“Jake & Amy” could’ve easily functioned as a proper series finale for Brooklyn Nine-Nine. In terms of its status on FOX, that’s kind of what it is. As an episode that will have follow-up though, it’s also quite refreshing to have a season finale that doesn’t end with the characters in a state of absolute chaos. Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s season finale track record, sitcom rules, and even the presentation of this episode screams that things will go absolutely wrong for Jake and Amy’s wedding day. I even recall seeing speculation that the pair would have to go into hiding, which would at least sort of be a different spin on the show’s big (but ultimately frustrating) season endings.

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As I’ve mentioned before, this season has featured plenty of moments where it truly feels like this could all be the proper goodbye season to the series. It’s put characters on new professional and personal paths that could be interesting in the long run but are still just as fascinating as final act choices for their onscreen stories. Even Boyle’s food truck story—as short as it was—felt like the culmination of a series’ worth of work for the character. (As did Jake/Amy’s nuptials, actually.) Gina is still Gina, but she’s also a mother and has (surprisingly, yet still barely) matured in terms of what she’s able to tolerate from characters like Boyle and Amy. Amy’s a sergeant with her own squad, and Jake has done an amazing amount of emotional progress on multiple fronts. Holt’s definitely maybe the new Commissioner of the entire NYPD, and it won’t be the end of the world for the Nine-Nine if he actually has to leave them.

If this is The End—we know it’s not, but pretend to go into this episode with that idea still on your mind—then why not just throw in anything you possibly can for this episode? Make Rosa fall head-over-heels for Gina Rodriguez; have Jake and Amy do everything they can to have the toitest of nups; get Holt to face his future in the NYPD, after a hard as hell road to get there; let Gina say something super meta to just get through it all.

Despite Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s lack of reliance on meta dialogue—sure there are moments, like Jake saying they’re only supposed to see Bill once a year—in terms of its comedy, there’s something cathartic about Gina’s, “Seems like people are pairing off for adventures… and we have the best rapport.” to explain/defend her plot with Holt. Given how quickly the cold open gets right into “crisis mode” things for this episode, it’s both welcome and a little necessary. Even more playing with format is Hitchcock and Scully’s side adventure taking place entirely offscreen. And competently. Plus, if you didn’t think Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s writers hand an inkling it was going to be the end, then the return of Fred Armisen’s Melipnos (from the pilot and “Operation: Broken Feather”) surely musti’ve given you a “full circle” heads up. Also, Amy’s wedding vows about the unpredictability of life are the definitive Brooklyn Nine-NIne speech. This episode’s very well-crafted in creating the “perfect” finale, whatever that might actually mean for the series.

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And while Gina pulls the meta card for herself/Holt, the same can be said for Terry/Rosa, a pairing that’s always great for showing off a more vulnerable version of badass Rosa. That’s what we get with the introduction of Gina Rodriguez as Alicia, and this particular storyline is understandably a new beginning that opens up possibilities in the imaginary world where this show doesn’t get a second life. It’s also a storyline where Rosa snorts, which naturally makes all 100+ episodes of Brooklyn Nine-Nine worth it.

As Boyle’s stress over the Jake/Amy nuptials feels true to the character—of course he’d create the engagement announcement that leads to an arch-nemesis/bomb situation—Terry is the only one who technically doesn’t feel like he has a particular endgame focus. Then again, the combination of his work with Jake in last week’s episode and his desire to force love for Rosa also highlights his role as the squad’s uncle (with Holt as its dad). After all, Jake regularly points out how Terry is the ideal marital partner and parent. He’s in a well-respected position of power and in a good place with his family, and unlike the rest of the characters—besides maybe Gina—he’s already content when it comes to his goals. For the show to end with Terry in service of both Rosa’s love life and Jake/Amy’s perfect wedding, it’s not as empty of a conclusion for the character as it appears at first. Terry loves love.

