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Brooklyn Nine-Nine 5x20 "Show Me Going" Review

Brooklyn Nine-Nine 5x20 "Show Me Going" Review

Straying from its typical format, this week’s Brooklyn Nine-Nine focused primarily around an active shooter alert in a Brooklyn Heights hotel that Rosa, being nearby, ends up responding to. Although no part of the episode deals explicitly with the active shooter situation itself (probably due to it being a sitcom on network television and not a gritty Netflix special), the severity of the situation is never undersold: from the outset, we’re told that there are numerous casualties, and later on we find out that multiple officers were wounded leading up to and during the takedown of the shooters.

Usually, Brooklyn Nine-Nine is a silly comedy where a police precinct is merely a background for the shenanigans the inhabitants of this world get involved in, but every once in a while they like to remind their audience of the actual responsibilities that come with being a cop — whether that’s shining a light on the prevalence of racism in the police force as they did in last year’s “Moo Moo”, or showing us that part of a cop’s duties include laying their life on the line for the citizens they’re sworn to protect. The closest they’ve come to exploring the latter, before this episode, is back when Charles got shot for protecting Rosa while they were hunting down a released convict who wanted to kill Holt.

This episode took a different approach in that the focus wasn’t on Rosa, but on the detectives back at the precinct who were both worried about the safety of their friend and suddenly staring their own mortality in the face, as fellow cops who would, without hesitation, volunteer themselves for first response just as Rosa did. (Holt’s statistical fact about how a cop is more likely to die being hit by scaffolding than on the job is of little comfort in a time like this.)

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Everyone reacts differently to the knowledge that Rosa is in danger and the equal knowledge that there’s nothing tangible they can do to help. For Terry, this means calling his insurance company and updating his life insurance policy, as his first thought is what would happen to his wife and children should he die. (Terry, remember, took a year of administrative leave when his twins were born because he was terrified of leaving them fatherless, and I imagine a fair bit of that old fear is coming back to him now.)

Amy seeks to keep her hands and mind busy by working on a project that can be given as a gift to Rosa when she returns, and ropes Gina into helping her fix the toilet in the women’s washroom — which has been broken for a week now, leading to Rosa using the washroom downstairs. The gag here is in Amy repeatedly getting sprayed with water from the broken toilet before eventually destroying the toilet in her frustration, but underneath that runs a current of worried determination and illogical thinking that says if they keep working on the toilet, Rosa will come back safe. There’s nothing they can do to ensure Rosa’s safety at the hotel, but this they can do for her. It’s all they can do.

Of course Jake, in his impulsive, hero-cop way, isn’t satisfied sitting on the sidelines. At first, he and Charles attempt to focus on their current case and compartmentalize their worries about Rosa (Charles is terrible at compartmentalizing and just worries about everything, all the time) but soon Jake realizes that he’s incapable of doing nothing to help. Despite the Police Commissioner’s (and Holt’s) orders for him to stay put, Jake is determined to rush to the crime scene and help Rosa out in a meaningful way (thus putting his own life in danger and possibly compromising the NYPD’s plan of attack, Jake what are you doing).

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In order to do this, Jake needs to sign out tactical gear, which requires permission from Captain Holt. Since he’s going directly against his captain’s orders, Jake needs to find a way to make the officer at the armory think that Holt has given permission, which leads to the funniest scene of the episode. As Hitchcock and Scully fake a fight to draw Captain Holt out of his office (resulting in them lying on the floor punching each other in the groin, coined a “Penis punch 69” by Charles), Charles answers the phone call from Officer Wilk using the Holt soundboard Gina created. I was waiting for that to come back into play! (Possibly my favourite thing about the Holt soundboard is the implication that Holt’s natural voice is indistinguishable from a robot, which is something Jake has been saying for years.)

Their plan goes awry when Officer Wilk turns out to be closer to Captain Holt than they’d anticipated, and asks personal questions Charles wasn’t prepared to answer (leaving him to use the soundboard to say “Screw that, screw that. Get some. Goodbye” before abruptly hanging up). Holt confronts Jake as he’s packing the guns in his car, and in true fatherly fashion does his best to convince Jake to stay, but doesn’t stand in the way when Jake is still determined to go.

However, it turns out Holt’s words weren’t lost on Jake, as he returns to the precinct bearing pizza, since no one has eaten anything all day. “Emotional jabber” is absolutely one of Jake’s strengths; it’s something everyone loves him for and Holt in particular admires him for, and he’s able to help lessen both Terry’s and Charles’ fears, while simultaneously realizing one of his own: now that he’s getting married, he has someone else’s life to consider when putting his own at risk. I really love seeing the caretaker side of Jake; he’s often shown as immature and self-absorbed, but he does care deeply about his friends and he does have a natural instinct for doing the right thing to make them feel better.

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This episode, while no doubt the most sombre of the season, possibly of the series, accomplished several things. Reading about active shooter situations is always scary, and heartbreaking, but there’s a degree of separation there. You don’t know any of the wounded, or any of the dead. In "Show Me Going", the characters care more about this particular scenario because someone they love is trapped in the crosshairs; similarly, the audience is made to care more because we have come to love the characters in this world. It makes it real, it makes us remember that real people are impacted by these events when they unfold in reality, and it gives us the push to, hopefully, enact real change.

But this episode also focused on something that is rarely covered in the news, and that’s the effect of situations like this on the first responders. Rosa, despite being the focus of this episode, has very little screen time, but hearing her say “Diaz, 3118, show me going” over the radio is a chilling moment: without hesitation, she volunteers herself for something that could very well result in her losing her life. It’s what Rosa does, and it’s what any cop would do, and it’s what first responders every day do; and I think that deserves a moment of recognition.

At the heart of this episode, as is at the heart of all of the best Brooklyn episodes, is the strength of the bond between the members of the ninety-ninth precinct, and how they truly do view each other as family. The anxiety everyone is feeling for Rosa’s safety is palpable throughout the entire episode (sometimes making it difficult to layer humour over top), and so too is the relief when she returns to the precinct safe and sound. The way both Jake and Amy enfold Rosa in a hug that is entirely without reservations — followed by Gina jumping in at the end, in a rare display of caring — is one of the sweetest moments in the series.

The reason episodes like this work, without feeling like the show has compromised its roots to send a message, is because of the strong foundation five seasons have been built on: at its heart, as I have said many times before, this show is not just about comedy, but about love. And the payoff here is that when Rosa returns at the end of the episode, the audience just as happy to see her as her squad is.

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Footnotes:

  • “Consensual non-work jabber” is the most roundabout possible way of saying “chit chat.”

  • Amy is so excited to see Rosa visit her downstairs, how cute.

  • “Why is no one talking about Zika anymore? There’s no way it’s fixed!” Charles asking the real questions.

  • “I’m trying to keep this line open so I don’t have room for your bullcrap. Goodbye, Mom!”

  • “I don’t have kids yet.” So does this mean Jake and Amy have decided that that is something they want one day, or?

  • How is it possible that Amy looks prettier the messier she gets? How? 

  • “Hey Rosa, it’s me, Gina Linetti.”

  • Amy stealing a toilet seat from Barnes and Noble to attempt to fix the bathroom they completely destroyed is just...incredible.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine airs Sundays at 8:30/7:30c on FOX.

Sam’s episode rating: 🐝🐝🐝🐝🐝

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