“House Mouses” and “Adrian Pimento” are exactly the kinds of episodes Brooklyn Nine-Nine does well: character-driven, joke-heavy, tangentially related to criminal cases but more about personality dynamics than police work. “House Mouses” is a back-to-basics episode after weeks of guest stars and so-so attempts at addressing current issues in police forces across the country. “Adrian Pimento” introduces Jason Mantzoukas as the titular Adrian Pimento, a cop who’s been undercover for twelve years with the mob, and returns to the squad with serious personality issues and some great leather jackets. Nearing the end of the season, it’s clear that Brooklyn Nine-Nine can integrate guest stars with seamless ease (for the most part) and confidently address changes in the squad’s relationships that don’t damage the central premise of the show, rooting everything in the dynamic characters the show has developed. That’s a great development of the show’s third season, one that is clearly on display in both “House Mouses” and “Adrian Pimento.”
“House Mouses,” while primarily focused on Hitchcock and Scully’s actually helping Terry and Jake solve a large drug case, is a strong showing for the women of the 9-9, as Amy, Gina and Rosa conquer their greatest fears together. Although Amy’s empowerment speeches are met with scoffs from Gina and Rosa, there is a lot of truth in her earnesty. What other show has three women in a male-dominated profession who can turn to one another for support in all aspects of their lives? Placing Gina, Rosa and Amy together for a story is a powerful reminder that these women anchor the show with their camaraderie. There is something beautiful about their unwavering faith in one another, even as Gina makes fun of Amy’s nerdiness, or Rosa finds it difficult to be vulnerable. Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s investment in the squad as a family unit, with Captain Holt as their proud, occasionally exasperated father, makes these kinds of relationships seem natural. Like so many stories and developments this season, it’s only something the show can make work because it has spent the past three seasons building the characters in relation to one another.
It’s also worth noting that it’s not just the women of Brooklyn Nine-Nine who show support for one another, it’s the entire squad, in individual relationships with one another and as a collective unit. It’s a show that refreshingly lets its characters be driven by their desires and personalities instead of rigid ideas of what “cops” should be. For example, Terry can be strong and also love his daughters and build princess castles, and these two things exist in harmony instead of opposition. Rosa can be a mysterious badass and still feel sad about her break-up with Marcus. Jake can be a silly mess who can’t cook but also be a supportive partner to Amy. The reason the show works is because of this character investment, understanding these intersectional identities and celebrating them, instead of forcing characters into stereotypes.
While “House Mouses” is solely focused on the squad, “Adrian Pimento” is all about Mantzoukas’ cop and his return to the precinct after such a long time undercover. Pimento is the exact kind of character Mantzoukas is known for: full of off-kilter, wild energy with a lot of loudness and a hint of terror. (No one is better at slightly sociopathic eye contact than Jason Mantzoukas.) Pimento is that grizzled, traumatized stereotype of a police officer, and Jake and Rosa take a liking to him, quickly realizing that his years undercover have warped his perceptions of the world around him. Mantzoukas’ larger-than-life cop archetype allows Jake to be the straight man for once, and their good cop, bad cop dynamic is a fun mess as they try to solve a straightforward burglary case.
Meanwhile the rest of the squad deals with a janitorial nightmare (with a cameo from Kate Flannery as Mean Marge, head of the police precinct’s clean-up crew) and Captain Holt enlists Gina in directing a short video for a grant to get funds to update the precinct’s software. Gina, in good and true Gina form, takes this directorial opportunity as her one shot at stardom, continuing to believe her life is a non-stop Nelly video. Between Pimento’s haunted past, Rosa’s moony attraction to the bad boy, and Gina’s own Project Greenlight, “Adrian Pimento” has plenty to enjoy. “House Mouses” and “Adrian Pimento” are two episodes squarely in Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s wheelhouse, shying away from addressing real-world police issues and instead focusing on characters and their interactions with one another. At this point in Season 3, maybe it’s time to hang up the idea that the show will dive into present-day cop issues (as much as other comedies are doing it with aplomb) and accept that when Brooklyn Nine-Nine focuses on its characters, it’s a steady, solid, spectacularly fun show.
Photo Courtesy of FOX