NOTE: Full spoilers for the final episode of, “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” are present in this review
The latest major blow to Millennial-skewing sitcoms has been dealt. After NBC concluded fan-favourite workplace sitcom, Superstore earlier this year, the TV reaper has now made its way to the network’s other beloved Millennial-oriented workplace comedy, Brooklyn Nine-Nine. This time, it’s truly the end for the 99th Precinct as well, after Brooklyn Nine-Nine initially defied cancellation at FOX following its fifth season, only to be rescued by NBC for three more seasons. Considering that this series was a pitch that originated at NBC’s own Universal Television, one that they later expressed regret about selling to FOX anyway, NBC reclaiming Brooklyn Nine-Nine proved to be a major boon for NBCUniversal, who have continued to serve as the most reliable source for excellent, enduring sitcoms, at least those made for the core 18-49 demographic.
Still, it’s tough to deny that the modern political climate has had a major drain on Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s comedic power. In the wake of the emotionally devastating George Floyd protests from last year in particular, which left sentiment towards American police institutions especially at an all-time low, it’s been a lot tougher for Brooklyn Nine-Nine to mine jokes out of police procedure. Even the show’s surprisingly poignant political commentary seemed to suffer during its eighth and final season in particular, with the series suddenly seeming more concerned with assuaging the concerns of viewers than actually crafting a steady stream of good jokes. It’s a no-win situation for a police-themed sitcom, and not even a fantastic comedy series like Brooklyn Nine-Nine could ultimately defy it. This is why it’s unsurprising that NBC and the showrunners decided to simply retire Brooklyn Nine-Nine after a shortened nine-episode final season this year.
If there is good news though, at least beyond 2022’s handful of promising new Millennial-oriented sitcoms being poised to fill the comedic power vacuum left by Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Superstore and The Good Place (man, my generation really has lost way too many good sitcoms lately!), it’s the fact that Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s hour-long final episode, “The Last Day” is pretty much a slam dunk in every respect. It’s the perfect finale for one of the most highly beloved sitcoms to grace television in recent years, a sitcom that remains celebrated by many, even after the George Floyd protests. This final episode is certainly bittersweet, since it’s downright heartbreaking to have to say goodbye to the eccentric police crew at the 99th Precinct, but it nonetheless maintains a great balance between good jokes (probably the best all season, in fact!), heartwarming callbacks, and emotionally gratifying resolutions, all topped off with a happy ending that confirms everyone is going to be alright in the post-Nine-Nine era.
This final episode for Brooklyn Nine-Nine even chooses the perfect backdrop to bid farewell to the 99th Precinct; One last glorious heist! NBC has had to get creative with the show’s annual Halloween heist tradition, a series staple since FOX’s very first Brooklyn Nine-Nine episodes in 2013, on account of the fact that NBC aired Brooklyn Nine-Nine during midseason, thus leaving it off the air during the Halloween period. Fortunately, this switch in theme for Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s season-defining heists appears to have worked in the series finale’s favour, since it’s no longer awkward or out-of-place to feature a heist-themed episode in September. What’s at stake this time is fitting and appropriate as well; Peralta wants to throw the perfect goodbye celebration, as he’s planning to leave the 99th Precinct in order to be a full-time father to baby Mac. This is a bit of a stretch in some respects, since Peralta suddenly quitting his dream job when he should logically be able to find some form of childcare in New York especially is a bit extreme, but I guess you can’t fault the man for finding true love, and wanting to go all in on it.
As much as this exit for Peralta can initially feel contrived and schmaltzy, this episode’s ultimate progression is nonetheless brilliant. The mayhem behind the final heist is cleverly leveraged by having other characters like Holt and Santiago also desire their own, “Perfect goodbyes”, which eventually leads to an over-convoluted heist effort that tragically sabotages each other’s noble farewell intentions. Of course, this isn’t to say that this final episode isn’t funny; It definitely is! Not only are the jokes very fast-paced, well-written and constantly unpredictable, as any heist episode in Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s eight-year history has reliably delivered, but this finale’s many nostalgic callbacks are especially outstanding. The climactic heist involves visiting the grave of Holt’s nemesis, Madeline Wuntch, for example, plus the leads having to fend off the over-eager advances of Boyle’s dirty doppelganger, Bill, who has predictably fallen on even harder times in the wake of COVID-19. That certainly doesn’t stop Bill from forcibly volunteering himself for the supposedly final Nine-Nine heist effort though!
