I don’t know who’s waited for this emotional exchange between Holt and Jake in “The Last Day” more, us, Jake Peralta or Amy Santiago. A scene that ended up being so much more than what I could have ever imagined too.
In the end, they rubbed off on each other quite a bit—title of their sex movie. No words. None. When were introduced to Holt and Jake’s dynamic in the Pilot, it became perfectly clear then that they’d both have monumental impact on one another. And what Brooklyn Nine-Nine has done best is developed this so brilliantly, the beauty is found in the subtlety. Jake’s issues with his own father was a catalyst he needed to work with throughout his journey, but his relationship with Holt was paved through mutual respect and understanding.
In trying to gain Holt’s respect, Jake Peralta grew as a stronger character and an even better person. And it all happened without him ever knowing they’d come to this place.
It’s why this moment between Holt and Jake in “The Last Day” works so well because Jake wasn’t looking to hear this right now. This decision to leave the police force was the one thing he needed to do not for accolades or praise, but because he knew, without a shadow of a doubt, it’s what he wanted for his own son. His own life. And coming to this understanding with Amy is what makes Holt’s words feel that much more achingly cathartic because when Jake says, “I wasn’t expect to get so emotional,” he means it with utmost sincerity.
He means it because both Jake and Amy have grown significantly as people because of the respect they’ve seen in Holt.
In the precinct of all places, in a corner with just the two of them, Holt and Jake’s emotional exchange is that much more beautiful because of the way it happens. Amy’s silent nod of understanding to Jake. His own decision to completely humble himself. While the heists for instance are marks of personal glory, Jake receiving the confirmation that Holt is and would have been proud of him if he had a son like him in private makes it that much more beautiful.
He could believe these words with full conviction because Holt has never been this transparent with him. And when Holt has these moments of vulnerability, they’re so often exchanged in private because that’s the type of life he’s always led. Holt essentially telling Jake he’s proud of him brings their story around full circle brilliantly because it allows them both to see just how much the other has meant to them.
When someone like Jake wore a tie for the first time, that was a signal to Holt that this would be the type of team he could count on. It was impactful because they were willing to try—someone like Jake Peralta who might never grow up was willing to try, and then he did so. In the process, Jake grew up—he became the very best version of himself as the man who was still steadfast to his beliefs, but one whose selflessness is now a paradigm of honor.
Jake’s journey is about fatherhood, and Holt’s journey is about a team. They reached their catharsis together and they did so because they allowed themselves the opportunities to grow. They allowed themselves choices, time and time again, to be better and stronger.
Holt and Jake’s emotional exchange in Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s “The Last Day” is years of build up and it’s one of the most remarkably performed scenes of the show’s run. Andre Braugher and Andy Samberg have always been superlative as scene partners, but in this moment, their work is unbeatable.
No Holt wasn’t the stoic captain only a few could read here, instead he was a man genuinely filled with emotions and pride, which Braugher delivered through his most nuanced performance yet. I had already been crying at this point and one look into his eyes, I was full-blown, ugly sobbing. I don’t know how Jake held it together when it’s the one thing he’s wanted to hear all this time because I certainly lost it in an instant.
It’s an exchange that for the both of them solidifies the fact that they’ve found family in each other. Their opposing viewpoints on certain approaches have challenged one another profusely and their loyalty has proven to stand as the showcase that there is still good left in the world. There is hope.
If Jake had any concerns about whether or not he was making the right decision, this solidifies that he is. This solidifies that he can be a good father because someone like Holt being proud of him means that he’s done a lot of things right. Holt’s loyalty and respect is instrumental because it isn’t granted to just anybody. It’s hard earned and always rightfully placed.
It was worth every minute. Holt and Jake in “The Last Day” was worth the eight years of development, trials and errors, stoicism and all else because it led to this moment of unbridled, heartwarming vulnerability that’s so cathartic for the characters, it has an impact on the viewers too.