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← PreviousNext →Puzzles in popular music Culture: Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Plus WillShortz!)


In our Puzzles in Pop culture series, we’ve featured mirrors as varied as Gilmore Girls, NCIS: brand-new Orleans, The West Wing, Hell’s Kitchen, and Parks and also Recreation.

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But weird enough, the puzzliest present in the collection has proven to be Brooklyn Nine-Nine, FOX’s fight sitcom about a new York precinct and also its oddball arsenal of detectives. Not only did they pose a diabolical seesaw brain teaser in one episode, but crosswords to be at the heart of another an essential moment in the present just last year.

And today’s post marks the show’s third appearance. Join us as we delve into “The Puzzle Master,” episode 15 the season 5.

The episode opens up with detective Amy Santiago passing the sergeant’s exam and doing a dorky dance. Good start.


Her fiance, other detective Jake Peralta, has a doozy that a last instance for he and also Amy to settle as detectives. He presents her v a serial arson instance that seem come be linked to the Saturday crossword puzzle puzzle. Amy, as a crossword fiend, is overjoyed.

Two different structures have been set ablaze on 2 consecutive Saturdays, each through a puzzle left at the crime scene. The just other reservation is a keep in mind sent to the puzzle’s “author” — not constructor, oddly — Melvin Stermley.

Amy automatically geeks out, mentioning that Stermley once created a puzzle whereby every word in the network was the word “puzzle” in a different language. Jake then mentions the Stermley self is coming in to aid them with the case.


While Jake expects Melvin Stermley to be “a enormous dork,” he transforms out to be a handsome Hollywood tough guy type. Jake is instantly jealous. (For a nice little of insider fun, Stermley is play by David Fumero, the husband the Melissa Fumero, that plays Amy Santiago.)

Amy has collection up a display with both of Stermley’s puzzles associated to the fires, and also the trio begin searching for leads. When Jake asks if he has the usual physique of a puzzler, that mentions the each puzzle just pays a couple hundred bucks, therefore he makes most of his money modeling. (No doubt a common solution you’d gain from any top constructor, right, folks?)

They review over the arsonist’s letter again: “Your clues I discombulate, come teach you to conjugate. The stupid who fails to validate will watch together I conflagrate.”

Stermley argues that lock look at the price grids of his puzzles because that clues. Amy then jumps to anagramming several of the price words. (The puzzler notes that Amy Santiago anagrams come “o, nasty amiga” and also Jake Peralta come “eat a jerk, pal.”) Amy and Vin decision to break-up up the odd and even clues, leave Jake out.


Getting nowhere v the anagrams, castle wonder if “conjugate” in the arsonist’s letter way they should emphasis on the verbs, “the 2nd best type of speech, after prepositions.” Jake says a various path, beginning with possible suspects who don’t like Stermley, and also the puzzler mentions the crossword puzzle night he’s hosting in ~ a regional bar. “It’s a complete puz-hang,” follow to Amy, and also a an excellent place to start looking.

While waiting in line external the bar, Jake is disappointed nobody is dressed choose The Riddler. Amy points out someone put on crossword-patterned pants. (Again, a typical sight at the ACPT.) They chat with among the other people in line, a woman that jokingly refers to Stermley as her future husband.


Before anyone can enter, they have to solve one of Stermley’s puzzles. Amy is tasked through anagramming the expression “MEET A BRAINIER STUD, A” into the name of a place in the world. (Jake’s jealousy is piqued by the anagrammed message, of course.)

She conveniently solves the — united ARAB EMIRATES — and also heads inside. However when Jake tries to follow, that discovers he has to solve a puzzle that his very own to obtain in. The expression “SAD ANUS LOSER, ns GO IN” must be anagrammed into a film based upon a standard book. Cut to Jake sneaking right into the bathroom, due to the fact that he couldn’t solve the anagram.

(It to be DANGEROUS LIAISONS, by the way.)

While Jake waits in the bathroom for his trousers to dry — that stepped right into the toilet when climbing under from the window — 2 puzzle pan come in, mentioning Stermley’s foolish puzzle skills and just how “Sam” must be pissed, together Stermley changed him act the Saturday crossword, bumping him under to work-related in Parade Magazine.

They mention Sam’s toughest clue, “a 5-letter word for a game popular in nursing homes,” come which Jake replies “BINGO.”


Jake mentions it to Stermley, who states Sam Jepson is among his ideal friends and has been out of city for weeks. Jake still thinks Jepson is a solid lead.

Amy and also Stermley, meanwhile, have actually realized the both targeted structures were in ~ the intersection of numbered streets, and also those numbered intersections also allude to letters in Stermley’s puzzles: M and A. They arrangement to develop a trap into Stermley’s next puzzle to catch the arsonist.

When offered a choice between Jake’s approach and also Stermley’s, Amy opts to go through the puzzle trap.

Back in ~ the precinct, Amy has identified that the most typical letters in people’s names that follow MA room L, X, R, and also T — Malcolm, Max, Mark, and also Matthew, for example — so Stermley constructs a puzzle making use of only one of each the those letters. (A pretty complicated challenge, but definitely doable — particularly if the cryptic-style crossword grid on the plank behind Amy is the puzzle in question. The would have fewer intersections.)

Amy plans come stake the end the intersections because that each of those 4 letters, assigning among them come Jake. (Jake, meanwhile, makes a secret plan to have Charles stake out Sam Jepson’s apartment.)


Charles point out Sam top top the relocate — play by crossword puzzle guru will certainly Shortz, no less! — and also Jake pipeline his assignment come intercept. He and also Charles monitor Sam, who sits in ~ a corner and eats soup, then calls his Mom. It transforms out he has been out of town, only having actually returned this evening — and his marriage proposal to be rejected. Bummer.

Jake returns to his assigned intersection, and the building is top top fire. He has actually missed the arsonist.

Amy is understandably upset with Jake when they’re ago at the office. Jake confesses he’s jealous of Stermley and also doesn’t desire Amy to wake up up one day, regretting no marrying someone together smart as her. She reassures him the he’s a brilliant detective and also that’s why she desires to marry him.


Jake has a epiphany, realizing the the arsonist’s name isn’t what’s being spelled out, it’s words MARRY. (The word “conjugate” in the letter also pointed come marriage.)

And who desires to get married Stermley?

The woman in heat at the bar on crossword puzzle night.

Jake and Amy lug the mrs in, and it turns out the full message she intended to spell out with her fires to be “MARRY ME OR rather I will certainly KILL YOU, her FOREVER, HELEN GERBELSON.”

That would take SO numerous FIRES. (I imagine she’d need to burn down number of buildings an ext than once, offered the sheer repeat of letters and the relatively couple of options for numbered streets.)

But, in the end, the arsonist has actually been caught, many thanks to the strength of puzzles and good police work.


Overall, I assumed this to be a really fun episode of the show. The anagram gags to be the puzzly highlight, though ns confess, I believed they’d do an ext with the will certainly Shortz cameo.

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Here’s hoping there’s a crime in ~ the Brooklyn Nine-Nine equivalent of the ACPT following year!

Also, together someone who has seen ARSON in a thousands grids, that is funny to watch someone finally link the word and also the act in a puzzly way.

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