As welcome as the B-plot was, the main story was a bit stodgy in its delivery and presentation. In this tired situation, Jake figures out that Terry’s time away from the precinct and the names in his notepad point to Sharon’s pregnancy. It all starts when Terry demands that Jake pay him back $1,237, leading the detective to uncover the reason why Terry wants the expenses recovered so promptly. Of course, Terry entrusts Jake with the secret, although the yogurt-loving lieutenant should know better than give out that confidential information to anyone in the office. Jake’s knowledge of big and small screen conventions could have also reminded him of how sitcoms rarely let secrets stay hidden.
Even if the storyline seemed a bit archaic and obvious, the stakes to give Jake the role of the baby’s godfather – a position Jake does not truly understand – if he keeps the pregnancy under wraps paved way for some inspired comedy bits. As the rest of the Nine-Nine find it suspicious that he is so willing to pay Terry back, they want him to pay them back with favors of anything they desire. (The best one involves Boyle’s overly “affectionate” dogs, although calling Gina’s grandparents with premature news of her death was a close second.) Unfortunately, as soon as Terry sent the detectives a group email, Jake’s future flub that revealed this secret to the group became obvious.
Jake’s indulgence to envision his career as an action hero, meanwhile, gets a couple of funny moments, such as proposing to name Terry’s baby after the Nakatomi plaza in Die Hard or filling a briefcase with a lot of single bills for Terry to give that exchange more dramatic heft. Samberg does some ace work in this episode, flipping between sly and silly with aplomb. He even does strong work during physical jokes and sight gags that the comic actor can sometimes sell more than necessary. (He was especially strong during the gym work-out.)
A few obvious set-ups aside, Brooklyn Nine-Nine remains one of the savviest comedies on television – even more so than it was a year ago. (For those who recall, the series won a surprise Best Comedy award at 2014’s Golden Globes.) With such a density of jokes, it is rare for a few minutes to go by without this reviewer rewinding to a missed joke or exchange. Each 21 minutes is so packed with stories, there is rarely enough time for a denouement. Even Rosa’s romantic date with Marcus, discussed in the cold open, got nary a mention for the rest of the episode as the other plots took precedence.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s flair for the dramatic, centered on the daydreams of Jake and Amy this week, helped buoy a funny, if sometimes too familiar, half-hour. What it lacked in inspiration, though, it made up in comedy perspiration. It was hard not to laugh along with “Payback” with the same enthusiasm as Cpt. Holt when he recalled what kind of day it had been: uproariously.