Brooklyn Nine-Nine did not waste any opportunity to tackle some of today's pressing issues that occurred during the pandemic. Among those include police brutality, confined spaces with loved ones, relationship conflict, and more.
"The Good Ones" is the stronger episode of the two. However, the premiere successfully shows that Brooklyn Nine-Nine is back and better than ever.
With George Floyd's murder and the rise of police brutality protests during 2020, Andy Samberg, who plays Jake Peralta, discussed how Brooklyn Nine-Nine Season 8 would deal with these issues.
And the show certainly does not hesitate as they dive right in, starting with Rosa quitting the NYPD to become a private investigator on behalf of police brutality victims.
We expect nothing less from Rosa Diaz. She has always been very passionate about her beliefs, and she realized that she could no longer be a detective while police disproportionately target people of color.
Jake: Rosa, we came up together. We went to the academy together; we've had the exact same career. All we ever wanted was to be detectives! And yes, we've always known there were problems, but we would solve them together from the inside. So when you quit, yeah, it made me feel like you thought I was wrong for staying.
Rosa: Jake, my choice has nothing to do with you. It was the hardest thing I've ever done. I gave up my career, my friends, my whole life -- but I did it because I couldn't ignore what I was a part of anymore. Couldn't ignore what the police are doing in my community to people who look like me.
Jake: I know. But not all of them. Not me.
Rosa: This isn't about you. And this case -- where a black woman was assaulted by the police -- has nothing to do with you either. So, if you're not here to help, if you're just here to prove a point, then, man, I don't think we should work together anymore. And I definitely don't think we're friends.
And while Rosa is undoubtedly confident about quitting the force, her decision prompted insecurities from some of her co-workers regarding their own roles as police officers -- most notably, Jake Peralta.
Rosa and Jake have been best friends since they completed the police academy together. They always had each other's backs. Even though Rosa's choice was personal and had nothing to do with her co-workers, Jake takes it personally.
Truthfully, as much as we adore Jake, we are not surprised. He means well, but he will also never truly understand what it is like to fear for his life when encountering the police because of his skin color.
So, Jake is pretty tone-deaf, and as a result, makes Rosa's decision all about himself. He is desperate to work with Rosa on her new case to prove he is a good police officer and not like any "bad ones." But Rosa knows this issue goes far beyond herself, Jake, and even their precinct.
It does not matter how many good cops there are. There could be fifty Jake Peraltas out of sixty bad cops. But as long as the bad cops continue to get away with brutalizing people of color, one or fifty Jake Peraltas will not make a difference.
That is why Rosa chose to quit all those months ago -- because she felt she could serve her community more as a private investigator taking down bad cops rather than remaining on the force.
But that is a tough choice for anyone to make, and just because Rosa decided that was what was best for her, it does not mean it's an ideal choice for everyone.
Ever since Rosa quit, Jake wanted to remain a detective, but for all the wrong reasons. He felt like he had something to prove to himself -- that if Jake can prove he is a good cop, he can do enough good in the community to stamp out the bad police officers.
But one good cop is not enough to dismantle an inherently racist system. And when Jake finally learns that, he realizes he has to decide what to do with his career in a good way for his community and not just himself.
For now, it seems that Jake has a new goal -- he will continue being a detective, but not to prove a point to himself -- but to dismantle the system from the inside. And we are excited to see how this will pan out in the upcoming season.
Jake: Hey, so look, I'm really sorry about everything. I was projecting my insecurities onto you, and that was wrong. And I'd like to think I've done a lot of good as a detective and that I can continue to do that, but maybe I am part of the problem. Regardless, you're dealing with things in your own way, and I get that it's not on you to make me feel okay about my choices.
Rosa: Apology accepted. And just because our choices are different doesn't mean we're not family.
Police brutality is just one of several themes on the Brooklyn Nine-Nine Season 8 premiere. Although the show picks up several months after the pandemic began, we get a glimpse of how COVID-19 has affected the squad.
For the most part, the characters' actions are predictable -- Hitchcock has retired and now FaceTimes with Scully every waking moment; Charles tries to be a better ally to people of color in a very Charles-like manner; Amy obsesses over her relationship with Holt.
But one jaw-dropping bombshell we learn is that Holt and Kevin have separated several months before the present day.
Holt: Do you know why I engaged in small talk with you earlier?
