Yippie kayak, other buckets! Brooklyn Nine-Nine makes its triumphant return to screens this week, and we have some spoiler-free screener secrets to whet your appetite.
Season 6 — the show’s first on NBC — debuts on Thursday, January 10, and having seen not only the season premiere “Honeymoon,” but also the show’s January 17 offering, “Hitchcock & Scully,” we can safely say that our favorite squad of New York’s Finest are settling into their brand-new HQ tremendously.
As if there was any doubt. Since their pick-up of the cancelled Fox series back in May, NBC has been extremely vocal in their excitement about bringing the show “home” – NBC president Bob Greenblatt has repeatedly stated that he regrets ever letting Nine-Nine get away after it was initially developed for NBCUniversal and that saving it when Fox pulled the plug wasn’t even a question.
NBC seems to firmly believe that Brooklyn Nine-Nine is a perfect fit for their comedy line-up, which includes Will & Grace, Superstore and of course, Brooklyn co-creator Michael Schur’s The Good Place, and they’re putting their money where their mouths are, supporting their new acquisition a very proactive marketing campaign including a celebratory San Diego Comic-Con panel appearance, lots of cross-series relationship building and a ton more fan engagement thanks to the undivided attention from the network’s famously savvy social media team, and of course, that ridiculously cool – and probably ridiculously expensive – Die Hard promo.
The universe tends to unfold as it should, and it seems getting cancelled was the best thing that could have possibly happened to the show. The move to NBC has offered Brooklyn Nine-Nine and its fans the best of both worlds. Offscreen, the energy surrounding Brooklyn Nine-Nine is an exciting change of pace for one of network television’s most impactful comedies. But onscreen, nothing’s really changed. Perhaps it sounds corny to say it this way, but NBC’s Brooklyn Nine-Nine feels exactly the same as always has – except possibly, more true to itself
Not that it wasn’t before! Fox honestly gave Brooklyn a lot of freedom — the previous five seasons aired sensitive stories about very deep topics (Fox airing a cop show heavily steeped in activism? In this economy?) and the show has always found its finest jokes when supporting very bold left-wing stances, but — and this might be a projection – at NBC, Brooklyn Nine-Nine is embraced wholeheartedly for all that was perhaps simply tolerated, or not really understood, before. Everything that Brooklyn Nine-Nine stands for – the show’s new network is the biggest cheerleader of it all, if these two episodes are any indication.
Season 6 is bigger, it’s better, it’s Brooklynier than ever. Everything you love — playful and moving character dynamics enhanced by ever-changing team-ups, dextrous humor that never punches down, sharply progressive social and political commentary that’ll make you cry — is turned up to 11. NBC’s Brooklyn Nine-Nine is the best the show has ever been — it’s dauntless, delightful, and — thanks to NBC’s differing rules about profanity – just a little bit dirtier without becoming distracting.
(“May I do the thing? “You may do the thing harder” — B99 showrunner Dan Goor and these NBC execs in conversation, probably.)
The first two episodes – “Honeymoon,” airing January 10 at 9/8c, and “Hitchcock & Scully,” airing January 17, sort of do what they say on the tin plot-wise – after their emotional precinct wedding in the season 5 finale, the season premiere focuses on Jake and Amy’s honeymoon, and the second episode is the flashback featuring our resident ‘house mouses’ in their prime, which Dan Goor teased at San Diego Comic Con.
Season 6 picks up precisely where season 5 ended — in Shaw’s bar on the eve of Jake and Amy’s wedding, waiting for Holt to read the email that outlines his fate. Of course, we can’t give too much away about Holt’s commissioner cliffhanger and how the squad moves forward in light of the outcome, but I can promise that how the Captain himself responds to the news and handles his career path is brilliant — “Honeymoon,” in particular one of Andre Braugher’s finest episodes.
But aside from that, here’s what we can tell you, in a little more detail.
Hypable’s best ‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine’ screener secrets for ‘Honeymoon’ and ‘Hitchcock & Scully’
Married Jake and Amy are more MFEO than ever
Well, of course. Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s central romance is one of the loveliest on television, and always has been. Ever since the pair got their act together, the show has never, ever relied on splitting the couple up or pitting them against one another in order to raise stakes — unless it’s a Halloween Heist, of course — it’s just let them be together and be healthy and be happy.
The Jake/Amy relationship is a honestly a blueprint for wedded bliss — a foundation of wonderful friendship, deep mutual respect, an acceptance of — and an attraction to — each others’ differences, and a joyful collection of charmingly unexpected similarities, especially when it comes to their brilliant intelligence and their sense of fun.
“Honeymoon” sees the happy couple head off to Mexico for their “mega baller” honeymoon upgrade – due to their wedding venue being cancelled, they’re able to upgrade their vacation with the payout from their wedding insurance. There’s a moment where they’re announcing this that strongly reminds the audience that Amy’s playfulness syncs right up with her new husband’s — think toit nups, but with more coconuts — and it’s quite possible that no fictional human being has ever been more thrilled to get to repeatedly use the phrase “my wife” in casual conversation as Jake Peralta.
