Jake Solves a Mystery From His High-School Years on 'Brooklyn Nine-Nine' (RECAP)
High school. Whether you loved it or hated it, thought of it as a castle or a prison, the fact remains that it’s a rite of passage for many an American teenager. The characters on Brooklyn Nine-Nine are no different.
“The Tattler” dredges up some nasty memories from Jake’s past when he and Gina are faced with attending their high school reunion. Jake was framed for a “crime” he didn’t commit, earning him a nasty nickname that sunk his social status for senior year. Of course, the reunion makes it clear his former classmates haven’t left Jake’s perceived transgression in the past — and he just might have to clear his name to be able to let it go.
The episode opens with Jake and Gina celebrating the revival of the “DDC” — the Dope Denim Crew, a.k.a. a nickname that informs how they’ll be dressing for the reunion that evening.
Jake then tells the squad a story about the nickname that ruined his senior year of high school: “The Tattler.”
During junior year, a young Peralta finally managed to get in with the popular crowd and its ringleader, Brandon Bliss, and was excited to steal a school van and spend the weekend drinking at one of the guys’ parents’ cabins. But the day before the big party was supposed to get started, someone ratted them out, and the popular guys pinned the blame on Jake. Henceforth, he was known as “The Tattler.”
Jake says he’s over the Brandon Bliss stuff and keeps yelling “DDC!” with Gina around the precinct. But has Jake really left that embarrassment and anger in the past?
The Case of the Tattler
As it turns out, he definitely hasn’t let go of that grudge. Jake’s first minutes at the reunion are a resounding success, but as the night goes on, more people start talking to him about being “The Tattler.” This culminates in an angry outburst on the dancefloor. “Turns out I might not be over it,” Jake says, frowning.
To help Jake make peace with his past and to find the real culprit, Amy suggests they use their skills as cops to solve the “Tattler” case. Jake recalls that things went sideways with Brandon after third period on that fateful day, and remembers there were rumors that someone on the football team spilled the beans. Amy deduces they just need to figure out which football player had third period with Brandon, so they go to the administration office to pull the old records.
In the office, they seem to find the answer they’re looking for. A certain Danny Matthews was on the football team and had third period with Brandon, so Jake assumes he must have tattled. Amy volunteers to use her “feminine wiles” (she tells him she’s with the school and orders him to come with her) to get him alone, and tells Jake to be in the science lab in 10 minutes.
Closing the Case
Danny and Jake talk, but Danny seems to be telling the truth; he genuinely believed Jake told, and said he saw Jake talking to the principal. Confused, Jake says he didn’t tell — but suddenly, the realization hits him. He may not have told, but he spent much of that year closely resembling Gina (long brown hair, single earring, copious amounts of denim). Gina was the tattler!
Jake confronts Gina in the science lab and asks her why she tattled. On that, her answer is simple — Gina knew Brandon and his crowd weren’t good guys, and she didn’t want Jake hanging out with them. If he had stolen a school van that weekend, he wouldn’t have become a police officer and might have even ended up on parole, which she says was the reason Brandon wasn’t in attendance at the reunion.
When Jake asks her why she didn’t come clean about being the tattler sooner and let everyone believe he held the title for 20 years, Gina says she was trying to preserve their friendship. She apologizes, and Jake — though he’s still pretty upset — accepts.
The Heart is a Fickle Thing
Back at the precinct, Rosa comes to Boyle for help with a tricky relationship situation. Since she and Alicia broke up, Rosa has been dating two people, but, unfortunately, they both tagged her in photos on Facebook and found out she’d been seeing both of them at once. Now, Rosa has to make a decision…and she’s having a tough time making up her mind. Thankfully, Boyle — who refers to himself as a “genetically indecisive being” — says he’s developed a foolproof system for making choices.
This system involves asking a series of zany questions (i.e. “Cirque du Solei is in town, you have the two best seats in the house, who are you bringing?”), to which Rosa is meant to answer without thinking. She’s not willing to tell him the names of her two potential partners, so Boyle opts to call them “couscous” and “quinoa,” then they get to work.
Unfortunately, the results are a tie (shouldn’t Boyle have had an odd number of questions so this didn’t happen?), so Boyle suggests an alternate method adopted by “ancient Boyles”: hanging suspended from the ceiling by one’s ankles, like a bat. Rosa tries it, but it doesn’t work.
After doing a flip to get herself back on her feet, Rosa gets a text from “couscous,” who got angry and ended things because she took too long. That, Boyle says, is how the Boyle clan makes choices. They let the universe decide for them. Rosa’s not too upset, and says of “couscous”: “She’s dope.” Boyle gets excited that he at least knows Rosa’s partner is a woman, but then realizes Rosa could’ve deliberately misgendered them to throw him off. “You get me, Boyle,” Rosa says with a smile.
Wasting Time, Having Fun
While Boyle’s helping Rosa figure out her relationship troubles and Jake’s trying to find the true tattler, Hitchcock, Scully and Terry are being far less productive… but that’s the whole point. They listen to a radio station that offers cash prizes for guessing a random noise they play correctly and in detail, and that day, the noise was a crinkle that sounded like a chip bag. Holt walks in on this and scoffs at them, taking issue with Terry’s claim that you can still have fun while wasting time.
Unwittingly, he helps the trio solve their audio puzzle by opening a yogurt lid. Holt then changes his tune, claiming it’s not wasted time if they win. Terry calls the radio station, excited and certain they’ve won, and…they’re wrong. At first, Holt is disappointed. But later, he goes back to the trio and tells them they taught him he can have fun while wasting time, and he seems to have appreciated the lesson. They all prepare to identify the next mystery sound together.
While Jake and Amy were trying to solve the case of the tattler, Gina spent the night convincing their old high-school classmates that she’s become a variety of high-profile things: a writer for Marvel, a CEO/app creator, etc.
The phony guise of being an app creator lands her a very real business deal with a very real Silicon Valley investor in attendance at the reunion. The deal had gone sideways earlier, but Jake finds Gina talking to the investor and tries his best to salvage it. He tells the investor Gina is fiercely loyal and “will do the right thing for you, even when you can’t see it for yourself.” The investor thinks about it and then passes…because he, like Gina, came to the reunion to mess with people and had been lying the whole time! Hilarious, and perhaps poetic, justice.
The episode ends with a heartfelt conversation between Gina and Jake as the reunion concludes. Gina says that even though the business deal wasn’t real, she liked the idea of starting her own company. Recognizing her passion, Jake tells her her talents might be wasted at the Nine-Nine, and it’s time for her to move on. Gina agrees, and she says she’s quitting her job.
- So, this is probably how Gina’s leaving. Though I’ll be sad to see Chelsea Peretti go — probably next episode — I’m elated they’re writing her out in a way that emphasizes Gina’s brains and talents. Though it wouldn’t necessarily have occurred to me before this episode, Gina ending up as a CEO of her own company feels right.
- Amy falling even further in love with Jake through his high-school accomplishments was hilarious, and fitting. His perfect attendance record? His community service? Even his notoriety as “The Tattler”? All obvious Amy turn-ons.
- I hope we learn more about “couscous” in the future. Though this episode’s storyline of Rosa needing to make a choice was entertaining, it’d be nice to see her with an on-screen love interest again.
- Though I called that Gina was The Tattler (Peretti’s acting in the opening scene was almost too good. I thought Gina looked uncomfortable when the nickname was mentioned), I think an argument could be made for the true twist being why she ratted Jake and Brandon out. That was unexpectedly touching.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Thursdays, 9/8c, NBC