March 25, 2014
Brooklyn Nine-Nine Season 1, Episode 22 Review: “Charges and Specs”
There’s nothing better than being surprised by a television show, especially a sitcom. Sitcoms aren’t known for surprising moments; they’re known for making tropes and familiar story lines into something more because of sharp writing and performances. In my review of last week’s episode of Brooklyn Nine-Nine, I expressed my disappointment at how the show was turning its focus towards a Jake and Amy relationship. I assumed it would play a large part in tonight’s finale, and therefore went into this episode thinking I had things figured out. Now, I happily get to admit I was wrong, because the writers of Brooklyn Nine-Nine are better at their jobs than I am at mine, and delivered an energetic, hilarious, and surprising finale.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine has never been that ambitious with its plotting, and it’s usually served the show well. That being said, I enjoyed the change of pace with “Charges and Specs,” where the episode started off with Jake revealing he’d been fired. It added tension to the rest of the episode, which was helped by the quick pace and editing. With the exception of Boyle being dumped, there were no subplots. Almost all of the twenty-two minutes were devoted to telling Jake’s story, and there was a lot to tell.
Because the episode was devoted to Jake, the danger of him appearing at his worst increased. While Jake acted goofy here, even in moments when he clearly shouldn’t have been, he did it in a way that was funny and believable instead of annoying. Jake was devoted to his job and got things done. Michael Schur’s work has heavily relied on lead characters that can veer into the cartoonish – Parks & Recreation and The Office – and those shows got better as their writers figured out the proper levels of silliness. Jake was an occasionally problematic character during this first season, but the last couple of episodes indicate that the writers have him nailed down. He was a very enjoyable character here, and will hopefully be even better next season.
Speaking of next season, this episode revealed a bombshell near the end via Jake going undercover for the FBI. Since his mission will take six months (the amount of time between now and when the second season would premiere), I doubt this will be something the second season will cover, unless in flashback. Still, it was a surprising moment, and is just as big for Brooklyn Nine-Nine as it is for Jake. It let the show briefly address a love triangle for Jake, Amy, and Teddy in a way that was believable and not contrived, and it opens up some fun possibilities for next season. When Jake returns he will have been an undercover agent in a life-threatening situation. We could see a very different Jake when he returns (or the same, who knows).
“Charges and Specs” was a terrific finale to Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s great first season. It told a compelling and surprising story that was new for the show, but still found ways to incorporate consistent laughs and the fantastic ensemble who were the high-points of the season. I’ll have more thoughts on the season coming in a season one review tomorrow, but I couldn’t be happier with how the finale turned out.