“Brooklyn Nine-Nine” is one of those shows with tons of critical acclaim (including a Golden Globe Award for best comedy in its first season) and a passionate online fan base, though it has never been a ratings powerhouse. In that sense, it’s impressive that Fox has stuck with the series this long. However, even if the show does get the ax in May, it aired a pretty perfect send-off Sunday night, guest-starring “This Is Us” breakout actor Sterling K. Brown.
While the comedy still has eight episodes until the season finale, Sunday’s half-hour encapsulated the talents and chemistry of the two leads: Andy Samberg ’s goofy-yet-savvy detective Jake Peralta, and Andre Braugher, the hilariously deadpan Capt. Raymond Holt. The series features a supremely funny ensemble cast, including Terry Crews, Melissa Fumero, Joe Lo Truglio, Stephanie Beatriz and Chelsea Peretti, but the complicated relationship between Peralta and Holt was set up as a central theme from the beginning.
“Peralta is my best detective. He likes putting away bad guys and he loves solving puzzles,” Sgt. Terry Jeffords (Crews) told Holt in the pilot, as he arrives for his first day as the precinct’s new captain. “The only puzzle he hasn’t solved is how to grow up.”
“That was very well put,” Holt said approvingly. From then on, he made it his mission to turn Peralta into a mature adult, while Peralta balked at every step of the way. They eventually both formed a grudging respect for the other, and one of the funniest parts of the show has been seeing the two wildly opposite characters bond — even if they drive each other crazy. (Think Leslie Knope and Ron Swanson from “Parks and Recreation”: The two shows share a co-creator, Michael Schur.) Peralta, who has lots of father issues, once accidentally called Holt “dad,” much to the mockery of the squad.
Sunday’s installment expertly captured this dynamic, as they teamed up to interrogate a dentist named Phillip (played by Brown), whom they suspected murdered his business partner. Brown, who has rocketed to fame with award-winning turns in NBC’s “This Is Us” and FX’s “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story,” easily kept up with the fast-moving dialogue. (Last year, Brown gave Braugher a shout-out in his Emmy speech, after he became the first black actor to win lead actor in a drama since Braugher won it in 1998 for NBC’s “Homicide: Life on the Street.”)
The whole episode took place in the police interrogation room, and had all the hallmarks of a Peralta-Holt story line: The two had very different perspectives on culture. (Holt: “Kevin and I are attending the opera.” Peralta: “Ooh, the opera. Is it the one Bugs Bunny sings?”). They clashed over police work, such as interrogation techniques. (Holt: “You have a boyish face and a big goofy grin. It’s like being yelled at by a children’s cereal mascot.”) And Peralta appalled Holt with his personal hygiene. (Peralta, after Phillip evaded questioning and remarked on his amount of plaque: “Not only did we not break him, but now I have to go to the dentist?!”)
It was 30 minutes of a top-speed back-and-forth between the actors, and in the end, of course, it all came down to Peralta wanting to make Holt proud. No spoilers here, though it concluded on a full-circle scene for the two characters. And even though those kinds of moments seem to imply the writers know the show could be ending, co-creator Dan Goor stressed that isn’t necessarily the case.
“Fox has been very supportive and encouraging of us and continues to be so … but the truth is, in this era of television, it’s tough, especially with our live ratings,” Goor told TVGuide, saying the show does very well with DVR-delayed viewing and is one of the most popular live-action shows on Hulu. He added, “A more positive way to view these developments and arcs are as fun ways to set up an interesting, different sixth season as opposed to the tombstone on Season 5.”