The Good Place: The Snowplow

"You can't just reset things the moment something doesn't go according to your plan."

The first three episodes of the season were all about (1) bringing the four humans together and (2) giving Michael and Janet a reason to be on Earth. Now with these elements in place, "The Snowplow" takes the next logical step:

Have the Brainy Bunch walk into Michael and Janet. But that only happens in the last few seconds and, before we get there, the episode covers a lot of ground.

It's a year in the life of Eleanor, Chidi, Tahani and Jason, and through three time jumps we see Tahani get back together with an ex-boyfriend – Larry, the Hemsworth brother no one ever hears about – get engaged with him and prepare to leave Australia and go back to London with him. That means the end of the Brainy Bunch, which seems like a natural step, since Chidi and Simone's experiment is not bound to last forever. But Eleanor is too upset by the idea of losing touch with the people that have made her a better person, which brings out the worst part of her when she can't convince Tahani to stay.

Eleanor has always been the one that evolved the most through all various incarnations. By the end of season two, she was the only one who passed the Judge's test, and she even declined her spot in the real good place to stay with her friends. While she doesn't remember any of that, I believe her soul, essence or whatever can recognize the precious bond she has with these people. So she is willing to fight for them whether it shows her nobility or her selfishness.

I imagine that not everyone who will read this review knows what a little show called Dollhouse was about, but it featured people who had their minds wiped. There is an episode in which the characters are given their personalities back, sans the memories, and they still go after the things they needed more desperately. I believe something similar happens with the four humans of The Good Place: they might have had their memories reset, but their personalities retained the change, which is why all four of them immediately try to improve themselves when they are brought back to life, and also why Eleanor can't let go of her Brainy Bunch. She has stood by their side at the cost of losing heaven, why would she do any differently now? It's a soul memory, if you will.

Simone has a different and harsher approach to Eleanor's behavior, although it's not necessarily contradictory to mine. It's more philosophical, and I have to commend this show's ability to discuss philosophy in a way that is natural to the story. Simone is a terrific character – such a great addition to this series – and what she tells Eleanor prompts her to go back and apologize to her friends. They have a little nice moment of bonding, and their one-year arc story comes to an end as they agree to visit one another regularly. The Good Place's storytelling is seriously impressive.


While Simone tries to be the voice of reason to Eleanor, Janet tries to talk Michael into his senses. See, Michael is obsessed with interfering in the humans' lives. He is the one that sets up Tahani and Larry to meet (to prevent Tahani and Jason from starting an affair, an intervention Janet readily approves) and when that backfires later, he pushes Eleanor to try to convince Tahani to stay. Janet realizes that enough is enough, that Michael needs to let the humans walk their paths by themselves, but even then he decides to go the extra mile of resetting the timeline on Earth. Thankfully, he and Janet are caught when they are about to leave Earth.

But why does Michael want to save these four humans so much? He was a demon for all eternity, could a few months of alliance with four doomed humans change him that much? Or is it possible that he is a fake demon who has been trying to bring down the points' system all along? If that's the case, then he needs Eleanor, Chidi, Tahani and Jason, or at least one of them, to succeed. Or does he really?

Side story here, I was raised an evangelical Christian, and when I was 22 years old I started to question my faith big time. The doctrine of hell and salvation, in particular, just didn't seem right. I mean morally right. If you have a kid and they disobey you, would you ever tell them: "Kid, I will give you one way, and one way only, to redemption. And if you don't walk that way, I will lock you in a chamber of torture for the rest of your life." Now, you wouldn't do that to your kid, would you? Then why would God? I won't go into details about that Christian doctrine, but it was one of the major reasons why I lost my faith.

In that regard, I think Michael will try and fail to make the humans worthy of the good place. Because, as this episode showed with Eleanor, one's best qualities walk side by side with their worst flaws. How can anyone ever score enough points that way? It still doesn't make them worthy of hell. The Good Place can have Michael prove that he is right, that he can save Eleanor and her friends, but it will be a superior lesson to have him fail and still show just how morally wrong sending people to the bad place is. In the long run, the series' goal might be to critique our society's vision of hell and eternal punishment. Or at least I secretly hope so.

