After over a month without a new episode of “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” I must have been feeling charitable because I really liked “AC/DC.” Did the episode have problems? Sure, it did, but no episode of TV is perfect. I got what I wanted from an episode of this show: good storytelling and a lot of laughs.
The episode opens with Jake (Andy Samberg) and Boyle (Joe Lo Truglio) tailing a perp named Tom Olson, who burgled some electronic stores. When Olson catches on to the tail, he takes off running across the tops of parked cars, like they do in the movies. And Jake, who says this was a birthday wish of his, is more than happy to give chase because it makes him feel like an action hero or “the coolest person in New York City.” I have to admit the foot chase did look really cool, and it has the ability to immediately draw the audience’s attention, something “AC/DC” needed after the long break.
Unfortunately, the foot chase becomes way less fun for Jake when he falls into an open sunroof and Olson gets away. As we learn at the police station the next day, the fall resulted in cracked ribs, broken toes, a fractured thumb and an obviously pained limp. Although the limp can be distracting during the episode, Samberg does a good job throughout “AC/DC” of keeping the limp in focus but not overdoing it.
While Jake would rather stay at the police station and help catch Olson, Terry (Terry Crews) sends him home because of his injuries and inability to stay seated at his desk. Of course, Jake is unable to let things go, and he figures out a way to get around Terry’s restrictions by pretending he’s going on a vacation with Boyle. While Jake and Boyle do actually take a trip to Atlantic City, it’s merely a cover. Jake thinks he’s found Olson, and the trip is supposed to be a stakeout.
One of my minor quibbles with the episode is the way it ignores the fact that Jake and Boyle should have learned not to do stakeouts together in this season’s “Stakeout.” But really, Jake’s planned stakeout doesn’t end up mattering because Boyle calls Terry down to Atlantic City, and Terry forces Jake to stop the stakeout.
Unlike “Stakeout,” this episode is never focused on Jake and Boyle’s friendship but about Jake and his inability to stop working. This isn’t the first episode that shows Jake’s commitment to his detective work — in fact, as annoying and over-the-top as Jake can get sometimes, his commitment to being a good detective is often his redeeming quality. But as “AC/DC” rightly points out, even good intentions can lead to the wrong decisions. Jake may be really good at his job, but he has a hard time relying on other people to take over in his absence.
“AC/DC” manages to make this idea a fresh one by making Terry the voice of reason. He calls Jake out on his behavior, and by the end of the episode, Jake learns a lesson when the Atlantic City Police Department picks up Olson without his help. It’s nice that this situation also gives us the opportunity to learn more about Jake and how he got to be so gung-ho about his cases — one time, he took the weekend off and during that time, the drug dealer Jake had been tracking shot two civilians.
Terry sympathizes with Jake’s reasoning behind not wanting to take time off, but he tells Jake he can’t do it all and gives him really great advice: “If you don’t give yourself a break, you’ll be no use to anyone.” In a nice capper on the plot, Jake takes Terry’s advice and goes on a real vacation to Atlantic City with Boyle. This shows that Jake may have his issues, but he can recognize when he’s gone too far — although he usually needs someone else to tell him that. It’s something I hope “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” won’t lose sight of during the rest of the season.
Like the main plot, the subplot of “AC/DC” also recalls “Stakeout.” In that episode, Holt (Andre Baugher) and Rosa (Stephanie Beatriz) work through their initial awkwardness regarding the intersection of their personal and professional lives that came about as a result of Rosa dating Holt’s nephew Marcus (Nick Cannon). In this episode, they have to deal with much the same issue when Holt’s husband Kevin (Marc Evan Jackson) invites Rosa and Marcus to dinner.
Rosa and Holt try to avoid any personal conversation through a variety of means, including inviting Amy (Melissa Fumero) and Gina (Chelsea Peretti) to be “intimacy buffers” and picking boring — though not to Holt — topics of conversation like “what constitutes a grain, the Hubble Space Telescope, orchid varietals (and) the birth of the transistor.” Unfortunately, none of their plans work, and Kevin asks Rosa to talk about herself.
I welcomed the opportunity to learn more about Rosa, particularly since it’s clear Marcus knows about her family when he says her father’s a teacher, but pretty much all we get to learn is the fact that she has two sisters — although Holt later claims even that is too personal — before Rosa rushes out of the dining room.
This isn’t the first time this season that we’ve gotten a look at Rosa’s intimacy issues. In fact, it’s been the main benefit of Marcus’ tenure as Rosa’s boyfriend, so I expected the plot to be more of the same. “AC/DC” tries something new, and I suspect it’s something everyone will have differing opinions on. When Holt follows Rosa out of the dining room, she admits to the captain that she thinks she might be pregnant.
I’m normally very hesitant when shows try to introduce pregnancy as a possibility in their characters’ lives simply because it’s an easy way to provide tension and stress, and it’s most associated with female characters. While TV writers, many of whom are male, find ways to add difficulty to their male characters’ lives without going the personal route, female characters often end up having trouble with either their children, a pregnancy or the inability to get pregnant. Pregnancy has essentially become shorthand for stress in a female character’s life.
However, there are mitigating factors to the “Rosa might be pregnant” plotline in “AC/DC.” First, we learn before the end of the episode that Rosa isn’t pregnant, and second, the pregnancy isn’t the focus of the subplot. What is more important is Holt and Rosa coming to an understanding that it may not be completely horrible if their personal and professional lives intersect on occasion after Holt keeps Rosa calm about the potential pregnancy and covers for her when she leaves the dinner early. For characters as private as Holt and Rosa, this is a big step forward and one that may lead to more personal plotlines for the two of them — separately or together — in the future, which is something I would definitely be interested in seeing.
Although “AC/DC” recalls many other episodes from season two of “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” it manages to work with what has already happened on the show without covering the same ground. Trying to tell new versions of old stories inherently comes with risk, and I suspect this is where the majority of the episode’s issues come from. There are only so many ways to reveal the same information, and while “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” delivers new ways here, the show needs to continue moving forward or this retreading will become a real problem.
Rating: 4.5 stars