A review of the two-part Brooklyn Nine-Nine Season Six finale, “Sicko” and “The Suicide Squad,” coming up just as soon as I send you an eye-rolling gif from The Durrells in Corfu…
Nine-Nine has a tradition of ending its seasons with cliffhangers that upend the series’ status quo. Season One ended with Jake going undercover in the Mafia, Season Two with Captain Holt transferred to One Police Plaza, Season Three with Jake and Holt in witness protection down in Florida and Season Four with Jake and Rosa going to prison after being framed by corrupt cops. Season Five, when the show’s fate at Fox seemed (correctly) to be at risk, is the only one to conclude with a more close-ended finale, with Jake and Amy getting married.
In all candor, these cliffhangers have rarely been my favorite thing the series does. It’s not that we know things will eventually revert to normal. It’s that the process of ripping up the status quo and then putting it back together forces the show to lean more heavily on plot at the expense of the humor that’s its greatest strength. (The annual heist episodes tend to shoulder the plottiness more ably, and even there you can sometimes see the strain.)
With the Season Seven renewal coming relatively early, it seemed inevitable that we’d head back into cliffhanger territory. And at first, that’s where “Sicko” and “The Suicide Squad” seem to be going. “Sicko” resumes the rivalry between Holt and Commissioner Kelly with the introduction of Kelly’s anonymous tips app, HotClues, then takes a twist at the end revealing that the app is just cover for Kelly’s Dark Knight-esque illegal wiretapping operation. This takes us right into “The Suicide Squad,” where Jake recruits some of the show’s greatest past nemeses — the Vulture, Madeline Wuntch and C.J. Stentley — to help bring down Kelly. It’s an obviously terrible idea that’s just an excuse to let Dean Winters, Kyra Sedgwick and Ken Marino do their thing again, which is fine. The Holt/Wuntch enmity in particular is a bottomless source of humor for the show, so any excuse to bring Sedgwick back is welcome. And if Stentley is more Homer Simpson than ever (he also wouldn’t answer to Homer Thompson), Marino relaxes so deep into the cartoonishness that it works.
Eventually, “The Suicide Squad” seems on the verge of repeating ideas from past finales, particularly with Jake and the other detectives arrested for their fake kidnapping of Stentley. Instead, it’s another heist of sorts, as we find out that Jake and Wuntch have been sneaking around behind Holt’s back to trick Kelly into providing them with evidence via his unlocked phone. All seems well, and even Terry‘s pending transfer to Staten Island gets overturned. It’s largely an all’s-well-that-ends-well situation… until acting commish Wuntch pulls some bureaucratic strings to force Holt from plainclothes back into uniform.
As these cliffhangers go, this one seems pretty easy to overturn. More importantly, though, the idea of dignified, stentorian, uptight Raymond Holt having to direct traffic is a lovely visual joke, and one the show should be able to mine for a bit until he inevitably winds up back in his old office.
This turned out to be one of Brooklyn‘s best seasons, and this was one of the series’ stronger finales.
Some other thoughts:
* Technically, that’s a fake Durrells in Corfu gif, featuring Nine-Nine writer Madeline Walter.
* Laughter can come from surprise, but it’s often more effective for jokes to be predictable, in that we understand characters well enough to know how they’ll respond in a situation. From the moment Jake moves Holt’s podium a half-inch in the “Sicko” teaser, I knew Holt would be utterly thrown and amused by it. It was hilarious anyway, because the character is so well-established and because it was so unsettling to hear Andre Braugher laugh quite that much in this role. With “The Suicide Squad” opening with a scene tied to the Kelly story, Holt’s podium becomes the season’s final pre-credits comedy sketch. It’s a gem.
* Funnier joke when Jake and Holt are arguing over HotClues: Holt saying “Nah, bitch” or Jake responding to Holt’s demand to “Show me the tip!” with a very quiet and unhappy, “Title of your sex tape”? I probably lean towards the latter, but it’s close.
* Of course the Vulture is friends with Billy from the Fyre Festival. Also, his two best/worst detectives, depending on your POV, are named Kimble and Gerard, in a nod to The Fugitive.