How long have we gone without Brooklyn Nine-Nine so much as hinting at the simmering romantic tension between Jake Peralta and Amy Santiago? In the grand scheme of things, only recently: the last time the subject of Jake courting Amy came up we were celebrating the joyous matrimony of “Boyle-Linetti Wedding,” an episode that categorically failed to add much of anything to the will they/won’t they pull of their office flirtations. But the finale to Season One ends with such a big, bold moment of confession between the two that the lack of movement in their relationship since feels like a very real omission. How have we not yet revisited Jamy (that’s a portmanteau of Jake and Amy, obviously) in earnest?
With that in mind, “Det. Dave Majors” feels like a much-needed shot in the arm to that flagging storyline. At worst, the episode hinges on a guest appearance by the reliably terrific Garret Dillahunt, who lends his many and varied talents toward portraying the hotshot detective of the title. Dave Majors is everything Peralta and Santiago both aspire to be, all in the same hunky-cool package. He’s unfailingly awesome both on the job and off (he’s a member of a private speakeasy where the bartender knows exactly what drink to serve you and the password changes nightly, for crying out loud), and his record as an officer speaks for itself. He’s “blotter dynamite,” according to Amy, who might be even more excited to work with Majors than Jake.
The story links these three up with elegant simplicity. A series of robberies led by men in baby masks demands that the 9-9 team up with the 9-3, and so our jittery heroes get to geek out in the presence of a cop star. Majors lives up to all of his hype; he’s chill to the point of indifference, a hipster with a holster and a badge who you’d expect to be crummy at his job. In the end Jake solves the case, mind, but Majors is over himself, or he acts like he’s over himself, so every reminiscence he utters might as well end with a shrug and a “whatever.” Above all else the guy just doesn’t seem to care at all at the geeky ways Jake and Amy each try to impress him. Jake drops one-liners and makes dramatic sunglass gestures. Amy flips her notebook with authority. Neither of their efforts seem to matter to Majors, until he invites Jake to that speakeasy and he reveals that he’s interested in Amy. Uh oh.
Jake plays amiable at first, but we know before Majors even finishes talking about Santiago that our favorite manchild law enforcement officer has a bee in his bonnet. In a way, this arc is sort of reductive: it turns Amy, who we know excels in her job, into a prize to be won, and also relegates Rosa into a friendly (so to speak) shoulder for the lovesick Jake to lean on. Stephanie Beatriz so inhabits Rosa that even when her sole function in an episode is to listen to Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s male lead complain about his feelings, she still feels essential to the plot (and if nothing else she once again does great, hilarious things with little more than facial expressions). The show is so strong in terms of character and narrative that it doesn’t feel regressive, though. The women might not have much to do in “Det. Dave Majors,” but they don’t exist in a vacuum and their past achievements matter. They just aren’t the primary focus of this particular outing. You may take issue with that if you wish.
The rest of “Det. Dave Majors” deals with Terry’s career. With another child on the way, he’s giving thought to leaving the force and joining a private security outfit, which neither Gina nor Boyle can tolerate. So they endeavor to keep Terry happy by doing his work and serving him homemade yogurt treats (made with a touch of lavender!), while Holt simply scowls and piles more responsibility on Terry’s desk. It’s easy to figure out where all of this is going, and in comparison to the robbery detail, the Terry stuff feels slight. But there’s a phenomenal Holt moment mixed into the B-plot (along with an absolutely amazing/horrible Hitchcock one-liner), and besides, this gives Boyle, Gina, and Terry time to bond outside the context of Jake, who is usually at the center of most of their interactions. The rekindling of Jamy might be the juicier thread, but “Det. Dave Majors” ably reminds us of the whole cast’s vitality regardless.
Boston-based critic Andy Crump has been writing about film for the web since 2009, and has been contributing to Paste Magazine since 2013. He also writes for Screen Rant and Movie Mezzanine. You can follow him on Twitter. Currently, he has given up on shaving.