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


In ours Puzzles in Pop culture series, we’ve featured shows as diverse as Gilmore Girls, NCIS: new Orleans, The West Wing, Hell’s Kitchen, and also Parks and also Recreation.

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But oddly enough, the puzzliest show in the series has proven to be Brooklyn Nine-Nine, FOX’s struggle sitcom about a brand-new York precinct and its oddball repertoire of detectives. Not only did lock pose a diabolical seesaw mind teaser in one episode, but crosswords were at the love of another crucial moment in the show just last year.

And today’s article marks the show’s third appearance. Sign up with us as we delve into “The Puzzle Master,” episode 15 that season 5.

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


Her fiance, other detective Jake Peralta, has actually a doozy that a last case for he and also Amy to fix as detectives. He gift her through a serial arson situation that seem come be linked to the Saturday crossword puzzle. Amy, together a crossword fiend, is overjoyed.

Two different structures have been set ablaze on 2 consecutive Saturdays, each with a puzzle left in ~ the crime scene. The just other proviso is a note sent come the puzzle’s “author” — not constructor, oddly — Melvin Stermley.

Amy immediately geeks out, mentioning that Stermley once produced a puzzle wherein every word in the grid was words “puzzle” in a different language. Jake climate mentions that Stermley himself is comes in to aid them v the case.


While Jake expects Melvin Stermley to be “a enormous dork,” he transforms out to it is in a handsome Hollywood hard guy type. Jake is soon jealous. (For a nice little bit of insider fun, Stermley is played by David Fumero, the husband of Melissa Fumero, who plays Amy Santiago.)

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

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

Stermley suggests that lock look at the answer grids of his puzzles because that clues. Amy then jumps to anagramming several of the answer words. (The puzzler notes that Amy Santiago anagrams to “o, nasty amiga” and Jake Peralta to “eat a jerk, pal.”) Amy and also Vin decide to separation up the odd and also even clues, leaving Jake out.


Getting nowhere with the anagrams, they wonder if “conjugate” in the arsonist’s letter method they should focus on the verbs, “the second best kind of speech, ~ prepositions.” Jake suggests a different path, beginning with feasible suspects that don’t like Stermley, and also the puzzler mentions the crossword puzzle night he’s hosting in ~ a local bar. “It’s a complete puz-hang,” according to Amy, and a great place to begin looking.

While wait in line external the bar, Jake is disappointed nobody is dressed favor The Riddler. Amy points the end someone attract crossword-patterned pants. (Again, a common sight at the ACPT.) They conversation with among the other world in line, a woman who jokingly refers to Stermley as her future husband.


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

She quickly solves it — unified ARAB EMIRATES — and heads inside. However when Jake tries come follow, that discovers he needs to solve a puzzle the his very own to obtain in. The expression “SAD ANUS LOSER, i GO IN” need to be anagrammed right into a film based upon a classic book. Cut to Jake sneaking into the bathroom, since he couldn’t solve the anagram.

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

While Jake waits in the bathroom because that his pants to dry — the stepped into the toilet when climbing down from the home window — two puzzle fans come in, stating Stermley’s foolish puzzle skills and how “Sam” have to be pissed, as Stermley changed him law the Saturday crossword, bumping him down to work-related in Parade Magazine.

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


Jake mentions it to Stermley, who says Sam Jepson is just one of his ideal friends and also has been the end 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 that numbered streets, and also those numbered intersections also allude to letters in Stermley’s puzzles: M and A. They plan to construct a trap right into Stermley’s next puzzle to record the arsonist.

When provided a selection between Jake’s approach and Stermley’s, Amy opts to go through the puzzle trap.

Back in ~ the precinct, Amy has determined that the most common letters in people’s names that follow MA room L, X, R, and also T — Malcolm, Max, Mark, and also Matthew, for instance — therefore Stermley constructs a puzzle making use of only among each that those letters. (A pretty an overwhelming challenge, yet definitely doable — particularly if the cryptic-style crossword network on the plank behind Amy is the puzzle in question. The would have actually fewer intersections.)

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


Charles spots Sam top top the relocate — played by crossword guru will certainly Shortz, no less! — and also Jake leaves his assignment to intercept. He and also Charles monitor Sam, who sits in ~ a corner and also eats soup, then calls his Mom. It turns out he has been the end of town, only having returned tonight — and his marital relationship proposal was rejected. Bummer.

Jake return to his assigned intersection, and also the structure is top top fire. He has actually missed the arsonist.

Amy is understandably upset through Jake when they’re ago at the office. Jake confesses he’s jealous of Stermley and also doesn’t want Amy to wake up up one day, regretting not marrying someone together smart together her. She reassures him the he’s a excellent detective and that’s why she desires to marry him.


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

And who wants to marry Stermley?

The woman in line at the bar on crossword night.

Jake and Amy lug the woman in, and it transforms out the complete message she intended come spell out v her fires to be “MARRY ME OR else I will KILL YOU, her FOREVER, HELEN GERBELSON.”

That would certainly take SO countless FIRES. (I imagine she’d have to burn down numerous buildings more than once, provided the sheer repetition of letters and the relatively few options because that numbered streets.)

But, in the end, the arsonist has been caught, many thanks to the power of puzzles and great police work.


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

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Here’s hope there’s a crime in ~ the Brooklyn Nine-Nine tantamount of the ACPT next year!

Also, together someone who has seen ARSON in a thousand grids, that is funny to check out someone finally connect the word and the act in a puzzly way.

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