Can anyone really be surprised by Jakes moral compass? Did no one watch "The 9-8"? Jake arrested his first partner and buddy. My man Jake is a great person.
see i think that line - and it was such a brilliant little line - was meant to make us as viewers recall early season 1 jake who was a terrible secondary and slept with the medical examiner and horded cases and just. generally operated in a pretty selfish way. jake as a whole has never been a Bad Character - but there has been a very naturally developed, clearly defined shift in the type of person he is. his biggest goal in the earliest episodes was always to seek personal glory (he wanted to be The Best, he wanted to be john mcclane, he wanted his die hard moment because he really truly believed that while the other detectives do work hard, they don’t work as hard as he does), but as the show progresses we get to watch him grow and mature and expand his horizons. we literally get to watch him fall in love with amy - we get to watch him grapple with that - we get to watch him change. not to say that amy is his only reason to be a more selfless person - quite the opposite, in fact. she sparked that change in him, she sparked that shift in perspective, she made him realize that he wants to be a better man.
not to be completely self-serving here but i just wrote a one-shot that sort of encapsulates how i feel about all of this. it’s not that jake wasn’t doing Good And Moral Things before; it’s that there was always a very clear motivation of self-service in all of those decisions. arresting stevie might be the exception to that (but really one could argue that that decision was made after the start of the shift), but all of his other big decisions lead to him screwing up and having to own up to his mistakes. time and time again people have pointed out that jake making big mistakes and actually owning up to them is one of the biggest draws to brooklyn nine nine.
the jake that makes big decisions now, however, is very clearly making them with others in mind. even in the last 5-6 episodes of this season alone, we see 3 really clear examples of jake making decisions solely for other people’s benefit: jake lets amy win their bet in the fugitive part 1 because her happiness is way more important to him than him staying in his apartment, he willingly gives up his “dream job” because he trusts rosa and his friendship with her is more important than free chicken tenders, and he sacrifices saving his precinct - which would allow him a thousand more cases with charles - in order to take a very dangerous man off the streets of brooklyn. that’s one of the most fascinating, compelling things about jake peralta - even now that he’s “gotten the girl” so to speak, he’s not reduced to only doing things for her like other shows have done to their leads. he’s still who he was at the very beginning down in his core, except now he has a very clear knowledge and understanding that his actions affect the people around him. not only that, but he genuinely cares!! about the people around him!! all the people around him!!
idk i’m going off the rails a little bit here but my point is, it’s not so much that he wasn’t doing moral things before - it’s that he’s become a more moral person in general