DISCLAIMER: If you’ve never seen an episode of Brooklyn Nine-Nine in your life, you may want to avoid this list at all costs. Spoilers abound in these here parts. Secondly, it’s high time you hop aboard this train cataloging the hilarious hijinks of Brooklyn’s finest. You won’t regret it. So, watch the series in its entirety and then return to this list.
What do you get when you combine a cast of zany characters, a police precinct and the New York borough of Brooklyn? A recipe for comedic gold. I’ll admit, I was initially reticent to delve into the world of Brooklyn Nine-Nine, ignorantly dismissing it as another blase sitcom. Thankfully, I’m one who is completely capable of taking responsibility for my mistakes. Brooklyn Nine-Nine is not only a laugh out loud funny series, but it’s jam-packed with a whole lot of heart.
Compelling, lovable characters are, in my eyes, critical to this show’s success. Created by Dan Goor (Parks and Recreation) and Michael Schur (Parks and Recreation, The Good Place and the US version of The Office), Brooklyn Nine-Nine also boasts a diverse cast, which is something you seldom see in a network sitcom. Jake Peralta and co. are characters you grow with, characters you ultimately root for. Amy and Jake are your favorite couple, and a much better representation of realistic love than Twilight. These are your opinions because I’ve disguised them as mine in this article, and we all know the written word is unchangeable. As Captain Holt would say, “Bingpot!”
Now, I’ve painstakingly compiled a list of my personal favorite 10 episodes of Brooklyn Nine-Nine. I say “painstakingly” because, quite frankly, there really isn’t a bad episode that exists. However, there are a few that soar above the rest, particularly the holiday-themed outings or the multi-part episodes. Join me, you ultimate detectives/geniuses, as I delve into the witty world of the best precinct in Brooklyn. You have the right to remain arrested on this article for at least another three minutes.
1. “Thanksgiving” (S01E10)
Brooklyn Nine-Nine has always been adept at holiday-themed episodes (i.e. their Halloween episodes are some of their best). Thanksgiving is held at Amy’s (Melissa Fumero) apartment and, in typical sitcom fashion, nothing goes according to plan. Terry (Terry Crews) is dying of hunger while Amy forces the team to wait for Captain Holt (Andre Braugher) to arrive, who she hopes to ask to be her mentor in a multi-page speech. This episode particularly shines due to a terrific ensemble cast. Every character on this show is so fleshed out and utterly different from the next, yet they all play off of each other so well. Holt and Jake (Andy Samberg) decide to take on a case in tandem, and it’s one of the first times we see their work dynamics in action. These two are a classic case of an odd couple: Jake as the laid back, “lazy” detective and Holt as the straitlaced, no nonsense rule follower. Their burgeoning father/son relationship is one of my favorites on the show.
2. “The Bet” (S01E13)
This episode is the first real turning point in the Jake/Amy love saga. Amy loses her long-running bet with Jake on who can bag the most arrests. Her punishment? Going on a date with him. Of course, Jake puts a great deal of effort in making this the worst date possible – perhaps more effort than he’s ever exerted even at his own profession. He candidly admits to Boyle (Joe Lo Truglio) that he’s maxed out multiple credit cards on lavishly horrible activities for said date. However, this is indicative of his burgeoning love for Amy, and not his distaste for going on a date with her. In one pivotal scene, we see the duo tossing peanuts into each other’s mouths while on a stakeout – a cute gesture that seems simple on the surface, but is really telling of their requited feelings. Oh, and the side story of Boyle winning the Medal of Valor while being upstaged (and outranked) by a horse named Sergeant Peanutbutter is too brilliant.
3. “The Jimmy Jab Games” (S02E03)
Even the Nine-Nine knows how to unwind. We’re introduced to the gang’s fabricated competition known as the “Jimmy Jab Games,” wherein each detective competes in various categories for the guts and glory. So, while Holt and Terry are off meeting with Deputy Chief Wuntch (Kyra Sedgwick), the gang decides to partake in a little friendly competition. When the cat’s away, the mice will play. This episode showcases more of the silliness and originality that makes Brooklyn Nine-Nine stand out from the rest. Also, Holt’s decades long rivalry with Wuntch is truly something to behold. Braugher morphs into a Shakespearean villain, infusing Holt with an underhandedness I didn’t know the police captain had in him. To me, he’s the MVP on this show. Why he hasn’t won an Emmy yet is as befuddling as it is frustrating.
