Title Johnny and Dora (2.23)
Written By Luke Del Tredici
Two-Sentence Summary When Jake and Amy have to pose as an engaged couple to track an identity thief, their ability to separate their personal feelings from their professional partnership is put to the test. Meanwhile, Terry and Gina try to help Captain Holt find a way out of his new position, and Boyle helps Marcus plan a surprise for Rosa’s birthday.
Game-Changing Moment Changes were happening all over the 99th precinct at the end of this episode. Captain Holt decided to take the job with NYPD Public Relations rather than letting his team fall into the hands of Madeline Wuntch, and that decision sent shockwaves through the precinct, even more so when Gina decided to leave with him. Having Holt and Gina work separately from the rest of the characters broadened the scope for Season Three and shook up some of the show’s best dynamics—Jake and Holt, Amy and Gina, Terry and Gina, Amy and Holt, etc. I’m sure the show will find a way to believably (or at least entertainingly) bring those two characters back to the precinct soon enough, but until that happens, Brooklyn Nine-Nine will certainly feel different.
Captain Holt’s departure and the sense of change it brought with it also seemed to inspire Jake and Amy to change the game in their own way—with a real kiss after a pair of undercover ones earlier in the episode. While the fallout from that kiss wasn’t addressed yet (thanks to the arrival of the new captain), it was clear from both of their expressions after pulling away that this isn’t going to be something they try to ignore or excuse away because they regret it. Instead, this has the potential to be a major turning point in their relationship, and, as such, a major turning point in the show.
“Johnny and Dora” ended with a sense of confidence in terms of where the show is going and how it’s getting there. It swung for the fences on not just one but two major changes, and I think both of those swings will lead to big hits. Brooklyn Nine-Nine is a show that has yet to let me down thus far. That makes it easy for me to watch large-scale changes unfold, because I have every faith that those changes will be handled with care.
Finale M.V.P. How do we start a campaign to get Andre Braugher an Emmy for playing Captain Holt? Because I want to lead the charge. This finale started with a typical “Holt vs. Wuntch” plot, which always brings fun things out of Braugher as an actor. From his description of her as a succubus to his face as she checked to see if he was wearing a wire, I loved every moment. However, it was when Holt actually had to leave the precinct that Braugher really got a chance to stretch this character’s range and tug at all our heartstrings in the process. I loved that he started his farewell speech with his usual unemotional demeanor, but then the emotions he felt became so overwhelming that they started to peek through. And best part was that the dominant emotions were pride and love for the family he’s become the leader of. That scene could have been played for laughs and nothing else, with him finally showing emotion by breaking down and crying, but the show instead chose to have him genuinely smile, which was a thousand times more affecting (for the audience and for the other characters). “Warm” is not an adjective usually used to describe this character, but that’s exactly what he was in that last scene. And the fact that Braugher managed to make Holt’s rare display of genuine affection feel so grounded, earned, and believable speaks to his ability to make what could have been a robotic, one-dimensional character always feel human and complex. I love when unexpected characters make me cry, and that’s exactly what Braugher was able to achieve with his performance in this finale.
Most Memorable Lines
Amy: NYPD—freeze! We are police colleagues!
Jake: You are under arrest! This is a work event!
What Didn’t Work While I still enjoy the uncomfortable tension between Holt and Wuntch for the most part (and will always love Kyra Sedgwick in anything she does), I’m hoping this plot development leads to the scaling-back of Wuntch’s presence on the show. The antagonism between her and Holt is still funny, but I feel like this finale was when it started to cross the line into “too much of a good thing” territory for me. I’m a little worried that Holt’s new storyline is going to mean more Wuntch and not less, but I’m willing to trust that the writers know what they’re doing at this point.
What Worked “Johnny and Dora” was funny—laugh-out-loud funny at times (Jake’s weird accents when telling Amy how he felt, Terry carrying the whole file cabinet out when he couldn’t steal one file, Rosa’s faux-excited voice). But the jokes aren’t what separates Brooklyn Nine-Nine from other comedies on TV; the relationships between the characters are. And every one of the show’s core relationships was firing on all cylinders in this finale. That led to some great moments of comedy, some surprising moments of romance, and some genuinely lovely scenes of friendship that I never would have expected to see even a year ago.
I was looking at my review of last season’s Brooklyn Nine-Nine finale to prepare for this one, and I was struck by how much my opinion on Boyle and Rosa’s relationship has changed in a year. Last year, I was so worried that they were going to rush putting the two of them together, but this year, I thought their friendship was one of the best parts of the finale. I loved that Boyle’s work helping Marcus plan his very sweet surprise for Rosa never felt like an attempt by Boyle to win Rosa’s heart. It felt like a friend doing something nice for another friend, who just happens to be the girl he used to have a huge crush on. The way Joe Lo Truglio and the writers have managed to show Boyle’s desire to be a good friend to Rosa without making it feel like an insincere attempt to get her to like him romantically has been such a great part of this season, and this finale reflected that wonderful development. Lo Truglio and Stephanie Beatriz work so well together, and their scenes together in this finale—from the discussion of Boyle’s weird attraction to Ms. Pac-Man to “Ro-Ro” hugging him at the end—were some of my favorites.
