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It’s the circle of life, in Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s “Ding Dong”


Graphic: John P. Fleenor (NBC)

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So far as turning factors in sitcoms go, Brooklyn 9-9’s “Ding Dong”—as in, “the Wuntch is lifeless”—supplies one hell of a turning level. Not solely does it see the premature loss of life of Holt’s arch-nemesis Madeline Wuntch, nevertheless it ends with Jake and Amy studying that they’re going to have a child. It’s the circle of life, in an episode of tv titled “Ding Dong.” To cite 30 Rock, “Moms and dads and jugglers and judges / Now we’re joined in a cobweb of rainbows.”

With each Wuntch’s loss of life and the Jake/Amy child information, “Ding Dong” is designed to be a memorable episode. It’s one which excels in its A-plot and the eventual Jake/Amy reveal (for essentially the most half)… however doesn’t essentially do the identical exterior of that. The much less memorable (and considerably stalling) B-plot—the Jake/Boyle/Terry Kwazy Cupcakes film premiere plot—is an efficient story thought, however in follow, it each strains believability (by way of lasting so long as it does) and blatantly ignores the work this season has been doing to inform a really particular story.

With the previous, what it actually boils all the way down to is the truth that the battle is actually skinny. Certain, there isn’t any plot right here if Jake simply provides the tickets to his finest pal and his son, however that may a minimum of make extra sense. So would Jake—who we all know is hoping to develop into a father—providing to take all three children (Nikolaj, Cagney, and Lacey) to the premiere within the first place, as a parenting check drive of kinds. Even accepting the plot as its introduced, whereas it is sensible for Boyle and Terry to show this into a contest—because the 9-9 turns every thing into a contest—the truth that Jake isn’t on board with that in any respect begs the query of what he actually anticipated right here. Finally, it’s wonderful, as a result of the plot is humorous and Joe Lo Truglio and Terry Crews maintain the vitality excessive all through. Plus, it’s definitely totally different to observe full straight man Jake right here, which is basically what Andy Samberg has to work with as soon as the competitors will get going.

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However the place this plot misses the mark, particularly contemplating the place we’re on this season’s story, is the way it casually has Boyle and Terry be merciless about the truth that Jake’s not a mother or father… and the way it by no means acknowledges that side of the plot in any respect. At this level, everybody is aware of Jake and Amy have been making an attempt to have a child for months. As their shut mates, Boyle and Terry additionally understand how exhausting it’s been, even when they’re not as conscious because the viewers is after “Trying.” While Jake makes a good “parenting” decision with his final choice in the face of Boyle and Terry’s immaturity, all that gets him is the two of them celebrating the fact that “people without kids are so stupid.” That plot-ending moment of Boyle and Terry basically calling Jake an in-over-his-head sucker for deciding to be their free babysitter (an idea Boyle and Terry should’ve jumped at immediately) behind his back is harsh, but it’s not even as harsh as them telling him to his face that he doesn’t understand why they’re doing this because he’s not a father. Somehow, “Ding Dong” doesn’t address this at all, despite the previous episode pointing out just how much Jake and Amy are struggling over the fact they’re not yet soon-to-be parents. In fact, after that “You don’t understand!” “You don’t have kids!” moment, the episode immediately cuts back to the A-plot, not even showing Jake’s reaction to his friends’ insensitive comment. It certainly serves as a reminder that Boyle and Terry’s characters are the kinds of parents that people without kids—whether they want kids or not—can’t stand. It would be one thing if it led to a realization for Jake on that front, but while the A-plot has an emotional shift and realization, that never actually comes for the B-plot.

It’s understandable if Brooklyn Nine-Nine doesn’t want to get too serious, as it’s an upbeat show and this episode is already dealing with a character death—but it can’t have it both ways. Brooklyn Nine-Nine has played the Jake/Amy/baby plot as grounded as it possibly can, until now, when it just ignores the obvious moments that should be an issue for Jake throughout. The penultimate scene returning to that grounded approach—as the actual final scene is Boyle’s waking realization that they’re pregnant—doesn’t erase this plot turning the fact that Jake is childless into a complete joke, especially since the audience knows for a fact how much he’s not laughing about this. It’s not like Brooklyn Nine-Nine doesn’t do comedic insults and walk them back as soon as they can—they literally do that with a hormonal Amy toward Holt in this episode—so it makes even less sense that Boyle and Terry never apologize for the things they say to and about Jake here.

