Gina Linetti’s resignation from Brooklyn’s 99th precinct was basically the corporate version of the 100 emoji. There were professional acrobatic stunts, a troupe of ballerinas in metallic bodysuits, and a four-movement interpretive dance titled, “The Linexit.” Why? Because Gina Linetti is a state of mind. Gina Linetti is always right. Gina Linetti is a chess expert. Well, no to the last thing but we’ll get to that. Gina may be a lot of things but she will no longer be the civilian administrator at the Nine-Nine (NINE-NINE!).
Gina, played by comedian Chelsea Peretti, handed in her two weeks’ notice just a few episodes into Season 3 of Brooklyn Nine-Nine. With Jake’s help, she’s realized that her talents are being wasted at the precinct and has decided it’s time to fly the coop (an actual metaphor she uses in her emotional conversation with Captain Raymond Holt). Although all of the squad members take Gina’s announcement pretty hard (Rosa cries!), Captain Holt is particularly concerned about Gina’s future. During their weekly game of chess, which they’ve been playing for four years while Gina teaches him how to trash talk, he tells her that the game is a lot like life. What unfolds next is a touching, honest conversation between a commanding officer and his assistant that can teach us all how to navigate difficult work transitions.
“In chess, every move has consequences, some of which won’t reveal themselves until too late,” he says slowly, perfectly enunciating each syllable. “Even a small, seemingly insignificant decision can change the course of the entire game.” Gina wastes no time replying that what Captain Holt doesn’t get — “but the greats do” — is that sometimes, you have to be reckless to be successful. She stands by her decision even when Captain Holt makes a compelling case for health insurance and a steady paycheck, especially now that Gina is a mom. It’s not like she doesn’t agree that her future is uncertain and, consequently, risky. Don’t forget this is the same Gina Linetti who altered her report cards in high school because if people knew how smart she was, it would be harder to manipulate them. She knows what’s at stake but she also knows what’s best for her.
While Captain Holt delays his chess wins to punctuate points in favor of his argument, Gina turns the tables on him. She asks him if, at every stage of his life, he had a plan of action. He has, since the age of 10, and he’s accomplished everything he ever set out to do. His words, not Gina’s. Gina is quick to point out, though, that he fell short on his most recent goal, which was to become commissioner of the NYPD. Her takeaway from Captain Holt’s professional misstep is this: “Just because you want to do something doesn’t mean you get to do it. Life is chaos, success is arbitrary, and confidence is everything.” Nothing is guaranteed in life, which is exactly why it’s OK to take risks sometimes; in fact, it might even be what’s best.
Gina values Captain Holt and his input but she’s not afraid to go after her own dreams, and Captain Holt respects her for it. He admits that although he is worried about her, he should have known after five years of working with her that she knows what she’s doing. Even though Gina loses the chess game (she denies this), she walks away a winner because, as she says, “Gina done reinvented the game.” Gina shows us the incredible strength, resilience, and self-awareness it takes to say to someone at work, much less your boss, “I appreciate your suggestion, but this is what I’m going to do instead because it’s the right thing for me to do.” Despite her disagreement, by listening to Captain Holt calmly and receptively, Gina proves she’s not actually being reckless at all.
It’s not just Gina’s strong will and undeniable wit that make this moment great. Undoubtedly, Captain Holt is an exemplary boss for a number of reasons — none more important than the mandatory neckties, of course — but his efforts to develop mutually respectful relationships with each of his squad members is truly admirable. That coupled with Gina’s jaw-dropping confidence (her parting gift to the precinct is a life-sized, golden statue of herself) is the perfect setup for success in the workplace. After all, you should always have a support system you can count on and it sure as hell doesn’t hurt if you’re a part of it.
It’s always time for Gina’s opinion so what’s next for “the Paris of people”? Well, off the top of her head, she could develop her own cryptocurrency called GinaCoin and make millions, or write a YA novel about “literally anything” and make millions, or discover a new type of melon and make millions. You get it. Regardless, according to Gina, nothing bad ever happens to her because she keeps a crystal in her pocket at all times. Birdie out. Ca-caw, ca-caw.