“You’re a poor police officer if you don’t think that people can surprise you.” —Captain Ray J Holt, poet
Tonight’s episode begins with the promise of a mole. There’s someone in the precinct who’s spilling police secrets and Lieutenant Miller has taken Captain Holt’s office to run a full-on investigation. Jake claims that he knows everything about everyone around him, and that no one can possibly be the mole. Holt, and Brooklyn Nine-Nine, know better. Everyone has secrets.
But Holt’s line speaks to comedy as well as police work. Any good sitcom is built around characters that we, in the audience, think we understand. The challenge the writers have is to make those characters interesting every week. What more are they hiding? What do they know that we don’t? But rather than probing the depths of the human psyche, comedy can do just as well with the surface—the way people keep their little secrets, thinking those secrets are actually pretty big. The cops on Brooklyn Nine-Nine catch criminals, but the show spent this week tripping up its characters. The episode ran on basic sitcom rules and structures, but it ran on all cylinders, and it was a lot of fun.
The first rule of secrets is that everyone thinks that their own are the most damaging. This means, when the possibility of discovery looms, most people look out for themselves. After a meeting with the germaphobe Internal Affairs investigator Lieutenant Miller (not the best subject for jokes about “internal affairs”), Jake realizes he’s been storing case files in his apartment. Worried that he’ll named as the mole, he enlists Amy to help him return the files without being caught.
But Jake’s secret isn’t as bad as Gina and Boyle’s. Jake realizes he left some files at Gina’s apartment, and their childhood home. Thinking the loud music in the apartment is just Gina’s dance group rehearsal (“Dancy Reagan, the first ladies of movement”), Jake and Amy break in to discover Gina and Boyle engaged in pretty intense movement. Cue shocked faces, screams. Cut to commercial.
The second rule of secrets is that when they get out, you tend to lose control. Gina and Boyle reveal they’ve been “casual lovers” (or, as Boyle puts it, in orgasm city). They’ve been lying to everyone, hiding their trysts. Jake’s furious his friend betrayed him. Boyle tries to prove that he’s just the same: “I’m still Charles. I just have four extra sex moves. Five! I forgot boy on top.”
Corollary to the second rule of secrets: Don’t try to fight it when they get out, that just leads to more confusion. Gina plans forward for her and Boyle: first termination. Then containment. Boyle will beg Jake not to tell anyone. Gina will take care of Amy—”but how to make it look like an accident?” she muses. Eventually, she decides on a better plan, trying to befriend Amy and get her to reveal her own secrets. Gina’s not great at it. Afterward, Amy reveals that she knows Gina was trying to get dirt on her. And the only secret we get about Amy is that her relationship with Teddy isn’t going great. He has weird mesh-lined underwear, and Amy doesn’t know what to say about it.
While Gina and Boyle are spiraling out of control, Holt finds himself similarly lost in the world. In this case, it’s because Lieutenant Miller has taken over his office. Wuntch is back, and she’s making fun of him for having lost control of his precinct. Oh, and Diaz and Terry’s task force has yet to discover any major Giggle Pig dealers. To quote Holt, in conversation with Hitchock and Scully: “I am buffeted by the winds of my foe’s enmity, and cast about the towering waves of cruel fate. Yet I, a captain, am no longer able to command my vessel, my precinct, from my customary helm, my office. And you ask, is everything okay?” Wuntch is right. Poetry is his calling.
Meanwhile, Jake’s attempt at covering up his secret has started to spiral out as well. Miller catches him as he’s returning the files to the precinct and tells him that he’ll be put on suspension. Jake shows up at Holt’s house to beg for help—well, first he has to deal with Holt’s husband Kevin, who asks him to take off his shoes; “neither of us want that,” Jake replies. Holt and Jake spend the night in bathrobes trying to deduce the identity of the mole (and playing with Holt’s corgi!). Having worked through all of the other options, Holt accuses Jake. Jake accuses Holt in return. Holt kicks Jake out.
The fourth rule of secret: They always have a way of getting out (call it the Scandal rule). The next morning, Jake tells Holt he’s figured out who the mole is—it’s Lieutenant Miller. Wuntch has gotten him to come in and pretend to shake up the precinct. Jake plans a sting operation. He gives Miller a USB containing secrets about Holt. Back in her office, Wuntch and Miller watch the video. “And the big secret about Captain Holt is…” Jake says on the video. “THAT I HAVE A FLAIR FOR THE DRAMATIC,” Holt appears onscreen and finishes. Suddenly, Jake and Holt show up in person. They’ve gotten Wuntch and Miller on tape. Holt demands that she leave him and his precinct alone. “Or else, you’re Wuntch meat,” Holt says. He may be a poet, but puns aren’t his forte.
The fifth, and most important, rule of secrets, however, is that they don’t usually matter—at least not to everyone else. You might think your own flaw is deeply embarrassing, and worry that it will ruin your reputation, but it doesn’t matter that much. Gina learns this by the end of the episode. She decides she has to “Olivia Pope this sitch.” She gets up on her desk and reveals that she and Boyle had sex 16 and 1/3 times—”Don’t ask. Can’t explain.” As predicted, no one in the precinct really cares that much, though Gina does want everyone to know her sexual history averages higher than Boyle. It even includes an underwear model and a man who looked like Tywin Lannister, which, good for her I guess? Jake congratulates Boyle on his first casual relationship (he never asked Gina to get engaged!), and Holt reveals his middle name: It’s Jacob.
Other open investigations:
The mole story occupied the A- and B-plots tonight, leaving Diaz’s investigation into Giggle Pig back in the C-plot. It’s a fun story, and Stephanie Beatriz and Terry Crews have great chemistry. Unfortunately, despite a trip to a silent disco, not that much happened. Terry projects his anxieties about his twins’ schooling onto a girl who seemed nice at first (and had gone to the same preschool) and who then turns out to be a Giggle Pig dealer. Diaz spends more time looking angry in neon headphones than your average German DJ. After cracking into the dealer’s calls, the two seem to be onto a big supplier. Hopefully, the task force will hit it big next week.
Until then, please get me the clip of Terry confusedly taking on and off his headphones at the disco ASAP.
–Holt, on Wuntch’s arrival: “No wonder all the birds had suddenly stopped singing.” To her, later: “So much time with your ear to the pavement, it’s a pity a truck hasn’t run over your head.”
–Melissa Fumero wins the line reading award for her perfect depressed response to Jake opening a powder doughnut in her car. “No,” sad face. “It’s everywhere.”
–Holt reveals how he knew Boyle and Gina were having sex by piecing apart Jake’s language: “Your use of horrible makes me think the matter was sexual in nature, given your obvious immaturity.” “Psh, I’ve had sex.”