Brooklyn Nine-Nine aired its Thanksgiving episode this week, which, like the Halloween episode for Season Two, appears to be a week early. Unfortunately, on top of the inexplicable timing, it was also a disappointing follow-up to last week’s especially superb episode, “Jake and Sophia.” While not devoid of laughs by any means, “Lockdown” wastes its promising premise with lukewarm jokes, and a bland outcome.
The main plot of the episode involves Captain Holt placing Peralta on Thanksgiving detail, given Peralta’s contempt for the holiday, as established last year. Peralta is quite happy to be acting head of the precinct, but his leadership skills get called into question after a mysterious package falls out of Boyle’s inventory, and the entire precinct is placed on lockdown. Immediately, Peralta and Santiago disagree on how to handle the situation, with everyone except Holt and Jeffords locked in the precinct (and Hitchcock, who is confined to the balcony), and Peralta wanting to make everyone happy, while Santiago wants to push rules and discipline to keep everyone in the lockdown under control.
You’d think that the jokes would write themselves with this great setup, and there are some good gags strewn here and there. Unfortunately though, everything feels predictable and phoned in when it really shouldn’t. All of the obvious plot beats are checked off, including Peralta inevitably failing to keep everyone content with his ludicrous methods, and Santiago naturally having to be the one to step in and fix it. Boyle is a predictable kiss-up, Diaz is a predictable foil, Gina is a predictable fearmonger, Scully is a predictable moron, etc.. Any issues that arise during the lockdown unfold exactly the way you would expect them to, and that’s rather boring.
Fortunately, the B-plot made up for the less interesting precinct situation a tad, thanks to Terry Crews and Andre Braugher once again delivering a reliable double act as the two authority figures at the Nine-Nine. There was yet another good callback to Season One here, as Terry’s bullying brother-in-law, Zeke is back in town, once again teasing Terry for apparently being the runt of an especially bulky litter. Holt was an amusing delight as always, but Jeffords suffered a bit, since his efforts to fake a hatred of Holt to win the respect of his brother-in-law didn’t feel that funny or true-to-character.
At the very least, Crews and Braugher work excellently together, as they always have. If nothing else, their comedic chemistry kept things afloat, even when the writing let down Jeffords here, though this made it disappointing when the episode didn’t bother to show Holt playing along with the charade at all. That seems like a pretty colossal missed opportunity, especially when the episode as a whole feels like so much wasted potential.
In fact, that really sums up “Lockdown” in a nut shell; A missed opportunity. The final resolution behind Boyle’s mystery package was a fake-out after it was believed to be potentially toxic and definitely not baking powder. The package simply ended up being a mystery concoction by a disgruntled former precinct employee (whom you don’t even see), who sent it to several precincts to instigate a lockdown, and… Annoy them? It seems like a lot of effort for a minimal payoff, especially when the perp was simply arrested off-screen, and the show quickly swept the whole thing under the rug.
It’s frustrating, because there was so much potential behind both plots in this episode, but both of their executions felt disappointingly half-baked. This unfortunately leaves “Lockdown” as a season low point following the season high point so far, and that’s especially unfortunate. Hell, there wasn’t even any real Thanksgiving content in this Thanksgiving episode, even with the effort made regarding Jeffords’ B-plot.
All in all then, not a great early television offering for the occasion.
"Lockdown" had two great ideas for plots, but largely squandered both, making it a pretty considerable let-down as this year's Thanksgiving episode.