Doug Judy's Back in Action on 'Brooklyn Nine-Nine' — Or Is He? (RECAP)

Emily Hannemann
Spoiler Alert Vivian Zink/NBC

This week’s Brooklyn Nine-Nine sees a beloved character returning in a whole new way — several new ways, in fact.

Fan-favorite Doug Judy, also known as former criminal The Pontiac Bandit, is at the forefront of the narrative again. Someone’s stealing cars using his methods, and while Terry thinks Doug’s gone back on his promise to go straight, Jake vouches for him. There’s just one problem with both of their theories: Doug’s dead...?

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Mangy Carl and Trudy Judy

The episode opens with Terry telling Jake that Doug Judy’s back in town, by virtue of the fact that someone’s adopted his tactic for carjacking. While Jake vouches for his pal, Terry insists that people don’t change and says he wants to ask Doug a few questions. Jake — warning Terry he communicates with Doug through his mother and under the guise of being Doug’s assistant, “Mangy Carl” — connects his co-worker with Mom Judy, and they get some unexpected news: Doug’s dead.

They attend Doug’s funeral and meet Trudy Judy, Doug’s sister. She recognizes Jake as Mangy Carl, and after conveying to him a myriad of tall tales her brother spun about his “assistant,” Jake ends up singing at the funeral to keep his cover. As he sings, he notices someone unexpected standing in the back of the church — Doug’s alive!

The Power of a Thousand Pushups

After his song, Jake and Terry confront Doug. He’s very much alive, but he had to fake his death because he was worried Stefano Lucas, an arms dealer, had put a hit out on him. Stefano’s favorite Ferrari was stolen, and he concluded that Doug did it, although he insists he’s innocent and Jake concurs. Unconvinced, Terry arrests Doug.

In the interrogation room with Jake and Doug, Terry says he checked Doug’s alibi — he was DJ’ing at a bar mitzvah — and found it surprisingly legit. He’s still suspicious, but Jake invokes the power of a thousand pushups. He’s so convinced that he’s right that on the off chance he’s wrong, he’ll do a thousand pushups. Miffed, Terry says they should up the amount to a hundred thousand pushups; on that note, they strike a deal. Doug says they should head to Barclays next, since the sport of boxing attracts the wealthy and the copycat thief would be likely to strike there next.

The Copycat, Caught

But first, they have to stop at a bar mitzvah at which the former criminal is serving as a DJ. Everything seems fine at first, until Terry announces he’s “got” Doug. Terry sent some disguised officers to patrol the lots at Barclays, and they caught the copycat… who is none other than Trudy Judy.

Terry and Jake interrogate Trudy, who is undoubtedly guilty. For Doug, guilt is less certain — while Trudy was using his moves, she says she learned them from one of his old notebooks. Eventually, they cut a deal. If Trudy helps them catch Stefano Lucas by luring him in with his favorite Ferrari, she’ll earn a reduced sentence. There’s just one problem: Trudy doesn’t have the car anymore.

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The crew goes to see Trudy’s fence at his shop. The man supposedly has the Ferrari, but go sideways when Doug wrongly assumes Terry’s getting handsy with Trudy as they talk to her buyer. His brotherly instincts are triggered and he runs out into the open, blowing their cover. It ends up not mattering — the car is right in front of them.

With the Ferrari safely in custody, they’re ready to take down Stefano. Terry’s not feeling confident about their plan, especially because it leaves Doug outside with Stefano and the car, but Jake insists it’ll be fine. And it seems to be, until the Ferrari explodes.

What Goes Around, Comes Around

In the aftermath of the explosion, Terry panics. They have Stefano, but that’s not who he’s worried about — he’s worried they lost Doug yet again. The former car thief proves them wrong when he emerges from the chaos, but it turns out they’ve lost the true perpetrator. Who is, as it turns out, none other than Trudy Judy.

Jake says there are officers in pursuit of Trudy, and she couldn’t have gotten far. Then, much like Doug used to do to Jake, Trudy calls her big brother and explains how she pulled it off. Her fence wasn’t a fence at all, but rather, her employee. He planted the bomb in the Ferrari. She was able to tell him her plan because of the distraction Doug caused when he ran out to confront Terry at the shop. She tells him his attempts to protect her are dumb, then says she’ll see him at Christmas.

This leaves Doug with a new understanding of what it’s like to be betrayed by a trusted ally, and tells Jake he’s sorry for the way he treated him in the past. And since Terry was wrong, and Doug proved people can change, he has to do a hundred thousand push-ups (which, for Terry, is a fun pastime rather than a punishment).

The Battle For Shaw’s

While Terry and Jake are off dealing with the mystery surrounding the Pontiac Bandit and what might or might not be his copycat, the rest of the squad — Amy, Rosa, Boyle, Hitchcock and Scully — gets embroiled in a battle for Shaw’s Bar. It’s their favorite post-work hangout, but it’s been claimed by firefighters. Neither group wants to relinquish their hold, so they decide to settle their differences through a drinking contest. Whoever racks up the highest tab by the end of the night gets to keep Shaw’s; the losing team will have to find a new haunt.

The crew called in Holt to help even before the contest’s inception, but he isn’t willing to secure Shaw’s for the Nine-Nine. He says the place is a dump, and insists they could find better bars, with a better wine selection. He leaves before the contest starts and leaves the squad vastly outnumbered. They put up a good fight and Boyle gives a truly inspiring speech before he violently vomits, but there’s no denying it. They’re all too inebriated to continue, and Shaw’s seems destined for the firefighters.

But wait! Holt returns, citing an overheard snippet of drunken conversation from one of Rosa’s many drunken calls to him that evening as the reason he came back. On that call, believing she had already hung up, Rosa said Holt didn’t care about the Shaw’s group or what they want. “That shook me to my core,” Holt says. He finishes off four bottles of wine just in the nick of time, and the squad gets to keep their favorite hangout.

Other Observations:

  • Nicole Byer is just as great here as she was on The Good Place this season, albeit in a totally different role. I can’t help but wonder if she’ll keep turning up just like Doug Judy did.
  • I’m always happy to see the (former) Pontiac Bandit! Craig Robinson plays him so well, and his chemistry with Jake is excellent. Here’s hoping we see more of him in the future, too.
  • The battle for Shaw’s bar was a nice storyline for those not involved with Doug Judy, but I couldn’t help thinking there were aspects of the competition that didn’t make sense. If it was about money rather than alcohol consumed, shouldn’t the squad have made a point to buy the most expensive drinks, like full bottles of wine, and gone for cash spent over quantity?
  • I’m loving the season so far, but I hope next week we get back to Holt’s war on the NYPD. I thought that would be an overarching storyline and was interested to see how it played out, but the show has taken an unfortunate detour from it.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Thursdays, 9/8c, NBC