Brooklyn Nine-Nine Season 8 Episodes 3 & 4 Review [Blue Flu + Balancing]

***Spoilers Ahead*** 

Andy Samberg (left), Joe Lo Truglio (right). Photo Credit: NBC

Blue Flu
Although he's more known for blurting out unintentional sexual innuendos and obsessing over gross food items, Charles Boyle has always been the most well-meaning member of the Brooklyn Nine-Nine squad. No matter how much ridicule he faces for his persona, Boyle stays true to himself while also taking his detective job as seriously as he can. This all makes his health scare in 'Blue Flu' significantly more gutting than it could have been, with Truglio's character facing his mortality head-on. In the midst, the writers are able to strike that perfect balance of addressing social issues while keeping the infectious character relationships intact. 

After union rep Frank O'Sullivan (played by John C. McGinley) uses an incident where a dead mouse was found in an officer's burrito to push his narrative that cops are under attack, all the officers go on strike while simultaneously using the excuse that they're sick with mono (i.e. Blue flu). Captain Holt concocts 'Operation Trident' to quell the "mouse in burrito" hysteria and prove that the officers are faking their sickness, with Jake and Boyle on-deck to find out if the doctor was handing out illegitimate diagnoses. Where this episode takes a sharp left turn is when an undercover Boyle is told by the doctor that one of his testicles is much larger than the other, causing Charles to believe he may be dying. 

Though the trope of a character facing a potential health issue is quite common in the sitcom world, the Brooklyn writers have created such sound character dynamics that the revelation is sure to elicit a very strong reaction from longtime viewers. In particular, Boyle's speech about facing death and not being able to work with Jake into his 90s is enough to make devoted fans teary-eyed. The bleak tone is exacerbated by the fact that the series will be coming to an end soon and we really will never be able to see the friendship between Peralta and Boyle grow past that point. Though Boyle ends up not having cancer, the raw emotion felt during his monologue (and when Peralta shows how well he knows him while planning for his final days) makes this plotline a complete home run. Joe Lo Truglio is masterful in this more somber role and Samberg's loyalty to his friend continues to be one of his best attributes. 

The B-plot features Amy dealing with the many "Hitchcock and Scullys" that were sent by the other precincts after they requested for more detectives. If nothing else, it was thoroughly amusing to see Scully feel at home with the replicas of himself, especially since Hitchcock can only be accessed remotely. Santiago's exasperation with the situation adds to the hilarity as Scully helps her learn the sluggish ways of these older detectives. Terry and Rosa also join in on Operation Trident, with the former dealing with stomach issues and the latter being enlisted to find footage of the burrito incident being staged. It's definitely a relief that Rosa remains an integral part of the series despite no longer working in the 99th precinct, and the writers create a clever way to weave her into the story here. The only issue that can be found is that there was a lost opportunity to show Terry's meeting with the disgruntled officers. Although the pandemic may have stopped larger crowd scenes from being filmed, it definitely had the makings of a hilarious scene. 

With an engaging mixture of witty banter, solemn moments, and tense exchanges, 'Blue Flu' is an episode that seems to check off all the right boxes. The writers find a way to include a message about how police feign persecution in a system that enables their bad behavior while not sacrificing comedy and character-driven stories. All this culminates with Holt out-smarting O'Sullivan and putting an end to the flu, while also planting the seeds for future police reform. There are few faults to be found with 'Blue Flu' and it ultimately shows that Brooklyn is racing to the finish line instead of limping.

Stray Thoughts 
  • It looks like we'll never truly know what Holt's tattoo is.
  • Boyle's mention of Trident gum in the briefing room scene deserves a mention.
  • While I'm not holding out, it would be nice if Hitchock could return in-person for the finale.
  • He hasn't reached Wuntch levels but O'Sullivan is turning into a pretty fun antagonist. 

Grade: A- 

Andre Braugher (left), Stephanie Beatriz (right). Photo Credit: NBC

In the universe of situational comedy, the introduction of a baby is perceived as a moment where a series "jumps the shark" and becomes a shadow of its former self. Many comedies have a hard time dealing with this new inclusion, with some even ignoring their existence when it's inconvenient to bring them into the plot. Since Brooklyn Nine-Nine only has a few installments left and has been building up to Jake and Amy having a child for a while, it's hard to imagine these sort of accusations will be levied against it. 'Balancing' provides a very accurate depiction of how difficult it is to be a parent while maintaining a career, even if it comes at the expense of what could have been an exciting, case-based episode. 

The installment starts with Jake finding out that his arch-nemesis Johnny Franzia is back to committing crimes, causing Jake and Charles to go and investigate the crime scene. Meanwhile, Terry is getting Amy ready for her reform proposal speech that she'll be giving in an attempt to secure funding. Both plots are disrupted after Jake and Amy realize that they've let their son Mac unattended, forcing them to try and find a babysitter for their child. When all their attempts lead nowhere, they decide they'll have to bring Mac to work. This outing may do a phenomenal job at displaying the uncomfortable balancing act of parenting and policing but it leaves viewers hungry for some classic Brooklyn crime-solving without nourishment. 

Only bits and pieces of the Franzia case are seen, with most of them interrupted by Jake having to take care of his son. Even though this story-telling style fits well with the narrative, it does not make Peralta's exclusion from the case any better. Considering Franzia is a character mentioned before and not just a random criminal of the week, it would have been a blast to see Jake and Boyle team up to figure out his clues and take him down. Nonetheless, the fact that Jake takes care of Mac instead of arresting his arch-nemesis shows legitimate growth when it comes to Samberg's character. The Franzia case meant a lot to Peralta, but he still stayed behind so that Amy could give her speech and further their cause of police reform. There's still an empty, anti-climactic feel to 'Balancing' but it does reveal that Jake Peralta has matured greatly since day one. 

With Holt still separated from his husband Kevin, the captain moves in with Rosa for the subplot of this episode. Though it may appear a little off-putting to see Holt so talkative, it is very entertaining to witness Braugher's character continue to cope with the separation. This storyline reaches new heights when Rosa gets Holt drunk, causing Holt to send a picture of his dick to Kevin. Hilarity ensues as the two rush to Kevin's place to delete the picture off his computer before he can check his email. In turn, we are met with a touching moment when it is yet again confirmed that Kevin misses Holt's company. This story ends up being the better of the two and finds itself with a perfect blend of heart and humor.

'Balancing' is a bit of an uneven episode that will leave some viewers missing the greater focus on police work but satisfy those who enjoy seeing the relationship between Jake and Amy progress. The B-plot focusing on Holt and Rosa does a fantastic job at slowly repairing the Holt and Kevin marriage and packs in enough gags to please all. Brooklyn Nine-Nine reaffirms that it is still an ambitious series that intends to elevate and evolve. 

Stray Thoughts
  • Johnny Franzia was first mentioned in Season 5's 'White Whale'.
  • "Digital Phallus Portrait" 
  • The following episodes will feature the return (and potential final appearance?) of Doug Judy!

Grade: B-

Which episode did you enjoy better?
Blue Flu

What did you think of these episodes of Brooklyn Nine-Nine? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below. 

Share this

Related Posts

Next Post »