Recap: Brooklyn Nine-Nine,”The Pontiac Bandit Returns” (2×10)

Jake Peralta as a bellringing Santa

I am a Brooklyn Nine-Nine fan. More than that, however, I am a fan of sitting on the couch with my husband Mike while he giggles uncontrollably, forcing me to pause and then rewind this television program multiple times over the course of what should only take a half hour. Mike finds almost everything about this show funny – and I find almost everything about him funny. So really, it works out most of this time.

But tonight, for the first time in a few weeks, we didn’t have to pause and rewind. Sure, part of it was that some of the best jokes landed at commercial breaks but it was also just a quiet episode. Not bad, but not as spectacular as last week’s “The Road Trip.” That one brought us both to tears.

This week’s “The Pontiac Bandit Returns” was a perfectly fine episode. It was amusing, it had a plot that made sense, and it had a couple of good guffaws in it. Sometimes, that’s enough.

The episode opens with Jake-as-Santa working with Rosa to track down the Pontiac Bandit (first appeared last season in Episode 12). Craig Robinson (The Office) returned to the Nine-Nine as the Pontiac Bandit and was quickly apprehended in a brief chase that destroyed a few children’s Christmas dreams. Because kids, when you see Santa lighting Christmas trees on fire, holding a gun to a man’s head, remember that “This is what happens when you’re naughty!”

As soon as Jake caught Doug Judy, as the Bandit is otherwise known, it was clear that the writers are having too much fun with the Robinson/Andy Samberg dynamic to let the Bandit stay caught. But it’s still plenty of fun to watch. This is something that Brooklyn Nine-Nine does remarkably well. It avoids the easy laugh, the easy conflict, the easy emotional crutch in favor of the laugh, conflict, and emotion that come from the characters they build. You always know the Bandit is going to escape – the fun is watching it happen.

Judy is quick to make a deal to reduce his jail time and offers up the Giggle Pig Kingpin for a reduced sentence. I loved this storyline. First, it is never in question whether Jake would make this deal, regardless of how much it goes against his own interests and desperate need to close his case. A lesser show would have played that conflict for drama but Brooklyn Nine-Nine knows its characters well and has taught its viewers that no matter how ridiculous, how silly, and how juvenile Jake Peralta is, he will always put his squad first. The joke comes not from him fighting with his coworkers about the decision – but from him fighting with himself. He may pretend that he would rather be a bad guy and get his way but we all know that he can’t.

Hijinks ensue, as they are wont to do. In the end, Rosa gets her man and the best line of the night. “Seriously I can’t stop smiling – how do people do this with their faces?”

The two other storylines tonight were less strong. Amy and Jeffords going back and forth about the Captain’s not-a-gift was fine. The resolution – the Captain giving Amy positive reinforcement for not brown-nosing was cute but not new ground for either character. And I thought once we decided that Gina and Charles weren’t a couple anymore, we didn’t have to care about their parents dating. Because I really don’t.

Odds and Ends

– Every part of me loves the blatant nod to the MacGuffin that is the drug name “Giggle Pig.”

– PB&J reunited and it feels so good!

– Robes!

– Captain Holt, refusing Amy’s gift but reviewing it nonetheless, “I will not peruse.”

– I don’t get how a digital scale isn’t an offensive gift.