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The Good Place

The Good Place – Dance Dance Resolution (2×03)

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The Good Place blew up, multiple times on this week’s episode and Eleanor may have finally found her soulmate.

Just when you think this series cannot get any better or that they won’t bounce back from such an epic twist, they hit you with a giddy episode filled to the brim with hilarious escape plans by Eleanor, Chidi and sometimes Tahani and Jason, who realize that they’ve been living this same afterlife more than 800 times.

While Michael’s superiors believe he’s still on trial #2, he’s been rebooting “The Good Place” at record speeds as Eleanor keeps forking figuring it out. That one time Jason actually got it, Michael admitted it was a low point.

Michael believes that wiping their memories clean will do the trick but he fails to change their surroundings and each time, somehow, someway, these four find their way to each other. Fate works in funny ways. They’re triggered by a sort of familiarity and finally, with the idea that no one would be suffering even remotely, and never being forced to eat clam chowder, they realize that they are being tortured.

In order to make them believe in the narrative, the four of them must be separated. And even then, with different soulmates, they somehow are drawn to each other and to the truth. What does that say about humans, even the “worst kind” that should end up in hell? Are they smarter than Michael believes?

Finally, during one of Michael’s “I give up” moments, Eleanor and Chidi accidentally overheard the “actors” talk about the bad place. They decided to seek refuge in the middle-place with Mindy St. Claire, the coke-fueled 80s woman who found middle ground between the two worlds. Eleanor thinks she’s so clever arriving here but it seems like this has been a popular pit-stop for the four humans. Much to Mindy’s dismay, each time, they forget to bring the cocaine she’s asked for.

Still, she has to be grateful that Michael’s experiment finally gives her mundane existence some kind of excitement. I know I’m grateful because thanks to her and her curiosity, we now know something I don’t think Michael is aware of – Chidi and Eleanor are actually soulmates. They exchanged ‘I love you’s’ and slept together and we know all about it because Mindy has to keep herself entertained somehow.

I think their relationship is actually the key to why Michael is unable to make them suffer. They are in love so they’ll always find their way back to each other and realize that the bliss they feel together, isn’t the bliss they’re feeling around Michael or anyone in the neighborhood.

While Eleanor and Chidi realize they’re actually in love and look through all of their failed plans at stopping Michael, which includes making Michael think this is the bad place, the creator is being harassed by Vicky/Denise/the real Eleanor.

She’s been thoroughly enjoying watching all of Michael’s failures and keeping track of them.  She informs him that the actors are on strike until their demands are met and calls for a bigger part; she wants to be the creator and believes she has a solution that would serve up a world where Eleanor doesn’t figure it out. When Michael opposes, she threatens to out him to his superiors.

Hitting his lowest point, he acknowledges that whatever her name is, has leverage over him and turns to Jason/Jianyu for some advice. Jason’s ramblings about a dance crew actually gives Michael an idea – he needs allies.

“So what do you say, new best friends?” he asks a shocked Eleanor, Chidi and Tahani, who now know more than they ever did before.

The Good Place really took “making friends with the devil” to a whole new level.

Can Michael be trusted? And what does he mean by “new best friends.”

In a perfect world, which this isn’t, the foursome would agree to play dumb, never admitting that they are aware that the good place is, in fact, the bad place, thus saving Michael from being burned by a thousand suns.

And if the tradeoff is that they have to accept clam chowder as a delicacy, then so be it.

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The Good Place

The Good Place – Somewhere Else (2×12)

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The good Place Somewhere Else

If for no other reason, The Good Place takes home the award for best series simply because of that nod to Cheers.

Ted Danson behind a bar, serving drinks after all these years? TV gold!

Then, of course, the series also gets the credit for continuously re-inventing itself and doing it so brilliantly and authentically.

How do they fit so much wisdom, ethics and zingy one-liners in 30-minutes?

The season finale picks up with Michael’s arrival at the judge’s office. He argues that the humans deserve another chance because the system is flawed.

Seems like not much changes when you die: the determination between heaven and hell is still a broken system much like on Earth.

Instead of being eternally miserable in the fake Good Place, they actually became better when they died. And that means hundreds of other people could have been wrongfully condemned.

