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Recap / Brooklyn Nine Nine S 4 E 16 Moo Moo

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Moo Moo is the sixteenth episode of Brooklyn Nine-Nine's fourth season.

Terry asks Jake and Amy to babysit Cagney and Lacey, his twin daughters, for him as he applies for a prestigious City Council Liaison position within the NYPD. Although the two detectives do a good job they, perhaps inevitably, also accidentally lose Moo Moo, Cagney's security blanket, in the process. Going out late at night to find his daughter's prized possession, Terry finds himself stopped and harassed by Officer Maldack, a white officer. What follows is a fairly serious discussion about tensions between minority groups and the police as Terry and Holt debate what should be done about Maldack's behavior and the potential repercussions any action might have on Terry's career.

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Also, Jake and Amy continue to babysit Cagney and Lacey and find themselves in the uncomfortable position of trying to help the girls understand why their father is so upset and whether or not they will also experience the same discrimination as they grow up.

This episode provides examples of:

  • A Day in the Limelight: Terry is the focused character in this episode, making this the only episode where Jake isn't the focal point of the main story (though he and Amy are the focal point of the subplot).
  • Actually Pretty Funny: Despite being annoyed that Amy lied to the girls that "orgasm" is another word for "orange," Terry is smirking when he says that they asked for a glass of "orgasm juice" that morning. He says it made breakfast awkward.
  • Adult Fear: Terry says he wants to report Maldack because he's worried one day his girls will be in the same situation, and they won't be able to use their cop status to avoid getting killed.
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  • Ambiguous Situation: It's unclear if Terry lost out on the council position because he had to write a giant essay in one night with a 90 page application, or if it's because he filed a complaint against Maldack.
  • Answer Cut: At the end, Holt asks Terry who is babysitting the girls since Jake and Amy are away. Cut to Rosa and Gina tied up by the twins. And screaming.
  • Big Damn Heroes: In Terry's flashback, as he's trying and failing to stop some bullies, a cop shows up behind him, and the bullies understandably flee. The man stands very tall and straight, with the sun shining behind his head like a halo as he gives the brave little underdog an approving nod.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Holt decides to stand up for Terry and submit the complaint against Maldack, but Terry may have lost a promotion attempt because of it. Still, they believe they made the right decision in the end.
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  • Both Sides Have a Point: In the conflict between Holt and Terry over how best to proceed over Maldack's actions, that is (since Maldack is clearly positioned as unreasonable and in the wrong); both men are presented as having valid viewpoints on the issue. Terry is rightfully angry at his treatment by Maldack and wants to ensure that he never treats anyone else like that, while Holt counsels that Terry should pick and choose his battles in order to ensure he can reach a position of greater influence to enact more lasting structural change. By the end, both men have come to recognise the view of the other. Holt realises that his advice to Terry was based on his own experiences as a gay black man trying to rise through the ranks in a police department during a time when he didn't have any support from superiors, and that he is now in a position to enact the kind of change he was trying to achieve by supporting Terry. Terry, meanwhile, acknowledges that if he'd kept silent and gotten the city council job he'd been applying for he might have been able to use his influence there to help create more lasting change.
  • Children Are Innocent: Cagney and Lacey are largely unaware of how deeply ingrained prejudice is in society, so they're confused as to why their dad, a nice guy and a good cop, got in trouble with another cop. (It's also clearly news to them when Amy says that life is harder for women.) That said, they do realize it had to do with his race, and outright ask Jake and Amy if he got in trouble because he's black.
    • On a more lighthearted note, Cagney and Lacey accidentally learn the word "orgasm" from Jake and Amy and Amy hastily tries to fix things by teaching them that it's another word for "orange" leading to the twins asking Terry for "orgasm juice" the next morning.
  • Dramatically Missing the Point: When Officer Maldack is called out for his actions, he's quick to apologize... for not realizing that Terry was a cop. When Terry points out that Maldack shouldn't have treated anybody that way, Maldack pivots to defending his actions, and seems unable to comprehend why harassing a black civilian would be a problem. His conclusion is that Terry should always carry his badge to avoid being mistreated.
