By Derek Lawrence
January 31, 2019 at 09:30 PM EST
Credit: Vivian Zink/NBC

Gina Linetti has left the Nine-Nine. Now let’s please hold for a five-minute applause break.

Okay, with that much deserved salute over, we can dive into Chelsea Peretti’s Brooklyn Nine-Nine farewell. After five-plus seasons of dancing and wisecracking her way into hearts, the actress is departing the NBC comedy, at least for now (Peretti will no longer be a series regular, but has already booked a return guest spot later this season).

With Jake (Andy Samberg) convincing Gina that it was time for her to leave and spread her wings, she did just that, starting by literally doing so as part of “The Linexit Dance.” She then spent the next few weeks giving each of her coworkers a signature Gina moment, ranging from an international yogurt club membership to a game of chess and trash talk. In the end, she left behind a gold statue of herself and, presumably, Mario Lopez still waiting in the rain for his Uber.

To get her reaction to the episode, EW chatted with Peretti about her special request for the farewell, sharing emotional scenes with her costars, and how often we should expect to see her back in the precinct.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: So after the show was canceled then miraculously revived by NBC, why was now the time to leave?
CHELSEA PERETTI: Well, I can’t even fully get into it all. But it just kind of worked out to be that way. It’s like most things in show business, there’s not a simple answer and there’s not a transparent answer.

Once you knew that your series regular run was ending, did you have any special requests for your final run and/or episode?
I really wanted to be in high stakes comedy. And so getting to go undercover with Andy was something that was really fun for me. I think a lot of times Gina got isolated because she’s a civilian and not a cop, so it felt like she couldn’t be brought out into a lot of the stories. So, for me, a lot of times the character was desk bound and either saying something odd or funny or sometimes being a guide for other people to find their path; she would have the answers for a lot of stories in the show. But, because comedy is like my religion, I love to be able to do a very active comedy story. I also always felt like she could be a bit of an island and that everyone else on the show you could kind of pair off as having friends and I felt like you can’t as much Gina, so it was nice to explore the female friendship a little bit in this episode. I wanted to be in stories with the other women in the show.

We get that great scene with you, Stephanie, and Melissa, but you also get a moment with almost every other main actor. Was that important to you?
Yeah. I mean, obviously I’m able to do that personally with everyone, but I think for the fans it’s important to have those moments in this sort of family.

You said Gina was on an island a bit, but I’d say one of the show’s most underrated relationships is between childhood friends Gina and Jake, so was it nice to pay that off a bit in these last two episodes?
I texted Andy like, “Okay, that was emotional” when watching last week’s episode. Because I know we felt that in the moment and people in the crew said that and then [creator] Dan [Goor] said that when he was editing it, but I still wasn’t sure how I would feel when watching it. Andy and I joke around so much, not that we don’t talk about things outside of jokes, but it was such a heartfelt, earnest moment between us and I love that it still ended with us laughing in that scene. So yeah, it was nice to have that deepening of the particulars of our friendship, which is always alluded to over the years but hasn’t gotten that many episodes of development.

And they got bond over love of A.C. Slater/Mario Lopez! Did you feel like he was a fitting celeb for Gina to want to have at her party and subsequently leave out of her party?
Sure, why not? They’re kids of the ’90s. I personally wasn’t a Saved by the Bell head, but I do have a certain respect for Mario Lopez [laughs]. But I think it was a very funny cameo. Just the idea of Jake and Gina being super Mario Lopez freaks is very funny to me. And he was a super cool guy to work with.

I wasn’t sure if this would be a situation where we hear about him but never see him.
Think about us, reading the script, we’re like, “Is this really going to be Mario Lopez?” [Laughs] And then he shows up. He had just like broken his leg or injured his ankle and was on crutches, hobbling onto our set. It was very strange.

Credit: Vivian Zink/NBC

Going back to the beginning of the episode, we got a over the top dance, branded “The Linexit,” which seemed very fitting.
I have not seen it yet so I have no idea what to expect. I know I was really giving it my all and I’m almost scared to see what has been cut together from that. But I’m going to guess that I’m talking to my foot at some point.

There’s absolutely some foot chatter. I’m hoping for a director’s cut with the full 45 minutes for each of the four movements.
Definitely felt like we shot it for that long, so who knows!

This is Gina’s farewell, but only kind of, as we know you will be coming back later this season. Have you filmed that yet?
No, I’m doing it soon. [So soon that she was back on set the day after this interview.]

So with that being the case, how often do you envision coming back? Periodically? This next appearance and then just back for eventual series finale?
It’s one of those things that it’s like, you don’t even know if the show will come back. Everything is so up in the air with entertainment. I think if the writers are talking about some direction they want to go and it involves my character then Dan will call me and we will talk about it. Aside from the number of episodes that are set for this season, there’s no guarantee. It’s kind of one of those, we will see what happens but the door isn’t closed.

So then it’s not goodbye for good, but what will you miss most about playing Gina on a weekly basis?
Probably the camaraderie with the cast. We started off many of us not knowing each other; I knew Joe and Andy from the comedy world, but getting to know each other…I pronounced Andre Braugher, Brogger when I first met him [laughs]. So it was a lot of growing that we’ve done together and we have a text chain and we’re still texting all the time. These are friendships that we’ve forged, so that’s definitely the part that’s the hardest to let go of. And in terms of Gina, I did always love going to the table read and seeing what crazy things she was going to say, and trying to say it in as an unique way as possible. To me, that’s the thing that I love the most about comedy, is when someone surprises you with how they choose to say a line or do a scene. So that was always the challenge and the fun of this character.

And it’s like a slow process, because the episodes air so much after we’ve shot them, so I’ve been slowly processing this and now all of these people are tweeting me about this and I’ve sort of being forced to feel all these feelings again. But, look, life is full of changes all the time. It’s part of the fun.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET on NBC.

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