“Well, from the look on my face I’m sure you can guess what it says.”
“Honeymoon” continues where “Jake & Amy” left off, with Holt finding out whether he’d gotten the position as NYPD Commissioner or not. (The answer, as it turns out, was “not.”) That cliffhanger could have made a decent open-ended conclusion to the series, but it was thankfully not the last time we’d ever see the Nine-Nine squad again. Now, with a second life on a new network, “Honeymoon” has to function for Brooklyn Nine-Nine on multiple levels, both as a continuation of the past five seasons and as a sixth season premiere but also technically as a series premiere to any new viewers who might still be wondering what the big deal is about this show.
And it does. “Honeymoon” excels in a somewhat understated way, as despite being 114 episodes into Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s run, it serves as a functional, proper introduction to all of the main characters—as well as a crash course as to their personalities and what drives them—as well as an introduction to the type of humor this show is all about. In fact, “Honeymoon” is a very joke-heavy episode that might even set the pace for the differences between Brooklyn Nine-Nine on FOX and Brooklyn Nine-Nine on NBC. (While they’re small differences, I do know based on a set visit that there are also differences just when it comes to cold open lengths and “bleeping” on NBC. Those differences are longer and actually allowed, respectively.) Yet there’s nothing about this introduction to a potentially new audience that suggests handholding or slowing things down for them to catch up. In fact, Neil Campbell’s script is off to the races, seemingly fueled by the power of Jock Jams.
As far as how “Honeymoon” functions as a season premiere, it’s not just a welcome return to the Nine-Nine but one that confirms the show’s still got it, at least in this contained episode. It also sets things into motion for the rest of the season (or at least the next few episodes), whether it’s the newlywed bliss of Jake/Amy or the dissolution of the marriage between Gina’s mother and Boyle’s father (which feels like an early tying up of loose ends when it comes to Chelsea Peretti’s future with the series) or backwards John Kelly getting the Commissioner job over Holt (and what happens as a result of that).
Commissioner Kelly’s retaliation toward the Nine-Nine—turning the bullpen into absolute chaos—for Holt going over his head could bode well for Brooklyn Nine-Nine and its longer arcs. At least as it stands now, there’s definitely a difference between a petty adversary who’s certainly not a good guy and mustache-twirling, all-powerful corrupt cop of a villain, and considering how much Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s Big Bad arcs have escalated at this point, it makes sense to go back to basics on that front. It definitely falls within Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s tendency to go with the “every cop but the cops in the Nine-Nine are bad” story—especially as the policy that makes Holt go over Kelly’s head is essentially Stop & Frisk 2.0—but it’s also something that hopefully won’t go too far into darkness to enjoy.
Terry/Rosa’s plot is also ultimately about bureaucracy and far less exciting work that goes into being a proper leader in the Nine-Nine, but it’s also one that serves as a reminder of the culture of the Nine-Nine and how, had Holt actually gotten the Commissioner job, the squad and the show would’ve ultimately been fine. That doesn’t require a catchy nickname like “Top Dog Terry” and all the barking that goes along with it, but then again, maybe all episodes require that. The plot itself is a simple story—something at which Brooklyn Nine-Nine excels—with Terry’s need to be a good leader and stubbornness (as a result of wanting to prove he’s a good leader) driving the comedy. To the point where he starts reading a book on religion just to answer Holt’s first security question: “What is God?” If there’s one knock I can truly give this episode, it’s that Rosa is the most underserved character in it—as she’s really the one leading the way for both Terry’s over-the-top reactions and Gina’s “rascal” interjections—but she still gets moments of dry humor too that again work with that crash course introduction to the show. (See: “Good. You fixed it.” after Terry has smashed Holt’s laptop to pieces)
Actually, if there’s one more knock I can give it, it comes in the form of wondering how Kevin feels about his husband running off to paradise without him.
But outside of the lingering Kevin question, it’s the little things in terms of narrative cohesion that count. So often, despite everyone working in the same bullpen, there’s not all that much crossover among various episode plots. Here, Gina is being a rascal toward Terry during all of his leadership woes, while also dealing with (and attempting to avoid) Boyle in her own plot. Gina should be around in the Terry/Rosa plot—because she’s Holt’s assistant and Terry’s filling in for Holt—but as simple as that is, it would be just as easy for the show to acknowledge her shenanigans offscreen and never actually show her here.
