Brooklyn Nine-Nine 5x16/5x17 "NutriBoom"/"DFW"
This past Sunday, Brooklyn Nine-Nine treated us to two back-to-back episodes, although there wasn’t anything that connected them: in the first half hour, Bill (Boyle’s lookalike, played by Winston Story) returned to the precinct to cash in on Jake and Boyle’s NutriBoom contracts, while Amy starts her first day on the job as a sergeant; in the second episode, Jake’s half-sister Katie (Nasim Pedrad) comes to town to visit, while Gina helps out Rosa with her love life.
First things first: the second half hour featured one of the best cold opens the show has ever done, and I’ve linked it in full below for your (re)viewing pleasure:
I was surprised and pleased to see the NutriBoom plotpoint from “HalloVeen” brought up again (to refresh your memory, both Jake and Charles purchased a contract with the company to help them win the Halloween Heist) — I’ve mentioned before that this show’s commitment to continuity is wobbly at best, and it easily could have been a plot device to help Jake win the heist (and add another concerning layer to Winston Story’s already disturbing character) and nothing more.
Speaking of Bill: I love, love that he was originally brought on the show as a gag character during the Season 4 Halloween episode as a maybe-prostitute with a striking resemblance to Charles, and that they have brought him back twice now and have fleshed out his character in a way that’s hilarious and works well within the world of the show. To me, it feels like the NutriBoom plot isn’t quite done yet, so I’m hoping we’ll see more of Bill this season.
The humour of the NutriBoom plotline is darker than this show’s typical fare (although not quite as dark as Jake’s child-eating cellmate) and delves into the world of Scientology-like cults and pseudoscience. Determined to break his contract because he wants to use the money for his and Amy’s honeymoon, Jake storms down to the Nutriboom headquarters (accompanied by a more reluctant Charles) and is greeted by a creepily robotic woman who keeps asking “How can I heal you today?”
After being told that the only way to break the contract is to pay $10,000 upfront or to pay it off in labour hours working for the NutriBoom charity, NutriCore, Jake and Charles decide to see if they can take down NutriBoom for illegal dealings and get out of their contract that way. This involves them going undercover, Jake as an eager new recruit ("NutriCruit") and Charles as Bill (a delightful take on the “Bill and Charles look exactly alike” running gag). It also gives us a perfect opportunity to learn more about Bill, as Charles and Jake ask him to tell them everything about himself: “Let’s start with my entire family history. I was abandoned in a playground as an infant, and here I am.”
With their disguises, Jake and Charles are able to get into NutriBoom headquarters, where Jake downloads their financial records while Charles (as Bill) creates a distraction. Here, the episode gets a little darker, as Jake finds evidence in the records that NutriBoom founder may have killed off his wife (whose slogan “I’m happy, healthy, and alive!” doesn’t exactly inspire confidence). Now investigating a potential murder, they go to Jay Chandrasekhar, NutriBoom’s celebrity endorser, hoping to get him to give a statement to the police.
Jay is more eager to help than they’d anticipated, telling them that NutriBoom ruined his life, performing testicular torture on him and kidnapping his dog. He also confirms their theory that the NutriBoom founder murdered his wife. With Jay’s help, Jake and Charles plan a sting operation, but it goes sideways when they watch Jay get kidnapped and thrown into the back of a van by two NutriBoom representatives.
When they go back to NutriBoom to find Jay, they’re told that he’s voluntarily hanging out with some nutrition specialists in the basement. Jay is indeed in the basement, with an extremely creepy smile plastered on; in falsely cheery voice he tells them that his amino acid levels were too low (or too high) and they rushed him there to give him some supplements.
Jake and Charles’ theory that Debbie, the wife, was murdered falls to pieces when Debbie herself steps out and reveals that she is the person behind NutriBoom. In order to get Jake to leave her company alone, Debbie offers to give him his money back so he can go on his honeymoon. Jake declines this offer, preferring to do the right thing and go to the feds, even if it means giving up his honeymoon.
Meanwhile, Amy is understandably nervous about her first day as sergeant, and things aren’t made any easier when one of the uniformed officers under her command continuously interrupts her to give her his ideas. When she tells the others about this, they inform her that she “has an Amy!” and proceed to give Amy advice on how they had dealt with her overeagerness.
It’s Holt who provides the sweetest moment of this storyline, telling Amy that having someone like herself under her command is a blessing, not a curse. “You’re a massive tool: you’re useful and valuable.” I really liked this as a conclusion to this plot, as the humour was verging on mean-spirited (lessened by the fact that Amy didn’t take it personally when others told her how they handled her and in fact took their advice very seriously). But her relationship with Holt is the most important one — she’s been desperately trying to gain his approval since day 1 — and hearing how valuable Holt finds her surely meant a lot to Amy, as well as being the only useful advice she receives all episode.
(As an “Amy” myself — although less pushy about it, I hope — I definitely appreciate the message that our ideas are useful.)
The episode ends with Jake and Amy standing outside the precinct, and the reveal that someone from NutriBoom will be keeping an eye on them — an ominous ending to an already dark storyline. I can’t help but think this NutriBoom story will come to a head, either before or during the finale; it seems unlikely to me that they’ll end it here, and I would like to see Jake get his money back somehow. They deserve a good honeymoon, especially since they’ve already given up their dream venue to the Vulture.