  • Dumbass Has a Point:
    • When Terry asks what to do about picking up his girls at school while he works on his application, the others give the usual bad responses (Rosa suggests the subway, Gina suggests an Uber). Scully then suggests that a babysitter pick up the girls. Jake then immediately Hangs A Lampshade on this.
    Jake: Scully's idea is the most sensible one. We are living in strange times.
    • To a lesser extent, this comes into play when Amy and Jake are trying to figure out what to do about Cagney and Lacey's questions about Terry's situation. After Boyle, Rosa and Gina's suggestions are rejected (Boyle gets hung up by being a Shipper on Deck, Rosa's solution is to terrify the girls into going to bed at 6.30pm and Gina's proposed explanation is too complex for them to fully understand), they are inspired by the fact that Scully and Hitchcock are eating cake and watching movies to distract Cagney and Lacey by doing the same.
  • Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap!: Rosa's confused as to why Terry got in trouble, until she starts thinking aloud, and the realization suddenly hits her.
    Rosa: But that wouldn't make any sense, unless—oh, crap, I see what happened.
  • From the Mouths of Babes:
    The Kids: Why was Daddy in trouble with the policeman?
    Jake: Uhhhh... that's complicated.
    The Kids: Is it because he's black?
    Jake and Amy: Uhhhhhhhhhhhhh...
  • Hidden Depths: Hitchcock is surprisingly 'woke' about Terry's situation in this episode.
  • Idiot Ball: Jake and Amy suddenly find themselves having to talk about racism with Cagney and Lacey (a topic they should have some familiarity with being Jewish and Cuban respectively). Looking for advice, they call Charles, Gina, Scully and Hitchcock, and it never occurred to either of them to try calling Holt. Though to be fair, they were mostly concerned about how to handle such a heavy topic when talking to children; Holt, despite being A Father to His Men, has been shown to be rather awkward around actual children. (And even with adults, you don't exactly think "Raymond Holt" when you think "discussing something delicately." Of course, that's true of all their friends.)
  • Innocently Insensitive: Despite the fact that they receive some valuable words of wisdom from Jake and Amy about racism, Cagney and Lacey then draw a picture of them where Jake has a huge nose. Jake, who is Jewish, isn't entirely thrilled about this but is willing to "appreciate the effort".
  • Moment Killer: Whenever Jake and Amy start to get mildly interested in or enthusiastic about parenthood, Charles comes along with his over-enthusiasm and completely squicks them out.
  • Mood Whiplash:
    • Terry is searching for Moo Moo in typical Terry Large Ham fashion after promising if his kids don't sleep then "Jake doesn't live". Then Maldack shows up and threatens him . . .
    • Holt keeps getting distracted from a very serious and consequential conversation with Terry by his loathing for Kevin's friend Margo and her fixation with Scottsdale, Arizona.
  • Never My Fault: Officer Maldack insists that he was only doing his job when he detained Terry. The only problem he sees is that he didn't know he was harassing a fellow officer, and maintains that it was Terry's fault for not carrying his badge all the time.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Amy's reaction when she realizes Cagney and Lacey weren't aware of sexism before she told them about it.
    • Amy and Jake's reaction when one of the twins asks what an orgasm is.
  • OOC Is Serious Business: Played for Laughs by the famously un-PC Hitchcock:
    Scully: Oh, jeez. I have no idea what's going on.
    Hitchcock: He got stopped for being black. Get woke, Scully!
    • And, of course, played much more seriously when Terry reveals that he was racially profiled. Jake, normally clownish, can only show concern for Terry.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Terry doesn't know why Holt is refusing to submit his complaint. Holt also doesn't explain, as usual. Jake and Amy suggest that he talk to their Captain. The men then get into a discussion about the potential ramifications of Terry's complaint and that it could sabotage his career. Terry says that he will live with the consequences to make a better world for his daughters.
  • Shipper on Deck: Charles once again, gushing about Jake and Amy babysitting together as practice for when they become parents. As always, it gets creepy and awkward rather quickly.
  • A Very Special Episode: The show is light on the usual antics in favor of exploring the issue of racial discrimination on the police force.
  • Won the War, Lost the Peace: Discussed and deconstructed. Terry brought Maldack up on charges for his racism, but lost the position he wanted that could've enabled him to make larger changes, probably due to rocking the boat. This leads him to wonder if Holt was right, but Holt points out that they probably had an impact on at least one person. They both realize that they can only do their best and hope that it's enough.

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