Brooklyn Nine-Nine 5x12 "Safe House"
The midseason finale of Brooklyn Nine-Nine, which aired back in December, left the show on quite a cliffhanger as Seamus Murphy threatened the life of Captain Holt’s husband, Kevin. In the spring premiere, the plot picks up right where it left off, with Holt desperate to get Kevin to safety.
Marc Evan Jackson, who plays Kevin, is a delight, and probably the most popular minor character of the show; any plotline focused around himself, Jake, and Holt promised to be a good one and this episode definitely doesn’t disappoint.
After they successfully sneak Kevin off of the college campus where he works using an elaborate scheme, Holt’s plan is to secure Kevin in a safe house with a guard while the Organized Crime Unit works on taking Murphy out of commission. Jake immediately volunteers for guard duty, although things aren’t quite as he expected when Holt asks him and Kevin to hand over all their technology, including cell phones, because the signal could alert Murphy as to their location.
It seems as if Holt is going a little overboard on the safety protocol: inside the house, the blinds are to be left open during the day so as not to seem suspicious, which means to traverse across rooms one needs to army crawl on their stomach (leading to some of the best visual comedy of the episode, as Kevin furiously wiggles away from first Jake and later Holt). In the dining room is a single square foot of space that can’t be seen through any window, so if two people want to talk while standing, they have to do so literally nose to nose. Although a little overbearing, Holt’s strict rules are understandable; Kevin is, after all, the love of his life, and Holt is fiercely protective of those he loves, especially when he believes he’s the reason they’re in danger.
(Knowing that, however, doesn’t take away from the humour when Jake or Kevin asks for a lightening up of the rules and Holt bites back with some variant of “Do you want my husband to die?”)
Two months into their stay at the safe house, luck seems to turn their way as Holt receives word that the Organized Crime Unit is moving against Murphy. The squad all gathers at the safe house to watch the live feed of the raid. Unfortunately, it turns out someone tipped Murphy off and he managed to escape.
After their first attempt to catch Murphy goes awry, the remainder of the episode is split up into three subplots, all of which work towards the same goal: Kevin and Jake remain hidden within the safe house, Amy and Terry (later with the help of Scully) attempt to put together some of Murphy’s documents which had been shredded; and Charles and Rosa, with the help of Gina, attempt to get Murphy’s mistress — a hairdresser — to talk about where he’s gone.
Amy and Terry’s task goes poorly, as the amount of shredded material they have to go through takes up the entire break room. That is, until Scully shows up, claiming that he’s always been good at puzzles. “You can’t be good or bad at jigsaw puzzles,” Amy denies (sounds like something someone who isn’t good at puzzles would say), but in the time it takes her to finish her sentence, Scully has miraculously pieced together half a piece of paper.
Meanwhile, Rosa is nervous at the concept of having to make small talk with Murphy’s sidepiece, so Charles brings Gina (the gossip surgeon) along to whisper in Rosa’s ear via an earpiece. The hairdresser isn’t a talker, but Gina’s techniques soon get her to open up — not quite enough though, as info about how the hairdresser and Murphy met will have to wait until next time, since Rosa’s new hairdo (which is almost identical to the hairdresser’s) is done. Out of desperation, Rosa asks in a choked voice for the hairdresser to dye her hair blonde and when that still doesn’t afford enough time to find out where Murphy’s gone, she requests a perm. (Poor Rosa.)
After two months trapped in the safe house, both Kevin and Jake begin to go a little bit stir crazy, despite the plethora of Nic Cage movies Jake has brought along for them to watch. The stress of the situation begins to wear on Kevin and Holt’s relationship, as Kevin desperately wants to spend an afternoon out of the house and Holt is adamantly against it, for fear of Murphy catching up to him.
Tensions get so high that Kevin threatens to leave Holt; something that Holt calls absurd before angrily crawling away, while Jake looks genuinely upset at the prospect of Holt and Kevin breaking up.
After Holt has left, Jake promises to get Kevin to the library for a couple of hours so he can work on his book, but only if they take certain precautions. Kevin demonstrates his ability at self-defense by punching Jake in the throat (Raymond had taught him that the element of surprise was crucial, and now I’m just picturing Holt giving his husband combat lessons), and Jake finds them acceptable disguises as perverts, which is certain to get people to leave them alone.
Although all seems to be going well, Holt figures out their plan and corners them at the library, furious that they disobeyed his orders. One the bus ride home, Holt points out to Jake (through an extremely formal text message) that someone from the library is following them. Jake manages to get Kevin off the bus, but Holt is intercepted by their follower — and he has a gun.