4. “Beach House” (S02E12)
Vacation time! This episode is another prime example of brilliant ensemble acting. Our favorite detectives are relaxing at Boyle’s beach house when none other than Holt, their superior officer, unexpectedly arrives for the festivities. It’s kind of a mood killer when your boss shows up to kill the mood. Thus, the gang launches into action mode and decides to host two different parties: one with Holt, and one without. Everyone rotates so as not to rouse suspicion. Here we get a glimpse of what’s beyond “Six Drink Amy,” and Fumero truly puts her comedic chops on display in this episode. As it turns out, to Gina’s (Chelsea Peretti) disappointment, “Seven Drink Amy” is a rather depressed Amy. Oh, and Holt’s idea of a good time is dissecting recordings of professional recorder players. Recorderists? I’m sure there’s a name for them.
5. “Halloween III” (S03E05)
Halloween is nigh! Brooklyn Nine-Nine has a running tradition that can be traced back to its primary season: their famous annual Halloween heist episode. This all started when Jake bet Holt that he could successfully steal an item off the latter’s person. Should Jake succeed, Holt would bestow him with the coveted title “The Ultimate Detective/Genius.” Should he fail, Jake would be forced to work overtime for free, or something else of Holt’s choosing. Each year the object has changed, as well as the punishments. For year three, Holt and Jake chose members of the precinct to be on their respective teams. Collectively, each team tried to snatch a crown held under lock and key in the interrogation room. Personally, I love every Halloween heist episode, so this was a difficult decision for me. The urge to include every Halloween episode on this list was overwhelming. Again, Brooklyn Nine-Nine succumbs to ultimate silliness in a series within the series that sets them apart from their competition.
6. “Yippie Kayak” (S03E10)
Jake lives out his greatest Die Hard fantasy when he’s taken hostage alongside Boyle and Gina while doing last minute Christmas shopping. He even names the baddies after characters in the Bruce Willis led franchise. Meanwhile, Terry tries to avoid work calls during Christmas dinner. Of course, he’s brought into the fold when he discovers that Jake and co. were taken hostage. Crews is another series MVP for me: his mutli-faceted take on Sergeant Jeffords never fails to melt my heart. Terry, while appearing physically intimidating, is really a giant teddy bear. For the C story we see Holt, resident bad*** Rosa (Stephanie Beatriz) and Amy partake in the “Polar Swim,” wherein participants dip their toes into the below-freezing waters of the Atlantic Ocean. Amy, representing all of us, barely lasts seconds before making a mad dash away from the ocean. Amy is me, and I am her. We’re one. The only difference is she possesses more binders than I ever will.
7. “Coral Palms Trilogy” (S04E01-S04E03)
Now, for this particular plotline, I condensed three parts into one. It is a continuing story, after all. Jake and Holt are forced into the Witness Protection Program when infamous crime boss Jimmy “The Butcher” Figgis threatens to kill them. Their new home? Florida or, as Jake lovingly calls it, the “stinky appendage of America.” Jake parades around as Larry, a frosty-tipped laid back dude who rides an ATV everywhere. Holt is Gary, a newly divorced employee at an arcade who’s hoping to ascend to Assistant Manager. Watching them adjust to their drastically different lives is a masterclass in comedy, especially when Holt and Jake decide to track down Figgis themselves with limited resources at their fingertips. Turns out, being an ousted detective is equivalent to Florida, America’s stinky appendage. Thankfully, the Nine-Nine defies the orders of their new (and very much clueless) Captain and travels to Florida to save their colleagues. However, it’s Gina who emerges victorious, ramming a semi-truck into Figgis’ getaway car. If there’s one thing I’ve gleaned from watching Brooklyn Nine-Nine it’s that Gina Linetti, the human form of the 100% emoji, knows best.