Plot needs to occur so Jake and Amy’s honeymoon does hit a crisis point, but it’s nothing to do with any sort of conflict in their relationship – on the contrary, you’ll see Amy lose her temper defending Jake’s feelings in a way that’s fairly unprecedented, particularly given who the recipient of her ire is. Because this is Brooklyn Nine-Nine, the showdown naturally takes place while the new Mrs Peralta is wearing a very special outfit for her husband’s enjoyment, but it’s honestly touching to witness and reflect upon how far these characters have come.
Oh, and don’t worry. This is still a feminist show. Mr Santiago’s got his own special sexy outfit. I’m very embarrassed for both of them. I would marry both of them in a dumpster.
Lateral relationships are key to the team’s success
Brooklyn Nine-Nine continues to find moments of growth, vulnerability and humor by constantly switching up the cast team-ups episode by episode. This is a tactic used by most ensemble shows, to be sure, but here, it never feels heavy-handed or gimmicky – it’s just natural.
The consistently effortless way that all of these characters can intersect and partner up for new stories that rely on those particular combinations is a testament to how dedicated Dan Goor and the Brooklyn Nine-Nine team have been to developing every single relationship in the show laterally. Yes, there’s obviously a formal hierarchy in the officers’ positions of power, but as characters, the seven central characters are all pretty much equal in terms of how deeply drawn their unique bonds are.
“Honeymoon” sees Jake and Amy paired off together – obviously – but back at the 99, Charles and Gina are dealing with Boyle family drama, and Rosa counsels Terry through a crisis of confidence regarding Holt’s instruction manual for his potential replacement. But the following episode sees Gina helping Holt prepare for a media appearance (nope, still not a spoiler about his position) and BFFs Jake and Charles reunited and conducting a below-decks investigation into a suspicious case involving colleagues Hitchcock and Scully back in the 1980s.
While Peralta and Boyle delve into the history of their bumbling colleagues, certain circumstances lead to overcrowding in the fourth floor bullpen. Friction between Sgt Jeffords and Sgt Santiago occurs when Rosa voices a complaint about the mess left by Amy’s uniformed officers. This is not only a deft way to keep Amy, who no longer works day-to-day with detective team, in the thick of things – it also demonstrates her development as a leader of her own squad, and this angle is, in my opinion, crucial to the show’s emotional truth.
It can be really tough to prove that a character is really passionately invested in a part of their life that you don’t get to spend a ton of screen time on – such a a promotion like Santiago’s. In order to keep the character relevant their original setting, you have to find ways to pull them away from their actual priorities and duties, which can feel regressive. But Brooklyn has done a good job with this so far, and Amy continues to take her responsibilities very seriously and is protective of those in her care, even if it means going up against her friends. She will make a great captain someday, and naturally, Jake is consistently 100% supportive of his wife’s career rise.
Hitchcock and Scully contain multitudes
It’s really hard to describe why the above statement is true without spoiling all of the best parts of season 6’s second episode “Hitchcock and Scully,” so just know this: the episode contained twists that I really couldn’t have predicted and has left me feeling some kind of way about these two “magnificent dodos.”
What you need to keep in mind is that this pair – and although they’re often deservedly the butt of many jokes from the squad’s young upstarts – were once really good cops. There’s a reason that they’ve remained employed – Hitchcock has more arrests on record than anyone else in the 99th Precinct, remember? But the outcome of the case we see in flashbacks proves that they’re also right up there with the rest of the squad in terms of being hard-wired decent human beings, albeit in very different times.
“Hitchcock & Scully” – which sees Jake and Charles asked to quietly follow up on an old case that the NYPD’s Internal Affairs want to look closer at – rewards the rewatch in a big way. Once you know the ending, watching it again is fascinating, as you’re able to trace the clues that are planted – intentionally, I personally believe – by the gentlemen in question, who were brilliant detectives and still probably could be if they felt like it.
You’ll learn how their slippery slope into the Hitchcock and Scully we know today began, and it’s hilarious, but I also want to see a few slightly more serious episodes featuring this duo and how in tune and instinctual they are as 30-year partners.
They were also hot as hell.
I’ll admit, when I heard about this episode I was imagining a farcical flashback played by the contemporary actors in wigs, which was apparently one option Goor and co were considering. Instead, they ultimately decided to cast a Young Hitchcock and Young Scully, and I am so grateful, because it works so well for so many reasons.
Firstly, the casting is extraordinary – the two actors playing the pair in the 1980s really do capture the characters in a way I wouldn’t have believed until I saw it – something in the eyes and expression – and secondly, it makes the whole thing – particularly Peralta and Boyle’s response to seeing old photos and wondering how things turned out the way they did feel much more legitimate.
Because the majority of Brooklyn Nine-Nine‘s men wouldn’t know toxic masculinity if it was sitting five feet apart from them in a hot tub, the show has great fun allowing Jake and Charles to enthusiastically admire their colleagues in their past lives – ‘Flat Top and The Freak’ were truly the studs of the 99, and Jake, especially, is torn between horror and delight at this discovery, and I’m obsessed with it on several levels.
