Brooklyn Nine Nine
S1, E6: ‘Halloween’
The moralising in the show is, as I have remarked before, sort of refreshingly upfront. But sometimes it’s nice to have Big Themes take a little bit of a backseat to a fun, knockabout twenty minutes with ‘stumes and tomfoolery. And, all right, a little bit of a lesson. But really more of a confirmation of an existing lesson learnt.
The A-plot has Peralta wagering Holt that he can steal Holt’s medal of valour from his office before a given hour. Holt accepts the wager once Peralta has sweetened the stakes, but come on – he would’ve done it for way less, and at this point we all know it. Peralta engages in increasingly absurd disguises and increasingly pathetic subterfuges to get at the medal, and we speedily agree with Holt’s ‘this is just….sad.’ However, at the end of a crescendo of desperation including crawling through vents, mistimed dustbin fires, a Super Mario costume and shinning up the side of a building with a blowtorch, we discover that there was method in the madness. Peralta counted on Holt – and us – assuming that he’d act alone. But his theatrical flailing masked a surgical strike mounted in concert with Gina, Diaz, Boyle, Sgt. Jeffords and even Santiago. Peralta wins the bet, and Holt wryly and indulgently congratulates his Royal Baby-garbed employee as ‘an amazing detective slash genius’. Glad that the Aesop of the importance of teamwork stuck for at least one episode – and with the teaspoon of sugar of this goofy, joyous caper, too.
The B and C-plots are slighter and less successful, but have the positive of mixing up character pairings. The B-plot has Boyle trying to infect Santiago with his enthusiasm for Halloween. Santiago is a complete Scrooge about the affair – and of course it makes sense that the uptight, rules-obsessed nerd would loathe the tacky Bacchanalia of Halloween. He fails to change her mind – and why should he, when he has basically the same opinion of the influence of alcohol and costumes on bullies, but thinks it’s all worth it so that friends can run away from bullies together? Santiago hates Halloween, but is friends with Charles, which means they can party after all.
The C-plot has Jeffords trying to figure out why Rosa left Catholic school. Jeffords is convinced strong, silent Rosa is a softie, and goes to some lengths to find out her secret. He finds out (she went to ballet school!), is triumphant, but comes crashing to earth when Rosa apprehends a runaway Neanderthal-costumed perp. It plays rather tiresomely into the existing mystique about Rosa – which I am inclined to call thinness of characterisation more than anything else. But I do like that the show is already throwing different combinations of its cast at us.
It’s all rather silly, but so light and confident and blithe that you can’t but be charmed. I wonder what it is about Halloween that brings out the best in ensemble comedies. Which reminds me: I should go do a rewatch of Community’s Halloween episodes too.
Odds and sods
- ‘I passed a slutty tree on the way over here. Who wants to have sex with a tree?’ [Scully, rubbing the corn on his toe] ‘Was it a maple?’
- Of course Boyle is the sort of person who earnestly tries to make terrible awkward neologisms A Thing. ‘‘Stume’ is never going to be a thing, Charles.
- Which was crueller to Boyle dressed as Mario Batalli: ‘dumpy Chuck Norris’, ‘dumpy Ron Weasley’, ‘homeless Troll doll’, or Terry’s genuinely well-intentioned ‘obviously Miranda from Sex and the City’?
- ‘Can you magically make everyone kind, sober and fully dressed?’ ‘‘Kind, sober and fully dressed’…Good news, everyone! We’ve found the name of Santiago’s sex tape!’
- ‘I’m sorry about tonight.’ ‘‘Sorry about tonight’ – I think we’ve found the title of Santiago’s follow-up sex tape!’
- ‘It’s not your fault. I was terrible.’ ‘‘It’s not your fault, I was terrible’ is also one of your follow-up sex tapes.’
- ‘It was slightly less terrible with you – [sharply, to Peralta] – don’t!’
- Holt keeps his sandwich in a safe. Admittedly I would too if I worked with Scully and Hitchcock.
- Can Boyle resist high-fiving Peralta ever?
- I liked Peralta and Gina’s random discovery of a mutual friend whose dog has lupus.
- ‘He’s either a crispy mother werewolf or a cowboy, mustard, Oslo, Norway.’ [Gina, reading Peralta’s notes] ‘The bunny groped multiple women on the subway.’ The task of reconstructing Peralta’s writing from this exchange is left to the reader as an exercise.
- I cannot but sympathise with Santiago’s baffled loathing of nightclubs and Halloween. Everything she says as she crawls the floor of that club I could have said. And I’m not even wearing an eggshell-strewn second-hand skeleton ‘stume stiff with vomit.
- ‘[Santiago] gave me fifty bucks…I’m gonna use it to buy two suits!’ Hitchcock’s glee is what makes it.