Amy: Because small talk is for strangers and con men, and that's what I am to you now -- a stranger.
Holt: No. I -- I did it because I am a con man. I was trying to con you into believing everything is normal with me when it is not. Kevin and I have separated.
Amy: Oh my god. Why?
Holt: It's been a tough year being a Black man. And a police captain. And a human. I've been pushed to the brink emotionally and physically. I went into survival mode, and it seems I have neglected my personal life.
Amy: Does anyone else know?
Holt: Not here. I have successfully hidden it for months. Not very well, I might add. I made small talk with Peralta on five separate occasions, and he never even batted an eye; he just blabbered on about someone named Wario.
Amy: Ugh, yeah, he does that.
Holt: But you... you noticed that something was off with me the very first day you returned. That just shows how well you know me. And while I'm not yet ready to talk about it, it's nice feeling like I'm not alone anymore. And that's thanks to you, Ramy.
Amy: Just so you know, I am not Ramy; we are Ramy.
Holt; Just be glad I said it.
Amy: Totally. Yes, I am. Thank you, sir.
To say that we are shocked and heartbroken is an understatement. None of us saw this twist of events coming. However, now we realize this was a bold and good move for the writers to make simply because of its realism.
Kevin and Holt's separation is a cruel reminder that even the seemingly most perfect couples can become victims to the pandemic. Being around one another too much can take a toll, making couples pay the ultimate price of ending their relationship.
While we are disappointed to hear that Kevin and Holt have separated, it was a daring decision for the Brooklyn Nine-Nine writers to make and the perfect segway onto the second half of the premiere, "The Lake House."
Kevin and Holt's separation inspires Jake to bring them back together, which results in a weekend at Holt's infamous lake house. However, extended group outings with the squad outside of work often lead to trouble, and this instance is certainly no exception. As Rosa says, drama always occurs whenever they get together for long weekends.
And although it is only one long weekend, Brooklyn Nine-Nine successfully uses this storyline to demonstrate the relationship conflicts many of us have faced since the beginning of the pandemic due to being confined in the same space with the same people.
Tensions rise between Amy and Charles when he tries to help her with Mac, only to cause friction in their friendship. And when Kevin and Holt discover what Jake has been up to all along, their dynamics sours as well.
It is strange to see how quickly dynamics can change, from a peaceful and healthy mindset to an argumentative and taut state. But that is what happened to many of us when the pandemic turned our worlds into isolated lockdowns.
Things have improved since these dark moments, but it is still refreshing to see Brooklyn Nine-Nine's take on relationship stress between loved ones.
Jake: The call that you made was for a scarlet warbler -- a trash bird!
Holt: Okay, so you made your point. I'm a trash man who only knows trash birds.
Luckily, the atmosphere on Brooklyn Nine-Nine never stays dreary for too long, and we are so relieved to see a spark of hope ignite between Kevin and Holt.
They have a long road ahead of them, but it seems like they are both willing to put in the effort to make their marriage work again.
Couples in real life were not always so lucky, so it will be interesting to see how couple's therapy works out for them. However, we wish for the best, and we hope these two will get back together.
After all, just like oatmeal, their relationship has sustained us for almost eight years -- it would be disappointed for them to trip over the finish line.
Terry: Tell me the plan; I want in!
Jake: What? You do?
Terry: Yeah, Terry loves love!
Jake: Then why didn't you back me up in there?
Terry: Because Terry also loves hedging.
Jake: Terry loves hedging? That's new.
Terry: No, it's classic Terry. Look, I always play both sides till the last possible minute; everyone knows that!
Jake: That's not fair. Everyone's so hard on me! I want a public show of support for my plan.
Terry: Can't do it. I don't know what's so tough for you to understand here. I love the scheme; I want to be a part of it. But I think it's gonna fail, and I don't want people to think I was a part of it.
Jake: Fine, I'll take what I can get.
Overall, it seems that Brooklyn Nine-Nine Season 8 is off to a great start. Not only did they tackle important subjects well, but they also incorporated appropriately timed yet classic humor. It may have been over a year since Brooklyn Nine-Nine Season 7 Episode 13, but it may as well be yesterday, considering how seamless the transition is.
We are excited to see what this season has in store for us, and we cannot wait for more laughs.
You can always watch Brooklyn Nine-Nine online right here, at TV Fanatic!
Sarah Novack is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.