Recap: Brooklyn Nine-Nine, “Defense Rests” (2×14)

For the third episode in a row, the Nine-Nine is not doing any actual police work. While Santiago and Holt ate street meat last week, they didn’t actually solve or stop any crime. While the last few episodes have been fun and given us a chance to play with these characters, part of what makes this show work is the actual work. Jake Peralta is such a great character because he is both ridiculous and effective. Santiago may be anal but she always has her partners’ backs. In order for these characters to be fully realized, they need to be doing their jobs, and doing them well. Maybe after this episode, as it found Jake and his girlfriend Sophia at odds over their respective jobs, the show will get back to solving some crimes already.

Jake is worried. Sophia has grown distant and he doesn’t know why. He doesn’t want to seem clingy but he needs Terry’s help to accidentally bump into her. When they finally do get a chance to talk, Sophia explains that she needs to press pause on their relationship (Is this a thing now? Is this what the kids are calling it? Do we blame the proliferation of DVR technology?). Her boss isn’t giving her any good cases because she’s dating a cop and she has to consider her career. Jake understands… sort of. He enlists Terry yet again to help him win over Sophia’s boss and change his mind about cops in general.

When Jake and Terry enter the public defenders’ ball with maniacal fake smiles, you know it’s not going to go well. But Jake’s heart is in the right place. He really believes that if he can bond with Sophia’s boss, Geoffrey (Chris Parnell, SNL), he can make things right. Talking about skiing and Atlantic City don’t work until Jake realizes that it’s not the city but the gambling that Geoffrey loves. A bet-off ensues, the casualties of which include a champagne tower, 27 egg rolls and 2 lines of cocaine. Jake follows Geoffrey into the bathroom to continue bonding and catches him mid-snort. He has no choice but to arrest him.

Sophia shows up at the Nine-Nine and Jake assumes it’s to talk. But she’s there to defend her boss. She’s done and Jake doesn’t understand. You expect a lot of reasons for why Jake Peralta might lose a girlfriend but being good at his job and morally appropriate were not first on that list. No matter how many times Jake accidentally says, “I love you,” Sophia doesn’t want to put the work in. She just doesn’t accidentally love him back.

Elsewhere, love is having better luck. Gina and Boyle are at odds because his dad wants to marry her mom and Gina won’t give her blessing. Amy offers to mediate with her new conflict resolution binder (“mmmm new binder smell”) but it turns out Gina’s actually worried about her mom, a worry she hid because because she doesn’t value Amy and Boyle as human beings. Which seems as good a reason as any.

The story line doesn’t really go anywhere after that. A quick interrogation of Boyle’s dad shows he’s deeply in love and Gina gives in. Next up: fighting over the wedding planning.

The biggest waste this week was Deputy Chief Madeline Wuntch. Showdowns between Wuntch and Holt are usually good for a lot of laughs but the conflict in this one wasn’t there. Wuntch asks Holt to act as a reference for a job in Boston and Holt is torn between helping her but getting rid of her or not helping and having her stick around. I didn’t buy the conflict at all. Turns out it didn’t matter because, she was just using the job offer in Boston for leverage for a promotion. And, seemingly, an excuse to kiss Holt. Aren’t there sexual harassment rules against that?

Odds & Ends

The tradition of the cold open having nothing to do with the episode continues. The fight against the ant infestation was amusing enough but it felt like filler, like the writers use that time to put in whatever jokes they can’t shoehorn elsewhere.

“Damnit Jake. You know Terry loves love.”

“Boston? But that’s so close to Salem. You do know what they do to witches there, don’t you?”

“Enjoy some chubby Chenoweth-knock-off warble her way through Popular.”

Terry, Holt and Jake getting “sauced” at the end of the episode was the most organic and amusing part of the evening.