The beautiful thing about Brooklyn Nine-Nine is how it's still playing with the pairings, mixing up characters so that they don't get too stale or pigeon-holed. Halloween-lover Boyle is put with Halloween-hater Santiago, Gina and Holt and Peralta make a sort of weird rivalrous team, and most delightfully Crews and Diaz trade barbs and bits of history.
As a problem character, Jake continues to slightly gain ground in "Halloween." He's becoming better at the one-liner joke, even if it is always taken one or two or five steps too far. Case in point--his jokes about Santiago's sex tapes. This first time? Amusing. The more times? Not so much. And his smugness continues to spiral out of control. While it's fun to see him appear to fail in his bet to rob Holt's office, the fact that he succeeds cheapens the my satisfaction in seeing him struggle all episode.
It's also irksome because he's Mr. Gloaty McGloatson in his win, even though he did essentially nothing to steal the medal. Everyone else in the precinct used their skills and smarts to purloin the medal, while Jake just played the impetus, rallying point, and buffoon in the plan. And yet, he leans back, takes credit and acts smarter-than-thou. But he would be NOTHING without everyone else. I cannot stress that enough. And they didn't get involved because he has some charismatic pull or magic trait that draws people to him. No, Jake just underhandedly bribed them. How honorable. Honestly, this episode just proved that he's more of a snake than a good cop. But whatever. Congrats, Peralta.
Far more interesting is Crews working to uncover why Diaz left boarding school. The reason--that she was accepted into the America Ballet Academy--is just plain delightful. The image of tough-as-nails cop Diaz gliding across the stage like a swan is a most welcome and hilarious mental picture. Equally happy is the fact that she was kicked out for beating up all the ballerinas. I adore her, and I adore Crews getting to use his sexy, sexy detective skills. You go, Crews.
But the beating heart in this surprisingly emotional episode is the increasingly endearing Boyle. As someone who could have been played as a one-note idiot cop, Boyle has instead transformed into the sad little puppy dog pet of the precinct. He is sincerity in a bottle, unbridled enthusiasm and undeterred dreamer, a man so true to self that it's impossible to fault him. When his zeal for Halloween is traced to a need for everyone to connect and be losers with him, I couldn't help but 'aw.' Especially when the precinct rolls out their crappy found-materials Halloween costumes and supports his love for the holiday. It's that soft gooey center that makes shows like this work.
Last, but not even close to least, the visual jokes in this episode deserve some special notice. Even though Shur/Goor joints are great with the quick snappy dialogue (and this episode does not disappoint), the sight gags steal the show. In one, Santiago wears an old, never-cleaned department costume, and Boyle offhandedly commented that there's probably vomit on in from last year. Scenes later, while at a club, the blacklight shining on her shoulders reveals the splotchy truth of that statement. But there are ever increasing little shots of humor--like the visual of drunk inmates dressed as Kim Jong Un and Hilary Clinton going at it. Or Holt opening his impenetrable safe and revealing nothing but a sandwich, which was so quick you might miss it but I feel sorry if you did. It's those little details that make this show, despite all the faults, one of the best, if not the best comedy this season.
-This is the second reference to Gina's dance troop, and I seriously hope they make an appearance soon. It's just...pregnant breakdancer....Gina....sigh. Gold.
-Santiago and I have at least one thing in common. I too, want clubs to be full of people who are "kind, sober, and fully dressed." And no, that's not the name of my sex tape either.