“The Funeral” picks up right after last week’s Brooklyn Nine-Nine premiere, framing the episode around Captain Dozerman’s funeral, his untimely death slightly perpetrated by Amy and Jake’s secret rendezvous in the evidence locker (and more directly, Dozerman’s heart condition). The episode continues to develop Amy and Jake’s fledgling six-day romance as they band together to take down The Vulture, for the good of the squad and their relationship. A winsome Archie Panjabi also drops by as a new love interest for Boyle, getting more to do in her five minutes of screen time than most of The Good Wife’s sixth season. Only two episodes into Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s third season, and yet the show seems like it’s on a roll, navigating the separation of Gina and Captain Holt from the rest of the squad with skill, and finding new ways to challenge and create humor with the characters.
“The Funeral” spends the most time with Amy and Jake, as The Vulture serves as their first relationship roadbump when he tells Jake he will demote him if he doesn’t break up with Amy, and Jake and Amy try to come up with ways to keep both their jobs and continue to date each other. They petition Captain Holt to help them, try to secretly record The Vulture telling Jake to break up with Amy, and generally spend the episode doing solid detective work while trading adorable banter. Amy and Jake have always worked best as partners, in solving crimes or simply hatching silly office schemes, and as the past two episodes have shown, Brooklyn Nine-Nine has used their great chemistry as partners to fuel and inform their feelings for one another. They still love their jobs as detectives, they just also happen to really enjoy each other’s company. It’s rare that a relationship with two seasons of buildup feels this organic, but Brooklyn Nine-Nine is somehow making it work, balancing Amy and Jake’s romance with the other stories at play.
The other two sections of “The Funeral,” which boil down to “Archie Panjabi and Boyle get it on” and “Captain Holt and Terry get drunk, inspiring all of Sunday night’s Tumblr gif posts,” are a blast. They’re stories that dive into the dynamics between characters, and don’t really contribute to the overall plot, but nevertheless are the kind of stories that Brooklyn Nine-Nine can indulge in during its third season. The first and second seasons of the show spent time crafting each character’s relationship to another, and now gets to play around with those relationships. For example, Rosa and Gina give Boyle advice on his strange romantic situation with the please-stay-forever Archie Panjabi, a story that’s richer because of the way Boyle, Rosa and Gina’s relationships have all developed in the past couple of seasons. Rosa and Boyle’s friendship from last season, Gina and Boyle’s lingering fondness for one another after their hookup, even the show’s understanding of how to use of Boyle as a character in the show come through, deepening something that could have easily been a throwaway part of the episode. Captain Holt and Terry getting drunk, while great fun, similarly serves to deepen relationships, getting to the core of the squad’s affection for Holt and Holt’s sadness at being separated from them.
Television shows take a while to get started. Establishing characters, their motivations and their idiosyncrasies, the way they interact in groups and one-on-one with other characters, those are the things that good shows build over time, each episode expanding on characters that started out simple enough in pilot episodes. Brooklyn Nine-Nine has spent time building its world and its characters over the past two seasons, with a sure sense of each character and their place in the show. Maybe that’s why all the changes in Season 3, especially Amy and Jake’s romance, have added to the show instead of subtracted from it. Brooklyn Nine-Nine knows what works now, and it’s simply a matter of what new, creative scenarios the writers can dream up for the characters. “The Funeral” and “New Captain” before it are celebrations of what the show has built, and the brave decision to change things instead of keeping them the same, while still staying true to the essence of the characters. For a show in its third season, Brooklyn Nine-Nine doesn’t seem to be running out of energy or excitement anytime soon.
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