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“Brooklyn Nine-Nine” review: “Sal’s Pizza”

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“Stop hitting them. Kicking will hurt more.” – Peralta

I can tolerate this Jake Peralta a little more.

He’s still a child at times, but now he’s a little more restrained and his motives for why he does the absurd things he does gives the character some foundation and relatability. Like Parks and Recreation‘s Leslie Knope, who lives and breathes Pawnee and wants to be a great role model and politician, Peralta always wants to solve the case and get everything right, as he does in the most enjoyable episode of Brooklyn Nine-Nine I’ve seen so far.

He finds it hard to believe that Sal, owner of Peralta’s beloved Sal’s Pizza, would burn his own place down and sets out to find who’s really responsible. Problem is, it’s not his jurisdiction and he has to deal with the rival asshats at the fire department and its pudgy fire marshall (Patton Oswalt). Maybe having a character who can get under Peralta’s skin by having him face adversity and be less of a wiseass is what this character needs to match the likability of everyone else in the ensemble. Peralta brings Boyle along to investigate, and I like these two together. It puts Andy Samberg in the straight-man position to play off Joe Lo Trugilo’s dweeby, oddball, pizza review-writing Boyle. He’s a character perfectly fine with his weirdness and/or Peralta’s repulsion to it.

Peralta’s meddling in the arson case eventually leads to a hilarious brawl between cops and firefighters outside the crime scene. This causes him to reveal that Sal’s Pizza was the place his dad took him to after little league games not long before he left, driving Oswalt’s fire marshall to tears and awkward daddy issue-y hugs. If you can get a guy like Patton Oswalt for every episode, it covers up the other problems.

The episode’s two other plots come about after a hacker’s virus prints out everyone’s search history for all to see and mock (only on TV does this happen). It was the best use of Gina (Chelsea Peretti), who’s often been in and out in these initial episodes of the show. You can still see the writers tinkering and testing which parts fit where, even nearly ten episodes in. She’s paired up with Terry Crews for most of this one, and it’s the funniest she’s been in the series during an interrogation; personally, my favorite Jay-Z song is “Hard Knock Life,” but that’s because I liked Annie. Gina, not being part of law enforcement, takes this opportunity seriously. Still have to wonder if anything she said/did is illegal since she’s just an office worker (I need to stop thinking about these things).

We learn from the search history printouts that Diaz was offered a captain position in another┬áprecinct, but in a boring town. She drives Santiago out there to see if she’s interested. Nice bonding time between the softer Santiago and harder Diaz, and another chance to see Diaz break something, even if she paid for it.

What did you think?