Again, the plot is funny, even though it’s easy to poke holes in the general concept. (And it wouldn’t even have the larger issue if it just didn’t have those lines about Jake not being a parent.) Not only does Brooklyn Nine-Nine bring back Kwazy Cupcakes and its extremely natural progression—right down to it having a 38% on Rotten Tomatoes—into a feature film, it also throws in a mention of Mikey, Jake’s high school ska bandmate, to provide solid set-up for the movie premiere aspect of the plot. In fact, this episode loves its callbacks, from all things Holt/Wuntch rivalry to Wario always cheating to The Durrells In Corfu. And while Jake may not be all-in on the Boyle/Terry rivalry, moments like their bribe-off (with Terry’s endless supply of silver dollars) and the surprise that is Boyle’s grandmother’s “strawberry basket” boxing technique are glowing examples of Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s particular brand comedic charm. As is Jake’s initial, failed Bible plan. (“Stupid Bible and its stupid lessons. Never solved crap!”)

Of course, “Ding Dong” will be remembered most as the episode where Jake and Amy learn they’re finally having a baby. It’s been an inevitability for this storyline, even with the hiccups leading up to it. At the same time, them getting pregnant immediately after coming to terms with the difficulty of getting pregnant feels like a cheat, one that betrays how emotionally raw last week’s episode ended up being. After acknowledging just how hard things would be for them, that it stops being hard a week later feels like a cop-out (no lame pun intended). Maybe if there had been a break between the two episodes, that could’ve at least made things better in the short term—in future bingeing, it could come across as even more rushed—or even if there was at least one episode to pad between “Trying” and “Ding Dong.” Obviously, there was a four-month passage of time in the previous episode, so it has been a while, but it hasn’t been a while since they really talked about how hard they’ve been struggling.

Then again, maybe the Brooklyn Nine-Nine writers and Melissa Fumero were tired of hiding how pregnant Fumero was throughout all of this and decided to strike while the iron was hot. Or at least once they figured they’d peaked in this episode—with Amy in the choir robe, channeling her inner Sister Act—in terms of “hiding” Fumero’s actual pregnancy.

Not only does the Wuntch-based A-plot provide even more ice cold zingers from Holt, it tells a pretty compelling story about processing grief, without being too obvious. Holt humorously—and appropriately, given his relationship with Wuntch—goes through the five stages of grief in this episode:

  • Denial, with his disbelief that Wuntch is actually dead
  • Anger, over the fact that she managed to mess with him in her death by forcing him to host and organize her memorial service
  • Bargaining, in his compromise with Amy and Rosa when it comes to writing a nice speech about Wuntch
  • Depression, over the fact that Wuntch had a different “one true nemesis,” in the form of Adam (Michael McDonald)
  • Acceptance, that Wuntch is actually gone and that she was an important part of his life

Amy also goes through some specific very stages in the aftermath of Wuntch’s death, (seemingly) due to the hormone treatment she’s under:

  • Sad Amy
  • Angry Amy
  • Sweaty Amy

As you’ll see in the stray observations below, even in death, Wuntch’s existence leads to most of the best lines of the episode. A Wuntch-driven Holt is always the highest level of Petty Holt, which is, of course, the best version of Holt. So, to end the Holt/Wuntch feud in actual death is surprising, even if I’m honestly not sure if it’s a “good” decision in the long run. (Considering this and the baby stuff, it wouldn’t surprise me to learn that Dan Goor and the Brooklyn Nine-Nine writers wrote this season with the assumption that it would be its last season. It won’t.) Whereas this ultimate—assuming she doesn’t have any extra incoming movies—Wuntch look doesn’t have her and Holt sparring face-to-face, Kyra Sedgwick remains to be in a position to pull off one final biting efficiency as this character. Their backwards and forwards will likely be missed, however “Ding Dong” does ship off the character—and have Holt ship her off—in essentially the most acceptable approach attainable.

This can be a actually fast-paced, joke-heavy plot, one that might simply collapse in relation to the emotional and storytelling beats. But it surely doesn’t. Andre Braugher deserves loads of credit score for his efficiency and his uncanny to play and navigate so many beats as such a deadpan character, however Jess Dweck’s script additionally deserves credit score for the way tight it’s in relation to this plot. The mix of the levels of grief, the affair metaphor of “the opposite rival,” and Wuntch’s ultimate grasp plan might make it so one side of the plot isn’t given sufficient time or focus, however as an alternative, there may be stability right here.

In addition to all of Holt’s Wuntch-related zingers, the spotlight of this plot is simply how a lot Rosa enjoys and allows Holt’s habits right here, turning her right into a grasp zinger in her personal proper. I swear, Rosa experiences a number of moments of true happiness throughout this episode, all on the expense of a lifeless lady. And whereas Amy is essentially the most rational one of many trio on this episode, “Ding Dong” doesn’t simply make her a stick within the mud and permits her to supply some levity on this morbid plot together with her very moist hormonal points. As this episode is the sequence’ farewell to Wuntch, it is sensible that it pulls out all of the stops in relation to Holt’s numerous insults for the girl/witch/goat/succubus/human blister/zombie/Korean bathroom ghost who embarrassed him in entrance of Derek Jeter. It simply received’t really feel the identical when Holt insults another person—somebody he’s not “star-crossed haters” with—sooner or later.

