Brooklyn Nine-Nine can’t help but be its emotional, gooey self in “Cheddar,” an episode that continues to strengthen the familial bond between the squad, as the show gets the whole gang together for capers and hijinks. The bulk of the episode is dedicated to Boyle, Amy and Jake’s adventures caring for Captain Holt’s house and dog, Cheddar, while he goes to visit Kevin in France. Like all good Brooklyn Nine-Nine episodes, everything goes horribly, hilariously wrong, as people are set on fire, turtlenecks are forever destroyed, and a dog goes missing. Meanwhile, Rosa and Adrian Pimento (Jason Mantzoukas and his zany energy back for another week!) dance around their budding, scary attraction for one another, to the horror of Terry and the rest of the squad. “Cheddar” continues last week’s “Adrian Pimento” streak of police-adjacent cases that deal more with characters than with crime, and ends on a surprisingly poignant, emotional revelation.
“Cheddar” is an episode that plays to the strengths of Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s tight-knit ensemble, as they all show up to help Jake, Amy and Boyle once they realized they’ve lost Captain Holt’s dog, Cheddar. From there, the episode turns into a low-stakes manhunt across the city, as Gina delays Captain Holt and the rest of the squad desperately searches for one adorable corgi. It’s a blast to see the squad reunited to help each other, as it’s really the first time since the Die Hard Christmas fun of “Yippie Kayak” that they have all been together on a mission. The fun of the characters bouncing off one another is coupled with Rosa and Adrian’s deeply unsettling flirting, who make stapling dog posters to poles a strangely sexual activity. But it’s not Gina’s glee at destroying Jake’s car so she can buy more time for the squad to find Captain Holt’s dog before they return home, or Terry Crews’ excellent facial expressions at witnessing Rosa and Adrian, or even the squad all decked out in Captain Holt’s clothing as a last-ditch attempt to lure Cheddar back that makes the episode a great one. It’s the underlying reasons for Captain Holt’s trip, and the way he so vulnerably expresses his emotions to his squad that truly makes “Cheddar” an episode to remember, as it seamlessly blends heart with humor in Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s special way.
“Cheddar” is an emotionally honest episode of the show, as it ends with Captain Holt admitting to Jake and Amy that he and Kevin have been having relationship problems. This is a story the show has been building ever since Kevin left for Paris, a slow unraveling that started in “9 Days” as Captain Holt realized how difficult it was to be away from his husband. The show has done a lot to grow Jake as a character, but “Cheddar” also shows how much Captain Holt has grown. He’s no longer the stoic robot captain Jake made fun of in the pilot: he’s someone who has come to trust the squad with his feelings and concerns.
This season of Brooklyn Nine-Nine has been frustrating sometimes, as it has seemed aimless in comparison to previous seasons. The comedy’s consistency can appear to turn into complacency, as it doesn’t strive to tell larger societal stories about cops and their interactions in the New York City that currently exists. So many comedies now, with casts as diverse as Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s, are discussing big issues like police brutality and gun violence, and it’s hard not to think of a version of the show that could engage with those storylines with humor and intelligence, just like it has with homophobia in the NYPD. And yet that has never really been Brooklyn Nine-Nine as a show: it’s a character study that just happens to be set in a police precinct. Frustrating or not, the third season of Brooklyn Nine-Nine has truly invested time in the relationships the show has established, in big romantic ways with Amy and Jake, and smaller ways in the weekly interactions between members of the squad.
All of these reasons, the emotional and the hilarious, are what make this season of Brooklyn Nine-Nine worthwhile. It’s Amy’s love of binders and Adrian asking Terry dating advice; it’s Boyle unknowingly holding a possum and Captain Holt speaking plainly to Gina about his challenges; it’s the way Brooklyn Nine-Nine comes up with more and more meaningful reasons to spend 22 minutes with a bunch of weirdos who are also supposedly cops. As long as Brooklyn Nine-Nine stays true to its characters and its gooey, chocolate-covered compassionate heart, that’s more than enough.
Photo Courtesy of FOX