December 13th, 2015, 8:30 PM, FOX
It’s Christmas Eve at the 99, and Jake is stuck without a present for Amy. He recruits Gina – and then eventually Charles - to help him find a last-minute gift at a department store, only to find himself part of a robbery and hostage crisis. Living out his favorite film, Die Hard, in the flesh ends up leaving a lot to be desired when he and then Gina end up becoming the case and thus part of the crisis, leaving Charles to rescue them. Meanwhile, Terry – in spite of his multiple requests to the contrary – ends up called away from his family’s celebration in order to mediate the hostage negotiations and must deal with the verbal slings and arrows of his brother – and the presence of The Vulture, who finally gets what’s long been coming to him after his appalling treatment of the 99 during his tenure as captain and Holt and Rosa deal with Amy’s overenthusiastic overcompensation after she accidentally causes an incident with her Christmas present for Holt - and tries to make it up to him by proving her toughness and taking the polar bear plunge into the icy ocean. But does she have the strength to go through with it?
There’s a lot to love about this week’s episode; the hostage situation plays out with humor and genuine tension – we know our favorite characters will survive to thrive, but it’s hard not to worry for them when they’re up against gun-brandishing madmen. Chelsea Peretti is at her best here, just the right level of sassy with a good sense of vulnerability. Charles finally steps up his toughness a notch – between this week’s episode and last, I wonder if we’re building to something bigger there. And then there’s Jake, living his dream until it gets a tad too real to him. Then it becomes even more awesome, because he’s Jake and that’s just how his life works. It’s refreshing and funny to watch Jake come to the gradual realization that Charles is worth his weight in gold – and that without each other they’d be completely lost.
The Amy subplot is just as strong this week; no one is a tougher critic of her than she is of herself, as she proves by almost freezing herself to death just to let Holt know she’s there and that she’s sorry. Everything about the subplot is charming, and continues to knit Holt closer to Amy.
The weakest link here is the yearly exploration of Terry’s continued battle with his brother Zeke, which has raged over multiple episodes and finally result in a moment of honesty from Terry in this episode; but even this is improved upon once Terry gets to the crisis situation, once he gets put in the same orbit as The Vulture and is forced to combat his verbal guano with his own toughness.
That doesn’t stop the episode from being an extremely strong episode, and a great experience to enjoy. Even with the flaws that pop up in the context of the show laughs roll forth. In fact, I defy you not to laugh at the sight of Charles breaking up a ring of robbers as only he can. Or Terry yelling at his brother in front of his twins. Or a hundred other great moments in this episode.
- The polar bear plunge is a popular activity that’s undertaken not just by cops but by people looking to help charities nationwide.
- Low points in Charles’ life: Actually most of this episode is a high point in Charles’ life, minus Jake’s final revelation, which didn’t matter because he got to take a level in badass.
- Don’t forget: the show will be shifting to a Tuesday at 9:00 PM timeslot after January 5th.
- Terry’s competitive brother, Zeke, appears once more, and he’s still played by Jamal Duff.
- Jake has repeatedly referred to Die Hard as his favorite movie; the first such incident was season one’s “Video Village”.
- ”YOU DON’T EVEN HAVE A JOB, ZEKE!”
- Next Week: The Nine-Nine takes a holiday break, and will be back on January 5th. Happy holidays!
Friendship, togetherness an righteousness collide in a strong, funny and lightly flawed episode.