Brooklyn Nine-Nine S2E1: “You Helped Me Find My Smile”

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By Mina Haq

Every successful television show’s worst fear can be summed up in two words: sophomore slump. I was initially nervous that after such a spectacular first season, there was no way “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” could do better. It was simply expecting too much. The second season premiere, however, did not disappoint, proving that “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” is still one of the best comedies on television.

Photo courtesy of Bustle

We left off last season with our favorite detectives dealing with a lot of surprising changes. Jake Peralta (Andy Samberg) left the precinct to work undercover with the FBI after confessing his “romantic-style” feelings to fellow Detective Amy Santiago (Melissa Fumero), while Boyle (Joe Lo Truglio) and Gina (Chelsea Peretti) woke up in bed together, both equally horrified. The premiere not only addressed all these cliffhangers, but gave us a surprising amount of insight as to where these characters were during Jake’s six month absence.

The episode starts with Jake undercover, sporting the exact look one would imagine when envisioning a cliché Italian Mobster (the slicked back hair was expected, but when he put on the velvet tracksuit I lost it). He seems settled in to his new Mafia life when the NYPD intervenes and “arrests” him. Jake’s reunion with Captain Holt (Andre Braugher) is heartwarming for everyone but the Captain (no surprise there), and it’s good to see him back at the precinct where he belongs.

Upon returning to the 99, Rosa (Stephanie Beatriz) informs Jake of the only three things that happened during his absence, and Jake gives the squad an impressive 12-second recap of his time undercover. The short flashbacks and timed recaps were a clever way of giving the audience a look into what exactly happened during the break without detracting too much from the present.

Photo courtesy of Screen Rant

After playing catch-up with everyone, Jake finally confronts Santiago about his six-month-old confession. She informs him that she’s still with Teddy, and he tells her that his admission of feelings was nothing more than nervous energy about his undercover job. It’s super tense and clear that both of them are confused and upset by each other’s news, but, in classic Peralta and Santiago fashion, they choose to ignore it and instead discuss a perpetrator who is absurdly named Joe Uterus.

Meanwhile, Captain Holt is insisting on situational drills at the precinct, and we see Terry (Terry Crews) pretending to be everything from a confused old woman to a seven-year-old boy with severe attitude problems. It’s up to Santiago and Rosa to deal with the drills, though they find it difficult to do so when there’s seemingly no point. The Captain eventually tells Terry that he’s trying to whip the precinct into shape because there’s a new police commissioner and he has no idea what to expect, alluding to an inevitable future conflict between Holt and whoever this mystery commissioner is.

Jake’s undercover work isn’t done yet, however. He finds out that he put away only 15 out of 16 mobsters, leaving a particularly dangerous one named Freddie still out there. He enlists the help of Boyle and goes back undercover, much to the dismay of Gina, who is terrified that Boyle will tell Jake about their tryst since, well, he tells Jake everything.

Jake and Boyle track down Freddie’s girlfriend Bianca (guest star Jenny Slate), who informs them that Freddie’s about to board a plane to Barbados. Boyle is ecstatic, since he finally has an excuse to wear his ridiculous sunhat, but Jake is less than pleased when they arrive at the airport to find Freddie’s plane long gone.

A persistent theme throughout the episode is that there are always things out of our control, and Jake sees this both in his professional and personal life. He knows that he can’t change that Freddie got away, but he realizes that just because Amy is out of reach he doesn’t have to lie about how he feels. He tells her this at a welcome back surprise party in his honor (Boyle ruined the surprise, of course), and it’s clear that Jake matured quite a bit during his time undercover. It’s also clear that while these two might not be getting together any time soon, there’s definitely still some underlying tension that won’t be ignored.

Oh, and it’s impossible to ignore the continuation of the season finale’s cliffhanger. I’m curious to see how Boyle and Gina are going to deal with the fallout of what happened again, and whether or not them waking up next to each other horrified and screaming will become a regular thing.

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