Lo Truglio was excellent throughout “Johnny and Dora,” both in showing Boyle’s attempts to be a good friend to Rosa and in showing Boyle’s impassioned desire to see Jake and Amy happy together. Sometimes I find the whole This character is a shipper! thing an annoying device to pander to a show’s fandom, but it actually fits Boyle’s character perfectly. He loves love, and he loves Jake. So naturally, seeing Jake finally be with the girl he loves would be heaven for Boyle. One of the funniest moments of the whole finale was Boyle telling Jake and Amy to follow their hearts after Jake told Boyle and Rosa to follow a car. Boyle is basically the human equivalent of Dug from Up, and somehow Lo Truglio makes that endearing instead of annoying.
Speaking of characters who have become endearing instead of annoying, who would have though Jake Peralta could be as downright adorable as he was in this episode? Like Lo Truglio, Braugher, and pretty much all of the other actors on Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Andy Samberg managed to take a character who could have been obnoxious in someone else’s hands and make him a character worth caring about and investing in. And he does that by bringing real sincerity to important moments on the show while still being able to be silly when the situation calls for it.
Samberg’s balance between silly and sincere was used perfectly in the Holt’s final scene in the precinct. I loved that Jake was basically the voice of the audience during Holt’s speech—going from sarcasm to genuine shock to love for his captain. Holt and Jake’s relationship is the most important one on the show (If we’re comparing it to Parks and Recreation, it’s essentially the Ron/Leslie of Brooklyn Nine-Nine.), and I loved that this last scene between them (for now) featured such a great callback to the pilot, with Holt referencing the robot sounds Jake made when he first heard Holt speak. It was a great way to show how far they’ve both come as individual characters and as part of a strong working relationship. The best callbacks are ones that allow you to reflect on how much characters have grown, and this one did exactly that.
Character growth was also at the center of everything that happened with Jake and Amy in this finale. Those two characters have come so far from their “bad date bet” at the beginning of Season One, so the huge step they took at the end of “Johnny and Dora” felt earned. In keeping with the show’s trend of Jake being honest with Amy about his feelings in season finales, this episode featured Jake coming clean to her about wanting to ask her out while still respecting that she doesn’t want to date any more police officers. Ever since last season’s finale, one of my favorite things about Jake as a character has been that he respects Amy (and women in general) enough to be honest with her about how he feels and to never pressure her to return those feelings. Brooklyn Nine-Nine has no patience for pining in silence and expecting the other person to understand; it believes in characters telling each other how they feel while respecting other characters’ rights to feel differently, which is a true breath of fresh air in the media. And Jake is the poster child for that wonderful approach to TV romance.
With Jake’s feelings out in the open once again, things got adorably awkward between him and Amy. This finale used the “fake dating” trope to absolute perfection—giving it a viable reason for being used (going undercover and needing to secure a restaurant table), allowing them to kiss not once but twice to preserve their cover (with things heating up each time), and presenting us with a perfect moment of truth in the middle of the dating deception. I think Jake and Amy’s descriptions of what they like about each other were my favorite parts of this entire finale. Melissa Fumero delivered Amy’s statement that Jake makes her laugh with such simple honesty that what was a moment of humor suddenly became intensely vulnerable. I loved that Amy likes that Jake makes her laugh, and Jake knows she’s the one because he trusts her opinion more than anyone else’s. Those two statements show why they’re so good for each other: Amy needs to laugh more, and Jake needs to be more serious. He lightens her up; she grounds him. And they both picked traits that the other is proud of in themselves. I know the real romantic moment came at the end of the episode, but, to me, this moment was the pinnacle of romance, especially the dawning realization that Amy wants to be with Jake, which Fumero showed so perfectly across her very expressive face.
Jake and Amy’s foray into the world of fake dating provided the perfect buildup to their first real kiss. This finale made perfect use of the dramatic Rule of Three, with their third kiss being the real deal—and what a kiss it was. If you would have told me before this show started that Samberg would be a new celebrity crush for me and a completely convincing romantic lead, I never would have believed it. But as he looked at Amy before he kissed her, I couldn’t imagine another actor selling that moment as well as he did. And the kiss itself was one of my favorite TV kisses of the past year. Fumero and Samberg have always had great comedic chemistry, and the small moments of sincerity between them over the last two seasons pointed toward good romantic potential. But their chemistry in this kiss was more than good; it was great. The pacing of this kiss was so unexpected; it was slower than most TV first kisses, which gave it a sense of emotional depth and confidence that worked nicely. And their faces after they pulled away offered so much hope for the future of this dynamic, making me incredibly excited to see where the next season takes them.
“Johnny and Dora” will be remembered as “The One Where Jake and Amy Kissed.” However, while their relationship was a very strong part of this finale, all of the show’s most entertaining relationships were on display—from Jake and Holt to Gina and Terry. Brooklyn Nine-Nine works so well because there isn’t a weak link among the show’s core character dynamics, and those dynamics were what made this finale so memorable.
Questions to Keep Us Guessing All Summer How long will Holt and Gina be away from the precinct, and what will bring them back? Who’s going to be the new captain? Are Jake and Amy going to move beyond being just police colleagues now that they’ve kissed?
Finale Grade A. This was a standout season finale that reflected all the things I’ve come to love about Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Plus, we got to see Jake and Amy finally kiss. It doesn’t get much better than that.