Brooklyn Nine-Nine: “Johnny and Dora” review

Courtesy of Fox
Courtesy of Fox

Starting with the teaser, the episode “Johnny and Dora” made it clear that the “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” writers knew they’d left us with unfinished business last week. The episode opens with Scully (Joel McKinnon Miller) screaming, “No, no, no, no, you can’t take him from me.” We quickly find out that he’s referring to one of the precinct’s vending machines, but the scene toys with the idea of someone – Holt (Andre Braugher), based on “The Chopper” – leaving the Nine-Nine.

In this scant few minutes, we see all the typical reactions to someone important leaving, including Hitchcock (Dirk Blocker) telling Scully to be strong, Jake (Andy Samberg) bargaining for Scully to go instead and finally the Nine-Nine teaming up to give the machine a heartfelt goodbye. For anyone who didn’t see last week’s episode, the scene is simply a funny joke, but for fans, it’s a way to acknowledge what happened in “The Chopper” but move beyond it as the focus of the episode.

Holt potentially leaving is definitely not the main plot of the episode, which instead deals with the Jake and Amy (Melissa Fumero) relationship tension from “Det. Dave Majors.” When Holt pairs up Jake and Amy to tail identity thief Michael Augustine (Ray Abruzzo), Jake tries to get Boyle (Joe Lo Truglio) as his partner in Amy’s place. He doesn’t succeed, and Amy rightly calls him out on his attempt to keep her off the case.

It’s a little improbable here that Jake actually admits that he was going to ask Amy out before she instituted the rule that she wasn’t going to date cops anymore in “Det. Dave Majors.” Jake seems like the kind of character who would wallow and have to have this information dragged out of him, but at least Jake’s emotional honesty allows the episode to get to the point quickly when Jake and Amy agree that they’re going to be professional and work the case together.

Of course, their agreement about being professional falls to pieces later that night. Jake and Amy tail Augustine and his girlfriend (Ilana Guralnik) to dinner, and when they try to get closer to their suspect, they’re forced into pretending they’re a newly engaged couple – the titular Johnny and Dora – rather than a pair of cops.

What follows is an awkward but admittedly adorable dinner where Jake and Amy have to answer Augustine’s girlfriend’s questions about their fake relationship. Their answers aren’t consistent at all – Jake and Johnny say they met five years ago while Amy and Dora say they met last year – and they’re also a little weird – Jake and Johnny knew Amy and Dora was the one when he looked “at her face and attached physique” while Amy/Dora says their honeymoon will be in Waco, Texas. But they make it through the dinner without arousing suspicion.

However, even though the questions are about Johnny and Dora, they also force the two to think about their own relationship. When Amy/Dora gets asked how she knows she loves Jake/Johnny, she replies, “He makes me laugh.” Jake follows that up by saying, “There’s really no one else’s opinion I care about more than hers.” It’s clear that there is truth in these answers, blurring the lines between Johnny and Dora, and Jake and Amy.

The lines get even less defined when Jake and Amy must kiss twice in order to keep their cover. In spite of this, they manage to arrest the person buying Augustine’s stolen identity information, though they overcompensate by yelling, “NYPD. Freeze. We are police colleagues” and “You’re under arrest. This is a work event.” This overcompensation is telling. Even when they claim the kisses meant nothing, they obviously shook Jake and Amy up.

In their penultimate scene alone, the two can’t quite figure out how to behave around each other when they’re back at work but now with these feelings out in the open. Again, they agree to be professional because they don’t want to mess anything up between them, and they don’t want anything to change. Unfortunately, the next few minutes of the episode brings a big change – yes, we’ve finally reached Holt leaving the precinct.

After the teaser, the Holt subplot starts with Holt telling Gina (Chelsea Peretti) and Terry (Terry Crews) about his promotion to Public Relations. This early in the episode, there’s still hope that Holt will overcome Wutnch’s (Kyra Sedgwick) plot to oust him, and he asks Gina and Terry to help by stealing a derogatory letter Wuntch wrote about her boss before he was hired.

I can’t remember the last time Gina and Terry had a scene all to themselves, but if “Johnny and Dora” is anything to go by, that should happen more often. While Terry sneaks in to get the letter, which is in a file cabinet, Gina distracts the file clerk, and the results are hilarious. Gina engages the clerk in a conversation about bird-watching – his favorite activity – during which she fakes a high level of interest, ending by making bird noises and the other an actual bird whistle. Meanwhile, Terry can’t get the file cabinet open, and after trying a variety of methods, he finally hauls the entire cabinet off. Besides being funny, the combination of their efforts means they recover the letter for Holt.

Holt uses the letter to blackmail Wuntch and gives her one day to reverse the promotion. At this point, it certainly looks like Holt, Gina and Terry won, but when Wuntch comes back the next day, she tells Holt to go ahead and give her boss the letter because she’ll just deny everything. By the time the letter is authenticated months later, Wuntch says she’ll have dismantled the Nine-Nine, sending all of the characters to different precincts.

In the end, Holt lets Wuntch send him to Public Relations, if only to keep the Nine-Nine together. It’s a noble decision, but that doesn’t make it any less sad. The pilot brought Holt into the precinct, and the audience has watched over these two seasons as he changed the Nine-Nine and as they changed him. This scene nails how traumatic this transition – although I’m hoping it’s not a permanent one – will be for the precinct, for the audience and ultimately, for Holt himself.
The captain gives the most emotional speech he’s given in two years, including his speech for the Boyle-Linetti wedding. He says, “These have been the best years of my career, and I know that every one of you gave me everything you had. And I will never forget it.” Braugher delivers in this emotional moment, the same as he’s delivered comically in every episode, and honestly, I cried.

The trauma carries over to Jake and Amy’s final scene where they kiss again – only this time it’s for real. Finally, something has happened in the plotline to force it into moving forward. Before they get a chance to process this change, however, Boyle tells them the new captain is arriving. The episode ends before we see who it is – yeah, I was just as mad as you – but all of these final developments give “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” a direction for season three. With any luck, that direction includes bringing Holt back as soon as possible.

Rating: 4.5 stars

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