Brooklyn Nine-Nine Season 7 Episode 5 Review [’Debbie’]

***Spoilers Ahead***

Stephanie Beatriz (left), Andy Samberg (right). Photo Credit: NBC

Through the span of just a couple episodes, the character of Debbie (SNL's Vanessa Bayer) has transformed from quirky comic relief to a somewhat serious threat. Brooklyn Nine-Nine has rarely dealt with the concept of a criminal not being equipped for the hectic lifestyle they find themselves in. Because of this, it's understandable to feel sympathy for Debbie since she remains oblivious to her corrupt ways. At the same time, this installment expects audience members to suspend their disbelief and believe that a feared crime boss would recruit the inept Debbie to carry out his dirty work. If one can digest that rather implausible plot point than the episode itself is nothing less than an action-packed and engaging ride.

The main storyline follows Jake and Rosa pretending to be dirty cops alongside Debbie in order to get to crime boss Silvio Nucci. Throughout the plot, the outlandish and over-the-top behavior that Debbie exhibited in past outings is magnified significantly as she overpowers Jake and Rosa, playfully toys around with machine guns, and attempts to pursue Jake romantically. As the events progress, one can't help but feel frustrated that such a clueless and incompetent individual could take down two of New York's finest. Peralta and Diaz have faced much larger threats with ease compared to how they fare in this outing's scenario. Nevertheless, it does seem fitting that such an oddball character would find herself in a situation so dire yet remain unfazed by the consequences that await her. Similar to the antics of Adrian Pimento or Hitchcock & Scully, Debbie manages to generate laughs with her zany demeanor while also raising the stakes as a result of her ignorant actions. But, what separates her arc from the likes of Pimento is the heartfelt exchange she shares with Rosa during the installment's climax.

While most are already familiar with Rosa's softer side, her touching moment with Debbie humanized Bayer's character and managed to tug at the heartstrings in an episode otherwise full of humor. In a pleasant twist, Rosa finally decides to defend Debbie by lashing out at Debbie's mother for disowning her. The way the writers were able to tie together Rosa's past issues with a character she initially despised served as an ideal way to close out Debbie's misadventure. It presented Bayer the chance to be more than just a one-note player and provided another dimension to what could have just been a forgettable side character. Even if her ten-year sentence means she likely will not reappear, Debbie Fogle brought some flavor to Brooklyn in an intense and entertaining manner.

Countering the more heated main story, the relatively calm B-plot focuses on Holt and Amy frantically going through Debbie's journals in order to figure out her motive. For longtime viewers, watching the two transition from strict supervisor and eager subordinate to teasing rivals has always been a jarring yet comical experience. The beauty of their relationship comes from the fact that they can become invested in an activity as meaningless as speed reading and turn it into a sports-esque competition. Seeing Santiago and Holt throw damaging insults at each other (and the slower Boyle) only sweetens the deal and increases the comedic value. Although strikingly similar to his 'Jimmy Jab' battle with Rosa in the previous outing, this story demonstrates that Braugher has infectious chemistry with any cast member he is paired up with (if anyone needed further confirmation).

Despite not being grounded in reality like more serious cuts, 'Debbie' still supplies much in the comedy department while also issuing out a sincere moment that bridges the gap between the closed-off persona of Rosa Diaz and the slightly dimwitted Debbie Fogle. The episode wastes no time getting straight to the meat of the plot and effortlessly portrays an amusing tale through the eyes of both the reluctant criminal and the competent cops.

Stray Thoughts
  • The writers probably gave Debbie the last name 'Fogle' just to make a Jared Fogle joke.
  • Scully's take-down of Debbie in the first act was legitimately impressive. Even more so since she was able to beat up Jake and Rosa.
  • Given how little emphasis is put on Holt not being captain anymore, it'll be interesting to see how long it takes before he resumes his normal position. 

Grade: B+

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