It might have seemed strange to introduce the enigmatic Saturday Night Live alumni Bill Hader to Brooklyn Nine-Nine in the Season 3 premiere episode just to kill him off straight away, but his immediate replacement with the 99's worst enemy, Detective Pembroke (Dean Winters) a.k.a. The Vulture was designed to set up the first conflict for the season. Everything that happened in the first episode happened for a reason, as we saw in Sunday evening's Episode 2: The Funeral.
Episode 1: New Captain was perhaps not the series' strongest due to the fact it was mainly addressing questions and cliffhangers left over from last season and laying the ground for the new dynamic that has to arise now between characters in the absence of Captain Holt (Andre Braugher) and the creation of the relationship between colleagues Amy Santiago (Melissa Fumero) and Jake Peralta (Andy Samberg). Nonetheless it still managed to strike the enjoyable cord that Brooklyn Nine-Nine has become known for, a melding of humour and heart that goes a long way towards the attraction fans have for the show.
Episode 2: The Funeral
Episode 2 answered the question of why Captain Dozerman had to die, so we could get this episode! The Funeral deals with, unsurprisingly, the funeral of Dozerman and the beginning of the Vulture's promised attempts to mess with the 99 Precinct.:
"Now I know we have our history, me Vulture-ing your cases, me telling you to eat my farts, but that's all in the past. 'Cause now that I run this precinct, things are going to get much much... worse. So suck it!" [S3E01]
The Vulture immediately starts off making trouble for Jake and Amy once he realises that Jake does not in fact like nip-slips and puka-shell necklaces, delivering the ultimatum that they break up or Jake looses his detective badge. Whilst it first appeared that the central premise of this episode was going to be Jake's attempts to faux-bond with the Vulture the show cuts out this amusing but perhaps unnecessary narrative padding in favour of moving the story along.
The immediate return to conflict did work out well as Jake's bumbling attempts to defeat his new captain and save his relationship with Amy caused for plenty of foot-in-mouth humour during Dozerman's funeral.
The funeral as an event in and of itself is pretty much glossed over in favour of focusing on the main characters who, let's be honest, don't really care all that much for the recently-deceased Captain.
Jake & Amy
Like it or not, the first few episodes of Season 3 were always going to centre around this new relationship. For a moment during The Funeral we were hit with the same fear that we experienced for the Jake and Amy relationship in Episode 1, where they weigh how much they want to keep their jobs against how much they want to keep each other.
Introducing romance between two long term friends/co-workers in a comedy show can be tricky, especially if the writers decide that it's a doomed romance. All too often the characters get stuck in "will they, wont they?" loops that continue between hook-ups and break-ups for seasons and seasons until they finally get together at the end of the run (think Ross and Rachel in Friends).
In cases like this the breakdown of the core relationship has a knock-on effect on the characters at large, and the prodecural buddy-cop nature of Brooklyn Nine-Nine means that if Jake and Amy can't sustain their romance it's going to have big ramifications for the community group that exists in the workplace, and for the show at large.
Thankfully Brooklyn Nine-Nine has avoided this pitfall by putting Jake and Amy together in a defined relationship now and having the two decide that they want to put effort in to make it work, though not without teasing to the contrary during the first two episodes of Season 3.
Speaking Of Relationships...
Archie Panjabi's Lt. Singh proved to have a smaller part than expected in Episode 2, though she was a welcome breath in the form of Boyle (Joe Lo Truglio)'s romantic/hook-up subplot.
After being teased by Gina (Chelsea Peretti) and Rosa about his inability to have merely casual sex with someone Boyle manages to get into it with funeral hook-up Singh, before bursting back through the doors of the church screaming "SHE'S A VEGAN!" The realisation that it's okay for him to not enjoy casual sex comes later, and true to form Boyle bounces right back into it, disgusting Rosa (Stephanie Beatriz).
Captain Holt Is Down, But Not Out
"And now for a message of hope... Everything is garbage! You find something you care about and it's taken from you. Your colleague, your dream job, your mango yogurt... NEVER. Love. Anything. That's the lesson. To Captain Dozerman."
Jake's thinly veiled speech about Amy inspired a return to form for Captain Holt as he saved the day by bribing the Vulture with media attention in exchange for leaving Jake and Amy alone.
This was a nice touch, showing that he remains the controlling patriarch of the precinct even in his absence. One can only hope that he'll return to the 99 in a more stable capacity as this season's episodes tick ever onwards.