Brooklyn Nine-Nine 5x21 "White Whale" Review
With Jake and Amy’s wedding now only a week away, there’s still a 3” binder full of tasks for them to complete — but Jake is on his own to get them all done in time, since Rosa and Amy’s arch nemesis, a criminal named Sergio Mindar who disappeared on them seven years ago, has finally resurfaced. While Amy and Rosa hunt their White Whale down, Jake enlists Terry’s help with his wedding tasks and Holt’s own rival, Olivia Crawford, informs him that they’ve both fallen behind in the race for commissioner and need to team up to take down the frontrunner.
This is the first time Brooklyn Nine-Nine has had an A-plot focused around Amy and Rosa (and only the second time ever that Jake wasn’t featured in the A-plot, the other occasion being in Season 4’s “Moo Moo”) and it was a refreshing change, both because we got to see Amy work in the field (out of all the detectives, I feel like she gets shortchanged on actual cases the most), and because it gave us more insight into the relationship between Rosa and Amy. Over the last four or so episodes, the show has put increasing emphasis on the bond between the precinct’s two female detectives — from Rosa encouraging Amy to embrace her femininity and wedding dress-related excitement around her uniformed officers to Amy’s worry over Rosa’s safety and determination to help her in some way while Rosa was involved in the active shooter situation.
Because so much of this show revolves around Jake and his relationship to the other squad members (which isn’t a bad thing — I adore Jake and this show really does belong to him), I feel like some of the other relationships don’t get as much attention as they could. Seeing the show actively take more time to focus on the relationship that’s grown between Amy and Rosa (and Gina too, although we didn’t see that this episode) has really been a welcome shift. I even got some Charles/Jake vibes from Amy and Rosa, with their perfect secret handshake and their “Sleuth Sisters” team name.
The emotional crux of this plotline comes when Amy admits to Rosa that she’s the one who let Mindar get away all those years ago — she abandoned a post Rosa had assigned her to follow her own hunch, and never told Rosa that’s what happened. Learning this, Rosa refuses to speak to Amy (although she still works with her to solve the case) and Amy throws all of her energy into making sure they catch Mindar this time, including jumping off a balcony. This results in nothing but Amy dislocating her knee (in a scene that had me cringing hard with sympathy pains) and Rosa telling Amy that she’s not angry with her because she let Sergio get away, she’s angry because Amy lied about it.
But Amy only lied to Rosa because seven years ago, when she was new on the force, she had been intimated by Rosa. And Rosa is intimidating. Even now, when she is much more open and friendly with the people on the squad, they’re still wary of her — which is an image Rosa cultivated and takes pride in. I always enjoy seeing this softer side of Rosa, the side that’s hurt learning that one of her friends lied to her years ago, but it also serves as a testament to Rosa’s own growth this season and how she’s evolved in her relationships with others, especially Amy.
Jake’s deep rooted insecurities come back in full force this episode, as he begins panicking that he won’t get all of their wedding tasks done on time and will let Amy down, or that he’ll make the wrong decisions and let Amy down. Jake always so desperately wants to prove himself to the people he loves, which stems from the fact that he has a low opinion of his own self-worth. He’s terribly afraid of being a bad husband to Amy because he loves her so much, and I get the feeling sometimes that he still thinks she’s too good for him and is afraid that one day she’ll leave him.
Most of Jake’s insecurities are rooted in the fact that his father left him when he was a child, but I think his fear of people leaving him is even more compounded when it comes to Amy and his past experiences with marriage — namely, his own parents’ failed one. It makes sense that Jake would be afraid of his own marriage ending in a similar way, and thus would take every step he can to make sure that doesn’t happen.
For that reason, pairing him up with Terry was a fantastic move, because Terry is, as Jake says himself, a great husband. While Jake panics over choosing the right shade of beige for their napkins, Terry advises him to tap into his “groom gut” — or his natural instinct. After all, Jake knows Amy better than anyone, and he knows best what will make her happy. When Jake admits his fears of making a mistake that will accidentally end up hurting Amy, Terry tells him what it really means to be a good husband: to always try, and do everything with your wife’s happiness in mind.
“I love Amy Santiago!” Jake hollers at the top of his lungs, finally realizing that that love is the most important thing he can offer to Amy (and also proving himself to be one of the most adorable people in the entire world). Jake is so excited to spend the rest of his life with his soulmate, and is so determined to do what it takes to be the best husband he can be, that I think he and Amy will be just fine. Better than fine.
It also strikes me that a number of the themes from this plotline could also eventually come into play should Jake ever become a father — from desperately wanting to do good by his child to hearing from someone with the proper experience that there is a natural instinct that comes into play when raising a child. Now that Brooklyn Nine-Nine has been picked up by NBC for a 13 episode sixth season (and if we’re lucky, more) this is a storyline that I would really like to see them tackle in the future. Plus we all know that Jake would make the cutest father in the world. (Can’t believe there was a time a couple of seasons ago where the idea of Jake with children made one shudder in horror.)
Captain Holt’s integrity is tested when Olivia informs him that one of them will need to drop out of the commissioner’s race in order to improve their chances of winning over the “straight white man” currently in the lead, who isn’t promising to bring any good change to the NYPD. Both Charles and Gina encourage him to undermine Olivia by spreading false rumours about her. But Holt understands Olivia’s unique struggles in rising through the ranks and recognizes that Olivia has some good ideas for the NYPD that he hadn’t thought of. In a move reminiscent of when he stepped down as self-appointed president of the AGLYNYCPAA, Holt willfully takes himself out of the race.
Unbeknownst to him, Olivia had made the same decision, meaning that they unwittingly handed the commissionership to their competitor, and they rush to destroy the letters before the commissioner has a chance to read them. While they find Holt’s letter in the mailroom, Olivia admits that she had sent in her resignation via email and thus doesn’t have the chance to take it back.
I really enjoyed the banter between these two characters this episode — it was close to the relationship Holt and Wuntch had, except Olivia is not so much a nemesis to Holt as a competent adversary, and the respect they ultimately have for each other ends up shining through. I was sad to see Olivia’s part in the race so abruptly come to an end, especially through her own unintentional means; although I ultimately want to see Holt win the commissioner’s position, I would prefer for it to come down to a choice between him and Olivia than a choice between him and that man who stands for the old way of things.
Rosa went to business school and med school, has a pilot’s license, was in the academy with Jake, and is still only thirty-five or younger. Who is this woman? Is she a secret genius?
“You’re like the Tiger Woods of husbands! What Tiger Woods was to golf, not what Tiger Woods was to being a husband.” Real talk though, Terry is an incredible husband.
Wanting to start a whisper campaign is pretty on brand for Gina, but I was disappointed in Boyle for throwing his support behind it.
A minor grievance with the Rosa/Amy plot was that they spent the first half of it running around on the words of others...of course, it’s their own detective skills that help them catch Mindar in the end.
I really loved that Holt’s and Olivia’s banter revolved around their respective ages, but it did make me sad that in the end, Olivia’s youthful use of email is what ended up bringing her down.
Last week was a turbulent one for fans of this show, as it was cancelled by FOX before being renewed by NBC some 36 hours later. Tomorrow's episode will no longer serve as the series finale, which means I can cry about Jake and Amy’s wedding in peace.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine airs Sundays at 8:30/7:30c on FOX.