This review of Angie Tribeca is spoiler-free.
“I think it’s time I put the police work behind me and go balls deep into motherhood.”
There’s a moment early on in Angie Tribeca’s third season where a suspect naively falls for the bait during their cross-examination. As the criminal is about to fall into the ploy, someone from across the courtroom bellows, “It’s a trap!”
It’s Admiral Ackbar from the Star Wars universe.
It’s a scene that feels genuinely surreal—and the sort of visual joke more typically suited for an animated series—but also oddly at home for Angie Tribeca. This series is still one-of-a-kind unpredictable, but it’s found a way to somehow normalize the absurd nonsense it fires with the ferocity of a police-issued machine gun. The show has never felt more comfortable with itself, which allows this season to get creative in some really exciting ways.
For a show that’s so concerned with gags and puns, you’d think that after two seasons and 20 episodes, these jokes would be running thin. Miraculously though, Angie Tribeca isn’t slowed down the least in its third season. It still has the best visual gags with glorious punchlines that will make you belly laugh like nothing else on TV. When villains come into this show, they are beyond over the top caricatures of caricatures. Everything is turned up to 13 here.
Angie Tribeca even manages to up the stakes some in its third year. The show adds a big central case to chew on that percolates in the background all season, and it’s a doozy. Tribeca and her department find themselves with a serial killer on their hands. The show has nearly too much fun putting all of the various serial killer tropes under its microscope (including Chris Pine in a wonderful Hannibal Lecter-esque role). Adding more melodrama to this ultra-silly show is never a bad thing. This structure proves that if Angie Tribeca has learned anything over the course of three seasons, it’s that an episodic setup with a larger case developing behind it all is the best approach. They experimented with this last season with all of the Mayhem Global material, but they reach a more comfortable balance this time.
Serial killer material can either be hit or miss, but Angie Tribeca goes in the right direction. The show rises to these lofty narrative challenges, while still making the subject matter terribly funny. You know how serial killers can tend to be trophy hunters and keep souvenirs from their victims? Well, Angie Tribeca’s serial killer hunts actual trophy hunters.
There is also great comedic value to mine from the fact that all of the serial killer’s victims are “rich white men.” The series has obviously invested a lot of time in making the police force the brunt of its jokes in the past, but seeing rich, white men fill some of that role this year is a lot of fun. The show is dangerously adept at combing through the libraries of all the televised police procedurals that are out there in order to steal from their most ridiculous and unbelievable actual plot lines.
This season also feels more rebellious than it’s ever been before. For instance, it begins with the simple enough premise of Angie retiring. This is almost immediately undercut by her returning to work in the very next scene. The retirement holds absolutely no power except for in the scene that it’s serving. In the same sense, sure, Tribeca might also have a baby now, which is technically character development, but she’s certainly not going to let something like that stay in the way of remaining undeveloped. Tribeca herself is as clueless about the plot details regarding her son and romantic backstory with Geils as if she were a new viewer to the program.
While the static nature of this show has already been pointed out, this season does toss its characters into a blender to some degree. A number of new motivations and goals drive the cast this year, even if they’re still ostensibly the same characters. Tribeca and Geils’ love life hits some rocky bumps this season too, making for a good counter to all of the work-related material. Geils finds himself going through the necessary trials to become Lieutenant, while, Angie finds herself developing an unhealthy obsession with this serial killer, which gives us a fresh dynamic to Rashida Jones and Hayes MacArthur’s chemistry as this obstacle is negotiated.
Everyone knows their roles so well in this show by now that it’s just a delight to see these personalities ricocheting off one another. Lieutenant Atkins barking out every single one of his lines will never not be funny to me. In addition to the main cast, this season of Angie Tribeca continues the show’s trend of killing it with the guest stars. Natalie Portman, Rob Huebel, Randall Park, Rob Riggle, and Jessica St. Clair are all put to very good use in this elastic universe.
Angie Tribeca is a series that could have easily burnt out within its first year, which is why it’s so exciting that its latest season feels like it’s most energized yet. The show’s storytelling has never been smarter, characters are only becoming more interesting while still remaining their broad selves, and there’s a healthy sense of ambition and experimentation. There are stylistic odes to film noir going on, love stories with robots, cases that take place outside of the Earth’s atmosphere, and so much more.
Let Angie Tribeca lock you up for another season, and hope that it turns into a life sentence.
Angie Tribeca’s third season premieres on TBS on April 10th at 10:30 p.m. This review is based on the first five half-hour episodes of Angie Tribeca season 3.