“Fancy Brugdom” may be best described as stealth-good; at first blush, it’s a plotless episode that does little more than spin its wheels outside the confines of its A-plot (which is itself somewhat low-impact). But even if we accept these critiques as true, “Fancy Brugdom” still manages to do what Brooklyn Nine-Nine has done so well over the course of its entire first season, which is to say that the show wears its emotion on its sleeve while emphasizing story through its wonderfully drawn cast of characters. For the dearth of police work that actually gets done around this precinct, the squad puts a monumental amount of heart in everything they do.
That’s almost secondary to the fact that “Fancy Brugdom” happens to be hilarious. Fad diets, sorry-offs, angry Rosa, bridegroom antics, a baton to the kneecap, hunger-induced rage, and, best of all, a protracted fart joke—these are a few of my favorite things in this week’s installment of Brooklyn Nine-Nine, though none of them are done any justice on the page. “Fancy Brugdom” follows an A-plot in which Boyle, in his immeasurably, unfailingly adorable way, asks Peralta to be his best man for his wedding, a request that the latter accepts with enthusiasm (even when he’s choking down wedding cake adorned with habanero frosting). But of course, not all is well with Boyle’s upcoming nuptials—his bride to be wants to move to suburban Ottawa for work, which means Boyle would have to not only retire from the force, but also give up his Brooklyn pizza blog.
Boyle reacts to his little conundrum as any of us might expect: by freaking out and twisting Jake’s arm into confronting Vivian for him. None of this goes particularly well, though happily enough, none of it goes as south as it reasonably could; Jake might not take his detective work very seriously, but as “Fancy Brugdom” shows, he’ll bend over backwards to help his friends, no matter how many angry grimaces he hides beneath his outer facade. This is a narrative that benefits immensely from both Andy Samberg’s roguish charms and Joe Lo Truglio’s unabashed lovability; put another actor in either role, and you’d likely see Peralta’s and Boyle’s dynamic crumble. (Neither character would be as individually palatable, either, but that’s a separate discussion.)
But as the pair have proven all season, their respective comic and dramatic talents complement each other perfectly. In other words, “Fancy Brugdom” tells us what we already know, which is an acceptable lesson to rehash in light of how successful their arc together is. While they’re off galavanting, however, plenty of other interesting stuff happens on the sidelines as Gina and Santiago bond with Terry by way of a truly unsatisfying fad diet, and Holt unexpectedly takes Diaz under his wing following an evidence labeling snafu with a subordinate officer. Of these, it’s the second that’s the most compelling; that Terry would support his wife by dieting with her isn’t a surprise at all, though Gina’s and Santiago’s dedication toward helping him stay on track does give one a case of the warm fuzzies. (Plus, Terry Crews lifting a car and passing gas can’t possibly be unfunny.)
Diaz, though, has largely been defined by her relationship with Boyle for the series’ entire run. Now that he’s in a committed relationship (one that may not last into season two, though thankfully because of problems that have nothing to do with Diaz), how best can Brooklyn Nine-Nine shape her outside of her hilarious mean-mugging? Surprisingly, by molding her into a future leader, something that only someone with Holt’s keen human insights would see in her. Andre Braugher and Stephanie Beatriz are hilarious together here—Holt teaching Diaz how to apologize is the highlight of the episode—but Diaz receiving direction and agency of her own is exciting to say the least.
Let’s hope the show sticks with it. “Fancy Brugdom” is a major-minor episode—one that’s more about set-up and sweetness than actual incident—but it nevertheless takes viewers someplace new. If the series sticks the landing, then the payoffs should come around soon enough as Brooklyn Nine-Nine hurtles toward its first season finale.
Boston-based critic Andy Crump has been writing about film and TV on the web since 2009. You can follow him on Twitter.