NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of Brooklyn Nine-Nine are present in this review
After all of the excitement of Halloween, new relationships and workplace paradigms being challenged and then restored, Brooklyn Nine-Nine once again settled into a familiar groove after its hiatus last week, with “Into the Woods.” The episode primarily centered around Jeffords, Diaz and Santiago, who were all given three plots of varying quality to sustain what ultimately ended up being a decent, but forgettable episode, despite one development being a big one.
The main plot of “Into the Woods” is the Jeffords plot, which kicks off when Jeffords gets uptight about Peralta needlessly breaking a window before his latest bust. After Jeffords’ wife and Captain Holt agree with Peralta (off-screen) that Jeffords is overly stressed and needs to calm down, Peralta and Boyle arrange a getaway at a secluded cabin in the woods, owned by Matt Walsh’s Detective Lohank. Hey, remember him from “The Apartment” in Season One? This was kind of a cool callback, though Lohank didn’t get much screentime in the end, and his one-note joke of being a sad sack with a cheating wife and prostate cancer felt like a low-hanging fruit, and got old pretty quickly.
The rest of this plot had some mildly entertaining jokes, particularly when Peralta naturally can’t be trusted to pack properly. With no supplies, Boyle is left to forage for food, and ends up stuck in a sinkhole, because apparently sinkhole season has been going on for twenty years in this place. When Jeffords insists that he and Peralta seek out Boyle however, Peralta’s cellphone dies, and everyone ends up in the sinkhole after a botched rescue attempt.
Sadly, the end result of this plot felt a bit contrived, namely due to the fact that Peralta was portrayed as being unrealistically incompetent (he’s immature, but certainly not helpless), and Jeffords slipping and falling into the pit didn’t make sense, especially given his size. The rest of this plot then degraded into spooning jokes, Peralta salvaging the situation with an improvised clothing rope after Jeffords reprimands him for constantly forcing others to clean up his messes, and Jeffords finally admitting that he enjoyed the getaway, despite it being a disaster. The episode then rounds off with the three men setting off the three coolers’ worth of fireworks that Peralta bought for the cabin. This was an alright ending, but it didn’t salvage a plot that seemed to run out of comedic momentum very quickly, sadly.
The next plot centered on Santiago, who revisited a childhood invention of a shoulder-mounted light, but realized that she’s too boring to present it well to the NYPD’s providers, so she asks Gina for help. Gina continues to be one of the funniest characters on this show, and it was her that largely sustained this plot. Santiago’s usual schtick of being aggressively uncool felt a little more tired than usual this week, though Chelsea Peretti managed to hold up the entire storyline to a satisfactory degree, thanks to Gina’s innate, diva-esque charm. The plot even had a bit of a sweet conclusion, where the NYPD doesn’t end up going for the product, but Gina nonetheless gives it to a Santiago-like girl in her building, who wants to use it to break the record for speed-reading. Gina then says that, even if it’s not what she wanted, Santiago still made a difference to someone. The story may have failed to register for the most part, and, like the main Jeffords plot, it came off as middling filler material too often, but at least this conclusion was a satisfying one.
The Diaz plot was arguably the best of the three this week, and definitely had the biggest development. Diaz decides that she has to break up with Marcus, and Holt, out of concern for his nephew, tries to make sure that Diaz lets him down easy. This is where the episode’s best jokes came from, and Diaz and Holt continue to be an especially great pairing, even when a big catalyst for bringing them together is about to be removed from the show’s dynamic.
The actual break-up with Marcus was disappointingly mostly done off-screen, beyond a hilarious flashback sequence of Diaz trying to climb out of a window when Marcus got emotional, and getting caught, but this was forgivable, when we see that Diaz, despite everything, gets emotionally affected by having to dump Marcus. After bursting into tears in front of Holt, and punching Scully in the stomach when he asks why she’s crying (which may well offer the biggest laugh in the episode), Holt decides that he needs to apologize for meddling the following day, even if it was something regarding a family member.
This led to easily the episode’s best scene, which was actually surprisingly emotional for Brooklyn Nine-Nine standards, especially for a character like Diaz. Diaz confesses to Holt that the reason she was crying is because Marcus wanted to get married, and if Diaz isn’t ready to marry even a great guy like Marcus, she may never be ready, and that saddens her. Even a man as smart as Holt doesn’t have the answer for Diaz, which made this scene all the more powerful for Diaz’s character. Fortunately, it didn’t get, “Too real” in the end, so to speak, since Holt also bursts into tears around this time, and Diaz and Holt both thank each other for acknowledging their feelings, and claim that they’re good at emotions after all. This was very amusing, and it’s nice to see both Diaz and Holt get humanized every once in a while, especially since the plight of Diaz is something that many people can no doubt relate to in the modern world.
Unfortunately, despite one standout storyline, most of this episode felt like a bit of a filler offering, and never really elevated itself above being merely acceptable. The jokes ranged from weak to good overall, with only one or two true laugh-out-loud moments, but after an especially good pair of offerings with “The Oolong Slayer” and “Halloween III” over the past few weeks, it felt like the show had to recharge a bit with “Into the Woods.” At least Jeffords also got a chance to unwind out of the deal though, even if it was Diaz that ultimately stole the show this week.
Even after a week's hiatus, Brooklyn Nine-Nine seemed to take a breather with the acceptable, but unremarkable "Into the Woods", an unmemorable episode with middling humour for the most part, despite one standout storyline for Diaz and Holt.