TV Recap: Brooklyn Nine-Nine: Hostage Situation (03.11)

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January 5th, 2016, 8:30 PM, FOX

Jake and Charles go up against Charles’ controlling ex-wife Eleanor when Charles considers taking things to the next level with his sweet-natured girlfriend Genevieve – IE by having a baby with her, even though he’s sterile due to an on-the-job accident. It seems he froze a stockpile of sperm beforehand – but his fluids are the property of his wife thanks to a bad contract, and it turns out he needs Eleanor‘s permission to unfreeze the stock. She refuses to give it, declaring he ‘has to go through her first’ as the sperm literally resides in her freezer. She only relents by foisting a Faustian bargain on him – if he’ll intimidate a 90 year old priest she injured in a traffic incident into dropping charges against her she’ll give him the sperm. As Jake and Charles try desperately to outmaneuver her Eleanor stays ahead at every twist and turn of the road, eventually sending a cup of Charles’ sperm down the garbage disposal, forcing Charles to make a desperate sprint cross-town to intimidate the priest. Can Jake save his friend from making an illegal mistake before the deadline strikes? Meanwhile, Amy regrets asking Terry for a recommendation letter to a mentorship program when she accidentally breaks his nose during a sparring session and all of her attempts at making up with him just make things worse, especially when she’s rejected from the program and blames Terry for a bad letter that gets her rejected from the program – but it turns out Terry’s got another plan in mind for her – and Holt and Rosa turn to Gina for help with a case when they can’t scare their perp into confessing and she’s the only person he’s willing to speak to. Turn out that he knew her from high school, and when she rejects him he clams up even more. But Rosa has a way around this impasse….

This episode contains both the funniest and most irritating moments in the show’s history. Indeed, ultimately there may never be a scene during the rest of the series’ run that’s funnier than the sight of Ray Holt dancing the robot while Jake misses out on the prime opportunity to film and shame him. On the other hand there’s Eleanor. So, so much Eleanor, whose spiritless and yet grating presence drags the whole episode down. The ultimate insult is that the show resolves the plotline in the wink of an eye – so little fallout plays out onscreen that Charles might have resolved his issues through a phone call.

More fun is the Gina/Rosa/Holt plot; watching him try to reel Gina in while Rosa expresses cool confidence in her friend is an awful lot of fun, and everyone moves through the plot in serendipitous concert. The Amy/Terry stuff is all stereotyped sitcom stuff – but it, too, is an awful lot of fun to enjoy.

Meanwhile, Scully and Hitchcock drift through all of the plots semi-uselessly and without anchor, delivering bon motts and gross anecdotes as they go. They’re both achingly funny and need some kind of purpose that the episode refuses to give them.

Ultimately the episode needs a little more punch to be a perfect episode. Both the best and the worst of what the 99 has to offer in a single package; and a heck of a lot of fun to read.

The Roundup

  • ”Amy says I should eat more veggies, so I got extra pepper cheese.”
  • Low points in Charles’ life: signed an air-tight contract that tithed his sperm to his ex-wife. The whole thing is a conga-line of humiliation basically.
  • ”Because Debra’s on maternity leave!”
  • ”And that’s what you get for lying about free strudel! Karma’s a bitch!”
  • Eleanor’s maiden name is “Horstwhile,” and her husband currently is “Hercules Thikkolonous.” Charles is close to Hercules.
  • Eleanor and Charles had a battle royale over their hairdresser; Charles got custody, until this week.
  • ”He asked for Gina; let’s give the people what they want…”
  • Charles took three of his grandparents off of life support.
  • ”I even used the word ‘nay!’.
  • Jake’s terrible relationship with his biological relationship was explored repeatedly in season 2; in fact when last they met Jake’s dad tried to trick him into letting him into America even though e was holding illegal drugs.
  • Jake learned how to shave from watching Home Alone.
  • On more than one occasion Gina’s called Rosa by her own name.
  • Next Week: The show is preempted for the State of the Union Address.
8.5 GREAT

The B and C plots are wonderful, and it’s worth it all to watch Charles finally stand up to his ex, but Eleanor is the most grating presence in the show’s history. May we never meet the likes of her again.

  • 8.5
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About Author

Staff Television Critic: Lisa Fernandes, formerly of Firefox.org, has been watching television for all of her thirty-plus years, and critiquing it for the past seven. When she's not writing, she can be found in the wilds of the Northeastern United States.