Just in time for the holiday season, Brooklyn Nine-Nine spends its mid-season finale talking about conflict.
“Stakeout” is a good episode, but it doesn’t use its finale status to the best of its advantage. There’s no mention of Jake and Amy’s bubbling relationship, and there aren’t many holiday-themed antics either, which makes last week’s “The Pontiac Bandit Returns” seem like more of a fitting goodbye — but that’s not to say that “Stakeout” isn’t great. Because it is, and Holt’s eager smugness at the start of the episode was one of the funniest moments from the show’s entire history. It’s just a little odd that the show would focus on the intricacies of Jake and Charles’ friendship for its final episode of the year. But if there’s any time that brings out conflict in people that are close, it is Christmas.
Jake and Boyle are best friends — superhero and sidekick — and we’ve never seen the two argue. They’re mellow together, always joking with no secrets between them, until this season. Their easy friendship was first challenged by Boyle’s secret relationship with Gina, and now through their 8-day stay with each other — and only each other — in an abandoned hotel. The only people that can forgive your annoying habits are your family. Coworkers don’t usually spend enough time with each other, and friends get to leave one another at the end of each day. Your family, though, you have to live with.
And that’s exactly why Jake calls Boyle his brother in “Stakeout”. The two get progressively annoyed with each other as the episode goes along — an alternate, extended version of a Christmas dinner or locked-in Hanukkah — which leads to them setting out endless rules for one another, and an all out fall-out as Jake tells Boyle that they aren’t friends anymore; after this, they really aren’t.
They’re more than that. Boyle and Jake have always been extremely close co-workers and friends outside of work, too, but like Charles himself says, they’ve never fought because of how Charles lets Jake get away with things — and vice versa. The two don’t raise any issues in their friendship that might cause tension, but this season, Charles has been — which, rather than being a bad thing, is good. The jump from co-workers to friends is one thing, but to have a lasting friendship, where the people involved can honestly criticize and help change each other is another thing entirely.
So, over seven days (and not eight after Boyle blows their cover, smashing their mini-basketball out the hotel window) Jake and Charles are completely and totally sick of each other. You can love someone to death, but still need boundaries, which is what Jake and Charles discover. They’re not just co-workers or friends, but family instead. You can choose your spouse, so why not choose your brothers and sisters, too? Family is just a term for the people that you spend too much time with. It’s often hellish, but typically comfortable. They’re the people that you should be able to be open with. Sometimes to painful results. Which is what Jake and Charles realized they have with each other in this week, and what Jake does, I think, imagine he has with all of his workmates.
Jake doesn’t like holidays much — not Thanksgiving, nor Christmas — and it’s pretty easy to assume that that’s because he never had much of a family to share them with. Which is why it’s so important that he’s appointing members of his family himself.
Amy and Gina, meanwhile, find conflict with Terry over a picture book that he’s making for his girls, the main characters based partially on the two of them. Amy is portrayed as a pushover, while Gina is a “stone-cold bitch.” Something that leads to the pair attempting to alter this behavior in what seems like an aggressive opposite day for Terry. I don’t totally buy the ‘Amy being a pushover’ bit — didn’t she grow up with six brothers? Isn’t she always trying to prove herself? — but Gina’s qualities were spot on. Which made it so hilarious when she tried to reverse them, talking about love, and being non-judgmental. In the end, showing why he’s such a good father and lieutenant, Terry emergency-stopped the elevator, and reminded the pair that this was a stupid picture book that he used their faces for because it was easier to draw the story that way. He made Amy a pushover in some ways, but strong and brave where it counted, while Gina was mean, sure, but not to everyone.
There are so many conflicting personalities in workplaces, which makes them such a good place to explore conflict and also play out sitcom hijinks in. But in the best plot of the episode, the conflict is played silently. Holt brings his 31-year-old nephew (Nick Cannon) to the precinct, where Rosa becomes interested in him, spending the night with him only to wake up to face Holt and his husband eating French toast at their breakfast nook.
If any two people at the precinct are alike in temperaments, it’s Rosa and Holt. They’re not fans of small talk, and don’t mess around with any bullshit, which was why their awkward interactions about Holt’s nephew were so great to watch. This was a different kind of conflict, an uncomfortable one that neither Holt nor Rosa wanted to talk out. So they don’t. Holt says she should date Marcus if she wants to — but that he does not, under any circumstances, want to hear about it — and she agrees. Wholeheartedly.
If there’s any family I want to see celebrating the holidays this television season, it’s Holt and Rosa, sharing that breakfast nook of his and definitely not smiling over Christmas presents. I’m already looking forward to Brooklyn Nine-Nine‘s return next year.
- “WUNCH TIME IS OVER! BOOM! DID IT! HAD IT BOTH WAYS! No regrets.” That segment of the episode, by itself, deserves an A+. A puffed-up Captain Holt is maybe the greatest Captain Holt.
- Gina speaks the truth: “None of your business: the most exciting words a person can say.”
- “How do they defecate?” “IT’S A KIDS BOOK, SANTIAGO!”
- Charles and Jake really are a delightful pair: “We don’t need alone zones, but how do we feel about scone zones?” “I FEEL GREAT ABOUT THEM!”
- “I call him the Beach Umbrella because he looks so shady!”
- “Ask yourself this: is it something you can hear Garfield saying? If so, it’s glib.” Aw Jake. So smart, yet so stupid when it comes to the subject of English. I get the feeling he watched Die Hard over and over again instead of reading any of his assigned texts at school.
- Gina: “I also learned a lesson from your stupid book. I learned I’m perfect the way I am and should never change.”
- Holt put Rosa’s “brassiere” in a brown paper bag, and took it to work for her. Never let me forget this.