By: MTN Reporter Will Chappell
Brooklyn Nine Nine’s eighth and final season wrapped up on September 17 in a
satisfying, if somewhat predictable finale. The end of the show saw most of the
members of the detective squad from Brooklyn’s 99 th precinct scattered to the winds, but
all facing positive prospects ahead.
Through its run, the show presented an idealized detective squad made up of a
diverse, competent and hard working group of officers. Andy Samberg led the ensemble
cast as Detective Jake Peralta, the once-immature detective now become responsible
father and husband to Amy Santiago (Melissa Fumero). The rest of the cast was
rounded out by Stephanie Beatriz (Rosa Diaz), Terry Crews (Lieutenant Terry Jeffords),
Joe Lo Truglio (Charles Boyle) and Andre Braugher (Captain Raymond Holt).
For the first seven seasons, the show often addressed serious issues both in
policing and society at large. The squad dealt with police corruption, incompetence and
bias, mistaken convictions, questions of sexuality and belonging, and always pulled
through while maintaining their integrity and trying to affect positive change. But most of
these situations were heavily couched in humor or convoluted plots, which kept the
show entertaining but blunted the seriousness of issues.
However, this season the show took a dramatic change of course and addressed
the larger inequalities and failings of the justice system directly. After returning from a
Covid-forced hiatus, the unit is down one detective after Diaz quit in response to the
issues raised in the protests following George Floyd’s murder in 2020. She is now
working as a private investigator looking into claims of police misconduct. This break
forces Peralta to confront his involvement in an inequitable system. In the first episode
of the season this conflict plays out to devastating, but predictable ends when he helps
Diaz investigate a case in which two detectives harassed an innocent black woman but
is stonewalled by department leadership and the police union.
The police union becomes a recurring antagonist in the final season, as
personified by its President Frank O’Sullivan (John C. McGinley). McGinley delivers a
hysterically disturbing performance as the Billy Joel obsessed, officer-shielding foil to
the squad’s attempts at bettering the police department. He works to cover up the
misconduct of officers in the first episode and later stages a walkout of uniformed
officers pretending to be sick. The show used the introduction O’Sullivan to make a
powerful commentary on the power and corruption of police unions.
Despite Diaz’s departure and O’Sullivan’s resistance the show ends on an
optimistic note for the crew. Santiago and Captain Holt are off to lead a police reform
program, Peralta will be a stay-at-home dad and Diaz will continue as a P.I. while
Jeffords takes over as Captain and Boyle remains a detective. Although the sunny tone
conflicts with the serious issues surrounding police and policing, the show skewed
generally optimistic, and it is hardly the first sitcom to finish its final season with a
While the show was never revolutionary it provided consistent entertainment for
eight seasons, in a time when network sitcoms have seen a precipitous drop in quality.
It started its run on Fox for five seasons before being cancelled and subsequently
picked up by NBC for its final three, all episodes can be streamed on Hulu. The last
season represented a strong finish for the show, giving satisfying closure and hope to
all its characters while simultaneously addressing serious issues around racial inequity
in the American justice system and the role police departments play in that.