Best of all is that Chelsea Peretti, who left the series not long after it moved to NBC, makes a return for this final heist, meaning that the now-fabulously-wealthy Gina Linetti does indeed participate! Diaz is also predictably part of the fun to boot, despite quitting the Nine-Nine at the start of this season to become a private investigator, plus even Jason Mantzoukas’ Pimento makes a brief appearance as an escape plan for Diaz! The only Nine-Nine cop to resist the heist once again, at least at first, is Terry, who is too busy interviewing to be Holt’s replacement as captain of the Nine-Nine. Even Terry’s career aspirations become a heist pawn before long though, as Terry finds himself interviewed in a fake office, all so that the increasingly over-complicated heist can proceed with Terry caught in the middle, thus dooming him to continue competing, even when he doesn’t want to.
I can’t possibly spoil every single detail behind this final heist, because the only way to properly do it justice is to see it in motion. I will say however that Peralta initially aspiring to end his time at the Nine-Nine by the Brooklyn Bridge, hilariously confirming that the ‘intense’ intro walk that the show’s leads do during Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s opening credits was simply a random time that they all wanted to get falafel, is used as a great misdirect. Instead, everyone ends up at the storage house where they closed their first case during Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s pilot episode, with Peralta’s ambition to hire Bruce Willis as a ‘celebrity guest’ (unsuccessfully) is instead replaced by Holt hiring a violinist. Regardless, the squad realizes that they don’t need the perfect goodbye at this point, nicely subverting an age-old sitcom cliche to clever and legitimately heartwarming effect. Diaz is also a standout here to boot, intentionally trolling Santiago by tearing down another frequent sitcom ending cliche, namely the idea that adventurous characters always have to settle down and find true love, and that’s the only worthwhile ending they can achieve. Diaz instead proudly announces that she plans to remain single and stay awesome in her professional life, and frankly, this is the only resolution that truly makes sense for her character.
Lastly, despite most of the folks at the Nine-Nine moving on to new lives after the series finale’s conclusion, save for Terry, who is now the precinct’s captain (unsurprisingly), and Boyle, who remains a detective with the squad, an amusing epilogue nonetheless confirms that the Halloween heists will remain a permanent tradition for the show’s leads, including Holt and Gina. Even Hitchcock finally returns in the flesh for this final episode, with Hitchcock’s entire move to Brazil being revealed as another misdirect, one that was meant to be a component of the heist from the very beginning. I imagine that Dirk Blocker was probably limited by heightened risk of COVID-19 complications this season, and that’s probably why Hitchcock had to spend most of Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s final episodes behind a screen (Apple TV+’s Mythic Quest pulled the same trick with one of its own high-risk lead actors, F. Murray Abraham), but it’s still awesome that Blocker managed to get one in-person scene with his Nine-Nine castmates here, in particular Joel McKinnon Miller’s Scully, who also remains at the Nine-Nine after Hitchcock finally returns to work under Terry’s command. Yes, apparently these, “House mouses” are still not going to retire, even after Holt and Peralta do. How’s that for a kick in the head?
In transitioning most of the leads to new career stations, while confirming that they will nonetheless remain an important staple in each other’s lives, Brooklyn Nine-Nine delivers a smart, finely-balanced ending that doesn’t overthink itself (a trap that The Good Place’s ending somewhat fell into), and manages to make excellent use of every pivotal cast member (something that Superstore’s finale somewhat dropped the ball on). After the uphill battle that its police sitcom foundation has faced since last year especially, the show really couldn’t have asked for a better conclusion, even if its overall final season was noticeably uneven in terms of laughs. That comedic shakiness thankfully didn’t bleed into the actual series finale however, which sends the Nine-Nine off in style, and does a superb job of celebrating Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s comedic legacy at the same time.
The last line really sums it up best; Nine-Nine!