Brooklyn Nine-Nine capped off a pretty great first season with a pretty great finale – one that managed to reaffirm everything that already works about the show while setting up a few new, intriguing possibilities for season 2.
Here’s where things stand as the episode draws to a close: Peralta’s leaving the precinct for six months for a dangerous undercover mission. (One that, much to Jake’s disappointment, doesn’t involve a cool fake identity.) He’s also finally come clean to Santiago about his feelings for her – not with some kind of bombastic grand gesture, but with an appropriately low-key confession. Meanwhile, Boyle and Vivian have broken up – boo! – making Rosa apparently reevaluate how she feels about him – yay? Holt and Terry are… still doing Holt and Terry. Oh, and in one last wrinkle: After a long night of drinking, Boyle wakes up only to find Gina, of all people, lying next to him. The horror, the horror!
Before we say goodbye to the Golden-Globe winner, let’s take stock of the show’s first season as a whole – the highs, the lows, and the creamy middles. By which, of course, I mean Gina.
High: The pilot
Brooklyn’s very first episode presented a fully-formed comic world, populated by characters whose personalities and purposes have stayed more or less constant ever since. That’s a rare achievement for a comedy, and even after a full season of world-building and character development, it’s still impressive how Brooklyn has been Brooklyn pretty much since the beginning. Also: Revealing right off the bat that Terry’s twins are named Cagney and Lacey was a stroke of genius.
Put bluntly: Andy Samberg and Melissa Fumero don’t have a whole lot of chemistry. And even though Brooklyn’s been pushing their less-than-urgent will-they/won’t-they thing all year, the romance never seemed anything other than perfunctory; they’re being brought together because every sitcom apparently needs this type of couple. Maybe after a summer of reflection, the show’s writers will come up with a way to make the romantic aspect of Peralta and Santiago’s relationship more interesting – or maybe they’ll conclude that these two actually work best as bickering platonic pals. (Crossing my fingers for the latter.)
High: Work/life balance
This is clearly not a cop show – or, at least, not a traditional cop show. But when actual police work does intrude into the gently wacky world of the Nine-Nine, the show tends to explore it in unique ways: Think of the massive Santa-on-Santa-on-Santa fight in the Christmas episode, or Terry’s gradual journey from desk jockey to field agent. That said, the police plots often mean sliding into another not-so-great trope…
Low: The magical Peralta
Okay, we get it: Jake is an unrepentant goofball who’s also got an uncanny knack for solving the unsolvable. But even after just one season, I’m already getting a little sick of how he always manages to eek out the correct answer to every case. In season 2, the show should let Peralta be wrong occasionally. It couldn’t hurt to knock the guy down a few pegs.
High: Full Boyle
Joe Lo Truglio’s Boyle is great not just because he’s a lovable loser, but because he’s a lovable loser in such a specific way: his foodie affectations and earnest elitism help transform him from a type into a person. I was bummed to see him and Vivian, his perfect woman, part ways, even if there was no way she (or guest star Marilu Henner) was ever going to stick around for the long haul. This does, however, open the door for a possible relationship with Rosa, which has a lot more potential than Peralta/Santiago – even if neither couple is all that ‘ship-worthy. (Side note: Stephanie Beatriz also deserves credit for making Rosa into more than a glowering tough girl. I demand more Rosa episodes in season 2.)
Low: The whole fire-department thing
As you probably know, Brooklyn was created in part by Michael Schur, a workplace-sitcom vet who cut his teeth on The Office before co-creating Parks and Recreation. Both shows are clearly big influences on Brooklyn – especially Parks. (Take a close look at the Nine-Nine, and you’ll see that almost everyone has an analog in Pawnee: Santiago is Leslie, Rosa is April, Holt is Ron, Gina is Tom, etc.) Generally speaking, though, Brooklyn has managed to differentiate itself enough that it doesn’t seem like a wholesale ripoff of Schur’s earlier work… except in episode 9, when we learned that the precinct (Jake specifically) has a burning, over-the-top, semi-arbitrary hatred for the local fire department (and guest star/fire marshall Patton Oswalt specifically). Sound familiar? Come on, Brooklyn – you’re better than being a recycling facility.
And finally, the Creamy Middle: The Gina issue
Chelsea Peretti’s saucy administrator has to be Brooklyn’s most polarizing character. Some viewers think her weird one-liners are the best thing about the series; others find her narcissism, randomness, and vocal fry grating. I’m currently caught between these poles, but I can see things tipping unpleasantly in the latter direction if the show decides to highlight her even more in season 2 – wringing dry a character who works best in small doses. We call this “the Dwight Schrute Conundrum.”
What would you add to this list of highs and lows – and what are you hoping to see from Brooklyn in season 2?
P.S. Sorry if this post was too lengthy, Terry.