Every time I start to get tired of the Jake and Amy romance, Brooklyn Nine-Nine does something new to make them endearing and believable. This week, despite Captain Holt’s efforts to keep them separated, they out-logic him into letting them team up on a case. Things go wrong – how could they not? – but in unforced and funny ways that make them seem like a realistic couple.
The mattress in the episode title is Jake’s, and the problem is, it’s a terrible mattress. As a result, Amy hasn’t slept, and Melissa Fumero does a great job of expressing the subtle differences between sleep-deprived Amy and normal Amy. Basically, she loses all her superpowers: she’s cranky, and her attention to detail falters. On her best days, Amy is the kind of detective who keeps her snitches in line by sending them handwritten thank-you notes, but now, she’s reduced to bickering with Jake about his refusal to buy a new mattress.
Jake responds with all of his worst qualities on display: he’s dismissive and belittling, not to mention cheap. No matter how hard the two of them try to set aside their simmering fight and work together to catch a drug dealer, the fight insists on being dealt with. As they spy on their suspect from a neighboring hotel room, the comfy bed looms in the background while they argue. When they take the guy down after a chase, they land on a dumpster mattress that Amy accurately points out is just like Jake’s.
The best part is, all of this relationship drama is funny. Brooklyn Nine-Nine sticks to its most reliable comedic tricks, and they work. A joke about whether Orangina counts as orange soda becomes a recurring tangent in the Jake/Amy fight, and it gets funnier each time it turns up. Jake’s penchant for disguise reaches new heights as he poses as one of those “Do you have two minutes to talk about the environment?” guys to achieve invisibility. And a short sequence of Jake and Amy bouncing around a mattress store is pure bliss.
As if to prove that “The Mattress” is all about character development, the subplots build up humanizing backstories for Rosa and Holt. Rosa’s secret generous streak comes out when we learn that she’s mentoring a preteen boy who cheerfully sasses back her insults. When the kid gets caught shoplifting, Terry dredges up Rosa’s own childhood to convince her to go easy on him. This leads to, among other things, getting to watch Rosa do ballet in a leather jacket and combat boots. Terry and Rosa are one of the most mismatched comedy duos in the main cast, but Terry Crews plays up his character’s sweet side, and it ends up working.
The other subplot introduces a new quirk for Captain Holt: a beloved raspberry-colored convertible named Gertie. He enrages Boyle by parking it crooked, and the conflict escalates into a slapsticky yet poignant metaphor involving a cupcake, courtesy of Gina. The episode makes an artful series of connections from poor parking lot etiquette to baked goods, and there’s no way to summarize it without ruining the joke.
This subplot links to the main plot at the end, as Holt reflects on his memories of Gertie while dispensing relationship advice to Jake. As the show has progressed, Jake and Holt have learned to respect each other, but this might be the first time they’ve realized they have something in common that goes beyond the precinct. In an episode full of heartwarming moments, Jake and Holt’s moment of connection might be the most satisfying.
Image courtesy of FOX
Sarah Rasher is, among other things, a freelance writer based in Chicago. You can read her writing at the Friendly Atheist and Graphic Policy as well as on her own blog, Sarah Explains the Finer Sports.