Image: Brooklyn Nine-Nine (NBC)
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The true marker of a successful ensemble comedy is when any combination of characters can carry a storyline. Certain duos of course make the most sense together and have standout dynamics, but Brooklyn Nine-Nine is absolutely the kind of ensemble show where you can match up any two characters and get not only comedic gold but also usually a believable and deep emotional narrative, too. Kind of like last week’s episode really centered Jake and Rosa, “The Honeypot” centers Jake and Holt. Andy Samberg and Andre Braugher have pitch-perfect comedic chemistry, and the episode gets a lot of mileage out of just how different Jake and Holt are while also reiterating that they’re great at working together.

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The episode brims with really classic moments for both characters that lean into the specifics of their personalities. For Holt, there’s his “lento” drum roll, his barrel soliloquies, when he admonishes someone for abbreviating a one syllable word and mimics him by abbreviating desk to “des,” the fact that he says “Thomas Cruise” and “Home Box Office.” When it comes to Jake, I love the little moments that indicate things that he just doesn’t quite get, like his off version of “tomato/potato” and the fact that he thinks good hiring practice is to not check on references until after there’s a problem with an employee. We’re so deep into this show that we’re intimately familiar with the characters and their personal brands, and there’s a sense that the story almost doesn’t even matter, because as long as Holt and Jake are being themselves, it’s going to be funny.

Still, it ends up being a pretty plot-driven episode, Jake and Holt working together to try to figure out if Holt’s droll new assistant was planted by the commissioner to seduce Holt and spy on him. All the comedy about Holt’s idea of what flirting looks like is hilarious. Holt’s rivalry with the commissioner has been a big part of this season, and the commissioner is a solid villain for the show, so it’s fun to watch Holt and Jake pull one over on him in the end. The fact that Holt borrows a bit of Jake’s line of thinking by studying spy movies is a nice little touch that plays into their unlikely but very heartfelt friendship.

There’s some really strong, joke-heightening editing throughout the episode, like the quick-cut runner of Holt saying buzz and Jake saying fly. Phil Augusta Jackson directed, and he seems to have a strong grasp on what makes Holt and Jake just a compelling duo. And I can’t stress enough just how good Braugher and Samberg are together.

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In the B plot, Amy gets to really step into her element when called upon to tidy up the precinct, which has become cluttered because of the overcrowding. As I wrote last week, this is a show that revels in its characters doing the things they love and doing them well, and this is another perfect example of that. “The Honeypot” lets Amy be her full self and also celebrates that while poking just the right amount of fun at her (she reads a magazine specifically for people who organize).

And what initially seems mostly like just a fun little subplot about the co-workers lighting their stuff on fire (when Marie Kondo-ing the office doesn’t work, Amy has to take more drastic measures) ends up landing in a surprisingly emotional place that centers another interpersonal relationship. Amy and Terry have a really sweet moment after he admits to her the real reason why he’s hanging on to unopened suspenders. He’s still feeling low about failing the lieutenant exam, and the suspenders represent that. “Some things are worth clinging to,” he says, transforming the subplot into something much more meaningful. This show always manages to bring a lot of heart to the table.


Stray observations

  • You will note that I am once again not LaToya. Thank you to her for letting me step in on the show again!
  • The joke of the cold open is really Samberg, Stephanie Beatriz, and Andre Braugher talking really fast, and yet it is so funny.
  • Rosa’s love of The Intern is everything.
  • “Are you literally saying hem and haw?”
  • Holt’s dramatic pronunciation of “cameras” at the end reminds me of Jenna Maroney.

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