An amazing recurring visual gag and strong comedic timing between Samberg and Beatriz make for a great episode.
For the most part Brooklyn Nine-Nine is an ensemble comedy. Star Andy Samberg is typically front and center as the series’ biggest “name” (outside of Andre Braugher’s Holt), so he tends to get the lion’s share of the screentime and the rest of the time is divided up between B and C plots.
Every once in a while, however, the series will break out an unorthodox narrative structure that narrows the focus onto a single character. We saw this most recently with Gina Linetti (Chelsea Peretti)’s departure, though even in that episode everyone else had a moment to do something significant.
Not so with “The Crime Scene” which, as Alan Sepinwall notes is a “spiritual sequel” to last year’s “The Box”, essentially focuses on a single case and two characters for nearly it’s entire duration. Sure Holt, Amy (Melissa Fumero) and the others appear briefly, but for the most part, this is an episode dedicated almost exclusively to Jake and Rosa (Stephanie Beatriz) and their two month attempt to solve a single murder case.
Part of the reason that “The Crime Scene” works so well is because the conceit allows writer Justin Noble a singular focus: by dedicating the action exclusively to two principle characters working on a single case almost exclusively in one location, Noble hones his jokes down to the smallest detail.
Full confession: I think Beatriz is the stealth comedian of the series.
It doesn’t hurt that Samberg and Beatriz have great comedic chemistry. Full confession: I think Beatriz is the stealth comedian of the series and the way that she imbues Rosa with unexpected depths, particularly around her long-gestating two-season coming-out arc, never fails to impress. Not unlike Braugher, Beatriz is particularly adept at garnering laughs with her silence or just a few words.
Of course, it doesn’t hurt that Rosa has a hilarious recurring sight gag in this episode, which alone is enough to push it into the top tier of episode this season. Her constantly evolving hair styles – courtesy of unseen girlfriend/budding amateur hairstylist Jocelyn – provide a wonderful ongoing joke that never fails to amuse (Of the 13 different looks, I preferred the ponyhawk and the coloured streaks, which Jake describes as belonging to a “Freshmen at an all women’s College”).
The case itself isn’t the most engrossing mystery, though the idea of a Roomba spreading blood around an apartment is mildly horrifying. The (un)dope murder case is of the generically named Andrew Adams, whose crime scene includes triple digits of evidence but approximately zero clues. After eight attempts to best Rosa at Rock/Paper/Scissors, Jake, in a moment of weakness, makes the “rookie mistake” of promising Adams’ mother that they will find the killer. It’s typical wacky Jake Peralta
Still, by stranding two of its best pairs in a single location, Brooklyn Nine-Nine manages to wring a ton of humour out of the gallows humour of Adam’s death while still gently tugging on the heartstrings with Jake and Rosa’s mommy issues.
- Michael Mosley guest stars as Franko McCoy, a mockery of a CSI shows, who keeps unsuccessfully trying to drop one-liners on an unimpressed Jake and Rosa. It’s a solid performance from a reliable character actor and his exchange with Jake about the dozens of TV series built around cops (with only Rizzoli and Isles ringing a bell) is particularly delightful.
- Fun character fact: Jake carries around Sour Straws as a last meal in the event he is ever mortally wounded.
- By this point Samberg and Beatriz have perfected their characters’
fast paceddialogue exchanges, most evident in “Jake and Rosa’s First Impressions” segments.
- Coming back to that Rock/Paper/Scissors game: the sheer unadulterated joy of a joke that carries on too long cannot be understated.
- The delivery man hilariously proves to be useless at identifying the killer, resulting in sketches that include Seth Meyers, Winona Ryder, and Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) Other Rosa hairstyles included: Edna from The Incredibles, Tangled hair extensions / Cousin It, Up-do with flowers and Side ponytail, Braids, Kitten wig, Bob, and Rastafarian hat. Sound off below which was your favourite!
- Franko McCoy (introducing himself): “Straight out of De-Comp…ton.”
- Jake (learning Adams had no enemies): “The dumb jerk…RIP.”
- Rosa: “Just so you know, Franko, we’re not responding to you positively as a person.”
- Jake (when they ID the killer): “No, but he is about to say C-S-Bye!”
- Jake (making things awkward): “Hello Mrs. Diaz, America’s Favourite MOTHER!”