NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of, “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” are present in this review
Brooklyn Nine-Nine aired this season’s Christmas episode this week, though compared to the past several standout episodes, this offering did seem to hit a small speed bump. “Captain Latvia” was still an entertaining episode with enough laughs to get by, though its storylines felt a little unremarkable, especially with a subplot that doesn’t manage to get full mileage out of the show’s cast.
The core plot of the episode involves Peralta and Boyle teaming up to try and find an elusive toy for Nikolaj. The toy, a Latvian superhero named Captain Latvia, was ordered by Boyle a month ago, though became lost in the mail. After some investigating, the two learn that the Latvian mob has seized the package, which somehow ended up lost in their shipment of illegal arms dealing. It’s pretty far-fetched, but then again, this is Brooklyn Nine-Nine, so maybe the shoe fits.
Fundamentally, this sounds like an appropriately ridiculous plot for a Boyle/Peralta team-up, even if the idea of seeking out an elusive toy for a child for Christmas is certainly not a new one. What was best about this storyline however was the fact that it let Boyle take charge for a change, leaving Peralta to provide startled reactions to how much Boyle has become empowered in having to help his son. Boyle being strong, smart, and even sexy when the situation calls for it, creates a lot of laughs by itself, since we’re so used to Boyle being a weakling that inexplicably idolizes Peralta. Having him upstage Peralta just made the humour stronger here.
Issues only come up during the somewhat hasty resolution of this storyline, which has Peralta knocking out Boyle and convincing him to go home to his son, after the toy’s handlers are found, and Boyle wants to risk his life to get the missing toy back. Peralta successfully arrests the gun traffickers, fortunately, and even gives Boyle the replacement gift of a policeman doll to give to Nikolaj, since Captain Latvia was melted in an attempted destruction of evidence. The idea is to illustrate that Boyle is the greatest gift that his son could ask for, though the way that this idea was conveyed was kind of clumsy and rushed, especially since we’ve seen very little of Nikolaj on the series at this point. We still don’t know enough about Boyle’s connection with his adopted son, and that made an attempt at emotional investment with Nikolaj fall pretty flat here.
The subplot of this episode involves virtually everyone else at the precinct trying to take on the MTA in a caroling competition, despite the Nine-Nine being beaten every year. Gina ends up bowing out of the competition early, and the lack of Gina in this episode hurt the subplot pretty fast, since this sort of singing contest is really up her alley. Maybe it’s a way to justify the squad’s disadvantage against the MTA, but isn’t Scully supposed to be a good singer, according to prior episodes? Even by the crazy standards of Brooklyn Nine-Nine, this storyline felt rather laboured, even if it did have its funny moments.
The story hook comes from the detectives deciding to hire a criminal who was arrested for public intoxication, and worse still, can only sing when he’s drunk. This is a potentially funny idea, though not much is ultimately done with it, especially with the main Boyle/Peralta storyline dominating most of the episode. When Santiago finally decides to get the criminal drunk, he ends up cursing out the audience and making the Nine-Nine lose even harder, which is a funny bit of karma that the show unfortunately doesn’t commit to. Instead, this gives way to another schmaltzy, forced Christmas theme of the importance of friends and family. Normally, Brooklyn Nine-Nine has more imagination than this.
“Captain Latvia” did its job as a serviceable Christmas episode for Brooklyn Nine-Nine this week, though it was definitely a stumble compared to most of the superb episodes that have comprised this season’s front half. Boyle’s more dominant side provided most of the comedic mileage in this offering, though this episode did highlight one of the few weak points that Season Four has been suffering, namely that we’ve had far too little time with Nikolaj to form any kind of investment in his character. Even Genevieve has mostly been in the background for Season Four’s duration thus far, so it’s difficult to take much stock in Boyle’s family life at this point.
The good news however is that this show’s midseason finale is still technically yet to come, and will comprise two back-to-back episodes on New Years Day, before Brooklyn Nine-Nine goes on an extended Winter hiatus to accommodate new FOX sitcom, The Mick’s debut season. Even then, we have almost three weeks off as Brooklyn Nine-Nine nonetheless goes off the air for Christmas, so hopefully, our reunion with the squad in the Fall finale has them back in top form.
- Boyle's more dominant behaviour
- Amusing reactionary behaviour from Peralta
- Funny caroling loss for the Nine-Nine
- Not enough investment in Nikolaj for the core plot to matter
- Both storylines re-tread tired Christmas themes
- Disappointing lack of Gina