Spoiler alert! The following contains details from the series finale of "Brooklyn Nine-Nine, "The Last Day."
Was there anyway to end "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" to say goodbye but with a heist?
The series finale of the long-running Fox and later NBC police station sitcom stayed true to the original spirit of the show while offering a genuinely twisty, hilarious final heist paying tribute to some of the show's best episodes. The episode also managed to balance sentiment with humor, avoiding the overly explanatory finales of some recent sitcoms (including co-creator Mike Schur's "Parks and Recreation") while still confirming that the folks of the Nine-Nine will be friends forever.
The short final season of "Brooklyn" balanced the show's goofy, peppy tone with a focus on highlighting the problems in modern policing and discussing race in a post-George Floyd America. It wasn't perfect (no show possibly could be), but it certainly tried harder and offered more nuance than almost any other cop show on the air. The finale left that heavy lifting behind and instead focused on the slapstick sense of humor that made the show a cult hit, and the relationships between the characters that made it a critical one. Not every plot thread and character was tied up with a bow, but it was a satisfactory conclusion to eight long years of heists, hilarious cold opens and Jimmy-Jab games.
The hour-long episode opened with Jake (Andy Samberg) planning one last heist game for the Nine-Nine to participate in to say goodbye to Holt (Andre Braugher) and Amy (Melissa Fumero), who are leaving the precinct to work on a police reform initiative at One Police Plaza. In setting up the elaborate plan to win the heist, Jake tells Amy that he also wants to use the heist to say goodbye to the Nine-Nine – he plans on quitting his job as a detective so he can be a full time dad to their son, Mac.
Jake sets the heist up so that he will both win the prize and bring his friends and colleagues to the Brooklyn Bridge for a sentimental goodbye; he has gifts for them all and will tell them he plans to retire from the force. Amy agrees to help and the two secretly enter the heist trying to pull one over on everyone else.
Of course, this is a "Brooklyn" heist, so there are many more twists, betrayals and fake-outs to come. Along the way the writers include callbacks to memorable moments from the series. Tim Meadows returns as Jake's cannibal roommate from his brief stint in prison after being set up by a corrupt cop. Former precinct administrator Gina Linetti (Chelsea Peretti) returns to try to win the heist herself. Adrian Pimento (Jason Mantzoukas) helps Rosa (Stephanie Beatriz) double-cross Amy. Teddy (Kyle Bornheimer) helps Amy trick Jake into thinking he was in a coma for seven years so she can win (and Teddy proposes to her one last time). Fred Armisen also cameos as his character from the series premiere eight years ago, although he claims to be another man. Holt tricks Terry (Terry Crews) into helping him, and also gets his former number two promoted to the new captain spot in the Nine Nine.
Perennial sad sack Bill (Winston Story) takes part, as he has in the other heists, and grabs the prize at the last minute, selling it to Hitchcock (Dirk Blocker) for $40, making everybody's least-favorite detective the ultimate champion. It's only when Jake's plan for the perfect goodbye goes so horribly awry that he finally tells everyone he intends to leave, and appreciates the gravity of his decision.
Charles (Joe Lo Truglio) finds out first, and worries that he won't be able to do his job without Jake as his partner. Jake informs his best friend that he's grown so much in the past eight years, it doesn't matter who his partner is. Amy and Rosa also share a goodbye, with Rosa repeatedly tricking Amy into thinking she is settling down in a relationship. Charles and Terry plan for what the Nine Nine will look like in the future. Gina maybe steals some diamonds from evidence.
The real goodbye happens between Jake and Holt, the two pillars of "Brooklyn." The original concept of the series pitted Jake's childish mania against Holt's rigid rule-following, and through the eight years each rubbed off on each other in good ways. Holt is able to make a joke (however terrible it was). Jake is finally mature enough to stop thinking of police work as an action movie, and to make a decision that puts others above himself. Holt tells his protégé that he's proud of the man he's become.
Everyone leaves the precinct one last time, but "Brooklyn" doesn't end there. A year later it's Halloween again, and Jake returns to keep the heist tradition going, and Amy, Holt, Rosa and Gina are with him. As he says, they're in each others' lives forever.
With one final, emphatic yell of "nine nine!," "Brooklyn" has the perfect goodbye.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 'Brooklyn Nine-Nine' series finale recap: One final heist to say goodbye