TL;DR – A wonderful way to end a beloved series
Disclosure – I watched this on SBS On-Demand
Brooklyn Nine-Nine Review –
After eight beautiful seasons, all good things have to come to an end, an end that could have been much sooner had people not been as passionate as they were. So it is in that vein that today we are a little happy/sad, happy for all the fun we’ve had and sad because there is no more to come. Today, we will look at first the finale double-part episode, The Last Day, and then take some time to look at the season as a whole.
So to set the scene, we open in on Amy’s (Melissa Fumero) and Raymond’s (Andre Braugher) last day in the 99, but as the gang wake, they don’t find their loved ones there but instead a waiting Jake (Andy Samberg). Because today is the day of the Final Heist, to crown The Grand Champion of the 99. It is time for hijinks to ensue as everyone picks their teams. However, one betrayal has already happened because Amy and Jake are working together. For you see, it is also Jake’s final day in the 99 and the NYPD. Because we will be looking at the season as a whole, there will be [SPOILERS] ahead for the whole season, so if you have not watched, please be aware before continuing.
There are many ways to approach a series finale, and the most popular one is almost a trip down memory lane. There have been some infamous examples of this not working, but I think they get the right tone here. This is because they use a framing device that both works for what they wanted the story to do and worked within the context of the series. There have been many recurring jokes throughout the seasons, but the one that has lasted the most has been the yearly heist. Each year the holiday heist episode has been the site of laughter, betrayals, and also some of the most touching moments in the show. Here it is used as a perfect send-off for every character.
In this double-parter, we get a chance for everyone to have a moment to shine, as all of them try to outmanoeuvre each other with the precision that only comes from years of practice and the chaos that comes from being a member of the Nine-Nine. This allows the show to pepper the episodes with references to critical moments of the past like that Cold Open that probably helped save the show. It also lets the show bring back some of the best guest stars, and with Chelsea Peretti, a former cast member. While not everyone is on screen, and it would have been nice to see Marc Evan Jackson one last time, everyone there brings a smile of joy.
It also gives us the time to bring closure to all those relationships growing and developing thought the show. Having Jake step back from the NYPD to be a full-time dad brings together all of those threads from his family life. So many shows based on the will-they/won’t-they dynamic lose all steam when that is resolved. For B99, it only got better. The episode is bookended with two deeply emotional scenes, with Jake summing up his new life with Amy and his respect for Raymond. But we get to see Terry (Terry Crews) go from being scared of his own shadow to being the new captain, Rosa (Stephanie Beatriz) knowing who she is and owning it, and Charles (Joe Lo Truglio) standing on his own two feet. It is an end of an era, but it is not as bad because you have watched these characters grow throughout the seasons.
While I think they nailed the final episode, the question then becomes, what about the season as a whole? This is a little more complicated. To be fair, I think they set themselves an almost impossible task, reframing the series through the lens of everything that happened after George Floyd’s murder but still keeping its familiar tone. Where it worked the best was when it was framing it through their lives, like the impact it had on Raymond’s marriage. They also helped create the perfect villain in John C. McGinley and used to a tee in the opener The Good Ones. But while the intentions were good, the reality is that this was already a shorter season than most, and they simply did not have the time to expand on this story like I think they would have wanted to. Now that is not me say this was a bad season, far from it. It was just that you could see what they were reaching for and that they just didn’t quite grab it.
In the end, do we recommend The Last Day and Season 8? Absolutely. Sure not everything worked, but this is a show that the writers, actors, and crew are entirely committed to. This means even if it does not land, it is worth it for the ride alone. I’ll miss Brooklyn Nine-Nine, but I will also be grateful for the time we had. Nine-Nine!
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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Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Directed by – Linda Mendoza & Claire Scanlon
Written by – Luke Del Tredici, Audrey Goodman & Dan Goor
Created by – Dan Goor & Michael Schur
Production/Distribution Companies – Fremulon, Dr. Goor Productions, 3 Arts Entertainment, Universal Television, NBCUniversal & SBS.
Starring in Season Seven – Andy Samberg, Stephanie Beatriz, Terry Crews, Melissa Fumero, Joe Lo Truglio, Dirk Blocker, Joel McKinnon Miller & Andre Braugher with Chelsea Peretti, Jason Mantzoukas, Tim Meadows, Kyle Bornheimer, Gabe Liedman, Joanna Newsom, Winston Story & Fred Armisen.