It’s all about the “Man Sprinkler” – ahem, “Bullet Tornado” – in this week’s episode of BROOKLYN NINE-NINE, “The Last Ride.” With the possibility of the precinct’s closing, the nine-nine is saying their last goodbyes and for Jake and Charles, that means going out in a “blaze of glory.” The episode dished out some strong punchlines, but also handed out some flops, too. A couple of the jokes left me questioning the intention behind the humor, including what could be some triggering subject matter. Overall, a strong episode, but one that didn’t quite feel up to the show’s usual standards.
The episode starts in the briefing room with Captain Holt letting everyone know that the nine-nine is getting shut down. There’s another precinct that’s being considered for closure as well, but that precinct has a task force and nobody is confident that the nine-nine will win out over that. Jake is determined to save the nine-nine with an incredible case, though, except the only open case is a stolen bike, because the NYPD won’t give the precinct any new cases until the closure is announced. Feeling defeated about not being able to save the nine-nine, Jake decides to take Charles on the case and turn it into the best case ever, doing all the things they’ve only dreamed about doing on a case so far.
In the meantime, Terry is upset because he’s two arrests short of the precinct record, which is held by Hitchcock. The news of this of course goes to Hitchcock’s head. He starts calling himself “Mr. Nine-Nine” and gets a tattoo of himself on his arm. Here’s where the joke gets a little murky, because Hitchcock thinks the tattoo is him blowing smoke off of a gun. However, the picture clearly depicts Hitchcock with the barrel fully in his mouth, as if he is about to commit suicide. Terry points this out to Hitchcock, who insists that it’s just blowing smoke off the top. He then pantomimes blowing smoke of a gun with his hands by putting the gun shape up to his mouth, pulling the trigger, and then blowing the would-be smoke off the top. Terry points out that he pulled the trigger here too, thus making it a pantomime of suicide. Hitchcock disagrees.
This joke left me questioning what’s truly funny and what isn’t. Is joking about suicide in poor taste? I tend to lean towards yes. Though the joke very clearly stayed away from a much more vivid depiction of suicide (i.e. we don’t see someone actually commit suicide or joke about a character who has) Hitchcock’s tattoo and pantomime could possibly still be triggering, especially perhaps by someone who has had a loved one die that particular way. It’s hard to give comedy a lot of boundaries, because censorship is the death of humor, but there are certain lines that shouldn’t be crossed, and I’m still wondering if this is one of them.
Amy, meanwhile, is upset that she will no longer be working with Holt after the precinct closes. She tells Holt that she always considered him a mentor, and Holt reveals to her that he was her mentor, keeping a strategic plan of the mentorship in a huge binder. Amy is in heaven. They decide to go over everything in the binder, since this might be the precinct’s last day, and they have no cases to work on. These jokes, between Holt’s and Amy’s characters, are possibly the funniest of the episode. Here again, we don’t often get to see Holt and Amy paired together, except in passing moments, and the combination of their characters is refreshing and full of great, unexplored territory.
While all of this is going on, Gina has decided to live-feed prank everyone in the nine-nine. She sneaks cement into people’s water glasses, coffee mugs, and food and tricks people into drinking or eating it. Though the live-feed pranking is totally a Gina thing, the cement part didn’t seem all that interesting. It also happened way too many times. After the fourth or fifth time, what humor was there in Gina’s pranks was gone. Gina’s storyline felt a bit forced because of this, as though the only purpose it served was to give Gina a reason to film Captain Holt’s speech to the nine-nine at the end of the day. I’m also still curious to find out if and how Gina getting hit by a bus will tie into the rest of the season, or if it was simply a device used by the writers to make sure people remembered to come back and watch the show after the four-month hiatus.
Jake and Charles luck out with their bike thief case, and it turns into a full-fledged drug bust of a very prominent drug dealer in the city and his supplier. Unfortunately, busting the dealer and his supplier is going to take them too long, and the closure announcement is going to happen before Jake and Charles can close the case, meaning the case won’t be used as a decision factor in whether the nine-nine stays open. No need to fret, though, because thanks to Gina’s social media followers, the nine-nine won’t be closing after all. When Gina filmed Holt’s speech on her live feed, her followers called in to request the NYPD not close the nine-nine. And it worked. Rosa points out to Terry that he’s solved countless numbers of cases without realizing it by helping Rosa and the rest of the precinct solve their cases that would otherwise have gone unsolved. And Captain Holt tells Amy that he has more binders full of his mentorship advice and plan, so even though they’re done with the first binder, he doesn’t have to stop mentoring her.
Overall a good, yet murky episode. The show typically dives more into its serialized side at this point, but perhaps because of the four-month hiatus the show still hasn’t gotten to that point yet. Either way, you can never be quite sure in what direction the show is headed, but you can bet I’ll be here along for the ride, waiting to see what’s next.
Season 4, Episode 15 (S04E15)
Brooklyn Nine-Nine airs Tuesdays at 8PM on Fox
Tasha is a freelance writer currently based in Los Angeles. Originally from Kansas, when she’s not writing about or watching TV, Tasha is searching for the best BBQ place in LA to fill the KC BBQ hole in her stomach.
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Tasha Cerny | Contributor