This Brooklyn Nine-Nine review contains spoilers.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine Season 6 Episode 14
Mama Maglione! Once again, Brooklyn Nine-Nine has offered a new twist on their tried and true formula with great success, this time taking the 24 approach and showing an investigation in real-time. Honestly, it’s surprising that the real-time case concept hadn’t already been done by this show, but it’s another welcome off-format episode that gives the entire cast the ability to share one story.
Even though all of our main characters are involved in the search for a hacker looking to expose NYPD’s undercover files, it still allows tiny B-plots, like Terry and Boyle dealing with mean sorority girls and Hitchcock and Scully’s quest for the perfect side dish for their microwavable lasagna, to pop up. The most successful of these is Rosa navigating a possible breakup with Jocelyn. Highlighting Rosa’s not-so-secret vulnerable side always plays well, and having her face scrutiny for her dedication to her job during a high-pressure work situation creates a nice conflict. It was great to see these mini-stories executed so naturally when sometimes the B-plots can feel so forced and shoe-horned in.
The plot isn’t the only thing that’s smooth. You don’t hear many critics talk about the direction in a sitcom, but “Ticking Clocks” director Payman Benz totally infuses a new look into Brooklyn Nine-Nine, which is impressive after six seasons. His camera sweeps through the precinct bullpen in one fluid shot, changing character perspectives as the actors cross paths. It’s impressive stuff that really added to the episode’s frantic feeling.
Sean Astin, in what was likely a play on his 24 history, pops up as an NYPD cyber cop, but Brooklyn Nine-Nine has trained us to view every guest star as a suspect. Honestly, BK99’s “twists” have been starting to feel super telegraphed lately. When Astin was revealed as a criminal just looking to wipe the NYPD’s evidence records, the moment doesn’t really surprise at all. Maybe it’s by no fault of a series 100+ episodes into its run, but it would be nice if the show was able to fool us as well as it has in some of its past stories. Not every guest-star needs to be some secret baddie. That being said, predictability doesn’t really harm this well-constructed and executed half-hour.
However, one little complaint that I do have is that these higher concept outings usually short shrift the comedy. That’s not to say that the episode is devoid of laughs, because Amy’s crippling FOMW (Fear of Missing Work) and Boyle telling Diaz that her break-up scenario is fully in “Boyle Country,” along with pretty much all of the Hitchcock and Scully business, scores laughs. It just feels like this episode, along with other structure-busting episodes like “The Crime Scene” and “He Said, She Said” has a significantly lower joke ratio than we’re used to.
Still, these stylistic divergences are interesting enough to sacrifice a few gags, especially when they are presented with new camera techniques and solid character work like Rosa’s acknowledgement of her love for Jocelyn. The series may not be able to surprise us much with the cases on a week to week basis, but it certainly still can by stretching out with format experiences and new emotional beats.
Nick Harley is a tortured Cleveland sports fan, thinks Douglas Sirk would have made a killer Batman movie, Spider-Man should be a big-budget HBO series, and Wes Anderson and Paul Thomas Anderson should direct a script written by one another. For more thoughts like these, read Nick’s work here at Den of Geek or follow him on Twitter.