Jake Peralta’s toast surely wasn’t on the Boyle bingo card. In Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s Pilot episode, Jake understands the importance of wearing a tie in order to be a part of Holt’s work family at the precinct, but in the first season’s “Thanksgiving” episode, he’s still hesitant and extremely whiny about having to celebrate. And it makes sense because Rome wasn’t built a day, and character development, along with conquering one’s own demons takes time.
“I’m happy to be here with my family. My super weird family with two Black dads, and two Latina daughters, and two white sons, and Gina, and (to Scully) I don’t know what you are, some strange giant baby? To the Nine-Nine!”Jake Peralta. “Thanksgiving” Brooklyn Nine-Nine
There isn’t much we know about Jake Peralta’s family yet; however, “Thanksgiving” is the episode where it becomes clear that Jake has never known what a true family is like, and though the Nine-Nine feels like one, stemmed from his very real fears of abandonment, he ultimately refuses to accept it easily.
But after enough avoidance and after he spends some time with Holt on a case, Jake realizes that this family isn’t going anywhere. And what the toast ultimately represents is his decision to take a step forward—to speak, which he does often, but seldom with such sincerity. (Until later seasons of course.) And he does so in the most Jake Peralta fashion, which consists of everyone in the precinct having ridiculous roles in the family they are now a part of.
Jake’s growth happens through such intricate steps, and the decision to always go one step forward and admit to things he wasn’t right in is what makes him so incredible as a character. When he realizes something, he doesn’t keep it in, he vocalizes it out loud and that’s largely why the show is so special too because it allows its male characters to be vulnerable.
It’s moments like this in the series’ freshman season that promise there’s going to be a lot to be grateful for with this series. This family is forever. This family is all that Jake never believed he could have, and it’s not because he knows they wouldn’t abandon him, but more than anything that they genuinely care about who he is as a person. They’ll forgive him if he doesn’t wear a tie the first time around so long as he wears it the second time though even then, it’s not really necessary as much as his presence is what is valued.
It’s a scene that showcases the fact that the prominence of this family is something that he feels, deeply and truthfully. It’s something he’s able to get up and vocalize because this is a team that shows each other, with words and actions, that they have each other’s back.
And ultimately, it’s a scene that allows a man to step up and say, I was wrong earlier, but I’m starting to see that there’s something really special about being surrounded by my loved ones. It’s a scene that allows a person to admit that they just didn’t know how to handle something they’ve never experienced before, which Andy Samberg delivers with the right amount of sincerity. Jake’s never had such moments in his past, and therefore, not knowing how to react them is something that stands out intricately because it sheds part of the layers he is so heavily guarded by.
But most importantly, it’s a moment that makes Charles Boyle (and all of us, let’s be real) cry. It’s a moment that they are each stunned by because it helps them see that Jake is in fact trying. It’s a moment that allows them to see that he really does care.