After last week’s hilarious and ridiculous Hitchcock and Scully episode, Brooklyn Nine Nine was desperately in need of something a little more grounded. Not because that episode wasn’t great — it was absolutely fantastic — but because too much “out there” material in a show like Brooklyn Nine Nine can really start to wear thin. Thankfully, The Tattler brings the entire cast of the Nine Nine back to earth, in a delightful, if largely uneventful, episode that continues to shine a light on the sheer chemistry the diverse cast of the show for each other.
This week’s main plot revolves around Jake and Gina as they revisit the 90s — both in hilarious flashbacks and in the modern day, in the form of their high school reunion. Horrendous denim jackets (that somehow both Andy Samberg and Chelsea Peretti manage to look good in) aside, this is a pairing that has worked incredibly well in the past, and it works well here too. Gina has always felt a little out of place in Brooklyn Nine Nine, but pairing her up with Jake, with the history that they share, is a solid move, as it forgoes some of the awkwardness that comes with her interactions with the rest of the cast. Adding Amy to the mix is an interesting choice too; she doesn’t work as well on-screen with Gina, but any opportunity to explore the complexities of her relationship with Jake is an opportunity I’m glad the show’s writers take.
During the reunion, we get a glimpse into Jake’s senior year in high school, which was marred by the false accusation that he’d tattled on a friend with whom he’d planned to steal a van, effectively destroying his social status. It’s not the strongest of framing devices, but it gets the job done, and seeing the increasingly large group of Jake’s high school peers refer to him as The Tattler, and his increasingly flustered denial that he tattled, is comedy gold. Naturally, with Jake’s entire persona revolving around being a cop, Jake and Amy decide to work the case to find out who the real Tattler is.
Unfortunately, the resolution of this plot made me a little uncomfortable. It’s not out of character for Gina to have tattled on Jake’s friend, nor is it particularly unbelievable that she’d lie to Jake about it for 20 years, realism and consistency aren’t the issue here. It’s the bizarre framing of Gina’s actions as positive by the show’s writers that rubbed me the wrong way. All in all, Gina’s actions were a little… gaslighty. She lied to him for 20 years about an event that clearly still upsets him to this day, manipulated his social standing in a pivotal year of his development, and then behaves like she did him a favour. It’s not something that everybody will take issue with, and a lot of my discomfort comes from having experienced similar situations in the past, but overall it just came off as a bizarre decision to me.
The Tattler’s side plots were, in true Brooklyn Nine Nine fashion, a nice little bit of comedy to break up the main story. Charles and Rosa teaming up is always a fantastic choice, as is exploring the deeply weird Boyle mythos. Throw in a bit of Rosa opening up about her personal life, and Charles trying to help fix said personal life, and you’ve got a neat little story packed with laughs.
Holt also gets a nice pairing with Terry, Hitchcock, and Scully, in a silly little side-plot in which they try to guess the sound played over the radio to win a cash prize. It’s nothing particularly grand, and it’s not even all that funny, but seeing these characters, in their fully developed roles, interact with each other is always a treat.
It is, admittedly, a little bit confusing to see an episode so contained and inconsequential after last week’s surprisingly terrifying threat from Commissioner Kelly to wreak havoc in the 99th precinct. There’s little in the way of story development on that front, and while that’s not really a huge issue, it would’ve been nice to see some sort of sign that things are still hectic. As it stands, this episode could’ve come at any point in the past few seasons — it’s filler. The saving grace is that, at the very end of the episode, we get to see more of the leadup to Gina’s departure from the Nine Nine, which seems pretty imminent at this point. The dominoes are all set up, and now it’s time to knock them all down and see how they fall.