The members of the 9-9 have been deprived of Gina Linetti for two months, but out here in the real world, we’ve been deprived of Brooklyn Nine-Nine for more than four. That’s a profound existential struggle to grapple with, but we need grapple no longer: Brooklyn Nine-Nine is back. As a bonus, so is Gina, because the adrenalizing thrill of being smacked by a bus and put in traction can’t keep her from strutting into the office and dancing, in the most exquisite agony, to Salt-N-Pepa’s “Push It.” She’s as strong physically as she’s ever been, after all. Stronger, even. Her memory ain’t so hot, but nobody’s perfect (after getting smacked by a bus).
But there’s good news: She’s going to have her revenge on all New York City buses, rest assured. There’s better news, too: Teddy’s back! Better still, he’s dropping in on the 9-9 for an audit, as if you couldn’t guess by the name of the episode. Turns out that New York’s finest are so fine, so good at fighting crime, that they have put a major damper on criminal wrongdoing all around the Big Apple. Naturally, this means that people’s jobs are on the line, because you cannot suffer low-performing police precincts to exist in times when the law is broken less often than normal. Enter Teddy, assigned to check out the 9-9 to see if it passes muster, and also to throw shade at Jake and Amy for their joint efforts in breaking his heart all the way back in Season Two, which is to say that his arrival is actually bad news.
Normally you’d expect Kyra Sedgwick to arise from the nether realm to antagonize the 9-9. She is, after all, their great departmental nemesis. But this time it’s Kyle Bornheimer, an actor who could probably make a career trading on his physique to play nothing but hard-jawed authority types but instead has elected to play goofballs like Teddy. Boring goofballs. Boring goofballs with no ability to read a room and a slightly troubling fixation on pilsners. (Not that pilsners shouldn’t be fixated upon, but c’mon, dude, show some interest in another beer style. You’re in New York. Drink an IPA from Grimm, for Christ’s sake.) In point of fact, Teddy is such a big ol’ doofus that it’s hard to buy him as a credible threat to the 9-9’s continued function.
Until he drops the hammer while on a stakeout with Jake and Amy and reveals that he’s good at sussing out when people are lying to him. Granted, Jake’s attempts at ingratiating himself to Teddy aren’t “transparent” so much as they are “totally frigging invisible.” A person born sans eyes—not sight, but actual, physical eyeballs—could see through him. But if we don’t quite take Teddy seriously at first, we take him much more seriously once Jake accepts that the 9-9’s shutdown is a very real possibility thanks to his bumbling stupidity. (And to Amy’s inability to keep it in her pants, I guess.) Things only get worse from there as Jake and Amy screw things up further by successfully getting chummy with Teddy and then immediately, unwittingly recording themselves shit-talking him behind his back. Bad to worse. Dumb to even dumber.
Nobody at the office is aware of these developments, of course, and so Captain Holt and rest of the 9-9 do as they do: They make it their business to spruce the place up, slapping a veneer of decorum and professionalism on their precinct in a bid to appeal to Teddy’s better nature. This goes about as well as can be expected; Terry can’t fix the astronomically costly Japanese printer C.J. ordered during his tenure as captain, Rosa and Boyle can’t get rid of the coke-addicted rats crawling around in the building’s walls, and Gina can’t really do anything but she tries anyway, because she doesn’t know the meaning of the word “quit” (and apparently does not endure pain the way normal human beings might). It’s a comedy of errors, and also of Joe Lo Truglio in an inappropriate, ill-fitting cat costume.
And this is where Brooklyn Nine-Nine excels, and why, perhaps, it’s good for the show to take a seemingly unnecessary mid-season break in the wintertime: The quality of banter and sheer comic velocity is extraordinarily high in “The Audit,” and the gags are built and paid off brilliantly. Take, for example, the closet gag toward the start of the episode, in which each duo paired together to solve one of the precinct’s many Teddy-centric problems squeezes, in turn, into the nearest supply closet, until suddenly the room is packed to the gunwales with anxious cops and Gina, held upright only by the grace of her head halo. This is a classic Brooklyn Nine-Nine set-up, the kind of joke that we’ve seen the show pull off before, but not every instance of the joke is done as well as it is here. The beats are flawlessly synchronized. The cast is totally in harmony. It works, not just in terms of individuals but in terms of the whole—and, as Brooklyn Nine-Nine draws most of its strength from its ensemble, the results are a sight to behold.
Those individual moments work, too, unsurprisingly; the battle between Terry and the copier (and its incredibly weird UI displays, which include a sushi roll decapitating a weeping turtle) is a hoot; Jake and Amy’s fake fight (a distraction so Jake can nick Teddy’s phone and erase the previously mentioned recording) is swift, sharp, and successful at fleshing out their relationship all at once; and Boyle’s unique brand of oddity kills (though perhaps give Boyle one less bizarre thing to his name, because cat costumes and wolf pee combined are just a little too much to take in a single episode). You won’t want this audit to end. But there’s good news! It won’t! Turns out that Teddy is smart enough to know when to recuse himself, and so he does, prompting Terry’s ex, Veronica (Kimberly Hébert Gregory), to enter the fray as his replacement. She also despises Terry, and means to shut the 9-9 down for good. So that’s not really good news, either. We’re on a bit of a losing streak here at the 9-9, but hey, at least the content is hilarious.
Boston-based critic Andy Crump has been writing about film online since 2009, and has been contributing to Paste Magazine since 2013. He writes additional words for Movie Mezzanine, The Playlist, and Birth. Movies. Death., and is a member of the Online Film Critics Society and the Boston Online Film Critics Association. You can follow him on Twitter and find his collected writing at his personal blog. He is composed of roughly 65% craft beer.