This entire episode is a great one when it comes to fully showing Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s larger sensibilities as a sitcom—not just the awkward moments like Jake’s ill-timed Jock Jams and Scully and Boyle’s very poor Cyrano attempt—whether it’s Jake giving a heartfelt speech to Holt about how much he means to him (even if that ends with Holt calling him “selfish”), Terry realizing the power to lead was inside him all along, or Gina actually trying to be a decent person to Boyle. Brooklyn Nine-Nine is a comedy about good, competent people—and Scully and Hitchcock—lifting each other to become even better people. It just all plays against a police precinct workplace backdrop.
It’s also a show about horrifying Gina masks and the unnecessary wigs that go along with them. (Never change, Boyle.)
Brooklyn Nine-Nine is also a show about Amy Santiago and Jake Peralta fulfilling each other’s fantasies (Dewey Decimal System and Die Hard-based, respectively), all in contrast to a depressed Holt. And considering how Holt’s emotional range goes from zero to zero, the sight of depressed Holt is one more thing to add to the “Reasons Andre Braugher Deserves More Recognition For Brooklyn Nine-Nine” list. While Brooklyn Nine-NIne could probably still get a funny episode out of having Jake/Amy in full-on newlywed bliss while everyone back at the Nine-Nine is surrounded by chaos, “Honeymoon” is truly driven by third wheel Holt raining on their sexy parade, to the point they end up drinking “two super depressing coconuts filled with merlot.”
A lot of the promotion for this season of Brooklyn Nine-Nine focused on Jake and Amy’s relationship, and even more indicative of the strength of their partnership is the way they go along with each other’s terrible plans to get Holt back on track and out of his rejection-based malaise. (And seriously, the way Amy surprises Jake dressed as Bonnie Bedelia from Die Hard, which is one of the most amazing moments in the history of the series.) Holt’s novelty shirt sight gag is a highlight of this plot, but the existential dread with which he fills every scene—even when he’s spread eagle on Jake and Amy’s hotel room bed—is the true treat.
As a season premiere, “Honeymoon” is exactly the episode you want to start things off on the right foot for Brooklyn Nine-Nine. But the same is also true for its role as a coming out party for Brooklyn Nine-Nine on NBC. It’s not that “Honeymoon” is the best episode of Brooklyn Nine-Nine, but not only does it impressively accomplish everything it needs to do in one fell swoop, it also does so while keeping the humor level up and setting up for some interesting dynamics moving forward. In that case, it is absolutely exemplary.
- This week in webisodes Brooklyn Nine-Nine needs: The last one I did of these was, “Literally all the webisodes I’ve ever included in this feature… only on NBC.com.” I think I’ve peaked. Feel free to suggest your own webisodes in the comments though.
- Hitchcock: “Wait, we’re allowed to say ‘labia’ again?” The Peacock is out of control.
- When it comes to the poorly-timed Jock Jams on from Jake end in the cold open, he should’ve known: A boombox is not a toy.
- Unsurprisingly, Scully is willing to “bend the knee” for Gina.
- Jake/Amy: “ABC.”
Jake: “Always Be Coconutting.”
- Favorite Holt novelty shirt? I think you can’t go wrong with“Pineapple Slut,” and Jake would agree.
- Boyle: “Gina, what the hell?”
Gina: “New phone, who dis?”
Boyle: “You can’t do that in person. It’s Charles! Boyle, your co-worker.”
- Boyle: “Why are you like this?”
Gina: “I don’t know.”
- So, this episode brings up Kevin during the password hunt… How did Kevin feel about Holt just bailing?
- Amy: “Not getting the job you want stinks. In first grade, I was passed over for line leader and I’m still pissed. Kyle D’s lines had curves and gaps and cutting galore—it was a fricken carnival.”
Jake: “Shyeah. What’s a line leader?”
- Holt: “Don’t worry, I’m not listening to you. I’m just thinking about how this sea bass is cold. But not as cold and cruel as the hands of fate that have thrust my entire life into darkness.”
- Holt: “Sorry. Can’t even float right. Just push me away. Everyone else does.”
- Holt: “Tell me: What is it about me that screams ‘loser’?”
- Amy: “Wait. I got it.”
Jake: “We kill Holt.”
- Instructor: “Welcome to sensual food-tasting, the art of feeding your lover.”
Holt: “I feel like I don’t belong here.”
- According to Gina, Terry’s passwords are: “baldbychoice,” “pecman,” and “macklemoreenthusiast.” Come on, Terry.
- Amy: “This B needs a C in my A.” Of course, Jake then tells her what he (and we all) thought she meant, along with all the network bleeps that go with it.
- Amy: “What about improving community relations?”
Holt: “Done. Everyone loves the police, it’s embarrassing.” Also: “There’s no crime in Brooklyn anymore.”