Brooklyn Nine-Nine 2.1: “Undercover” Review

NOTE: Full spoilers for the first season finale and second season premiere of Brooklyn Nine-Nine are present in this review.


After six months undercover, Peralta has returned to the Nine-Nine! Immediately, the second season of NBC’s sophomore police office sitcom gets off to a strong start as well, thanks to the crew’s reliably loveable antics, as well as an amusing aftermath to Boyle and Gina waking up in bed together.

The premiere episode begins with a peek into the kind of life Peralta has been leading after going undercover with the mob at the conclusion of Season One. Now sporting an earring and a ridiculous hairdo, one has to wonder how Peralta isn’t immediately found out thanks to how much he sticks out like a sore thumb, but hey, he’s willing to kiss the elders, so why not! Don’t ask.

Anyhow, once Peralta returns to the precinct, the primary plot of the episode involves him having to deal with one of his mafia perps getting away. Naturally, Boyle teams up with him in the endeavour, leaving him little time to actually address his romp in the hay with Gina, beyond announcing that he doesn’t want to be thought of as a loose cop. Boyle’s jealousy toward Peralta’s mostly unknown mafia handler was particularly funny though, especially when he provides backup to get Peralta out of a jam, only to immediately ask, “What do you know about a guy named Derek?!” It was great stuff.

Thankfully, Chelsea Peretti kept the Boyle/Gina development afloat nicely, despite Boyle being out of the office, with Gina resigning herself to the supposed downgrade in her reputation to hilarious effect. Some of the highlight scenes in the premiere involve her re-designating her spirit animal (and the shirt it comes on!), as well as attempting to eat lunch with Scully and Hitchcock, who are their usual dopey and vaguely creepy selves.

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As funny as those things were though, the episode’s big laugh came at the end, when Gina and Boyle decide that sleeping together was a mistake, and share a drink as friends… Only to end up in bed again right as the episode concludes. Does this mean that Boyle has officially moved on from Diaz? One thing’s for sure, it would be interesting to see an expansion of Gina being more bothered with this behaviour than Boyle in the end, particularly considering the overall pathetic level of worship that Boyle displayed towards Diaz throughout Season One.

The remaining characters were relegated to the premiere’s B-plot, though thankfully, it was still a very good one. Since a new police commissioner is being appointed, Captain Holt wants the precinct to be prepared for literally anything. Because of this, he’s having Jeffords wear a hand-written sign denoting him as a confused old lady, or a bratty seven-year-old, or any other ridiculous suggestion that Holt could come up with, complete with scripts. Naturally, Andre Braugher was quite amusing with his perpetual stoic demeanour as well, answering Jeffords questioning a highbrow line in his script by saying that he took it verbatim from his seven-year-old diary. As usual, Holt’s mysteries are as confusing as they are hysterical.

This all culminates in a pretty funny sequence that involves a bouncy castle, and as funny as the perfectionist kiss-ass, Santiago and unapologetically tough and impatient Diaz were to see paired up with each other again, it was Terry Crews that got the biggest chuckles here. Watching Jeffords have to literally get into character as a child or a senior citizen was fantastic, and it came off of another effective joke, where Boyle announces that only three things happened while Peralta was away, one of which was Jeffords getting a lisp at one point.

Interestingly, despite the episode supposedly being all about Peralta’s return to the Nine-Nine, it felt like it was all of the other characters actually doing the more interesting things. That’s not to say that Andy Samberg wasn’t funny in this premiere, but he felt overshadowed by all of the things that happened in the wake of his temporarily leaving the precinct. The closest thing that Peralta had to character development, beyond simply chasing around the one that got away, was trying to deal with his outed feelings for Santiago, especially after she tells him that she’s still with Ted. At the very least though, the running sex tape gag was left intact in the end. The show wouldn’t be the same without it!

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It’s probable that this Peralta/Santiago love story will come up again soon, and I wouldn’t be surprised at all if the two were a couple by the end of this season. It’s extraordinarily doubtful that Ted is there to stay, and given how much buildup this relationship is getting, the show won’t be keen to just forget about it. For now, it’s nice that the show didn’t just immediately have Peralta and Santiago run into each other’s arms, since that would be anti-climatic, but it’s also tough to deny that, for now, a devil-may-care character like Peralta pining for the partner that he’s always made of since the start of the show is more tiresome than it is entertaining.

If the two do end up being a couple sooner rather than later, I hope it doesn’t come at the expense of their personalities and running gags together. Peralta and Santiago were just fine as rivals in Season One, and a forced love story could potentially make the characters more boring to watch together, since, well, that’s most of all it’s done so far.

All things considered though, this was a sharp second season premiere for Brooklyn Nine-Nine, with plenty of laughs and several promising teases for episodes to come. Great to have the precinct back!

"Undercover" started Brooklyn Nine-Nine's second season on a strong note, with an amusing aftermath to Gina and Boyle having sex, and some spectacularly inappropriate police drills.
Gina/Boyle aftermath
Holt's ridiculous drills
Boyle's "Derek" jealousy
Peralta/Santiago romance remains tedious