Brooklyn Nine-Nine: “The Jimmy Jab Games” Review

Courtesy of Entertainment Weekly
Courtesy of Entertainment Weekly

After an Emmy-winning first season, “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” has returned with a second season that to date has been hilarious and just as good as its first. Since school started so late, we’ll be starting with episode three, “The Jimmy Jab Games,” but make sure you catch up on the first two episodes as well. They shouldn’t be missed.

The main plot of “The Jimmy Jab Games” involves most of the precinct — except Holt (Andre Braugher) and Terry (Terry Crews), who we’ll get to in a moment — in the Jimmy Jab Games, a series of strange events that the precinct does to pass the time when the Serbian president they’re supposed to be protecting gets delayed in D.C. These games include eating old Chinese food and talking to fellow police officers in disguise without them realizing who you are.

The Jimmy Jab Games as a concept better matches the Nine-Nine we saw at the beginning of last season — childish, more concerned about having fun than work — and positions Terry and Holt as the only ones at the precinct who are keeping everyone in line. Since the entire first season of “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” was dedicated to proving that all the characters, except possibly Gina (Chelsea Peretti), are equally invested in police work, the games could come across as being out of character since they’re so ridiculous and a waste of police time.

But the plot ultimately works because of the already-established tradition of the games. This is the seventh iteration of the games, which date back to 2008, and they’re enough of a presence in the precinct that officers we haven’t met before know about the Games — and they have their own opening ceremonies, which involves lighting a bagel on fire. It also helps that the Games aren’t really a drain on police time because the precinct is still supposed to be on alert for the Serbian President, but they don’t have anything to do.

Of course, central to the Jimmy Jab Games as a plot is the fact that Holt isn’t at the precinct. He and Terry have asked for funding to help defeat a new designer drug called Giggle Pig, and yes, Holt saying “Giggle Pig” is just as funny as you think it is. The catch in the plot is that first they have to talk to Deputy Chief Wuntch (Kyra Sedgwick), who was introduced in the last episode, “Chocolate Milk,” as Holt’s friend-turned-rival.

Sedgwick only had a deal to guest for a two-episode arc, but boy, do I hope they sign her to more episodes. The relationship between Wuntch and Holt is comedy gold because they’re both so uptight, exacting and seemingly emotionless. But they so obviously get under each other’s skin, letting them have emotionless and uptight battles of wits that lead to such delicious repartee as, “You want to hear the funniest thing ever? I also split an infinitive, and she didn’t notice,” and “You’re like the League of Nations in ’36, just hoping the Abyssinian crisis resolves itself.”

Obviously these lines aren’t funny to most people, but the fact that Wuntch and Holt take them so seriously and are so obviously offended when an insult lands — even if it’s just a narrowing of the eyes or a closing of the mouth — that the situation as a whole draws laughter. It would be great, as a comedic element and as a means to a potential character arc for Holt, if Sedgwick could stick around.

The only thing that really spoils the fun of the games and, indeed, of “The Jimmy Jab Games” as a whole is the episode’s emphasis on Jake (Andy Samberg) and Amy (Melissa Fumero) as a romantic pairing. I know that a lot of people want to see them hook up, and while I’m not entirely opposed to the show exploring that territory, I would just prefer it be done in a way that doesn’t completely ruin Jake and Amy as friends.

“The Jimmy Jab Games” doesn’t quite achieve that. Instead, it pretty much follows the romantic plotline into the worst-case scenario: Jake and Amy can barely talk to each other because Rosa (Stephanie Beatriz) tells Jake he has to finish the games without “flirting” with Amy, as he has apparently been doing the entire episode.

However, it’s not easy to discern the line between Jake “flirting” with Amy and Jake and Amy being friends, so it feels like the episode simply wants to reintroduce the concept that Jake and Amy could be in love. It’s also not fair to the characters to assume that all of their interaction hinges on some possible romance between them. As we saw in the first episode of the season, they are able to put aside romantic possibilities and focus on their friendship and work relationship. So why can’t they do that in “The Jimmy Jab Games”?

The one thing that saves this plotline is the way it ends — with Rosa telling Jake he needs to actually move on from Amy and not just say he has. Rosa and Jake have a good friendship going, so it’s nice to see them interacting together. I don’t truly expect this will be the last of the Jake and Amy potential romance, but maybe it can be put to bed for a few more episodes at least.

As it is, Holt manages to get his drug-fighting money and a task force to boot, but when he returns to the precinct to witness the end of the Jimmy Jab Games — everything is covered in fire extinguisher foam — his faith in his officers is understandably shaken.

Luckily, at the very end of “The Jimmy Jab Games,” Terry reminds him what a good group of officers he has and convinces him to let Rosa lead the anti-drug task force. Hopefully, this development will lead to more Rosa in future episodes.

“The Jimmy Jab Games” features one more plotline, which is largely throwaway, where Boyle (Joe Lo Truglio) tries to get a videotape revealing the fact that he and Gina have been having sex back from Hitchcock (Dirk Blocker). The situation escalates to blackmail, wherein Hitchcock just wants Boyle to make him seem cool.

Obviously the importance here for the rest of the season is further development of Gina and Boyle’s relationship, which has been a major element of the second season, featured in all three episodes so far. The key to maintaining this as a plotline will be its quick resolution. If someone doesn’t find out about the relationship soon, the plot could get boring, no matter how strange — and therefore, funny — it is to see Gina and Boyle together.

Rating: 4 stars

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