Here all three storylines come together in tracking down where Murphy’s henchman has taken Holt: Rosa successfully got Murphy’s mistress to give her the name of the city where he’s gone, and Scully’s uncanny ability at piecing together the shredded documents have given them an address.
Jake and Kevin head to the location in Rhinebeck, NY, where Jake asks Kevin to stay in the car while he looks around. Although he locates Holt tied to a chair inside an abandoned building, Jake is quickly caught as well and taken inside.
While waiting for Seamus Murphy to return, Jake apologizes to Holt for disobeying him and reveals that the reason he snuck Kevin out of the house was because he didn’t want him and Holt to get divorced. Jake has been around his fair share of failed marriages in his life (including his own parents’) and he doesn’t want to see his favourite couple (everyone’s favourite couple) go through the same thing. But more than that, I think, is the fact that now Jake is engaged to Amy, and the thought of their relationship one day falling apart terrifies him; and if a relationship like the one between Kevin and Holt can be in danger, then what’s to say that any relationship is safe?
When Murphy comes back, it’s with full intention of killing both Jake and Holt and then escaping, but Kevin comes to the rescue — driving through the side of the building and then hopping out of the car to punch Murphy in the throat. With that, the FBI is able to wrap up Murphy’s entire operation, leaving Jake and Kevin free to go home.
This episode did a fabulous job developing Jake and Kevin’s relationship; prior to this, Kevin had barely tolerated Jake while Jake eagerly sought out Kevin’s approval (side note: Jake is basically a puppy). The vast differences in the two’s personalities made for a relationship as rich in potential material as the one between Jake and Holt, most of it as of yet unmined. At the end of it, despite spending two months trapped in a house with him, Kevin has found a new respect for Jake, which is a common theme in this show: he comes off as annoying and a little overbearing at first but after some time spent with him, you can’t help but love him. (Funnily enough, I think this also mirrors the way most audience members interact with Jake.)
For his part, Jake is just happy that Holt and Kevin’s relationship has been saved, exclaiming, “I want you to be my dads.” Which...everyone knew already, and although Kevin thinks it’s weird, let’s not pretend that Holt and Kevin haven’t already adopted Jake. (Jake has had sleepovers at their house, for God’s sake.) Given that Jake’s biological father is such a trash bucket, I’m happy he’s been more or less able to fill that hole in his life with two much cooler dads.
As always, this show is a pure delight to watch, cramming more humour and plot into thirty minutes than one would believe possible.
What’s the best part of the cold open? Jake going by Dr. Einstein, Charles going by Professor McGonagall, or the idea that Charles can be used as a lookalike for Kevin? The answer is clearly ALL OF THE ABOVE.
Loved the return of the rose-shearing hat as a somehow apt disguise! This last showed up in 5x02 and was crucial to Captain Holt’s disguise as a straight man.
“Hello, Kevin, it’s me, Raymond Holt.” Why is it completely unsurprising that Holt actually addresses his husband in this way?
“We’ve got this little tit for tat thing going on and it’s my time to tit. It’s my tit turn. My time to tit is today, Terry.”
I was a little sad there were no overt references to the safe house episode in Season 1, when Jake locks himself in a safe house with Holt because someone has been sending him death threats. Every time I so much as see the words “safe house” I find myself quoting Jake from that episode: “A Safe House watching safe house is a Safe Safe House House.”
Stephanie Beatriz’s gossipy Rosa was a thing of beauty (no pun intended), especially her attempts to stay in character while requesting more horrifying work be done on her hair. Her scream-turned-pleased-laugh was a thing of beauty.
“Fascinating. My orange is beginning to rot. That’s what happens when you leave an orange sitting around for too long and refuse to even let that orange go to a library for two hours so it can feel like a real orange again.”
I mean this as a compliment, both Jake and Kevin make fantastic weird perverts.
“Do you know what it means to clap back, Raymond? Be - cause - I - do.” Not only is Kevin a National Treasure (Nic Cage reference), I really love the image of Kevin and Jake sitting in the dark while Jake rambles on about everything and anything pop culture and Kevin just resignedly listens.
Of course Holt would start every text message with “Dear Jake” and end every message with “Sincerely, Raymond Holt.” What I’m most impressed by is how fast he can type.
Jake’s pop culture references were on point this episode (“Kevin Can Wait”, “Everybody Loves Raymond”) but he missed “Kevin (Probably) Saves The World” when Kevin took out Murphy. Come on, Jake. It was right there.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine airs Sundays at 8:30/7:30c on FOX.
Sam’s episode rating: 🐝🐝🐝🐝🐝