Show: NBC’s Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Featured Characters: Amy Santiago, Charles Boyle, Gina Linetti, Jake Peralta, Michael Hitchcock, Norm Scully, Terry Jeffords, and Raymond Holt
Eight years, 153 episodes, one astounding team. Brooklyn Nine-Nine is a series that’s hard to part from because the relationships established during its run have been so rewarding to watch as a TV viewer. Where there are far too many great moments to excavate and episodes to highlight just what the series has accomplished, it’s ultimately a sign of the series’ strength in fortifying something memorable.
The 99th Precinct weren’t always a family, and the fact that we were given the chance to see their progression from the Pilot is what says a lot about the show. From the moment Raymond Holt steps in and states that he wants them to wear a tie, it becomes clear that the series’ heart is always going to be the friendships.
“The point is, my team has you surrounded. Oh my God! I just got the tie thing. Captain, I just figured it out. It’s a uniform! We’re a team and the tie is a part of that team’s uniform, right? […] It’s important to you because you were kept off the team for so long and now, you’re the coach, and you want us all to wear that same uniform. Boom! Nailed it!”Raymond Holt, Pilot, Brooklyn Nine-Nine
When Jake finally dons the tie—the teamwork is kicked into motion beautifully because it’s from that moment that we are able to understand that somewhere deep down, each of them will be willing to make sacrifices for one another. They’re each so ridiculously different from one another, it’s what makes the growth process so exemplary because the 99th Precinct then stands as a paradigm of what loyalty looks like.
Again, there is no way to encompass all eight years into a single feature that won’t result in what could essentially be deemed a dissertation, but I could certainly try.
The 99th Precinct and the Meaning of a Team
In some cases, a team is nothing but a group begrudgingly working together. But for the 99th Precinct, though it starts off that way, it grows into the best kind of a found family, and it happens at some point for every character.
As the character who’s often the overachiever, the one always trying exceptionally hard to make everyone proud, the squad becomes the home where she is revered no matter what. When Amy Santiago makes it clear that she is more than just Holt’s lackey and Jake’s girlfriend, she is established as the character everyone believes is worth fighting for. Though she and Rosa don’t have much in common, they grow to be the kind of friends who’d do anything for each other, including but not limited to, standing in line for hours to win a stroller. And even helping her deliver the baby during a citywide blackout in the precinct.
As women, though Rosa and Amy were polar opposites, the two fighting for each other and rooting for each other always resulted in some of the strongest episodes (like taking down a perp in a wedding dress because your friend was adamant that you try them on). The loyalty to one another never faltered and neither ever expected the other to change their ways though they were always there to point them in the needed directions. The same can be said about all that Gina sets in motion during “Four Movements” where she makes it clear that though she doesn’t show it, the squad is more important to her than anyone else she has ever known. Near or far, she’ll be rooting for them.
In the same way that Rosa’s belief in Amy helped her understand that she didn’t need to seek respect or approval because she has it all, Holt and Terry were always there to remind her that she could reach even higher potential in her career. Amy Santiago might not always need help studying, but where she was stressed, she had a team behind her to always encourage her. And in the same way, Amy believed in each of them with such overwhelming intensity, it was the hope they needed in trying times. (Scully and Hitchcock excluded, naturally. But hey, she might have done wonders for them too.)
A superlative example of just how much the team is willing to do for one another, for Rosa especially, can be found in episodes like “Game Night” (5×10) and “Show Me Going” (5×20). When Rosa comes out to the team as bisexual and they learn that her family won’t be attending game night, the squad chooses to make it a regular part of their week by being there with her.
While one family states they need time, another jumps to be her constant company, wherever and whenever she needs it. We see those same lengths crossed when they learn she is part of a hostage situation, and their concerns are channeled into doing what’s necessary to prepare for her to come back in a better situation than the one she’s left it in.
There’s also “Return of the King” (6×15) where instead of physically helping Rosa, Amy realizes that she needs to be her cheerleader in order to help her open the door by herself. While the episode’s premise emphasizes the notion that helping someone isn’t a weakness, sometimes what a person needs is another to have faith in their abilities, and thus, Amy believing in Rosa with full conviction showcases just how much the two women understand each other.
When it comes to the 99th Precinct, consistently exhibiting how well they know each other is what has often revealed just how strong their loyalties are. They have cared with utmost sincerity, to know one another deeply. It was never just about a job, it was about the family they found along the way.
And what has always been an exceptional paradigm of this is the series’ 99th episode, “99” where each of the squad’s strongest qualities are on full display when it comes down to getting Holt to his commissioner’s interview. It’s the episode where the squad learns the colossal risk Holt has taken by taking a bribe in order to free Rosa and Jake from prison. It’s the episode Rosa first comes to Charles. It’s the episode where Jake’s Die Hard dreams come true.
While throughout the series we are shown that Holt is a man who abides by the rules because he knows the weight of what he could lose, his decision to take this risk instead of letting Amy do it is what ultimately reveals that he views the squad as more than just a team too.
They are worth taking risks for and they are worth jeopardizing everything he has worked for because where once he wasn’t part of the team he worked with, through the 99th Precinct, he knows he is part of a family. He is, in every way, the fatherly figure they have at some point needed, and the one who’s taught them so much of what they know.
