NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” are present in this review
Brooklyn Nine-Nine is attempting something quite interesting and experimental as it moves toward its season finale in a couple of weeks, something that began last week, with, “Paranoia.” The show is adopting a more serialized format for the remainder of Season Three, which is quite uncommon for a syndicated sitcom, involving the precinct trying to apprehend the dangerous crime boss that is targeting Pimento, now in hiding.
The serialized approach is no doubt going to be met with glitches, leading to, “Maximum Security” feeling like a small step down from the many standout episodes that Brooklyn Nine-Nine has offered recently, but fortunately, the reliable charm of this series still manages to make things plenty entertaining. The characters were spread across a main plot and a subplot this week, as Peralta and Boyle adjust Santiago into a new undercover stint, while Captain Holt heads a plan with Jeffords, Gina, Diaz, Scully and Hitchcock, to try and find the mysterious FBI mole that Peralta discovered during the previous episode.
At first, it’s Diaz that is presented with the opportunity to go undercover, specifically within a womens’ prison to get information from an inmate that happens to be the sister of the crime boss that the precinct is trying to apprehend. This makes sense, and it’s quite funny when Diaz takes it as a big complement when Captain Holt tells her how scary she is. Unfortunately though, this doesn’t pan out, when Diaz takes one step into the prison, and is immediately identified as a cop by the target, since she recalls Diaz arresting her in Brooklyn. Well, that’s unfortunate.
This forces the precinct to revisit their initial volunteer for the assignment, Santiago, who is initially laughed off by the rest of the detectives, and even Holt. Santiago takes up Diaz’s cover story, complete with fake pregnancy, while Peralta and Boyle supervise the operation. This is well and good on paper, though it does beg the question of why the precinct didn’t even try to change the cover story that they originally invented for Diaz. The cops talk a lot about suspicion during the operation, but it’s seriously not suspicious that two separate pregnant Hispanic women were mysteriously transferred to the prison within days of each other, with the other disappearing as soon as she was pegged as a cop? Even for the standards of Brooklyn Nine-Nine, this is pretty sloppy police work, and it doesn’t really make sense.
At least it lends itself to a pretty decent Peralta/Santiago plot though, even if Boyle is merely left to delusionally act like Peralta and Santiago have a real baby together, and not do much else this week. Peralta, disguised as a prison gynecologist, constantly intervenes in Santiago’s affairs within the prison, much to Santiago’s chagrin, and eventually, she just comes out and tells him that he’s wrecking the operation. At first, this appears to be blatantly correct, though Peralta surprisingly responds by just owning up to it, and claiming that he has a hard time seeing Santiago in danger, since he loves her. The two have a brief moment of reflection when they’re reminded that they’re two cops that are in a relationship, and while the moment isn’t lingered on long, it’s a cool moment of self-awareness for both characters that feels genuine.
It’s also good that this eventually leads to a happy ending, as Peralta finds a way to take himself off of the operation, and leave Boyle in charge. How does he do this? By letting Santiago appear to beat him up in front of all of the inmates, thus netting her the respect of the target, and immediately putting her on the contraband racket. This is fair enough, though it is a bit of a contrived solution. Wouldn’t the inmates easily be able to tell that Santiago isn’t actually beating Peralta? How come she didn’t get sent to solitary or anything? How come people respect her so much for beating up a doctor? I could understand a guard, but surely, even prison inmates understand that doctors are generally people that they don’t want to hurt. Again, even for the standards of Brooklyn Nine-Nine, this raises a lot of questions.
As for the subplot, it was a little more consistently credible, even if the goofy plan of having to get high-fives from the attendees to look for a hand scar was kind of odd. At least it was funny though, as Gina and Holt have to awkwardly find excuses to high-five people, and Holt later admits that he’s grown quite accustomed to the practice afterward, and then constantly wants to do it. The storyline also lent itself well to the conflict that Diaz currently faces, as Pimento disappeared shortly after their impromptu engagement, and she refuses to show any emotion about it, even when Jeffords tells her that they need to sell the fake funeral, which should be easy, after Diaz actually lost her real fiance.
Diaz having to confront her feelings about the loss of Pimento made for one of the better storylines this week, especially since you’d think that it would be easy for Diaz to express sadness and grief to sell the operation. Her fake eulogy ended up being genuinely touching though, even if it was later followed by Diaz threatening to snap the neck of the next person who hugs her. Despite that, this moment was effectively sad, and helped to create some stakes for the loss of Pimento. This is especially true when the detectives think they’ve found their man, only to discover that he’s actually a pickpocket. It’s a legitimate surprise that Holt’s fake funeral plan ended up failing, but we still have two episodes to have the precinct turn things around.
“Maximum Security” feels like the obligatory setup for the big finale to come later, but it had enough jokes and good moments to satisfy, especially with the surprising moments of emotional sobriety between Peralta, Santiago and Diaz. With Santiago in deep and Holt now having to ponder another move, the precinct seems to be facing one of their most dangerous threats yet, though hopefully, they come out the other end as their jovial old selves, and maybe Pimento will become a staple for the confirmed Season Four to boot!
- Peralta struggling with undercover Santiago
- Fake Pimento funeral
- Diaz facing her emotions with Pimento's disappearance
- Undercover prison plan is pretty wonky
- Solution to Peralta's interventions is contrived
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