While the humans are waiting for a verdict from a judge who offers homemade guac (literally, what an angel), Jason thinks back on his crazy year. To top it off, Janet pops in to reveal that she’s completely in love with him.

Hey, nothing like telling someone how you really feel when you think you’re running out of time. Are we sure Janet isn’t actually a human?

Chidi was so inspired by Janet, he didn’t rationalize either and for the first time ever, made the quickest decision of his life when he went to kiss Eleanor.

I haven’t really been a Chidi and Eleanor shipper, but hot diggity, that was some kiss.

Too bad, they won’t actually get to explore THIS version of the relationship — at least not anytime soon — because The Judge and Michael’s decided to test a theory.

While the Judge believes the humans only learned to be good because there was a reward, Michael knew that they just needed a little push in the right direction.

So the action to save their souls is actually to give them another chance on Earth. I’m wondering if this is the real version of Earth or if they are still dead but simply believe they are amongst the living? Is any of this even legal?! How could this be happening?

With the snap of a finger, Eleanor is back in that parking lot arguing with a wimpy dude about the planet when she drops her margarita mix and a string of grocery carts come rushing at her.

We know how this story is supposed to end, but Michael intervenes at the carts hit a truck.

Eleanor is so shaken by her near-death experience and inspired by her second chance at life, that she decides to be a good person.

She quits her crappy ponzi-scheme pharmaceutical job and teams up with the wimpy dude to save the environment.

She also starts telling the truth about everything, which turns out to be a lot more trouble for her. Think lawsuits and lost friends.

After 6-months, she gives up on being good because there’s simply no point; no reward.

Michael is so disappointed with this turn of events but decides that once again, Eleanor just needs a little push.

Cue the scene where he revives his Cheers character, Sam Malone.

Eleanor may be drunk, but she’s still really keen on talking about that stint in her life where she tried to be good. Michael leaves her with a few pieces of advice: listen to the voice in your head and “what do we owe each other.”

The next day, sober Eleanor googles what Michael said and it leads her to Professor Chidi’s 3-hour long talk.

She’s so enthralled with the ethics lesson, she books a flight to meet him in Sydney.

And really, who wouldn’t be? Chidi gives us some gems about “choosing to be good bonds us with other people” and “not in this alone and never were.”

His thoughts about what it means to be good echoes what the series keeps hammering home: friendship is what got them here.

They wouldn’t have become better people in the Bad Place had it not been for each other, but does that ring true on Earth?

Obviously, Earth Chidi and Earth Eleanor are a lot less woke than the deceased and superior versions of themselves. Will they get along? Form a friendship? Guide each other down a path of righteousness?

Will they actually be soulmates in a world with 7 billion people?

Now, if this works, Michael has saved himself and the humans. They will change the system, restore the proper checks and balances and nail down a more concrete way to measure what makes someone bad and good in the afterlife.

We’ve only touched the tip of the iceberg with Earth Eleanor. There are so many possibilities here, including at least three episodes getting to know Chidi, Jason and Tahani. We’ve think we know who they were on Earth, but this will really round out their characters, quite possibly giving them their best chance to date.

And if not, at least Michael gets to seemingly redeem himself! Had it not been for his fails, they would have never seen the loopholes in the afterlife.

Other Thoughts

  • Tahani telling Eleanor that Maggie Smith is her grandmother had me in tears.
  • When asked how long they’d be stuck alone in the medium place, the Judge and Michael said: “between a month and a million years.” Yep, same.
  • Eleanor’s realization that being a good person is hard, tiring and brings you down could not be more on point.

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The Good Place

The Good Place – The Burrito (2×11)

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The Good Place Burrito

Jason’s thoughts after coming through the portal sum up my review of this week’s The Good Place: “that was aweeeeesssome.”

Based on the burrito — an extraordinary lunch choice, if I do say so myself — it was evident the judge was going to be someone they could reason with.

It briefly crossed my mind that maybe the burrito was the judge because like Eleanor said, crazier things have happened, but thankfully the judge cleared this up right away by stating “I’m the judge, that’s a burrito.”

