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Brooklyn Nine-Nine 6x05 “A Tale of Two Bandits” Review

Brooklyn Nine-Nine 6x05 “A Tale of Two Bandits” Review

It appears that everyone’s favourite bandit has returned to Brooklyn...or has he?

A car thief with Doug Judy’s MO has appeared on the streets, but when Terry and Jake call his mother (because of course Jake has her number, although she still knows him as “Mangy Carl”) to check on the whereabouts of her supposedly law-abiding son, they find out that Doug Judy is dead.

Jake’s grief at the loss of his self-admitted best friend is short-lived; he barely has time to show up at the funeral, meet Doug’s sister, Trudy Judy, and sing an at-first heartfelt and then cringeworthy tribute before the Pontiac Bandit himself appears and gets Jake and Terry to meet him in a back room before anyone else sees him alive.

It turns out Doug (after six years, he and Jake are finally on a first name basis) faked his own death to get away from an arms dealer, Stefano Lucas, who wants to kill him. While Jake is overjoyed to be reunited with Doug again (their reunion carries the same cheesy romantic vibe as their farewell in last year’s Pontiac Bandit episode), Terry is understandably suspicious. After all, if Doug Judy is still alive, then he could very well be the car thief they’re looking for.

To date, all of Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s episode of this nature have followed a predictable outline: someone is suspicious of Doug Judy’s honesty (in order, this has been Rosa, Jake, Jake again, Holt, Rosa again, and now Terry); Doug Judy convinces them he can be trusted or they convince themselves that he can’t possibly outsmart them again; Doug Judy does successfully outsmart them, and Jake his left heartbroken until their next reunion, when all is forgiven.

One has to wonder how sustainable such a formula is for a show like this where, yes, Jake can be a bit naive but he’s still a really good cop. How many times can Doug Judy throw him under the bus before Jake gives up on him entirely? In seasons past, as Doug and Jake’s relationship has gone from being frenemies to a full-blown best-friendship, the show has done a good job of threading this needle. In the Season 4 episode, Doug does help Jake and Holt take down his brother, before escaping because he doesn’t want to go to jail; and in Season 5, Doug is genuinely remorseful for almost losing Jake his job, returning the diamonds he stole so that Jake could hand them over to the police department.

This episode does a good job of making fun of the show’s tendency to rely on carbon-copy plotlines when it comes to the Pontiac Bandit, as Jake starts to forget which event happened when (diamonds vs cruise vs giggle pig). It also switches up the formula a bit, bringing in new players in the form of Terry, who hasn’t met Doug Judy yet, and Doug Judy’s sister, Trudy Judy.

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For the most part, this episode follows the formula of the very first Pontiac Bandit episode, with Jake even harking back to the old “a thousand pushups” promise he made Rosa (except Terry ups the ante to “a hundred thousand pushups” because a thousand would be too easy for him). Contrary to Terry’s suspicions, the car thief they’re attempting to track down isn’t Doug Judy at all — it’s his sister, Trudy Judy. (If I’m saying Trudy Judy a lot, it’s because I love the name.)

When called in for questioning, Trudy claims that she was just trying to pay off her student loans, and that she made a mistake. In order to get a reduced sentence, she offers to help them catch a bigger fish: Stefano Lucas. (Sound familiar?)

Perhaps unsurprisingly, if you’re following along with the earlier script, Trudy betrays them, using an explosion as a diversion to escape while the NYPD converges on Lucas. She calls her brother from her getaway car to explain her motives to him (crime is fun and she doesn’t want to go to jail, in short), even using one of his lines from the Season 1 episode: “I’m in the wind.”

After six years, it’s nice to see Doug Judy turn out to be the person Jake always believed he was — and get a taste of his own medicine. It begs the question though: presuming Brooklyn Nine-Nine gets renewed for a seventh season (🤞), where does the story of the Pontiac Bandit go from here? Now that he’s finally proven his worth, it’d be hard for him to go back to his scorpion ways. And paralleling this season’s instalment so much with the first one is certainly a nice way to bring the whole story full circle.

That being said, if, from this point on, Jake and Doug team up once a year to take down a criminal in increasingly wacky ways, I would definitely be on board with that.

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Meanwhile, Shaw’s, the precinct’s “cop bar”, is in danger of being overrun by the FDNY, after their own bar burnt down. The two departments that are always at war with each other decide to settle ownership of the bar in a mature and professional way: by having a drinking contest.

The rules are simple:

  1. Every drink must be finished to completion before the next one can be ordered;

  2. Vomiters get disqualified;

  3. Whichever group has the biggest tab at the end of the night wins.

It seems that at least once a year we get an episode where the primary purpose is to watch the characters get drunk. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing; it’s fun, and provides a good excuse to write characters outside their norm without it being out of character. Drunk Rosa especially is a treat, although I’ll always be partial to 3-drink Amy, or “Amy Dance Pants.” (I’m a little sad that 8-drink Amy, who’s an equestrian, and 9-drink Amy, who speaks French, have only ever appeared offscreen, though.)

Holt leaves the bar early in the evening, after calling Shaw’s a mediocre bar that serves no wine except “Charbonnay” from Delaware (when I first watched the episode without subtitles I thought they said “Shaw-bonnay” so…that’s a missed opportunity for the writers) and proclaiming the contest a waste of time. But later on in the night, when the cops are losing and nearly all of them have been disqualified due to vomiting, Holt returns to save the day.

Turns out that Rosa had drunkenly called him and left 17 voicemails (somehow it makes sense that Rosa is a needy drunk), but what really got to Holt was Rosa’s assertion, after she thought she’d hung up, that Holt doesn’t actually care about them.

But of course Holt cares about them, very much; he cares about them more than his own pride and dignity and more than his desire for a good bottle of wine. To prove how much he cares, he drinks three bottles of “Charbonnay” to get the Nine-Nine within shouting distance of the firefighters, and, as the final minute of the contest ticks down, manages to chug a fourth bottle in record time, which pushes the cops over the top.

Originally I thought that Jake and Terry, maybe with Doug Judy in tow, would show up at the bar at the end to help the precinct win — but I’m also always here for Captain Holt showing just how much he loves his squad.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine airs Thursdays at 9/8c on NBC.

Sam’s episode rating: 🐝🐝🐝🐝.5

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