Brooklyn Nine-Nine Review: “The Jimmy Jab Games” (Season 2, Episode 3)

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With a focus on physical humor – something that Brooklyn Nine-Nine tends to do with aplomb, appropriately for a cop show – “The Jimmy Jab Games” is an episode with a lot of variety. The active competition at the precinct is good for visual sight gags, while the dueling of wits at Wuntch’s office between Holt and his superior provides some droll wordplay. Providing even more laughs than the elaborate office-housed games is the “War on Wuntch.” Holt’s plan is to have the deputy deny their report, knowing Wuntch will not stand for a report without foolproof grammar. (He misuses a semi-colon and a split infinitive to rattle her.) With this, he hopes he can object her rejection of this valid request with her chief, who can then assign the task force. The verbal acuity between Wuntch and Holt is dazzling, aided by Sedgwick and Braugher having an obvious blast biting into each other. (An especially funny moment occurs when Holt imagines the fun sentences he can make when he realizes her name rhymes with lunch… and she has just been served.)

As electrifying as the cast has been, the one member of the Group of Seven that has not quite been on par this season is Boyle. The character is caught in a tired subplot where he has to keep his fling with Gina a secret from the rest of the group; unfortunately, it is already starting to feel repetitive three episodes in. Here, Boyle is off to recover a tape that holds evidence that he and Gina have been spending nights together. Now that Hitchcock has the camera in his possession, the balding detective wants to make a deal with Boyle.

This storyline, which is quite forgettable by the high standards set up by the episode’s A- and B-plots, stumbles on a few steps. Foremost, the prior episodes have shown that Gina is horrified by her sexual escapades (sex-capades?) with Boyle; however, here, she still seems eager to be seeing him. The reason behind their curiously fertile affair remains a mystery that needed to be better explained.

Moreover, the show’s writers also reveal how little they know about Hitchcock and Scully, its oblivious blocks used mostly for silly jokes and one-liners. In this episode, Hitchcock tells Boyle that he yearns to fit in the main group. He wants Boyle to help make social advances that put him on Jake’s radar. However, these jokes feel underdeveloped: a finer series would have gone deeper into Hitchcock’s growing alienation and his resolve to make friends at the office. Instead, his plastic smile and social awkwardness is used for jokes that feel cruel. (The overweight Scully, in the meantime, engorges the foul Chinese meal by explaining that it is free food but suffers from food poisoning that insists he sits out of the games. Given the harsh treatment his pal Hitchcock gets, that’s only slightly worse.)

Regardless, this is a briskly paced and howlingly funny episode that proves the undeniable chemistry between the Brooklyn Nine-Nine cast: even newcomer Sedgwick is stealing her scenes battling it out for a verbal victory with Braugher. A few troublesome character moments aside, the sophomore season of network TV’s finest workplace comedy – sorry, Parks and Recreation – is getting better by the half-hour.