Screenshot: NBC

Stray Observations

  • Holt: “No approach that’s true. As Wuntch says when she sees deodorant, ‘I’m not shopping for it’.”Rosa: “Ha ha!”Terry: “Sir, she’s lifeless.”Holt: “Oh, Terry. Zombies can’t die. That is some type of rip-off. If she had been lifeless, we might be listening to the sounds of youngsters, singing within the streets.”
  • One other callback: Boyle brings up how Holt didn’t imagine them after they stated the Disco Strangler was lifeless both. In fact, Holt was proper, which convinces Boyle that possibly Wuntch is alive too.
  • Terry: “Why would Wuntch faux her personal loss of life?”Holt: “The identical motive she visits Mexico every year and sucks the blood from all of the goats: for kicks.”
  • Jake: “Hi there, gents. Guess who’s strolling the crimson carpet this Saturday?”Boyle: “Chord Overstreet.”Jake: “Who?”Boyle: “Sam Evans from Glee.”Jake: “No, me. Why would you guess that? I used to be clearly speaking about me.”Boyle: “Okay, however for the file, I guess that Chord Overstreet will even be strolling one.”Jake: “Cease speaking about Chord Overstreet.” Boyle’s proper although.
  • Why don’t Cagney and Lacey have any mates in any respect?
  • Holt: “BAGEL!”
  • Crying Amy: “Oh my god! I simply heard about Wuntch! She was so younger!”Holt: “For a redwood tree. I don’t perceive what’s happening—why are you crying?”Crying Amy: “An individual is lifeless. I really feel unhappy.”Holt: “That’s insane. You don’t really feel unhappy when a monster dies in a monster film. In E.T., did you’re feeling unhappy when E.T. dies?”Crying Amy: “Sure!”Rosa: “He wasn’t a monster.”Holt: “He prompted an actual commotion.” Rosa’s response to that may be a look that claims “truthful level.”
  • Crying Amy: “I want I had taken the LSATS. To not be a lawyer, simply… looks like a enjoyable check.”Rosa: “Dude, you’re bumming us out.”
  • Holt: “Brace yourselves. If it exhibits Madeline, make certain to not look straight into her eyes.”Rosa: “As a result of we’ll flip to stone?”Holt: “No. As a result of her eyes are ugly.”
  • Wuntch’s Ghost: “Stunned to see me?”Holt: “Properly, I didn’t say ‘Bloody Mary’ thrice, so, sure.”Amy: “When did she file this?”Rosa: “Judging by the flames round her, it might be a reside stream.”Holt: “Hehe. Superb, Rosa. Hehehehe.”
  • Holt: “As God stated, when Wuntch tried to sneak previous the gates into Heaven, ‘It ain’t occurring, honey.’”Rosa: “Hahahahaha!”
  • Boyle: “Simply so you recognize, I might by no means bend your cash.”Jake: “Yeah, ‘trigger you may’t.”Boyle: “Appropriate, I can not.”Jake: “Nobody can. How did he do this?”
  • The reveal of Holt’s authentic, cheesy memorial service aesthetic for Wuntch (“SHE’S DEAD!”) is a really lovely second. Sort of just like the hamster/creepy doll reveal in final week’s episode.
  • Holt: “That man is mendacity. I don’t imagine Wuntch had one other rival. I noticed it in her eyes: She solely had hate for me.” It’s not crucial to do the “affair reveal on the wedding ceremony” story on this episode, however the way in which this episode approaches it—with Adam as “the opposite rival”—works.
  • Amy’s gasp at Adam calling Wuntch a “lifeless moron”—it is a good episode for each Fumero and Samberg to react to the madness, with out being out of it utterly, in her case.
  • Holt: “Wow. For a second there, I virtually forgot who the true villain was: the girl who lately died.”
  • In keeping with the Kwazy Cupcakes poster—which I want to personal—the film is “Koming Quickly.” Ah, they’ve enjoyable.
  • Jake: “Charles, it’s been very good being your pal. Terry, I’ll go to you in jail.”
  • Holt: “Diaz, delete all of the movies.”Rosa (after stomping on the one video): “Deleted.”
  • However how did Wuntch die? And the way did she resist framing Holt for her homicide?
  • With Wuntch’s loss of life, Holt’s promotion again to Captain is “within the works.” I really feel like that’s an odd approach to mainly say your complete NYPD was complicit in letting Wuntch’s private vendetta maintain Holt down, however alright. With the time bounce in “Attempting,” it was clear Holt’s time as a uniformed officer wouldn’t be for much longer, however the alternate on this episode means that he’ll be Captain once more just because Wuntch isn’t round to cease him.
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