Again, what makes “Jake & Amy” an even more satisfying conclusion to the season (and to the series, as it could’ve been) is that it avoids the premise-bombing (bomb or not) situation completely. In fact, after you’ve sent two of your main characters to prison, what’s left to do other than kill someone off? The most viable option this season was a Seamus Murphy conclusion, but the way things go here, it makes even more sense that the season got rid of that particular problem when it did. It’s clear “Jake & Amy” was written by Dan Goor and Luke Del Tredici with the idea of finality. But even if the show had actually been 100% safe for renewal, this is arguably the better option than a big police finish. Other than Rosa’s future with Alicia, the only real cliffhanger in this episode is Holt’s Commissioner fate (Jake/Amy will be fine), and it’s intentional enough that it doesn’t technically count as a cliffhanger. It’s more a “leaving the audience up to their own imagination” situation, and considering Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s standard optimism, of course the audience will believe he got the position. Or, they’ll believe he didn’t—only because perhaps the truest form of optimism in the Nine-Nine relies on things not changing too much.

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Despite the intense focus—a lot like a wedding—“Jake & Amy” is a delightfully chaotic episode of Brooklyn Nine-Nine. In fact, its version of controlled chaos makes perfect sense for a wedding episode; it’s highly aware that, despite TV rituals, it can’t ruin this wedding, and it makes sure to have everything work out in a specifically Brooklyn Nine-Nine way. That means things like the bomber being an Amy arch nemesis (Kyle Gass) instead of a Jake arch nemesis… which eventually leads to the marital idea of shared arch nemeses.

There are a lot of callbacks—in dialogue and action, as well as just in spirit—to Jake and Amy’s season one relationship. In fact, this episode works hard to explain how those versions of Jake/Amy could become these versions of Jake/Amy, without it being weird they’re ending up married. It’s technically something the show did a while ago—if you remember, I wasn’t originally on the Jake/Amy train, and the most credit I gave to it back in season two was how the Jake/Sophia relationship worked to make Jake look like a viable love interest at all. But if you were to only watch the pilot and then watch “Jake & Amy,” this episode would do a very good job of explaining that dynamic in a way that isn’t insulting or surprising. Holt brings up the duo’s immature workplace competition in the first season—which I recall being a topic of criticism at the time. So to watch them spend the episode working together to solve a case, especially one where the initial assumption of whose case it is is wrong, is the proper cap to those early beginnings. Going back to those early days of Jake/Amy competition, one of the biggest criticisms of the show was that “it’s Andy Samberg’s show above all else,” so it means a lot that this full circle story ends up with it being Amy’s arch nemesis and not Jake’s. Watching the series as it’s progressed, there’s an understanding of the balancing act between Samberg and the rest of the cast, but “Jake & Amy” is the official declaration as things end.

Also, these two dummies just support each other so much. Yes, that’s my professional analysis of Jake and Amy’s relationship in “Jake & Amy.” (The nicotine patches alone say it all.)

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However, of all the season’s callbacks expected for the wedding, neither NutriBoom nor Doug Judy makes an appearance. In Doug Judy’s defense though, he made that fact abundantly clear; it was just wishful thinking to think he would appear again. And on the one hand, it really is preferable to have Brooklyn Nine-Nine exist without dark story clouds overhead. On the other hand, introducing something like NutriBoom and the intense corporate conspiracy now dedicated to taking down Jake/Amy/Boyle and then doing nothing with that ignores what Brooklyn Nine-Nine has been asking its audience to accept for seasons. While there was something interesting in the entire $10,000 missing in honeymoon money concept, the lack of resources became a non-topic completely with last week’s last minute wedding planning (a peculiar moment on its own) and surprisingly makes no appearance whatsoever here at the wedding.

