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From Halloween Heists to Velvet Thunder: The 10 Best Capt. Holt Episodes of Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Oh captain, my captain. Andre Braugher's 10 Best Episodes as Captain Raymond Holt.
Andre Braugher became a household name and recognizable visitor to our television screens as Detective Frank Pembleton on Homicide: Life on the Street. Braugher appeared in 100 episodes between 1993 and 1999, but he was perhaps better known to modern viewers for playing Captain Raymond Holt in Brooklyn Nine-Nine.
Holt was stoic and reserved on the surface, but beneath that shell he was warm; he could be funny, and he loved his squad. Holt’s decidedly unflappable demeanor was the perfect balm to Andy Samberg’s wacky antics as the show’s lead, Jake Peralta. That’s not to say that Braugher was too serious for a good joke. In fact, his classical training often made the laughs hit harder. Braugher was a delight in every scene he appeared in, but these Brooklyn Nine-Nine episodes (streaming now on Peacock, along with the rest of the series) are some of his best.
Season 3, Episode 12 - “Nine Days”
Holt’s husband Kevin (Marc Evan Jackson) is away in Paris and Holt is lonely. Jake digs up a cold case for the two of them to work together, hoping it will keep the captain distracted until Kevin returns. During the course of their investigation, both of them are exposed to mumps, forcing them into quarantine.
Soon, the disease settles in and their salivary glands swell to enormous proportions. When Jake finally reveals that the case isn’t really important and he was just trying to keep Holt busy, things turn sour. After a four-hour nap to gain their strength, things come to admittedly gentle blows as both men poke one another’s mumps in anger. That sounds horribly unpleasant, but it’s hilarious to watch.
Season 1, Episode 21 - “Unsolvable”
Riding on the high of a hot streak, Jake picks up an allegedly unsolvable cold case and drags Terry (Terry Crews) along for the ride. But we get our best Holt moment right at the beginning, during the cold open. When Holt arrives wearing a wrist brace, everyone speculates as to how he may have injured himself. Seemingly frustrated, Holt announces that he tripped on an uneven sidewalk and didn’t think it warranted mentioning. Then he slides over to Jake and reveals how he actually hurt his wrist.
“I was hula hooping,” Holt reveals. “Kevin and I attend a class for fitness and for fun. I’ve mastered all the moves: the pizza toss, tornado, scorpion, the oopsie doodle.” But Holt’s finest moment is when he deletes the photos and reminds Jake that no one will ever believe him if he tries to tell the story.
Season 2, Episode 22 - “The Chopper”
Jake is investigating an old bank robbery case with his best friend and partner Charles Boyle (Joe Lo Truglio). While the robbers were apprehended and have since been released, the money was never found and two of the four bank robbers recently turned up dead. When Jake and Charles hit a snag, the two of them go to Holt’s arch nemesis, Madeline Wuntch (Kyra Sedgwick), for help. To Jake’s delight and Holt’s dismay, she gives them a helicopter and her full support. Certain that she has ulterior motives, Holt decides to tag along on the mission.
Images of helicopters conjure action movie fantasies in Jake’s imagination and he grants everyone cool codenames to honor the occasion. Holt, obviously, doesn’t want to play along, but soon enough he changes his tune and we see one of those delightful moments when something resembling a childlike spirit emerges in the form of Holt’s new codename: Velvet Thunder!
Season 4, Episode 6 - “Monster in the Closet”
Rosa (Twisted Metal’s Stephanie Beatriz) and her on-again-off-again lover Adrian (Jason Mantzoukas) are getting married, and Holt spends the entire day building an increasingly elaborate balloon arch as a surprise. Eventually, Amy (Melissa Fumero) can’t take it anymore and she tells Holt that the arch is ugly. He is hurt and shows it in his own unique way, by popping the balloons one by one while keeping unbroken eye contact.
Later, Rosa comes to thank Holt for everything, even though the wedding didn’t happen, and she sees the balloon arch in his office. It’s clear that she loves it and Holt gets the sweet, sweet feeling of VINDICATION!
