A review of “The Tattler,” this week’s Brooklyn Nine-Nine, coming up just as soon as I perform “Stop or My Mom Will Ska,” the one song by my ska band, Skalvester Skallone…
“The Tattler” starts off in a familiar Andy Samberg key: Nineties clothes and music and a grown man longing for his adolescence. And it stays there for a while, as Jake and Gina attend their 20th high school reunion with Amy in tow. But as Jake obsesses over who falsely accused him of tattling on classmates back in the day, the story does a couple of smart and unexpected things. First, it lets Amy be the one who slips even more strongly back into her teenage years. She’s downright giddy to just be in a school, looking through student records (and turned on by Jake’s perfect attendance), fixing science fair projects, etc. Because Amy is inherently more sensible than Jake, there’s the risk of Melissa Fumero being relegated into the straight woman role, where every Jake/Amy story is about her pulling him back from the abyss or playing the wet blanket. But stories like this one and their honeymoon role-playing in the season premiere have been potent reminders that she’s just as weird as her husband, in her own way.
Second, it turns out that the Tattler investigation is a smokescreen for what the story is really about: setting up Gina’s upcoming exit from the Nine-Nine and Chelsea Peretti’s from the series. The conversation she has with Jake about not being able to fulfill her potential while she’s working in this job with people she loves felt meta. But it was also an elegant way to address the departure of a character who’s very funny, even though she didn’t always quite fit into the show. Whether Gina creates her toddler friending app or Peretti goes on to win more Oscars than her husband Jordan Peele, the ceiling for both was clearly limited here. And the reunion was as good a venue as any for Gina to reevaluate her life and realize she wanted more from it.
As for the subplots, Holt helping Terry, Hitchcock and Scully play a radio guessing game was the platonic ideal of a C-story, in that it was barely a story at all. Instead, the scenario was just an excuse for Terry Crews to be enthusiastic, for Braugher to play slightly against type as Holt learned to enjoy the idea of wasting time, and for a few stray jokes from the two idiots. Brooklyn episodes still tend to work better when they feature only two stories (or even just one), but this was an effective way to include everyone without things feeling rushed or overcrowded. Meanwhile, Charles helping Rosa choose between two love interests was a nice reminder that the show can still tell stories about the Boyle family quirks (like making Rosa hang in the “Upside-Down Coward” pose while waiting for the decision to be made for her) even after Gina (Charles’ former sister/lover) has gone. That Rosa and Alicia have broken up is disappointing but also not surprising, since Gina Rodriguez already has 15 other regular jobs, it seems.
What did everybody else think? Does this seem like a reasonable way to write out Gina?