Florida. It’s full of hot weather. Oranges. Grandparents. Creepy crime. Hanging chads. Probably some dudes named Chad who like to hang out.
It’s also a great place to set your NYPD cop comedy, as Brooklyn Nine-Nine proved in its season 4 premiere, which turned out to be 30 minutes of fun in the sun. The show, which unspooled a serialized story about mob boss Jimmy “The Butcher” Figgis in the final third of last season, closed out that run of episodes on a high note: Jake, Holt, and company took down Figgis’ mafia empire (minus the at-large Figgis, plus tainted FBI agent/Holt clone Bob Anderson), but in the finale’s final seconds, Jake received a death-threated phone call from Figgis. Our last shot (a crane shot!) was of Holt and Jake living the suburban life as neighbors — and as Greg and Larry — in witness protection in Coral Palms, Florida.
“Coral Palms Pt. 1” didn’t just pick up the action in the Sunshine State six months later, as we might expect — it stayed there. The two-hander treat never updated us on our fellow Nine-Niners back in NYC. Somewhat similar to Last Man on Earth’s season 2 midseason premiere, which focused solely on the quirky journey of Phil’s brother Mike, this episode managed to break a bit of form while retaining the dignity-versus-doofy DNA the show excels at via the Holt-Jake dynamic.
To find Holt working at Frank’s Fun Zone — his impeccable leadership skills wasting away as a low-level employee at a go-kart arcade, under the chill watch of Taylor (Samberg’s Lonely Island pal Jorma Taccone), who thinks Holt is a stoner — was pure fish-out-of-water pleasure. To see him hunger for a promotion there? Even better. As was seeing him try to pass himself off as a straight widower in his regular power-walking group (led by Rhea Perlman’s yenta Estelle). And to discover Jake was secretly plotting a Figgis takedown in a storage facility may not have been much of a surprise, but his inability to adapt to this new life as well as Holt (see: the sobbing Jacuzzi-burrito incident) was a nice one. Did we mention their contact to the outside world — U.S. Marshal Haas, at your self-serious service — was played by Samberg’s SNL pal Maya Rudolph? The guest stars — including Big Time in Hollywood, FL‘s Betsy Sodaro as the trashy viral-video shooter — would not stop popping. (And more are to come.)
The plot snaked through Holt’s discovery and seizure of Jake’s operation (he insisted to Jake, semi-plausibly, that they were not to get involved while the Feds did their work); Jake retaliated by taking Holt’s promotion at work (management style: “Don’t-nobody-ask-me-about-what’s-in-my-cup, we-ain’t-gonna-have-no-problems”) and hazing him until he gave back the Figgis file. This included infiltrating his new friend base (“Oh, go to hell, Larry! That’s my walking group!”), naming him Mr. Fart, forcing him to be DJ B-Day (“De De De Derek” was a highlight), and making him dress as a corn dog. This led to a goofy accident on the go-kart track that was filmed by a trashy bystander, who threatened to make it viral and (unknowingly) potentially blow their cover.
Thus began an amusing recovery operation, which along the way revealed that Holt has some kind of tattoo. He exacted revenge on Jake by revealing none of the details. The episode wrapped not on a punchline but on a declarative, hell-yeah note, after Holt — energized by their cop work — came around to Jake’s line of thinking that it was time to ditch this stinking armpit of a state. “It’s Holt. Captain Raymond Holt,” he announced, reclaiming his identity after Jake called him Greg. “Now come and get us, Figgis.”
NEXT: “She was such a strong female woman…with nice heavy breasts.”