TL;DR – Safe House shows that five seasons in Brooklyn Nine-Nine is getting better and better, blending humour and emotion into an amazing episode.
Score – 5 out of 5 stars
Now, I have to say that Brooklyn Nine-Nine might be one of the best gems out there on TV at the moment, and one of the few shows that I actively seek out these days. It is created by Dan Goor & Michael Schur who have been the creative minds behind The Daily Show, Saturday Night Live, Parks and Recreation, The Good Place, and more. So right from the start, you have an amazing creative team that extends out to all the writing staff. As well as this, you have an amazing and diverse cast that is committed to working together as a team. They all have an amazing rapport with each other, which feels effortless. It is from this platform that they keep getting better each season.
So today I want to focus on the latest episode of Brooklyn Nine-Nine, called Safe House, which is the first episode of the second half of its Fifth Season. For a show that tends towards the episodic, there actually is quite a lot of build-up to today’s episode. At the end of Season Four, Jake Peralta (Andy Samberg) and Rosa Diaz (Stephanie Beatriz) were framed by a dirty cop Lt. Hawkins (Gina Gershon) and sent to jail for 15 years for crimes they did not commit. After being in jail for months with no hope of escape a Mob boss Seamus Murphy (Paul Adelstein) approaches Amy Santiago (Melissa Fumero) with a deal, owe him a favour and he will give you a clue to free the pair. Captain Raymond Holt (Andre Braugher) refused to let Amy make the deal, but when all hope was lost he himself contacted Seamus to save his detectives.
For the rest of the season Holt has been pushing everyone away, his detectives, his husband Kevin (Marc Evan Jackson), even dodging One Police Plaza to avoid the chance of getting a promotion. This is all because he didn’t want this deal to hurt anyone else, and the higher up he goes the greater the chance of that happening. Well soon the rest of the team work out what has happened, so when Seamus comes collecting on his favour the whole team works together to let Holt keep his world, while also making sure Seamus fails. Everything worked out fine, well except for the fact that Seamus found out and the first half of the season ends with him calling Holt, telling him he knows and informing him that his husband Kevin is a dead man walking. Now from this point onwards, we will be looking at Safe House as a whole so there will be [SPOILERS] ahead.
The first thing I want to praise about this episode is how it blends the serious with the absurd in a way that just works, and we see it from the moment the episode opens. We have Kevin walking through the University where he works talking to students about the Punic Wars, when Peralta appears and interjects about the Pubic Wars, which is in character because it is likely that Peralta does not know what the Punic Wars were. Instead, of stopping to make a joke or cause a scene, there is an unspoken understanding that he would not be there unless something is very wrong, so Kevin immediately follows Peralta’s instructions, which leads to a series of more absurd handoffs until he is safely out of the University. Someone’s life is in very real danger, yet they secure him in a very silly way that is both endearing and amusing.
This is also an episode where everybody has something to do to help out. Charles Boyle (Joe Lo Truglio) and Gina Linetti (Chelsea Peretti) help Diaz go undercover in a hair salon to try and find information about Seamus’ location. Santiago and Terry Jeffords (Terry Crews) discover a shipment of shredded documents and with the help of Scully (Joel McKinnon Miller) help put letters and envelopes back together. Holt is working on keeping Kevin and Jake alive, if with some draconian measures. Now, all of these moments have their silly aspects to them, but they all help lead to the conclusion of the episode, each a core step in making the save. In big ensemble shows it is easy to let people fall into the background if you are not focusing on them, but here we see everyone contributing.
As well as this, it is just a really funny episode from start to finish. When I first heard they were doing a funny sitcom at a police station I didn’t know how the hell that would work, how do you mix the often times quite dark realities of being a police officer with the humorous tones of being a comedy. It has worked before in shows like Scrubs, but you need a fully committed writing team and actors that can pull it off and we see that here. There were Peralta’s one-liners that no one was giving him a moment, my favourite being “everyone loves Raymond”. You had Kevin’s completely deadpan delivery, and how it slowly deteriorates throughout the episode when he is subjected to Peralta’s Nicolas Cage film collection. This is brought back again at the stinger, and Marc Evan Jackson shows just what an amazing comedic talent that he is. We have Santiago letting the pile take her, Diaz getting freaked out by her hair, text message conversations with proper grammar, Holt shimming across the ground to avoid being seen by the window, or when Peralta and Kevin becoming perverts to go undercover in a library.
However, while all this is fun, there is a deeper undercurrent to the episode and that is Raymond and Kevin’s relationship. Like all relationships, they have had their ups and downs, like when Kevin went to Paris for a semester, but their relationship has been one of the touchstones for the series. So when Kevin mentions that this might lead to him and Raymond not being together anymore you can feel the weight of that statement on the episode. You can also see immediately the impact it has on Peralta who does, and yes the show has joked about this before, see them as surrogate parents, the loving relationship he never had as a child. However, no matter how angry Raymond got, love still triumphed over all when he sacrificed his safety to let Peralta and Kevin escape. It was an episode of fun, that was able to get real for a moment and it all still worked.
In the end, do we recommend Brooklyn Nine-Nine? Of course, we do. Safe House shows that five seasons in the show is getting better and better when many others stagnate. I mean I have watched the episode four times now and I still find the jokes funny, and the emotional moment still hit their mark. If you have never watched the show before, trust me, whether it is on DVD or a streaming service do yourself a favour and set some time aside to binge a couple of episodes, you will not regret it.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Trailer – Click Here to View (all trailers have heavy spoilers)
Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Directed by – Nisha Ganatra
Written by – Andy Gosche
Created by – Dan Goor & Michael Schur
Starring in Season Five – Andy Samberg, Stephanie Beatriz, Terry Crews, Melissa Fumero, Chelsea Peretti, Joe Lo Truglio, Dirk Blocker, Joel McKinnon Miller & Andre Braugher with Marc Evan Jackson, Paul Adelstein, Gina Gershon & Jason Mantzoukas