As is, it’s refreshingly chill to see two straight dude best friends shamelessly comparing notes on which of their male colleagues they find more bangable and not have that concept in and of itself be treated as a joke. That’s perfect and important as it is, and that kind of destigmatization and comfortability is one reason why B99 remains such a welcoming show for exhausted feminists.
But for those fans still waving their “Jake is bi” flags (both he and Rosa were pinned as potentially bisexual by members of the queer community, long before Rosa’s coming out) – there’s a whole lot of fodder here that lends legitimacy to the prospect of Jake realizing sometime soon that he’s not strictly heterosexual, despite being in a straight-passing monogamous relationship.
It’s totally fine if that never happens! And he would not need to “do” anything about it – the story I imagine would not have that discovery affect his marriage in any way. But that kind of scenario is very real and it never gets showcased on television, and if any show could pull off that particular form of representation, it’s this one.
The show remains such a safe space
To expand on that whole welcoming thing: to me, the most important thing about Brooklyn Nine-Nine is the relief this watching experience offers to all sorts of marginalized people. Featuring an incredibly diverse cast of characters with a sensitive and inclusive mindset at the helm, the show isn’t what I’d call “quietly progressive,” or casually progressive – it’s better than that.
It’s normalized, from its feminism to its subversion of every “angry black male” stereotype in the book, from Peralta’s constant socially conscious asides amid his hyperbolic rants (see: conditions for trans people in prison, compassion for the genetic nature of addiction, and in the season 6 premiere, saving the bees) to the power held by its out gay Captain, Raymond Holt. Brooklyn Nine-Nine is inclusive in the true sense of the word, and truly reflects the best of the city it represents.
Some might call the choices the show makes to stick to its strong moral compass – not just in Very Special Episodes, but in every line that ever leaves a character’s mouth – divisive. Controversial, even. A risk. Especially for a sitcom. Especially for a show about cops.
But to me, Brooklyn Nine-Nine has always felt supremely safe. If you’re not a queer person, or a person of color, or any kind of minority, it’s difficult to explain how dangerous a minefield the world of comedy can be – any time, at any moment, you could step on an explosive and be emotionally shattered by one of a million microaggressions, stereotypes, or other ways your identity can be weaponized, as the butt of a joke or something much much worse.
Instead, the lion’s share of Brooklyn’s jokes – and of course, its more serious moments – are for us. Brooklyn doesn’t care about alienating the people who would use us as punchlines – more often than not, the show’s punchlines or narrative condemnations, fall upon the heads of those who would think that kind of behavior was acceptable. It offers a chance to punch up as a form of resistance, and it makes it very clear that they’re always in our corner.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s approach to comedy and inclusivity is in fact so normalized and so comfortable that it’s sometimes hard – as a marginalized viewer – to remember that the world of entertainment is very different outside of the precinct walls – that this is an outlier, not the standard operating system that Hollywood runs on. For a show like Brooklyn Nine-Nine to even exist is nothing short of a miracle, and I am so eternally grateful to Dan Goor, a (presumably) straight white man, for using his position of privilege to write these kind of stories. And I am so eternally grateful that he continues to have the chance to do so.
This factor is coded into the DNA of the show, and of course that hasn’t changed with the move to NBC. But there’s two moments – both in “Hitchcock & Scully” – that really leapt out and reminded me just how special this show is.
The first was an exchange between Gina and a random staff member, Nancy, about the staffer having leave cleared to attend her psychologist appointment. This is shouted across the bullpen – a casual, incidental example of a workplace that’s destigmatizing mental health treatment, instead having open, supportive dialogue about it.
I’m not going to state this as a fact, but giving the timing of season 6’s table reads and what that must have meant for locking scripts, I’m almost positive that this moment was included after a fan at San Diego Comic-Con asked the Brooklyn creators about whether they’d ever consider developing any mental health storylines, as they’d so respectfully handled so many other issues.
While this little tidbit obviously doesn’t impact a main character, such delicate issues are often introduced in a roundabout way before becoming main text, and it really did not have to be included at all – the exchange literally could have referenced absolutely anything, it merely serves to highlight Gina’s workload during the overcrowding chaos – so it could potentially be planting the seed for a deeper discussion of mental health at the 99 further down the line, potentially – and I’m truly just kicking the tires on this one – tied to Chelsea Peretti’s exit from the show later this season.
The other stand-out for me was rather ridiculous – Jake and Charles have a very feminist moment when they’re forced to drive a vehicle with offensive imagery on it, and the way they handle their horror and shame at the situation is both absurdly funny and made me actually, genuinely, start crying. I think I became overwhelmed at how important this show is for all these reasons, and how close we came to losing that – how losing that would have represented so much more than just a show going off air.
It would have sent a message that these kinds of stories, these kinds of values, these kinds of people, were not wanted, not welcome. That we were being told to sit down and shut up with our diversity and compassion and human rights.
But here we are, and apparently the moment which triggered a tearful culmination of all those feelings for me was witnessing Detectives Boyle and Peralta shouting feminist statements to passing New Yorkers out of the window of a sex-pest van called The Beaver Trap.
Oh, Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Never change.
‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine’ returns Thursday, January 10 at 9/8c on NBC.
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