At the beginning of this week’s “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” I had some qualms about its plotlines. The main plotline in “The Wednesday Incident” seemed like another case of the show foregrounding Jake (Andy Samberg) while the subplot seemed to have forgotten how Amy (Melissa Fumero) and Rosa (Stephanie Beatriz) act. The end of the episode thankfully subverted how I expected both plotlines to end, but it certainly waited until the last minute to do so.
The main plot of “The Wednesday Incident” involves the titular incident, which is when Jake bringsHolt (Andre Braugher) a bottle of sparkling cider to celebrate cracking 10 felonies in a month, but uncorked it and set off the fire sprinklers. The precinct claims the ensuing flood is what put Holt into the bad mood he’s been in all week, but unwilling to accept the blame, Jake sets out to prove there’s another cause.
This search for the truth is one of the more enjoyable parts of the episode, not least because the show finally positions Holt’s husband, Kevin (Marc Evan Jackson), as a significant character. We’ve seen very little of Kevin over these two seasons, which makes sense because the show is focused on the precinct, a world that Kevin is not a part of. But ever since we first met him in season one’s “The Party,” the character has intrigued me, and I’m always glad to see Holt’s personal life collide with his work life because he works hard to keep the two separate.
Jake asks Kevin to help him retrace Holt’s steps so they can figure out what’s been bothering the captain. Jake and Kevin are such different characters that their interactions are inherently funny — Kevin brings Jake an orange soda because he acts like a child — and the episode adds Gina (Chelsea Peretti) into the mix for extra laughs. She is also there to convince Kevin to work with Jake because she and Kevin have formed a friendship, which is the kind of thing that of course a sitcom won’t spend time building but I’d be interested in seeing more of.
The three visit Holt’s regular diner and his painting and fencing classes, and Jake and Gina learn a lot about what Holt does in his good moods. For example, he orders room-temperature water and a hardboiled egg yolk at the diner and paints still lifes of grey rocks in painting class. But we don’t learn a lot about what caused his bad mood. The only clue they do get ended up spoiling the plotline for me because the fact that Holt was lying about going to fencing class upsets Kevin. Not only does this mean Kevin refuses to help anymore and we lose his presence in the episode, but it also means the fun of following someone’s routine to ostensibly help them out by fixing the problem becomes something far more hurtful. From that point on, it’s hard to laugh at anything that happens in the plot.
Clearly, we’re still supposed to think the plot is funny when Jake’s Holt impression — which is really bad but Gina claims is great — leads Jake to the security camera that cracks the case open. Because “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” is wishy-washy when it comes to Jake’s behavior, I worried that it wouldn’t acknowledge the serious consequences of Jake meddling in Holt’s personal life. Luckily, “The Wednesday Incident” doesn’t spare Jake a lecture.
After assuming from the security footage that Holt was mugged, Jake shows up at Holt’s house to tell Kevin the news. Even though it turns out Holt wasn’t mugged but instead beat up his attackers, Kevin is understandably upset that Holt didn’t tell him about the incident, especially since Holt was “lightly stabbed.” This in turn leads to Holt yelling at Jake for being “beyond unprofessional.” It’s a lecture that Jake needs to hear — but the end of the episode ignores it.
To apologize, Jake goes farther than he needs to by finding the one mugger that got away so Holt can arrest him. Here, Jake’s over-the-top approach is painted in a good light, particularly since Holt forgives him for being “professional.” It’s a confusing note to end on and symptomatic of “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” which recognizes that one of Jake’s most endearing qualities is how far he’s willing to go for his friends and for his job. Because of this, the show is reluctant to criticize this behavior, even when Jake essentially repeats it after being asked not to.
The main plotline of “The Wednesday Incident” intrigued me at the start but ultimately left a sour taste in my mouth, while the episode’s subplot managed the exact opposite. In the subplot, Boyle (Joe Lo Truglio) catches an old man who has robbed banks (Garry Marshall). Although the man confesses to the robberies to Boyle in private, he acts nice whenever Rosa and Amy are around. Because they don’t believe the old man capable of the robberies, the two are mean to Boyle for being mean to the man. This calls into question not only Boyle’s abilities as a police detective but Rosa’s and Amy’s as well in a way that the show has never done before. In most episodes, it’s accepted as fact that everyone is good at their jobs.
However, I was grateful for this subplot’s final scene in which Rosa and Amy apologize to Boyle because they traced some of the old man’s money and realized he did indeed rob the banks. This doesn’t completely forgive the fact that they didn’t trust him for most of the episode nor that their own police skills were also called into question in the process, but it ends the plotline in a far more satisfactory way than the main plot, which is some consolation.
The Wednesday Incident” doesn’t fall into the same traps as many of the episodes of this season’s first half did. It calls Jake out for his behavior and provides explanations where its characterization doesn’t seem to jive with what we’ve learned before, but ultimately, the episode chooses comedy over the feelings of its characters. Unfortunately, this typical sitcom practice is becoming increasingly common for “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” and continues to interfere with my enjoyment of the show.
Rating: 3.5 stars