I like The Vulture. Even though I think he exists only to make Jake look less like a jerk, Dean Winters’ performance is funnier without trying as hard and actually more likeable.
Jake has always been child-like. He kicks his toys around but freaks when he thinks they’re about to be taken away, as he did when he feared for Terry and Holt’s safety at earlier points this season. He’s initially hurt and immaturely lashes out at Amy when he finds out she’s considering a job working with The Vulture. Signs are pointing to Amy and Jake being a couple down the road. His show of vulnerability by telling her how he appreciates her moves that inevitability along. Even as he tries to take his statement back, as only Jake Peralta could.
The case the two work on, involving a string of hotel thefts, at least let’s us see what a different pairing the two have turned in to. Earlier in the season, Amy was just a wet blanket and source of fun boy Jake’s amusement. Now, the character is more fleshed out and has some layers where you understand some of her OCD quirks, her need to please Holt, and why she’d even consider a job out of the 99. The playful insults and competition between Jake and Amy is sharper too. Jake doesn’t come off as big of a bully like he did earlier.
It was a nice change of pace to see Holt be the one who needs to be roped down, when he goes out of control with office efficiency after Terry suggests a strategy to run the office better. Who knew Holt was such a big Moneyball fan? Or that Boyle has literal thin skin?
Because it’s the Super Bowl episode, we’re treating to a few funny cameos. This starts with the return of Patton Oswalt’s fire marshall character for a police versus fire department flag football game (having Terry on the police’s squad is a big advantage), and then some amusing appearances from Adam Sandler (at least after he wore out his welcome) and Joe Theismann’s other broken leg at an auction.
The world of Brooklyn Nine-Nine is certainly more cartoony than any cop show. I doubt anyone will be killed on-duty and if they are, it’ll be for comic effect. So when Jake and crew need to get a confession from a murder suspect before The Vulture can “vulture” the case, it’s subversive when, to stall for time, Scully sets off tear gas in the precinct or when Jake slaps palms with the alleged killer, who then casually mentions an additional murder.
It’s too early in the show’s run for the Amy and Jake relationship to be the main focus, and thankfully things revolve more around the entire ensemble. Cheers is the template that Brooklyn Nine-Nine co-creator Michael Schur uses for this, as well as Parks and Recreation. It certainly feels like there are several toys for the writers to play with other than the two Sam and Diane dolls.