Season 2, Episode 4 - “Halloween II”
Arguably the best running gag of the entire series was the annual Halloween heist. First appearing in the sixth episode of the first season, the Halloween heist was a yearly competition during which the entire squad fought for the title of “ultimate detective/genius” by trying to steal (or prevent someone else from stealing) a target item.
Jake wins the first contest by stealing Holt’s medal, but in the precinct’s second heist, all bets are off. By the time the midnight bell rings, a living Rube-Goldberg machine of people and situations has unfolded, revealing Holt as a brilliant puppet master and the newly crowned ultimate detective/genius. In a series of great moments, this is a Holt high note.
Season 2, Episode 6 - “Jake and Sophia”
The main crux of the episode hinges on Jake making a love connection with a defense lawyer, causing a potential conflict of interest in an ongoing case, but all of that comes later. In the meantime, the episode opens with a truly unusual occurrence: Amy Santiago is late for work.
The gang all hang around guessing why she might be late; maybe she slept through her alarms or maybe she was kidnapped, the range of possibilities is endless. Captain Holt joins in on the fun, guessing that Amy was in line at the bank. It’s a quintessentially Holt guess, but it also happens to be true. Something he celebrates with uncharacteristic excitement.
Season 6, Episode 13 - “The Bimbo”
In another incredible cold open, Captain Holt takes revenge on Jake for a longstanding issue. Jake is a great detective but he’s bad at the little things like dressing professionally, behaving appropriately, and showing up for work on time. When Jake shows up late to yet another morning meeting, Holt dishes out a uniquely cruel punishment.
Holt has planned, practiced, and perfected individual signature handshakes with every person in the precinct (including the copy guy from Xerox) except for Jake. Painful as that is, that’s something Jake is just going to have to live with.
Season 2, Episode 5 - “The Mole”
Criminal organizations are somehow getting secret information out of the police station and the Nine-Nine is accused of having a mole. Terry and Rosa dig into what might be going on while the proverbial hammer descends upon Captain Holt. In a moment of darkness, Holt goes to the local police watering hole to drown his sorrows.
Local precinct buffoons Scully and Hitchcock (Joel McKinnon Miller and Dirk Blocker) ask Holt if everything is okay and he launches into a Shakespearean-style diatribe that only Braugher could convincingly pull off. It’s got drama, it’s got gravitas, and it goes completely over Scully and Hitchcock’s heads. It’s amazing.
Season 7, Episode 13 - “Lights Out"
Brooklyn experiences a blackout, plunging the borough into chaos and the Nine-Nine jumps into action. While Jake is on the street with Charles, Amy goes into labor with no way to get to a hospital.
Meanwhile, Holt and Terry are stuck in an elevator and Terry teaches Holt some sick dance moves to keep them both distracted. Those dance moves come in handy later. When the time comes for the baby to be born, Amy has limited support, no pain management, and life’s hardest endurance trial staring her down. Salt-N-Pepa’s “Push It’ cuts the tension; Terry and Holt twerking through the interrogation room glass erases it from memory. If there's a better way to come into the world, we haven't seen it.
Season 8, Episodes 9 and 10 - “The Last Day”
The two-part series finale begins with Holt and Amy leaving the Nine-Nine for new jobs. No one knows it yet, but Jake is leaving too and he’s hatched a plan for the perfect goodbye. Precinct heists have been a long tradition of the Nine-Nine and Jake caps it off with the ultimate heist, the heist to end all heists, a heist for the title of Grand Champion of the Nine-Nine.
When it’s all over, and there’s only one thing left to say, Jake and Holt say their goodbyes. It was a running joke throughout the entire series that Jake not-so-secretly thought of Holt as a father figure and Holt makes sure Jake knows the feelings are reciprocated, saying that if he did have a son like Jake, he would be proud. It’s a truly touching moment and a fitting way to bring the story to a close.
These episodes really only scratch the surface of the beautiful enigma that was Andre Braugher’s Captain Raymond Holt. You can catch Brooklyn Nine-Nine in its entirety on Peacock.