Brooklyn Nine-Nine Recap: The Heist Returns In “Cinco de Mayo”

Brooklyn Nine-Nine Cinco de Mayo Brooklyn Nine-Nine -- "Cinco De Mayo" Episode 616 -- Pictured: (l-r) Terry Crews as Terry Jeffords, Andy Samberg as Jake Peralta -- (Photo by: John P. Fleenor/NBC)

A self-aware sixth heist installment of the fan-favorite narrative can’t help but deliver diminishing rewards.

Early in “Cinco de Mayo,” the first “Halloween Heist” episode to air since Brooklyn Nine-Nine moved from FOX to NBC, Rosa (Stephanie Beatriz) dismisses the idea of a sixth iteration because nothing fresh can be brought to the proceedings.

This is obviously a distraction considering Rosa goes on to chloroform Boyle (Joe Lo Truglio) via his fake beard, ship him to New Jersey in a large crate and team up with Captain Holt (Andre Braugher) in the hopes of winning the annual competition. And yet there’s something truthful about Rosa’s claim that the annual event, typically one of Brooklyn’s most madcap and convoluted episodes, is – in its sixth go – a bit played out.

It’s admirable that writer David Phillips is self-aware enough to acknowledge that the heist is mostly played out. Unfortunately, that recognition only proves to be lip service considering Phillips then proceeds to follow through with the heist and all of its accompanying shenanigans as though audiences won’t automatically see through the ruse. The result is an even more madcap and convoluted episode of Brooklyn Nine-Nine than ever, to the point that by the time Terry (Terry Crews) begins his monologue elaborating on his six months of planning and deception, any charm or investment has completely worn off.

The decision to proceed more or less like any other heist episode would be forgivable if the episode were remotely funny, but Phillips is so focused on continually upping the ante that he seemingly forgets to ensure that the episode is fun to watch. Sure there’s a certain enjoyment in seeing Scully (Joel McKinnon Miller) crash through a mirror, or Terry spray painted gold like an Oscar, but the astounding number of double-crosses results in whiplash-inducing pacing that frequently just feels rushed. No one – not the characters or the audience – is enjoying this experience; they’re too busy stabbing each other in the back and we’re too busy trying to follow the increasingly jarring action to laugh.

Even Holt, whose enjoyable deadpan humour is exchanged for what should be even funnier competitive banter, is no longer fun. His insulting mean-spirited barbs to his squad simply aren’t funny, particularly the forced pregnancy test and ultrasound on Amy (Melissa Fumero), which unfortunately plays out just as a fresh round of pro-life bills restricting women’s bodies and reproductive rights gain momentum in the US.

…there’s something truthful about Rosa’s claim that the annual event, typically one of Brooklyn’s most madcap and convoluted episodes, is – in its sixth go – a bit played out.

If there’s one positive in this lacklustre entry, it is the expansion of the heist to increasingly varied participants (And no, I’m not referring to Scully’s twin brother, Earl, who is a lazy rip-off of Boyle’s cousin, Bob, who also returns. Neither are funny). I’m referring, of course, to Kevin (Marc Evan Jackson) and Holt’s beloved Corgi Cheddar, the latter of whom winds up playing an instrumental role in Terry’s long-con master plan. Both are, expectedly, a delight, and a very welcome addition to any future episode, heist or no.

If this version of the heist feels rushed and desperate, here’s hoping that if Brooklyn Nine-Nine pursues a seventh instalment next year, it takes a dramatically different form (perhaps one that is scaled back instead of amped up).

As it stands, predisposing your audience to anticipate an episode that simply delivers more of the same isn’t the best way to sell the episode.

Random Thoughts:

  • Terry’s preferred stress eat food: egg yolks (bowls of them).
  • Jake (Andy Samberg) paid $1800 for his voice activated banner. How much for the Mariachi band, though?!
  • Both Jake and Amy gave each other gifts that were recalibrated as tasers.
  • Legit laugh: when Rosa unexpectedly climbs out of the couch cushions in Holt’s office.
  • The idea that Terry faked a bomb blast the previous Halloween in order to delay the heist until a more convenient time is nearly as icky as Amy’s fake pregnancy bit.

Best Lines:

  • Holt (when Amy exclaims she won the last heist): “The only thing you won last heist was a lifetime of mediocre heterosexual intercourse with Jake.”
  • Boyle (wistfully, to Rosa): “Oh lunch…the devil’s breakfast.”
  • Kevin (during Terry’s monologue): “I was manipulated?”
  • Holt (when Cheddar is revealed to be helping Terry): “Cheddar, you duplicitous bitch.”
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