The best episodes of Brooklyn Nine-Nine are ones that take the characters out of their comfort zones and build on the rapport the squad has with one another. “9 Days” is a welcome return to form for the show, as it follows Jake and Captain Holt over two weeks of quarantine for their mumps infection. Every story in the episode is based in relationships. The squad notices one of their team members is having a rough go, and tries to help them in the best (and possibly catastrophically worst) way possible. Also, Rosa gets a puppy and it’s as magical as that sentence sounds.
Nothing is more evident in “9 Days” than how much Jake and Captain Holt’s relationship has changed since the opening scenes of the pilot. This is a noteworthy episode in the show’s continued work in helping Jake mature and grow as a character. This is a Jake that goes out of his way to make Captain Holt feel happy after Kevin’s departure for his sabbatical. He sacrifices his Saturdays to work old cold cases so that Holt doesn’t feel lonely on weekends. There’s a deep thoughtfulness to Jake’s choices, a thoughtfulness that feels built-in to the way he now operates with Captain Holt. Unlike other episodes earlier in the season, “9 Days” lets Jake be both silly and sincere, finding the balance of his sometimes wildly opposed traits. It helps that the show goes big and broad for Jake and Captain Holt’s measles quarantine, prosthetic goiters and all. Wacky behavior is a lot easier to justify within the context of high fevers.
This thoughtfulness is echoed through the secondary plots as well, as Gina tries to encourage Terry in his journey towards captain, and Rosa consoles Boyle after the death of his dog. Terry is understandably intimidated by Holt’s record as captain, and in his absence attempts to improve productivity and prove to himself he would be a great leader. This leads to Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s favorite Terry-related humor, as Terry so powerfully shuts Captain Holt’s office door he breaks all the window pane glass and the ceiling caves in. (Aces sight gag, production team!)
Meanwhile, Rosa attempts to understand Boyle’s mourning process but gets increasingly frustrated at his feelings, until she gets a puppy of her own. She throws him an impromptu funeral with a delightfully violent eulogy, apologizing to Boyle for the way she’s been treating his grief. For a story about a dog dying from a heart attack from too much humping, it’s a surprisingly insightful take on grief, as Boyle asks Rosa to let him feel his sadness, and she eventually understands him and gives him space to mourn. Also, here’s hoping there are many future plotlines involving Rosa training her adorable puppy to be a lethal killing machine and riding shotgun in a sidecar on her motorcycle.
“9 Days” references how far the show has come in eleven episodes, as Captain Holt ends up thanking Jake for helping him get his job back at the 9-9. It’s a small scene, but one that serves to mark the growing friendship and camaraderie between the two men, as well as the season’s big shake-ups. This begs the question of where the show is headed, though. “Hostage Situation” hinted at Boyle becoming a father, Amy and Jake’s relationship is still strong, and Terry is looking to become a captain. This doesn’t even include Melissa Fumero’s real-life pregnancy and if the show will incorporate it somehow into the story. More and more it’s hard to know if Brooklyn Nine-Nine is a show that is going to make big changes, and whether that’s a fair judgment on its quality as a comedy. If most things remain the same on the show, the characters develop deeper relationships with one another, and there’s humor found in their dynamics, is that enough? Or do truly great comedies need progression beyond jokes and small character shifts? For right now, it is enough to celebrate that “9 Days” is a strong episode of the show, one that involves innovative police work and a very, very adorable puppy.
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