Brooklyn Nine-Nine, “Payback,” (2.13) - TV Review


B99 Payback

Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Season 2, Episode 13, “Payback”

January 11th, 2015, 8:30 PM, FOX

When Terry refuses to spot Jake a dollar for the vending machine due to outstanding loans and then demands repayment of Jake’s huge debt to him, the sudden request sends Jake off on a quest to discover why his friend suddenly wants his money back. Soon enough, Jake ends up being let in on a Jeffords family secret, which leaves him dodging the rest of their squad as they demand to know why he can repay Terry and not the rest of the squad. Jake ends up working his debt off to everybody – which soon turns out to be for naught when the secret slips out. Now he has to keep Terry from learning what happened. Meanwhile, Amy and Holt reopen the Brooklyn Broiler case and Amy tries to bond with Holt on a partner level, which slowly disintegrates when she and Holt share a delicious but tainted street meat meal.

A few words about Jake Peralta – and the kind of character he is. In lesser hands, Jake would have been an irritating karma Houdini dudebro who’s secretly totally sensitive, no really. But in this show’s hands, something magic happens to him. He’s become a guy who’s sarcastic and silly, but who’s also got a needy and tender core, the guy who’s so excited over his friends’ milestones that he instantly involves himself in every activity, from Terry’s news tonight to Charles’ engagement to defending Holt. Jake could be the squad hotshot who’s never, ever vulnerable, and for a little bit of season one he was. What he’s blossomed into is instead an impressive step up from comedy leads we’ve experienced before. Kudos to the writers, who might not have gone in this direction and ended up going in. This is precisely that makes Jake’s struggle to be a great friend to Terry so moving, and exactly why his immense struggle and sacrifice throughout the episode resonates so beautifully. The A-plot is sweet and silly and loaded with slapstick and even gives us a bit of character development; ultimately the best of both worlds for a sitcom.

The Amy-Holt plot, meanwhile, seems to meander for a bit – mostly because too much of it centers on the notion of them being friendly – getting along amazingly well. Then Amy feeds Holt that tainted meat and things pick up and goes full-on ridiculous, as they collectively try to speed toward the station to avoid Holt’s disgracing his pants. Yep, the Nine-Nine takes a rare foray into bathroom humor, and it somehow manages to stay funny and deliver poop jokes with a modicum of restraint. Just a modicum, though. It’s sort of disappointing that the Brooklyn Broiler case leads to a dead end and that the storyline doesn’t get more build-up, I would have preferred to see more of them teaming up versus weeks of (still-funny) Giggle Pig-related stories.

But ultimately Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s strengths – it’s knockout sense of humor and its truly human heart – makes this a good and worthwhile episode, lumps and bumps included.
The Roundup

  • Charles continues to be Rosa’s romance guru! Of a fashion. I’m presuming this is going to be their storyline for the rest of the season.
  • Low points in Charles’ life: Once spotted Jake over $2,000 for an entertainment system and was never paid back for it. Guessing Terry’s password sort of evens it out.
  • I want a variation of that Gina’s Opinion hoodie. I think many of us do.
  • Jake’s been avoiding the dentist – which he shouldn’t, because his teeth super-hurt.
  • Charles’ meticulous record of Jake’s financial debt to him: June 3rd, 2008: Paid for lunch. $8.45, Bought him a soda: $1.05 Spent $2,000 on an entertainment system.
  • I can already smell the fanfic arising from the ‘Jake works off his debt to the 99’ plot.

  • Things folks on the 99 forced Jake to do to pay off his debt: tells Gina’s friends and relatives that she’s dead so she can learn their reactions, washes and shines Rosa’s motorcycle, gives Scully a below-the-waist massage, washes Charles’ hump-happy dogs.

  • One of Charles’ dogs is named Jason.

  • Holt’s favorite meal is plain toast.

  • Next Week: The Nine-Nine are on a weeklong hiatus! See you after.

]: The A-Plot is stellar, the b-plot bumpy, but dialogue, character development and humor save the day.

  • GREAT 8.7

About Author

Staff Television Critic: Lisa Fernandes, formerly of, 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.