And the judge was none other than Maya Rudolph, a comedic comedian who is able to deliver the perfect blend of the ditzy, blonde girl in class who loves people with accents and gets bored way too easily.

Also, her name was Gen, short for hydrogen because why not?

Upon a quick scan of their whole life, Jen ruled that they were definitely destined for the Bad Place.

But after hearing Tahani’s plea and for the sake of having something to do, she reconsidered and agreed to give them the test they’ve been so diligently studying for.

The foursome adopted an “all for one and one for all” gameplan; instead of taking the test individually, they chose to be graded as a group, with Eleanor chocking it up to getting this far only because of each other.

The judge ruled that as a stupid choice, but what does she know? She hasn’t been on this enlightening journey with them.

It’s that determination and dedication to each other that really withstands all the resets in the series. At the core, we’re dealing with a group of friends who rely on each other to get out of weird and crappy situations.

Those ethics classes? Yeah, none of them helped in this sitch. It’s like when you would study all night for a test only to find that none of the material was actually on it.

Jason’s test was a no-brainer; beat the Jaguars in a video game. It was THAT easy and yet he couldn’t manage it.

Tahani’s test required her to walk down the hallway and through the red door. The catch is that she needs to do it by ignoring all the people whispering what they really think about behind closed doors.

She failed, miserably, as she went in to confront her parents hoping they would at least focus on her for a few minutes. They didn’t. Most of their time was spent gloating about her sister, which is when she finally realized and accepted that she was never going to be good enough.

Her mother even had the audacity to call a dead girl fat!

Eleanor’s test was undoubtedly the most complicated because it wasn’t as straightforward as the others. Jen wanted to see if Eleanor was still her selfish-human-self.

Her and Chidi were told that there would be no test and offered up badges for safe passage. And while there was no test, there was a choice to be made, which would be Chidi’s downfall.

Eleanor played her cards carefully, asking Chidi over and over what he thought the “right” thing was.

Finally, she got her answer. Chidi explained that morally, staying behind wouldn’t do anything to lessen Tahani and Jason’s suffering. He then offered up the “ethics aside version” and tried to convince her that they deserved to be happy.

At that point, Eleanor knew she couldn’t take the bait — the real Chidi would never put ethics aside, nor would he be so certain of any decision, he’d want to convince her.

Personally, I found his passive profession of love the biggest red flag because time and time again, the series has made it clear that Chidi does not see them in a romantic way.

So, Eleanor was the only one that passed the test. And yet, when the judge brings it up to the group, she covers it up by making up a fake scenario and pretending she also failed. She’s so ride-or-die for her group.

For those wondering, Chidi’s test was literally a choice between a grey and brown fedora. And it still took him 82-minutes.

There literally was no right answer.

Back in the Bad Place, Michael was getting an earful from Sean about his ultimate betrayal.

Michael believed the humans deserved to be in the Good Place because his whole purpose was to prove the humans were capable of torturing each other and instead, they helped each other and became better people.

I was surprised to see that Sean didn’t immediately throw Michael to the dogs. He couldn’t risk all the scrutiny from such a failed project, so he decided since Michael is such an advocate for the humans, he’d appreciate being tortured like one.

Sitting in an empty room with stacks of unreadable New Yorker magazines piling inside for eternity did seem like a rather terrible way to go.

Then, as Bad Janet was going to lock him in with her rancid fart, the best plot twist of all came out of left field: this was actually GOOD JANET!

She karate-chopped Sean and then added another hit for good measure, just to make sure he wouldn’t follow them on their journey to the judge’s office.

So now we’re back at the judge’s office. She’s showing what’s supposed to be a sappy montage of their time spent together, which literally happened like 10-seconds ago. Are we sure she isn’t actually a millennial?

As they prepare to get sent to eternal damnation, they all seemed to make peace with it. Wherever they’re going, at least they tried their best and made some friends along the way.

Except it seems their luck is limitless because just as they are about to go back through the portal, out come Janet and Michael.

The way these three department function independently is almost reminiscent of every American company. No one ever knows what’s really going on, but somehow, they stay afloat. The Bad Place, The Good Place, The Middle Place and the Judge’s Place don’t ever cross paths, but somehow function as a whole. It’s astonishing.

