Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s solid third season slowed down a bit with “Into the Woods,” an enjoyable and serviceable episode of the show that serves to strengthen existing relationships between the squad. Rosa and Captain Holt team up in the relationship department, as Rosa gets advice on how to break-up with Marcus amicably; Gina and Amy present a new, innovative invention from Amy’s childhood that could help police in the field; and Terry, Jake and Boyle go on a camping adventure to help Terry de-stress. “Into the Woods” capitalizes on the chemistry with all these pairings, especially the surprise dynamic duo of Rosa and Captain Holt, but doesn’t do anything especially inventive or novel with its stories.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine is at the point in its third season where it can coast on the characters it has developed over the past 51 episodes, but the coasting is so much more apparent in “Into the Woods” because the rest of the season thus far has been so noteworthy. That’s not to say that there aren’t laughs in the episode, there are: Gina’s speech to Amy about She’s All That-ing her is a clear highlight, as is Captain Holt repeating an entire website URL to Rosa, and then asking her if she’s familiar with it. But this is one episode of Brooklyn Nine-Nine that doesn’t really do anything, and after a season of shifts, in relationships and in titles, “Into the Woods” is a little bit of a letdown.
The show does find surprising poignancy with Rosa and Captain Holt’s story, as Captain Holt gives Rosa advice on how to break up with Marcus. Both characters have an aversion to sharing personal feelings with others, and frown upon great displays of emotion, so pairing them together to talk about relationships is wrought with terrible, if straightforward, advice. Andre Braugher sounds robotic in the best ways as he counsels Rosa, repeating relationship platitudes he’s found online and perhaps in magazines he read in doctor’s office waiting rooms when there wasn’t a copy of The Atlantic, with a detached, bemused tone. After Rosa breaks up with Marcus, not because of anger or frustration, but rather because he wanted to get married and she didn’t feel ready yet, she and Captain Holt share a powerful moment in his office. Rosa expresses her fears that she might never find a life partner, and she and Captain Holt both end up crying.
Stephanie Beatriz does her best work in ages throughout “Into the Woods,” as she vacillates from steely strength to deep vulnerability. She is what makes the story with Marcus work so well. She and Nick Cannon have good chemistry together, but only having periodic drop-ins to their relationship means that the impact of their break-up is smaller, simply because the audience doesn’t know Marcus as well. Marcus is a more laid back, quieter presence than other love interests on the show, like last season’s Sophia and Teddy, and the show hasn’t found as many ways to integrate him into the narrative because he’s not a police officer (like Teddy) or working closely with the police (like Sophia, who was a lawyer). While the show hasn’t spent a ton of time with Rosa and Marcus’ relationship, it handles it well, giving Rosa a mature reason to break-up with Marcus. (I’m hoping Season 4 ends in Rosa’s awesome wedding to some equally beautiful, equally stoic gentleman. I’m already dream-casting Idris Elba for her new love interest.)
So while “Into the Woods” isn’t a revelatory episode of Brooklyn Nine-Nine, the episode’s highlights are Captain Holt and Rosa’s scenes together, and Stephanie Beatriz gives shade and depth to Rosa as a character through breaking up with Marcus. “Into the Woods” will go down as a predictable outing, lifted up by its cohesive, compatible ensemble, an ensemble that makes even so-so episodes of the show worth watching.
Photo Courtesy of FOX