“Adoption is complicated,” Charles tells Jake late in “Gintars,” a solid, if not dazzling, episode of Brooklyn Nine-Nine that gets better on examination. And he’s right—for many families, it is. But “Gintars” doesn’t attempt to dissect or explain the ins and outs of Nikolaj’s connection with the titular weirdo, or to pass judgment on Charles’ reaction to Gintars’ arrival. Instead, it focuses on other relationships, even the gentlest of which can be pretty damn complicated, too.
The A-story this week centers on the newest members of the Salt Lake Lindas, Boyle and Jake, whose relationship is thrown off balance when the latter gets too involved in a complicated Boyle family matter (and not in a fun, “let’s take a couples trip” with Boyle and his dad kind of way). The episode, credited to Andy Gosche, pulls a clever bait and switch, seemingly focusing in on the machinations of Gintars (Ike Barinholtz, in full Barinholtz mode), when in reality the dramatic thrust is that of Best Bud #1 and Best Bud #1. The moment in which that clicks into place instantly casts the rest of the episode in a different light.
There’s scene after scene of Charles talking about his feelings, and about the worries and insecurities that the arrival of Gintars stirs up. (“Nikolaj.” “Nikolaj!” “Nikolaj.” “Nikolaj!” “Nikolaj.” “Nikolaj!”) Jake, always action-oriented, proposes solutions and finds new ways of framing the issues for Boyle, but after hearing Boyle say he’d do anything to get rid of Gintars, he forgets a really important part of being Best Bud #1, and instead begins plotting to get the guy sent back to Latvia. It’s then that Charles, who the story most concerns, has his big revelation—and it happens off-screen. It’s a private thing, a family thing, but Jake might still have learned about it, if he’d decided to comfort his friend instead of heading to the Russian Baths.
Before Charles’ off-screen revelation, it’s a lightweight but entertaining Charles/Jake story, albeit one that gives Joe Lo Truglio plenty to play. Afterward, with the story re-framed with that one line, it becomes a significant milestone in one of the show’s most significant relationships. Jake is wrong—nothing new. Charles calls him out on it, and not in the usual, worshipful and forgiving Boyle way. He’s mad, and he takes Jake to task—harshly, by Boyle standards, gently by almost anyone else.
Yet the moment’s a good one for the pair. As Boyle says, “I just wanted you to listen more, I don’t want to change our whole dynamic.” And Gosche peppers the episode with evidence of the strength of the friendship, and particularly, of Jake’s investment in that friendship. He checks for a concussion with a Zootopia question. He brings some duck broth. He knows and loves Charles Boyle, drops the ball this time, and then picks it back up. It’s not a surprise that Charles forgives him, but it is a surprise that Charles, who seems to only become petulant when spurred by envy rather than anger, allows himself to be angry and to show that anger. Lo Truglio takes a backseat for a stretch, but returns in the end for a handful of scenes so good they should shoot “Gintars” right to the top of the actor’s best Nine-Nine turns.
Jake’s on the outside of a situation, but thinks he’s on the inside. Rosa’s on the outside, and it’s a valuable place to be. The episode’s B-story centers on Holt and Amy, whose mutual professional crush on Dr. Yee (as seen in “Return To Skyfire”) flares up in a potentially case-ruining way.
It’s not as personal as the Jake and Charles storyline, but watching Holt and Amy laugh together and fist-bump behind their backs is a little mind-blowing when you compare those interactions to those from the first season. Hell, compare this dynamic to the one glimpsed in this season’s premiere. It’s another indication of the ways Brooklyn Nine-Nine pays attention to the evolution of most of its relationships, and not merely those (like Jake and Amy’s) that take up the most screen time.
So Rosa’s right and the giggling bug-lovers are wrong. In this case, being removed from what’s going on with those two emotionally helps, as it grans her some much needed perspective. (Terry, distracted by tiny mites, is basically around for a funny, gradually building sight gag. ) But it’s not just the issue of distance that links these stories.
Welcome to two new participants in the Year Of The Scam! Sorry you’ve both been found out so soon. The only thing better than reading about a scammer is watching one get caught in their own bullshit, and that made the episode’s end even more fun. Relationships are complicated, but lying about bug detectives and The Gape is pretty freakin’ straightforward.
- “When you grow up, nobody thinks skateboarders are cool. What’s cool is hemming your own pants!”
- “I come from white country. I have very long visa.”
- “This is a nighttime look.”
- LaToya Ferguson will be back! Thanks for reading.