Raymond Holt was, and always would be—the heart of the team, the reason they became one, and the reason they kept trying to better themselves.
In a number of ways, the person who always needed the squad most was Jake, and through everything, they served as reminders of the fact that he wouldn’t be abandoned again. He’d be fought for, he’d be defended, and when necessary, he’d be called out. It’s why Holt’s decision is so instrumental because we know it’s something Jake is going to carry with him for the rest of his life. It’s why his and Amy’s wedding is better when it’s interrupted because ultimately, the best family by their side is the team, and therefore, the outcome results in all that they’d both dreamed of.
Weddings, Nonsense, Heists
Weddings are a big deal in Brooklyn Nine-Nine because the unions have furthered showcased just how much the team is willing to do for each other. We are shown just what the squad is willing to do not just for each other, but for their extended family members too. It starts with “Boyle-Linetti Wedding” (2×17) and it concludes with “Renewal” (8×08) where the squad does everything they can to ensure Holt and Kevin’s big day is perfect. There are also the lengths that are gone to when Adrian proposes to Rosa (though that ends differently, still).
It comes down to the fact that where the 99th Precinct is concerned, there is nothing they wouldn’t do for each other. No matter how immature or how uncomfortable (Jake and Charles, always), they would always step up because their bonds with one another meant more than anything they had ever known. What their friendship alone encapsulates I merely have no words for. Healthy and wholesome, two grown men who love each other so deeply, it’s ridiculous at times. But that’s how it should be. Their loyalty would never be questioned and they always, always wanted the best for each other.
Jake and Gina? Unwavering loyalty. Rosa and Jake? Unwavering loyalty. Rosa and Holt? Unwavering loyalty. Amy and Charles? Unwavering loyalty. Hitchcock and Scully? Unwavering loyalty. Rosa and Charles? Unwavering loyalty. Terry and Jake? Unwavering loyalty. Rosa and Amy? Unwavering loyalty. Holt and Gina? Unwavering loyalty. You get the picture. Together or individually, loyalty is unwavering.
Hostage situations, childbirth, makeups, breakups, holidays—each moment, every day, Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s 99th Precinct consistently revealed that their team is full of love and full of growth. When Rosa leaves the squad because she wants to do better and open a PI firm, the support she receives never questions her, they only ever trust fully. They admire. Whenever Holt had to leave or they saw sadness in him, the support he always exhibited was brought to the surface in tenfold for him.
They’d take things too far during Halloween Heists, but they’d come back around just as quickly. It was never solely rainbows and butterflies on Brooklyn Nine-Nine, they each had different ways in expressing their loyalty to one another, and it’s why it worked so well. When they’d cheer to the 99, every bit of love was packed into that one word. It was their way of saying how profoundly they cared. It was their way of saying they’re in this for the long haul.
The Last Day
In a myriad of ways, Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s “The Last Day” is a love letter to the friendships that were established in this series. It is a love letter to every memory, every heist, every laugh, every tear, every failed attempt, and every single person that has ever made an impact, Gina Linetti and Michael Hitchcock, included.
One final heist to mark Jake Peralta’s goodbye would not have been complete without the two surprises, and one final heist would not have been as chaotic as it was if it weren’t for the team ultimately showing each other just how much they care through the ridiculous “betrayals.” Because that’s what the heists always came down to, glory for one, but a promise to all. Win or lose, that was never the sole purpose. It was instead a showcase of the fact that the bonds solidified between the 99th Precinct are forever.
Sometimes when a TV show ends, as viewers, we can’t necessarily be sure if the characters will remain friends. Because fundamentally, that’s how the world works sometimes. You love your coworkers deeply and you want them in your life forever, but it doesn’t always work out that way when someone leaves.
That isn’t the case with the 99th Precinct, however, because from the very first day we met them, they’ve been a chosen family. They are each other’s chosen people. They are each other’s home. And Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s “The Last Day” showing us that the Halloween Heists will continue every year in this very precinct, no matter where they all end up in life, is the proof we needed to know just how impactful this job has been for all them.
It’s through this job that they have found home—a place to always belong and people to always count on, for game nights or for heists, whatever it might be, we know they will be in each other’s lives until they’re no longer walking this earth. Like a father figure, Holt will be there to guide Jake through whatever it is he needs as he navigates through fatherhood. Holt will be there for all of them—Amy and Terry included as they work through making the police reform a successful endeavor.
“The Last Day” is a love letter to the fact that found families are a result of both amazing times and the ugliest of them. They are seldom perfect, they are always messy, but where there is unwavering loyalty and love, they will ceaselessly circle back to each other—uplift each other and at all times, be beacons of light, reminiscent of the good and the bad, but mostly the love.
Carrying on the heists every year equates to promising that the bonds they have fortified with each other are forever—the nine-nine is the greatest love story they have known. Interweaving their lives together like this is the promise that solidifies every fight was worth the battle, every sadness was worth the trauma, whatever they faced, however inadvertently or by choice, they did it together.
Whether it was the love stories or the friendships, their loyalty was boundless (at times there should have been boundaries, but this isn’t an ordinary show, and they aren’t an ordinary team). This show was special because the 99th Precinct as a team will always be special. And they’ll be remembered for it.
They’ll be remembered for the fact that there’s no way to encapsulate just how exquisite they’ve been in a single deep dive.