Brooklyn Nine-Nine Recap: “The Golden Boy” Deserves To Be Hung On The Stairs

Brooklyn Nine-Nine Lin-Manuel Miranda Pictured: (l-r) Andy Samberg as Jake Peralta, Lin-Manuel Miranda as David Santiago, Melissa Fumero as Amy Santiago in BROOKLYN NINE-NINE -- "The Golden Child"

A lacklustre episode spotlights Amy’s familial insecurities, but can’t expand beyond one-note jokes.

It’s only natural that Brooklyn Nine-Nine would settle back into its conventional rhythm following last week’s season high. Intriguingly this episode maintains the same Jake (Andy Samberg)/Amy (Melissa Fumero) pairing, but it swaps out the dramatic focus for a comedic one as Amy struggles with her competitive inadequacies in the face of her more accomplished brother, David (Lin-Manuel Miranda).

Is it inspired stunt-casting? Yes. Is it still stunt-casting? Absolutely.

A significant problem is that the case of the week is sooooo inconsequential. David getting framed by the Brazilian mob is so slight (the default joke being that the henchmen at Club Brasilia are extremely attractive…which is pretty uninspired). The lack of heft is never more evident than in the climax when it’s revealed that the “mob” is comprised of the two men who were guarding the door. There isn’t even a boss figure!

What frustrates most about “The Golden Boy” is that more often than not, it feels like writer Neil Campbell’s script includes the words “Amy’s brother, David” and – knowing that it would be a plum guest star – that’s where he stopped. In terms of introducing another member of the Santiago family, and someone who is even more accomplished than Amy herself, it works. But too often the script simply relies on Amy getting irrationally angry while Jake is either caught in the middle or tries to keep her from crossing over the line.

Obviously the narrative’s primary focus is Amy and her insecurities, not the frame job or the Brazilians. But it’s a one-note “joke” that never quite works, despite Fumero’s great facial expressions when she thinks her perfect older brother is a “coke-fiend.” Fumero has proven over six seasons that she’s a gifted comedienne, but this doesn’t mean she can mine an entire episode worth of reaction shots into something more meaningful. Jake, meanwhile, is essentially playing the traditional sitcom-y variation of his character from last episode, which only serves to make “The Golden Boy” pale further in comparison.

Is it inspired stunt-casting? Yes. Is it still stunt-casting? Absolutely.

Sadly the B-plot is no better. Boyle (Joe Lo Truglio)’s need for an undercover operative to plant in a holding cell with a drug dealer is little more than a shallow excuse to dress Holt (Andre Braugher) and Terry (Terry Crews) up in ridiculous costumes and parade their poor acting skills. Charles has always been a polarizing character on the show for me; he works best in small doses or when he’s grounded by someone like Jake.

Lin-Manuel Miranda (L), Bertila Damas (R)

As the straight man in this farcical effort, Boyle’s ridiculous notes for Terry’s character Tyrone McCallister don’t mesh, nor do they afford Crews something interesting to do other than get progressively more frustrated each time Charles pulls him out. There’s no real momentum to the plot, particularly the twist that Rosa was the true plant all along.

If it works at all, it is only because of Rosa (Stephanie Beatriz)’s stealth accent, which is unsurprisingly delightful.

Random Thoughts:

  • A characteristic example of Campbell’s unsuccessful jokes: having Lin-Manuel Miranda, one of the giants of pop culture thanks to Hamilton and Mary Poppins Returns, repeatedly utter the words “I don’t follow pop culture.” Har har har?
  • Jake’s obsession with the beauty and smell of the Brazilians, whom he at one point refers to as gazelles, could be funny, but feels like a lesser, too obvious Jake.
  • Confession: I did smile at Amy and David’s terrible dance-off, up to and including Amy’s ill-advised death drop (which may have given her a small concussion).
  • Holt, naturally, believes that acting is “professional lying” although he is quite proud of his abilities in the French parlour game Charades (pronounced Sha-rad-s).
  • What do you think Charles did with those audition improv tapes?
  • The name Maxwell Blaze sounds like it was stolen from a Die Hard rip-off and I’m curious to see if Charles will try to claim it for himself in the future or if he will offer it to Jake.

Best Lines:

  • Scully (when Amy refuses him an autograph): “What? Too stuck up for your fans?! You turd!”
  • Amy (when Jake confirms he has a plan to outshine her brother): “Oh thanks for not trying to make me a better person.”
  • Holt (when Charles asks Holt, aka Maxwell Blaze, if he has a girlfriend): “You should see her heavy feminine breasts with their perfectly placed nipples. Don’t get me started on her can.”
  • Jake (referring to David’s blood test): “Apparently he has the cleanest blood they’ve ever seen.”
  • Amy (commenting about her death drop): “The ladies on Drag Race make it look so easy.”
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