Brooklyn Nine-Nine: A bittersweet trajectory about post-Floyd policing

Shadya Naher Sheyam | Tuesday, 5 October 2021

Brooklyn Nine-last Nine's last season seeks to tackle the systemic flaws of America's law enforcement while still keeping the cheerful escapism fans know and love the series for.

Is it effective? The answer is somewhere between ‘slightly’ and ‘for the most part, yes.’

Brooklyn Nine-Nine had previously explored racial profiling, prejudice, sexual assault and LGBTQ rights, by the time it reached its eighth season. The drawback of this season is that the show cannot fully explore the complexities of the topics it covers while several of its previous humour bits-- that worked seasons before, no longer feel right.

Rosa Diaz (Stephanie Beatriz) resigned from the department and changed occupations to work as a private investigator for victims of police abuse. Her old colleagues' concerns about involvement and personal responsibility persisted throughout the season.

Jake (Andy Samberg), on the other hand, concluded that facilitating an escape by rehabilitated Pontiac Bandit Doug Judy (Craig Robinson) was preferable to sending him to prison to serve time on a BS charge.

Jake later realised that his zeal had led him to abuse his power in another case where his instincts were totally wrong. While in the following episode, a pseudo-parody involving Boyle (Joe Lo Truglio) and his many beloved cousins, was absolutely crazy, Jake's suspension hung over the proceedings.

The show created a legitimate villain in patrolmen's union head Frank O'Sullivan (John C. McGinley), an unscrupulous idiot determined to oppose constructive reform in the department even if it meant abolishing any cop even slightly.

Because of things like Holt (Andre Braugher) and Amy (Melissa Fumero) earning huge promotions to lead department reform just a few months after deciding this was an issue they needed to focus on, this series can also be dubbed a wish-fulfillment fantasy.

But, in the end, it isn't about fictitious characters getting things right when their real-life equivalents get it wrong.

Holt and Amy's exits were announced in the penultimate episode so that the series finale could be about them saying their final goodbyes to the squad and Jake delivering them the ‘perfect goodbye’ in the form of one last heist.

A Halloween heist has been an annual ritual since the show's inception, and this one, which spans two episodes, is the most meticulously orchestrated ever. While explaining the strategy to Amy, Jake declares that he, too, will resign. Because he wants to be available for their son, Mac, in a manner that his own terrible father Roger never was for him.

The heist that follows is genuine fan service at its finest. Not only does Cheddar return, but fans also see cannibal Caleb, Holt's former assistant Gina, Boyle lookalike Bill, Rosa's former fiancé Adrian Pimento, weirdo Mlepnos, and even the grave of Holt's late archenemy Madeline. 

Newcomers include Samberg's wife, Joanna Newsom, who plays a cellist, and series creator Dan Goor, who plays an endearing precinct janitor. The heist concludes in a way that none of the characters anticipated or desired, but to which they are all longingly resigned, which appears to be a suitable meta-commentary on Season 8's melancholic journey.

The final season leans heavily into politics at times, although it does not relinquish its premise as a comedy entirely. The actual marvel of this short final season is that, despite the way it - perhaps reluctantly - confronted the intricacies that underpin the workplace at its heart, Brooklyn Nine-Nine still gave the same types of good, hard laughs and brewed a roller-coaster ride for the audience.

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