One of Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s most reliable touches each week is its inspired cold opens. Many of these introductions have little to do with the main plot of the story that follows. This week’s charming opener, however, foreshadows the central conflict from “Beach House.”
In the opening, Cpt. Holt tries his best not to reveal that he spilled soup on his pants and is sitting in his office in just his underwear. (A suspicious Jake quickly jumps to this conclusion, only to gleefully join the captain, pants-less, behind Holt’s desk.) As this opening suggests, Cpt. Holt does not want to bring his authority down to the level of juvenile fun. He wants to keep it professional and not inject any moments of unwarranted comedy into his day.
While the captain’s constantly bemused face and demand for order lends nicely to moments of conflict between him and Jake, past weeks this season involving his rivalry with Kyra Sedgwick’s deputy showed an unabashed, childish glee. When he insulted Wuntch upon receiving an honor a few weeks ago, his behavior recalled an obnoxious teenager. Further back, in the first season’s “The Party,” Holt’s debonair hosting was a welcome change of pace that felt inherent to the character while also mining new territory of the captain’s personality. We have seen Cpt. Holt shed some layers of his serious pedigree for some fun and games before; however, “Beach House” betrays these past moments of joshing with Cpt. Holt and sets up a reality where he can only dilute the fun.
Instead of the detectives liquoring up, gossiping and playing fun games during a “detectives only getaway” at Boyle’s beachside cottage, they have to attend to the needs of their unwanted highbrow guest: Cpt. Holt. Interestingly, it is Jake who he manipulates to invite him to the out-of-town soiree. (How does he do it? A mere mention of how a younger Holt was not invited to his fellow officers’ golf games due to precinct prejudice.) While “Beach House” could have been a loose, hilarious half-hour that broadens up the captain’s colorful side, it goes for the stale, obvious story: the strict authority figure sucks the fun out of the weekend escape for everyone. This plot, to some extent, sucks the fun out of the episode, too, while also reminding us a bit too much of “Thanksgiving” from season one, where Amy invited Cpt. Holt to a Turkey Day dinner.
Without embracing the fun side of Cpt. Holt, Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s comedic situations were too predictable this Sunday. His sternness almost derails Amy’s desire to get drunk and makes Rosa uncomfortable (since she has to hide to text with Marcus, his nephew and her new beau). On the other hand, Scully and Hitchcock don’t mind his company, since they have a casino scheme they want him to partner along with. The episode descends to poking fun at the captain’s odd hobbies, like 80-minute walks in crisp, wintery weather and discussing the merits of the recorder. Braugher can deliver these offbeat asides with aplomb due to the actor’s firm delivery and the character’s expansive vocabulary; however, the dead air residing in Boyle’s cottage for this special weekend lasted for too long.