Will this finally be the foursome’s big break into getting into The Good Place? Will both Janet and Michael be allowed there as well? Where is this next chapter going to take us as the plot resets itself over and over similar to Michael’s neighborhood?

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The Good Place

The Good Place – Rhonda, Diana, Jake and Trent (2×10)

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The Good Place Rhonda Diana Jake and Trent

And we’re off to the bad place.

There’s something about getting rid of the neighborhood that really tugs at the heartstrings. Even though it was supposed to be a form of personal torture, it actually began to feel like home. I think the four humans would agree.

On the long train ride there, Michael informs them that they’ll need to be able to blend in with all the other bad people.

Everyone is down for some disguises except Chidi. How can he go and appeal his case of getting into the good place when he did some pretty shady things to get there in the first place?

“I won’t lie about who I am,” he tells Eleanor, which honestly, is the last thing she wants to hear right now as they embark on this impossible mission.

He has a point; if you want to be a good person, you can’t pick and choose when to follow rules.

But as Eleanor puts it, sometimes, you have to do the bad thing because you have no other choice. She’s clearly been studying on her own!

Upon arrival in the bad place, they find that it isn’t pretty… I’m talking Pirates of the Carribean 6 is the only movie you can watch in theaters!

Michael embarks on a mission to get each of them pins and orders them to stay put in the museum of bad people, since no one ever goes there.

But as luck would have it, that’s where tonight’s bad place party is happening.

Without any way of reaching Michael, the foursome have to improvise and blend in with the others until he returns.

Immediately, you see that Tahani and Jason both fit in miraculously; he connects with the other bad people while she loves working the crowd. I wouldn’t be surprised if they stayed behind because they thoroughly enjoyed it here.

Things aren’t going so well for Chidi who is put the test when someone “recognizes” him. Apparently, he has a doppelganger in the bad place.

Michael goes back to the corporate headquarters to get some intel. They aren’t onto him just yet but things aren’t looking good because Shawn is sending in the Black Ops team, even though it’s illegal to send in any humans from the bad place there.

To make matters worse, the event that they are at is to immortalize the neighborhood for its “success,” despite the humans escaping.

When the Black Ops team finally raids Mindy St. Clair’s joint — she’s really enjoying Derek’s err, windchimes — they realize the humans are nowhere to be found.

At that moment, it dawns on Shawn that Michael has been aiding them. When he turns around, Michael’s already gone.

He arrives at the party just as they reveal the “wax” replicas of the four dumb humans.

Everyone at the party begins to recognize them as Rhonda, Diana, Jake and Trent, who they were just talking to.

As Shawn and his men close in, Michael leads the humans out but it’s Jason who saves them with his molotov cocktail. See, I knew there was a reason they kept him around! Who would have thought it would ever be Jason!?

 

That’s when he makes the ultimate sacrifice and gives his pin to Eleanor so that she can be saved.

“I just solved the trolley problem,” he tells her. “The solution is very simple, sacrifice yourself.”

It’s a critical scene because this proves that Chidi’s ethics classes actually paid off and the act of such selflessness makes him more human than he is demon.

Eleanor doesn’t accept because obviously, they’re a team and she can’t let Michael get punished for wanting to be their friend.

But he doesn’t give her much of a choice when he pushes her in.

What will happen to Michael now that Shawn knows he betrayed his own kind? How will the foursome find their way to the judge in the neutral zone?

I doubt we’ve seen the last of him. Shawn needs Micahel if he ever wants to find the humans. Michael is the only one who knows the humans, knows what they’re up to and knows how they operate.

After destroying the neighborhood, you would think the show would have lost its way but it continues accelerating at a rapid pace, making better versions of itself, just like the humans have been doing.

The show works when it puts the mortals in dire situations and forces them to put their ethical lessons to use.

Now we’re at a crossroads: do they deserve to go to the good place? And is that even where they belong?

Memorable Moments

  • There’s an iHop in hell but the pancakes eat you… which seems pretty accurate.
  • “Jason, this is hell, of course there’s a gift shop.”
  • Dax Shepard guest appearance was made that much better because it wasn’t with Kristen Bell!

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