Bits and Pieces

- Tahani allegedly dated Tom Brady.

- Tahani and Larry are a perfect fit, considering they both walk in the shadows of their famous siblings.

- Michael started a conversation with Eleanor by offering shrimps. Clever.

- Eleanor complimented Simone for burning her. That's classic Eleanor.

- Janet knew which was the winning lottery ticket, that's very handy. Is that how Janet and Michael were getting money?

- I loved Janet spilling the beans on peoples' secrets.

- Michael and Janet might be without their superior powers, but Michael's understanding of the universe and Janet's infinite knowledge are certainly differentiated assets.

- Michael can't rock an Australian accent, though. I don't get it. In The Good Place's universe, shouldn't Michael be able to speak any language with any accent he chooses? Am I being too dense?

Quotes

Janet: "Eleanor farted, and then she blamed it on her chair. That's gonna cost her at least a few points."
I'm doomed.

Eleanor: "I won $18,000!"
Chidi: "Wow."
Jason: "That's amazing."
Tahani: "Better luck next time."

Tahani: "I enjoy American football. I actually dated a player once. But he wasn't my type, so I set him up with my friend Gisele... B√ľndchen."
Eleanor: "Yeah, we got it. We always get it."

Janet: "If I'm going to the mall anyway, I might as well pick Jason up some jean shorts, the kind with the frayed edges, where you can see the pockets coming out the bottom? So that he can study better."

Tahani: "The reunion was a smashing success. It's a pun, you see. We had intercourse."
Eleanor: "Yeah, again, I always get it."

Tahani: "Fixing babies' spines is just as valuable as acting."

Eleanor: "Sorry, the deed is done! Pip pip, too late! Farewell to you, my liege. And a jolly good Saint Ploopington's Day to all of you!"
Kristen Bell always nails the delivery of lines like this.

Eleanor: "It says it's ten kilometers away, which is... I don't even know how far."

Simone: "The next problem to overcome was 'us versus them.' Trying to see other groups different from ours as equals. That one we're still struggling with. That's why we have racism, and nationalism and why fans of Stone Cold Steve Austin hate fans of The Rock."

Very good episode. It's either four out of four Brainy Bunch cakes, or close.
--
Lamounier

5 comments:

sunbunny said...

I think shading Michael's accent was a statement on Ted Danson's (in)ability to do a convincing Australian accent more than anything. Logically, Michael probably should be able to do it, but Danson clearly can't so I think the show was having fun at his expense. I'll have more thoughts on the ep in the morning. It's late and my brain is tired.

Blake Beartles!

Victoria Grossack said...

By covering a year in this episode, The Good Place is now in sync with our reality as well. I also loved how Eleanor punched out another cake.

I do wonder how the writers are going to move this forward, though; it's got to be a real challenge. The best way to keep up the tension is through conflict and through great stakes, but our four mortals are unaware of the stakes, and this desire to be good is vague. Also, the real world is not as much fun as the good place (or the bad place). Will Michael or Janet let them know what is really going on?

Love that Janet, who can no longer summon material goods, has found another way to manipulate the situation by using her knowledge of everything. Those bits were great.

Billie Doux said...

Yeah, I'm really loving Janet. "And by the way, your aunt is really your mom."

That ending. I honestly have no idea whatsofreakingever where they go from here. That's one of the things I love about this series. It is completely untethered, and yet what they do also makes sense. That's not an easy thing to achieve.

Lei said...

"Then why would God? I won't go into details about that Christian doctrine, but it was one of the major reasons why I lost my faith."

I am Christian and have never believed in that doctrine, nor was taught that way. It is sad that so many lose faith over something that can be explained away with your very same illustration.

This show brings up so many moral and philosophical scenarios in an entertaining manner.

Remco said...

I was brought up a Christian, though I stopped believing at some point. Not because of hell though. My teachers never wanted to talk about hell, to the point where they said that it did not exist. I haven't really studied Christianity since losing my faith, but there seem to be different schools of thought about what hell means. I don't think it is explained in the Bible.