Sure, neither does the Addams Family themed rap the season’s been building to, but at least we get the explanation of a lack of beat boxer in this particular case. Could Boyle have been the beat boxer? Yes, but the Addams Family themed rap vows were never going to live up to actual expectations, especially not as much as Amy flipping things and calling Jake’s butt “the bomb” does in this episode. But with NutriBoom, this was what the season was building towards with its ending, was it not? What makes the NutriBoom thing more bizarre is that there was no reason to blow up the idea of the Jake/Amy honeymoon, especially if it wasn’t going to factor into the finale or even the budget issues in the penultimate episode.

Because of the way the season set things up for this conclusion, “White Whale” and “Jake & Amy” get docked points for not following through on them. Would it have been better had there been no NutriBoom issues in the first place? Had there been an explanation for any last minute wedding planning? Yes, actually. In a self-contained situation, these last two episodes of the season absolutely fulfill every possible thing a Brooklyn Nine-Nine episode needs. But the thing about Brooklyn Nine-Nine is that it’s made abundantly clear that “self-contained situation” isn’t exactly the name of the game. As for everything else? Flawless.

“Life is unpredictable. Not everything is in our control. But as long as we’re with the right people, we can handle anything.”

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Just one more time, until the next time: Nine-Nine!


Stray observations

  • This week in webisodes Brooklyn Nine-Nine needs: All the webisodes I’ve ever included here… only on NBC.com.
  • Terry: “Switch with me. That’s your good side.”
    Rosa: “I have a bad side?”
    Terry: “Oh damn, you didn’t know?”
  • There’s absolutely nothing funny about a dog eating chocolate… but the image of a sick Cheddar the dog (“the furry little pig”) lying down in shame after eating half the One Nakatomi Plaza wedding cake is one of the most amazing moments of the entire season. It’s some damn good dog acting.
  • One thing I find strange about how Brooklyn Nine-Nine and its growth is how much it’s stepped away from the Jake/Gina friendship. At this point, you’d probably think Amy/Gina (or literally any other pairing besides Jake/Gina) was the life-long friendship, really.
  • Teddy being correct about the bomber’s daughter/blueprints thing is such a ridiculous moment; but or all his status as Mr. Boring and a Brooklyn Nine-Nine saboteur, he deserves at least one win.
  • Teddy is a character who truly gets by on the grace and talent of Kyle Bornheimer, as the combination of another character sabotaging the Nine-Nine in some way and another ex trying to stop Amy’s wedding is inherently a frustrating situation. In the case of the former, it’s perhaps the most Brooklyn Nine-Nine aspect of the episode then, but watching other cops trying to pettily destroy our heroes has become quite tiring. As I mentioned last week, Olivia Crawford was a refreshing character as she wasn’t technically just an anti-Nine-Nine opponent… though her mission statement was apparently to put an end to precincts altogether. Still, Teddy’s answer to being called “boring”—which he is—being to join the bomb squad is a situation that highlights Amy’s type, showboating alpha males. Only, in the case of Jake, she got the good one, not the goof one.
  • “Why couldn’t Nikolaj be the ring bearer?” Obviously, Cheddar the dog is a better character than Nikolaj, but I asked that question in my notes before the Cheddar reveal. Really, if there’s one character “failure” still happening on this show, it’s all things Boyle/Genevieve/Nikolaj. Yes, the show didn’t quite work in its efforts to highlight Nikolaj and Boyle’s love of his son, but a large part of this has also been Genevieve’s disappearance since they had the child. That Boyle’s significant other is not at Boyle’s best friend’s wedding is one of those moments I had to double take for at the end. (In the case of Gina/Milton, did any of us really expect to see more Ryan Phillippe after the fact?)
  • You know I love to bring the quotes here, but when it comes to finales especially, I like to let all of you commenters do the damn thing. (The title of Boyle’s sex tape is appropriately Boyle, by the way.) So please, don’t let me down. And thank you again for joining me on this season’s journey, even though we apparently never agreed on anything. Except for “Return To Skyfire,” I believe.
  • The show will live on, but you know what, I still never got an adequate answer on this one: Why Nick Cannon?

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