like Andy Garcia in this hat.”
    Doug Judy: “You look like Seth Green.”
    Jake: “Seth Green?”
    Trudy Judy: “No. Tom Green. You’re thinking of Tom Green.”
    Doug Judy: “Tom Green.”
    Jake: “Tom Green? No. Go back to Jason Mraz.”
  • Rosa: “Names are all made up. There’s no such thing as a normal name, TER-RY.”
  • I am sorry to Andy Samberg and Craig Robinson, but their rendition of “Opposites Attract” had nothing on Ryan Hansen and Samira Wiley’s. Jake was right though: “The worst rap!”
  • Trudy Judy: “I knew it was a mistake to invite a cop. That’s why you should only interact with people who are exactly the same as you.”
    Jake: “That’s a terrible lesson.”
    Trudy Judy: “Sometimes things aren’t lessons. Sometimes things are just messed up facts.”
  • Rosa: “Since this seems to be important now, I wanna be clear: This is Terry’s thing. I’ve just been along for the ride.”
    Terry: “Rosa!”
    Holt: “Noted.”
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Contributor, The A.V. Club. Despite her mother's wishes, LaToya Ferguson is a writer living in Los Angeles. If you want to talk The WB's image campaigns circa 1999-2003, LaToya's your girl.

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