Truth be told, I didn’t want “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” to be too funny this week because I had a cold and it hurt to laugh, but I also didn’t want it to not be funny. “The Mole” ultimately struck a good balance, but at first, there was a lot of exposition that slowed the episode down.
Since I didn’t like the previous episode, “Halloween II,” it would be easy to blame that episode for the lack of momentum in this one. If we had, for instance, spent a week with Rosa (Stephanie Beatriz) and Terry (Terry Crews) working on the drug task force, “The Mole” wouldn’t have been required to set up the fact that the task force has yet to uncover any drugs.
I understand that it might not have been interesting to watch the task force not discover anything, but in the long run, that would have been the wiser choice. The drug task force was presented as a big deal in “The Jimmy Jab Games,” and it’s confusing as to why it was put on the backburner so quickly. I would be willing to bet, however, that the answer comes down to the fact that Jake (Andy Samberg) isn’t on the task force.
“Brooklyn Nine-Nine” has always had a Jake problem. While the show is ostensibly an ensemble comedy, most of the significant plots revolve around Jake, leaving less screen time and character development for the rest of the precinct. Since Jake isn’t a key player in the drug task force plot, it gets relegated to side-plot territory when it should be front and center, which would give Terry and Rosa a chance for more character development.
As it is, “The Mole” still manages to squeeze some development out of the limited amount of time spent on the drug task force when Rosa tells Terry he shouldn’t worry about his twin daughters growing up to sell drugs because he’s a great dad. I appreciate that, of course, but it still worries me that this part of the drug task force story is all about Terry. Rosa is a key player — since she’s the one leading the force — but she wasn’t given anything to do, and I expect more from “Brooklyn Nine-Nine.”
When “The Mole” explored the Gina (Chelsea Peretti) and Boyle (Joe Lo Truglio) relationship, it fared far better, allowing both Gina and Boyle to show how their relationship has changed them. Jake and Amy (Melissa Fumero) accidentally walk in on Gina and Boyle having sex, so Gina tells Boyle they have to end things. At first, she wasn’t going to tell anyone else, but at the end of the episode, she announces to the whole precinct that she and Boyle have had sex.
This is a different Gina than we’ve seen to date, one who has mellowed a bit and is less concerned with her reputation in the precinct. She is willing to admit that she doesn’t regret having sex — Gina in the previous season would never have considered that. Boyle, too, has changed, as we see when Jake congratulates Boyle on having his first casual relationship. In the end, the Gina and Boyle plot receives less screen time than the drug task force despite being a more interesting story.
All I’m asking for is for “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” to step it up just a tiny bit more in its non-Jake-related plot lines. Once that happens, everything else should fall into place because the show is good and its Jake plotlines are good; “The Mole” proves that once again.
The main plot of the episode is focused on a possible mole in the precinct. At first, Jake says that no one in the precinct could be a mole because he knows everything about them — which seems a bit of a stretch considering he didn’t know they were plotting against him in “Halloween II” — but we’ll just forget that episode happened, shall we? After the revelation about Boyle and Gina, Jake’s confidence is shaken enough to turn to Captain Holt for help solving the case.
Holt and Jake attempting to solve the mystery of who is the mole is far and away the best part of the episode. In last season’s “The Party,” we get to see what happens when Holt’s work life and home life collide, and it’s hilarious. Unsurprisingly, when we see this happen again in “The Mole,” it’s still hilarious.
As it gets later, the attempts to figure out who the mole is become less and less coherent. We start with a recitation of possible motives, move to the fact that Rosa could be the mole because she lied about eating watermelon, and end with Holt and Jake turning on each other after which Jake is forced to return his “guest pajamas, guest toothbrush and guest slippers.”
The Holt and Jake relationship is a great one that “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” makes solid use of — including the new information that Holt’s middle name is Jacob — so it’s no surprise that their scenes together are strong. Plus, their brainstorming session actually leads to Jake figuring out the mole is actually the Internal Affairs Officer sent to investigate the mole in the precinct.The reveal that the mole is the Internal Affairs Officer is a clever idea, particularly since it was clear all along that none of the main characters were the mole. I’m unsure what to make of the fact that this is all a setup on the part of Holt’s nemesis, Deputy Chief Madeline Wuntch (Kyra Sedgwick).
It’s great to have Wuntch back, even if “The Mole” is packed full of other plots so she gets only a little screen time, but the end of the episode writes her out of the picture too neatly. Sending a spy into Holt’s precinct is a measure that could have dire consequences if Holt and Jake ever told anyone, and they manage to record Wuntch admitting to the spying as well. With the cards stacked that high, Holt is able to tell Wuntch to leave the precinct alone, and she has to obey.
I understand that Sedgwick is only a guest star, who already did one more episode than her originally planned two, but closing the chapter on Wuntch like this leaves little room for her to ever return, which is a shame because she was one of the few things to ever shake Holt up. It seems like another failed opportunity for character development on the writers’ part, and that’s something “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” needs to get a handle on if it wants to continue as a show that has more going for it than a lot of laughs.
Rating: 3.5 stars