8. “HalloVeen” (S05E04)
Calling all Amazing Humans/Geniuses! Brooklyn Nine-Nine‘s fifth Halloween episode finds our crew vying for a new title: Amazing Human/Genius, courtesy of Gina who won the previous year’s heist. This particular episode is also a stellar one for an unrelated reason – Jake proposes to Amy! America’s favorite couple (behind Barack Obama and Michelle Obama, of course) is finally going to tie the knot. Since Season 5 is the current one on the air, I sincerely hope we get a Jake and Amy wedding by the finale. Make it so, Brooklyn Nine-Nine Powers that Be! It’d be the smortest move on your collective part, as well as a noice gift to your fans. Cool. Cool cool cool cool cool. No doubt, no doubt.
9. “99” (S05E09)
For the show’s 99th episode (in keeping with the title, of course), our gang learns that Holt is in the running for Chief Commissioner of the NYPD. Unfortunately, they’re stranded in LA for a funeral. Not to worry, though – Jake Peralta is on the case. He tries desperately to get Holt back to New York in time. They experience everything from their RV exploding as they’re en route cross country to staying with estranged members of the Boyle clan. Even donning the formal Boyle colors, which is merely different variations of the color tan. That’s a fashion nightmare in and of itself. In the midst of all this, Boyle learns that Rosa’s new beau is not who he expected – she’s dating a woman. Beatriz is also a series standout, portraying a usually stoic, tough character while managing to inject her with nuance. You feel for Rosa as she faces the challenges of coming out to her friends and family as bisexual. Also, can we acknowledge the fact that not many sitcoms boast a bisexual woman of color? Kudos to this show for stepping up to the plate.
10. “Game Night” (S05E10)
Season 5 continues its run of truly A+ episodes. Rosa officially comes out to her colleagues. Thankfully, she’s met with nothing but support and love. Now, she hopes to come out to her parents over dinner, and asks Jake to join her in a show of emotional support. The Diaz parents are, like Rosa, very emotionally reserved. She worries that they won’t accept her for who she is. I love that Brooklyn Nine-Nine was willing to take on such a heavy topic that a lot of people can relate to. It’s rather unusual for a comedy, and this episode knocks it out of the park. Jake standing up for Rosa to her parents is enough to put a tear in anyone’s eye. Rosa accepting who she is and being proud of that is enough for me to question why someone keeps cutting onions in close proximity to me. God, I adore this show.
Honorable Mentions: “Johnny and Dora” (S02E23) and “The Fugitive” (S04E11-S04E12)
In “Johnny and Dora,” Jake and Amy go under cover as a couple to catch an identity thief. Of course, this is before they officially date, so you can still cut the sexual tension with a rusty butter knife. They even share their first kiss, albeit it was under the guise of an ongoing investigation. However, said kiss was enough to rekindle their feelings for one another. Get a room already, you two!
Now, in “The Fugitive” two-parter we see the return of Doug Judy (Craig Robinson), aka The Pontiac Bandit. Judy is Jake’s “frenemy.” He’s a criminal who continues to evade capture and has been on the run from Jake since 2005, while simultaneously befriending our favorite detective. Brooklyn Nine-Nine usually gives us an annual Judy-related episode, and we see his friendship with Jake evolve. Of course, Judy always ends up botching whatever investigation Jake brings him in for, and once again escapes unscathed. Honestly, every episode that includes Doug Judy is a solid one, but this two-parter in particular really showcases the burgeoning friendship between Jake and the car thief. Just don’t tell Boyle, Jake. You know how jealous he gets.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine is a series I turn to whenever I’m feeling blue. I could have it on repeat and never tire of its jokes, inventive story arcs or its lovable characters. Each episode feels like visiting with old friends. If you love The Good Place as well as Parks and Recreation, you’ll love this whimsical comedy. From one Amazing Human/Genius to many more, give Brooklyn Nine-Nine a whirl. Nine-Nine!
Brooklyn Nine-Nine airs Sundays at 8:30 on your FOX affiliate.
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