The show switches gears entirely for the second episode, spending very little time inside the precinct. We find out that Jake reached out to all of his half-sisters after finding out from his father in “Two Turkeys” that he had three of them all based in major airport hubs (“ATL and EWR didn’t respond when I reached out, but DFW is DTM — down to meet!”) We’re treated to more of Jake and Amy’s life outside the precinct (something I wonder if we’ll see more of now that they’re no longer, for the time being at least, working together). I found it amusing that Amy’s civvies are very much dressed down from her work clothes, whereas Jake wears pretty much the same thing at home as he does at work (minus the occasional tie).
It’s adorable seeing Jake so excited to meet his sister — after being left by his father, he’s always sought a full familial unit, and he dreams of “seeing each other across the room, I’ll say ‘Noice,’ she’ll say ‘Toit,’ and then six months later we’ll be on the Amazing Race together” — but Kate is pretty much a disaster from the moment he and Amy meet her, already in handcuffs after being arrested by airport security. Over dinner, Jake and Kate struggle to connect — she hasn’t even heard of Die Hard! — until they finally begin to bond over what a horrible person their father is.
Unfortunately, Kate also turns out to be a con artist, pulling out a bag of glass to put in her food in order to get the meals on the house. When she brings home a statue man from Times Square, who then leaves silver paint all over Jake and Amy’s living room, the couple decide they have had enough. To make matters worse, Kate informs them that she’s decided to move to New York to live with them, viewing the call from Jake as a sign that she’s supposed to leave Dallas.
Since breaking up with her boyfriend is the main reason Kate wants to move to New York, Jake and Amy decide to fly him out and get him and Kate back together. This plan also backfires though, as they learn that Kurt isn’t allowed to leave Texas, has 6 children, cheated on Kate multiple times, and blamed her for taking too long to get over the death of her mother (who had only passed away in March).
Jake goes into big brother mode and tells Kurt to get out of his house. “What the hell, man? You’re the one who flew me out here and begged me to take her back to Dallas,” Kurt accuses, at which point Kate realizes that Jake was trying to get rid of her.
“We can still have a relationship and live in different cities,” Jake tells Amy after Kate has left, “I’d love to see her once a year for an afternoon, or—” Jake realizes that he’s treating his sister the way his father had always treated him, and he doesn’t want to be anything like his father. He gets to the airport in time to see Kate trying to weasel her way into a business class upgrade after using her bag of glass to pretend she cut her hand on the ticketing kiosk, and apologizes for the way he’d been behaving.
“I was trying to have a relationship with you completely on my own terms. And we both know from personal experience that’s a really crappy way to treat a family member.” Kate assures Jake that she’s still going back to Dallas but still wants to keep in touch, and the two hug — and Jake gets a bit of his fairytale moment, as he whispers “Noice” and she responds with “Toit” (these two are definitely related). I hope we get a chance to meet Kate again — surely she’ll return to New York for Jake’s wedding?
Elsewhere, Gina catches Rosa looking at a dating app, and surmises that Rosa broke up with “Becky” (the name the precinct gave Rosa’s girlfriend, since Rosa wouldn’t tell them herself). Rosa says that she broke up with “Becky” because she ate soup too much (twice) and Gina decides to play matchmaker and set Rosa up with one of her friends. Reluctantly, and after much wheedling from Gina, Rosa agrees.
The girl Gina sets her up with seems hardly Rosa’s type — she’s on a diet that only allows her to eat things that are clear, for one — but the bartender is, and Rosa ends up going home with her, instead. Later, Gina reveals that that had been her plan all along; she knew that Rosa would turn down anyone Gina put in front of her. I really liked the focus this episode put on the friendship between these two. Both Gina and Rosa can be a little rough around the edges, so the depths to which they care for each other and know each other don’t always come through.
And of course — how can I finish this review without mentioning Gina’s Holt soundboard? I really hope this prop is used again in the future, the possibilities are endless since Holt saying almost anything is bound to be hilarious.
“Remember, failure...is for failures.”
“I had no idea my amino acids could be so high...or so low.” The numerous cracks at pseudoscience in this episode killed me.
“You can just wait until Gary finds his Jake and then over time, they’ll both become 10% easier to deal with.” A little bit rude (in Rosa fashion), but I like this acknowledgement that Jake and Amy have made each other better people over time.
Everything about Joe lo Truglio’s face as he gives the NutriBoom employee a front-facing neck rub is incredible.
“You used to be an Amy?” “No, I never had your level of insecurity.”
“You don’t know about my bigass moral compass.” Remember back in “The Last Ride”, when Jake decided to take down the drug ring even though it meant the Nine-Nine would be shut down, and Rosa said that Amy did this to him? This is what I meant when I said they both made each other better. (Later in the episode Amy is seen drinking orange soda, so it's clear Jake has rubbed off on her as well.)
“Did the Kanye West cannibalism story finally break?” “What, that’s a thing?” “Yeah, he eats tiny little bits of people when he hugs them goodbye. I tipped off Page 6, I don’t know why they’re sitting on it.”
Since Jake has obviously already met Amy’s brothers offscreen, when are we going to meet Amy’s brothers?
“Men are difficult because they’re all secretly monsters.” I cackled at this bit.
“Get ready. You’re about to enter the bone zone.” I love Charles so much, and the scene where he carries Terry through the precinct is golden.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine airs Sundays at 8:30/7:30c on FOX.