The Good Place: The Brainy Bunch

Eleanor: "I feel like last week I had my own personal ninja master, and now I’m taking tai chi with a bunch of farting housewives."

Intent on wrecking Michael's plans, Trevor shows up on Earth to join Chidi's study and torture the gang into breaking up.

Trevor’s goal is to break up the group. Michael asks Trevor why he didn’t report Michael’s cheating to the judge and simply get it over with? This is an excellent question. Trevor explains that this way is more fun (and justifies the episode). This reason would be lame on any other show, but in The Good Place, the reason is valid, because if you are eternal beings, you’ve got to be looking for something new to do.

And Trevor sure tries to create havoc. He knows that Eleanor came for Chidi, and so he tries to get Chidi to reject Eleanor because his socializing with her could impact the results of the study (so could having a demon infiltrate the study). So Chidi leaves the bar, then Eleanor leaves the bar, and Tahani and Jason leave together. This action of Tahani seems a bit uncharacteristic – but we’ve seen her become unhinged when drinking before, and we have to assume that the year on Earth may have influenced her.

Michael, who has already met our intrepid quartet on Earth, can’t explain his presence in Australia to anyone but Chidi, who thinks he’s a local librarian. To monitor things, Janet shows up instead, in the guise of a waitress at the American bar. She is suddenly unable to summon stuff, but is limited to having to actually fetch things and to carry them with her hands.

The heart of the matter is the relationship between Eleanor and Chidi. Trevor is able to threaten it, and Eleanor is planning to leave the continent, but Chidi – perhaps he’s able to act because he’s so sleep-deprived, something which does remove inhibitions – Chidi goes to her digs and asks her to stay. This to me was moving. So far in the series, Chidi has asked little of Eleanor (just that she do things like the dishes) while Eleanor has asked a lot of Chidi. Nice to see it go the other way.

As for Tahani and Jason, the camera barely shows them at the beginning, and Jason, especially, does not seem to bring much to the show (although he really is an excellent dancer). Maybe I’m being too harsh. I did like how he was holding a spider in his hands before the MRI (note: Australia has some very dangerous spiders, and I hope they got Jason treatment immediately).

Of course, eventually the Judge does discover what the Janet and the demons (remember, Michael is still a demon) are up to, and she summons them (via the Doorman, whose name we learn is Jeff) to tell them that the whole project is canceled. The Judge sends Trevor immediately to The Bad Place. Before she can do anything to Michael and Janet, everything that Janet tried to summon while on Earth starts showing up and the Judge is blocked (this in my opinion is the best scene visually). Then we find that the Doorman is on the side of Michael and Janet, another great moment.

Title musings
Trevor’s sweatshirts show us that “The Brainy Bunch” is a play on “The Brady Bunch,” which can be associated with three males (Chidi, Jason and Trevor) and three females (Eleanor, Tahani and Simone). The Brady kids were also forced together, as are our quartet, so I guess that’s OK. And “brainy” sort of works because Simone is running MRIs on the group’s brains. But it’s not a great title.

Bits and pieces

What’s up with lemon bars and TV involving hell? An episode of Lucifer also mentioned lemon bars. Or are they really tasty, and I’m simply unaware (I try to avoid carbs and sugar).

The restaurant they go to, the Cowboy Skyscraper Buffet, brings together three items frequently associate with Americans: the Wild West, the tall buildings, and overeating.

Hope everyone noticed that Chidi was so sleep-deprived that he misspelled “Plato” as “Palto” on his whiteboard. That’s serious sleep-deprivation.

The Judge blames Brexit on Michael's meddling. While this ripple effect is ridiculous, it reminds us that The Good Place is out of sync with our time. After they died, two years passed on Earth (during the first two seasons of the show). The writers sent them back to the times of their deaths, and then added a year - but they have to be at least one year behind us now.

Quotes

Eleanor: It’s so nice to hear someone say, ‘Eleanor, you’re the reason all this is happening,’ who isn’t the judge of a small-claims court.

Eleanor: Jason, do you think taking a spider with you into an MRI machine will give you superpowers?

Trevor: Dick Tracy called. He said you’re a butt-face and he’s been plowing your mom.
...
Michael: I’m currently formulating a better comeback to your Dick Tracy burn, and it’s going to devastate you.

Janet: Humans live only 80 years, and they spend so much of it waiting for things to be over.

Michael: I’m bad at lying now. That used to be my thing.

Michael: Do you know what I like to do in situations like these?
Chidi: I haven’t told you anything about what I’m going through.
Michael: Do that first, then I’ll tell you what I do in situations such as the one you’re about to describe. I‘ve been in every situation because I’m a librarian.

Tahani: I wouldn’t blame you should you ostracize me for my boorish behavior.
Jason: You weren’t boring. You were fun.

Overall Rating

Plenty of witty moments, but The Good Place shows so far are best considered as part of an arc, so evaluating an episode before I know what will happen with it is a little dicey. Three out of four keychain frogs.

Victoria Grossack loves math, Greek mythology, Jane Austen and great storytelling in many forms.

4 comments:

Billie Doux said...

Lemon bars are wonderful.

I agree that it's hard to rate an episode that's in the middle of an arc, but I always enjoy Janet. The details at the ridiculous American cliche restaurant were funny. Trevor was also funny and super disgusting at the same time, and I thought it showed growth on Eleanor's part that she saw right through him and avoided him, even though he kept flattering her.

And I think I'm in love with the Judge. :)

Alex Ray-Snyder said...

Lemon bars are alright. Super sweet. I can believe hell is butthole spiders and lemon bars.

sunbunny said...

Lemon bars don't have to be super sweet. The ones at Corner Bakery are good and not too sweet. My favorites are the ones they used to have in the coffee shop near my house. Sadly, they switched bakers several years ago. 😔

Victoria Grossack said...

It is always sad when a beloved recipe vanishes.