A character like Scully (Joel McKinnon) isn’t meant to have much depth. In his scenes, most of the comedy comes at his expense, very much like Jerry on Parks and Recreation. He’s only funny in small doses, like in the cold open of this week’s episode where everyone at the precinct tries to figure out if he’s describing his dog or wife during his visit to a park. A little bit of him can go a long way. Get in, get out.
The same should be said for Gina (Chelsea Peretti), Holt’s assistant at the precinct. Like Scully, she’s not a cop. She’s sort of the very poor man’s April Ludgate (sorry for all the Parks and Rec comparisons). Good for a snarky comment, shows very little care or emotion about anything except glee from others’ misfortunes, has a comically cynical outlook on things. This can be, but mostly hasn’t been, consistently effective on Brooklyn Nine-Nine.
So when Rosa and Amy are tasked with her case after she’s the victim of a break-in, it ends up being a lackluster experience. The scene in Gina’s apartment had some funny moments (she has eight drawers of underwear, a self-made Joseph Gordon Levitt nesting doll, etc.), but it couldn’t make up for how underdeveloped and hard to fit the Gina character has been, especially compared to how the other members of the cast have only become stronger. Holt deduces she’s afraid to be alone in her place after Rosa and Amy (and sleazy Leo Sporm, PI) can’t find the burglar. Their understanding of Gina’s problem, despite how she treated them with her snarky personality and the officer complaint she filed, rang false. I hope the writers can solve this character because I love Chelsea Peretti and she’s really funny in other stuff.
A character like Jake is someone who was way more irritating and was toned down since earlier this debut season, albeit with relapses. The steroid dealer case he, Boyle and the now-off-desk-duty Terry try to crack follows the same “Jake misses up because he’s a selfish dope but everything ends up cool in the end” pattern. I like that Jake’s douchey, ego-driven personality is deeply rooted in his lonely childhood and how we get little pieces of the Peralta puzzle occasionally. Jake’s bumbling while trying to keep Terry out of harm’s way stems from not wanting to see his adorable kids grow up without a dad like he did, although he initially just thought Terry was a little mental because of his anxiety about returning back to action. It sort of justifies him blowing their cover at the gym when he thinks the muscle-bound Jacoby is about to hurt Terry. Like I’ve written before, if Jake’s stupidity is humorous (attempting to get the older guy at the gym off the exercise machine) but comes with consequences (reprimanding and a few gloved punches by Terry in the ring) and lessons learned, it can work. And it has, as of late.