Madeline Wuntch haunts the Nine-Nine from beyond the grave.
In comparison to last week’s time-warping episode “Trying,” director Claire Scanlon’s “Ding-Dong” feels like a return to an older form, with the death of Madeline Wuntch (Kyra Sedgwick) causing Holt (Andre Braugher) to zip through the five stages of grief and Boyle (Joe Lo Truglio) and Terry (Terry Crews) competing to be Jake’s plus one (with kids) to the premiere of Kwazy Kupcakes: The Movie.
Add to that Rosa (Stephanie Beatriz) and Amy (Melissa Fumero) trying to rein in Holt before he can ruin his chances of being reinstated as captain of the Nine-Nine, and you get an episode that could have easily come from one of the earlier seasons. (While I say this every week, this would have been an excellent Gina Linetti episode.)
When Terry breaks the news to the squad that Wuntch is dead, Holt refuses to believe it until he’s able to see her body for himself (“Wanna see the selfies I took?” he asks an amused Rosa). Holt is so thrilled by this news that he stands in the bullpen throwing bagels at everyone while shouting “Bagel! Bagel! Bagel!” Andre Braugher is a truly gifted actor, so when the writers (this is the first episode penned by Jess Dweck) give him the opportunity to drop Holt’s gravitas and act truly unhinged, he really goes for it.
Before it can really begin, the celebration is interrupted by an email from… Madeline Wuntch! Or, in this case, her attorney, who sends Holt a last video message from the now-deceased commissioner. It turns out all Holt needs to do to get back in the good graces of the Force is to host Wuntch’s NYPD memorial. This leads to one of my favorite callbacks in the form of Holt’s love of making balloon arches, which Rosa and Sweaty Amy (thanks to hormone fertility treatments) convince him are inappropriate for a memorial service.
Meanwhile, an offer to escort Cagney and Lacey to Kwazy Kupcakes: The Movie becomes less about “Uncle Jake” taking kids to see a dumb movie and more about who the better parent is. It’s always fun watching members of the squad compete over anything, and with Terry’s angry coin-folding and Grandma Boyle’s knockout move “The Strawberry Basket,” Jake quickly finds himself playing the adult in the room. This is a very good thing because he’s going to need the practice. He decides to take Cagney, Lacey, and Nikolaj to the premiere without Terry or Boyle, much to the relief of both dads.
Back at the memorial, Holt meets an “ally” in the form of Adam (Michael McDonald) and is shaken to learn that he was never Wunch’s true nemesis. Amy and Rosa manage to figure out that Adam is a mole just before he launches a video of Holt’s career-ruining eulogy, which he thought he’d been delivering to an audience of one.
While I say this every week, this would have been an excellent Gina Linetti episode.
But Raymond Holt isn’t just any old hump off the street, he’s a strategic mastermind whose subterfuge skills have been honed by years of Halloween Heists. It turns out it was a dummy memorial with actors hired for free (“for the exposure” he tells Adam). All of this leads to the real service, and Holt realizes how the nature of his relationship with Wunch pushed him and made him want to be the better cop… a better cop, so perhaps Wunch’s true revenge is that Holt found a place for her in his heart, after all.
In any event, it looks like Captain Holt will be back in charge at the Nine-Nine, and Amy’s sweaty, emotional state wasn’t just the result of pregnancy hormones. In a quiet, touching moment, she tells a concerned Jake the real reason for her symptoms. She’s finally pregnant! The two share a heartfelt embrace while somewhere in Brooklyn, Boyle starts awake gasping “It happened!”
While it would have been nice if this moment had been given more space and breath, I’m looking forward to Melissa Fumero no longer having to hide her actual pregnancy behind suit jackets and choir robes.
- Was anyone surprised that Grandma Boyle’s boxing move was just a punch to the crotch?
- Holt gets off some of his best Wuntch burns in this episode, and if this is the curtain call for that character, I’ll be sad we won’t get to hear Andre Braugher saying things like: “As Wunch said to the deodorant aisle, I’m not buying it!” and “Oh Terry. Zombies can’t die.”
- But Wuntch is still totally alive, right?
- We learn that Holt is not sad when E.T. dies because E.T. is “a monster.”
- Terry is not having Jake’s efforts to King Solomon the movie tickets, despite Jake’s catchy proposition. Any chance he’s been binging The Witcher?