Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Season 2, Episode 14, “The Defense Rests”
January 25th, 2015, 8:30 PM, FOX
With their relationship on somewhat shaky ground, Jake tries to talk it out with Sophia only to be told she needs to take a commitment break so she can focus on her job, where they haven’t been tossing her juicy cases for ages. Jake swallows down his dislike of attorneys and promptly recruits Terry to infiltrate a cocktail party to better make things right with her boss by buttering him up and making Sophia seem a worthwhile prospect again. Jake succeeds in impressing the man with various feats of skill, but he soon realizes that his problems lie much deeper than his conflict with Sophia, and soon Jake has to choose between professional integrity and his love affair. Meanwhile, Wuntch must rely on Holt for a reference for a job with the Boston PD and Ray turns to Rosa for advice as he tries to choose between the high road and sticking it to Wuntch one more time. And Amy tries to mediate a conflict between Charles and Gina, the former of whom has weaseled out on his promise that he’d help Gina break up their parent’s relationship.
This episode serves as an apparent swan song for Eva Longoria’s Sophia, who continues to impress by having a surprising amount of depth and integrity for a recurring guest character. It’s easy to relate to Jake’s lovelorn status, and just as easy to understand Sophia’s adult reaction, and the end result is a lovely mediation on what happens when love isn’t enough to overcome your differences. Everything between those two realizations is just plain funny, including a great performance by Chris Parnell as Sophia’s mess of a boss.
Just as much fun is watching Holt try to come up with a moral reason to avoid revenging himself on Wuntch. Kyra Sedgwick has a great and eyebrow-raising moment near the end of the episode (let’s just say I look forward to the moment where Kevin and Wuntch finally match wits) and there’s a flawless scene where Rosa tries to help Holt with his moral dilemma that Stephanie Beatriz wrings every single note of humor from her big scene.
The Gina-Charles plot takes another step forward this week, with Charles trying to talk Gina into accepting their parents’ love. This has to be leading to a big wedding episode sometime this spring, which I sense will lead to something properly cliffhanger-y. The performances were perfect - Chelsea Peretti has been drawing rave notices for her work as Gina lately for good reason; she and Jo Lo Truglio have stepped forward this season as breakout stars from the ensemble pack and have gotten. The only question is: how tangled will Gina and Charles end up being by the end of the season?
Special notice should be paid to the excellent writing for this episode; everything felt smart and delicious, hilarious lines flowed like wine, making this one of the show’s best episodes ever.
How the character’s relationships have changed and re-aligned this season! In season one, we got a lot of Jake and Amy and Jake and Charles; this season has strongly focused on Jake and Terry’s friendship while Charles has been tangled up with Gina and Amy’s been spending a lot of time with Holt. The show exploits its ensemble cast beautifully, and never more so than in this gem of an ep.
- Tonight marked the first time Brooklyn Nine-Nine merited a TV-14 content warning.
- Low points in Charles’ life: Is not the best thing that ever happened to his own father.
- “Salem. You do know what they do to witches out there?” He’s come a long way from being unable to think of a snappy name to call her by.
- Charles is a food blogger in his spare time.
- Chris Parnell of SNL fame appears as Sophia’s boss.
- Charles’ dad is a retired florist.
- Gina’s plans for her mother’s wedding to Charles’ dad: All bridesmaids are to dress like Roseanne from the sitcom Roseanne, a certified shaman will conduct the ceremony and the ringbearer will be an actual wolf.
- For those not getting the in-joke, the actress who plays Gina’s mom, Sandra Bernhard, was a regular on Roseanne for six seasons as Nancy.
- Next Week: B99 takes a weeklong break for the Superbowl. See you after!
Top-flight writing and acting, with brilliant gags resulting in a heart-tugging show.