The Good Place: Chidi Sees the Time-Knife

Eleanor: “There’s this chicken sandwich that, if you eat it, it means you hate gay people! And it’s delicious!”

We finally got to go to the Interdimensional Hole of Pancakes, which was chosen by Michael for the meeting because the Judge doesn’t have her full powers in there (and they are all rightfully scared of Judge Gen). It’s a wacky and very dangerous place, and a wild and daring episode.

The episode is very talky, as they come up with a plausible theory to explain why humans are always being sent to the Bad Place now, and figure out a way to test it. So there’s conflict and resistance, but not the usual deception and running around to add tension. Some danger is caused by the IHOP location, which would be gratuitous except that we’ve heard about the dangers of the IHOP before. Poor Tahani attracts a Neednoggle, a creature that apparently needs to snuggle. It drapes itself around her neck, while all the non-humans keep yelling at her, “Don’t touch it!” And Chidi accidentally steps into the time-knife, which is also an unpleasant and probably dangerous experience.

The episode keeps things from appearing static by changing the scene. The Judge changes the appearance of the IHOP to a real House of Pancakes, and later, since they seem to be in conference, to a conference room (the conference room is where Chidi slips into the time-knife). Tahani’s Neednoggle’s appearance has been transformed into a scarf, but the non-humans warn her that it’s still dangerous.

Michael makes his case to the Judge: no human has made it to the Good Place for more than five centuries because every action has so many unintended consequences. Hence, it’s impossible for anyone to live a good life. The Judge scoffs at this – “Your argument is that life is complicated?” – but then, of all people, Jason steps forward and presents an example from his experiences that makes the problem much clearer to everyone. The Judge is persuaded to take a visit to Earth. Because the writers can do anything they want to with time in this show, she blips away and immediately blips back, with experiences to recount. She agrees that making good decisions is impossible.

Still, that doesn’t help the Judge decide what to do. Chidi suggests that they need more data and that they should run Michael’s experiment again – and this time collect data rigorously. Shawn from the Bad Place is brought into conference, and after some discussion they decide to put the new simulated Good Place in Mindy St. Clair’s Medium Place. This means we’ll keep having the chance to pop in on Mindy and Derek. Mindy has made some improvements to Derek, and he’s now wearing a tux and holding a martini glass (characteristics that would certainly appeal to Mindy, who still wears a professional suit despite having lived completely alone for some many years).

The episode ends just before one of the four newly selected humans is about to wake up and meet Michael. We get to see the guy, “John,” sitting on the couch with his eyes closed. Michael, however, has a panic attack; so much is riding on this experiment! Also, we know that the demons from the Bad Place will interfere. And what about the fake humans, being created by Janet to populate the rest of the simulated Good Place? Will any of them malfunction? Will we enjoy meeting the new fab four or will it feel like a repeat of the first year? Will we stick with the experiment for an entire season, or will the writers move on to the next dazzling object? Lots of potential, and a very gutsy move by the writers.

Title musings:“Chidi sees the time-knife” is the title of this episode, and apparently just refers to the scene where Chidi made a literal faux pas and gets sucked into some weird vortex. And of course it does refer to that, and is also a great title, because "Chidi sees the time-knife" is an odd enough phrase that people will go, “What?” – a great way to get attention. But I want to mention (surprisingly not mentioned in the episode) that Chidi’s concerns, which were mocked in earlier episodes, turn out to have been right all along. He knew that he shouldn’t be drinking almond milk but he just couldn’t help himself. He had trouble making decisions for the right reasons. Another point: the unintended consequences and the impact on the point system appear to have started shortly after Columbus journeyed to the Americas. The reconnection of the continents, the beginning of the exchange, led to plenty of unintended consequences.

Bits and pieces

I loved the Neednoggle when the judge gave it the appearance of a scarf.

Delightful to see that the new version of Derek is all dressed up and always sporting a martini glass. But the glass is still off-beat, at one point containing a lemon and another containing a bunch of olives.

Jason and Janet decide to start dating, and Jason is jealous of Derek, which leads to some great dialogue about how Derek is kind of her son (since she created him) as well as a rebound-from-Jason booty call.

The idea that no one has gotten into the Good Place for more than 500 years contradicts the assertion that President Lincoln made it, a morsel that was mentioned by Michael in one of the earlier episodes. Possibly Michael was lying (or, what I suspect, the writers hadn’t figured everything out yet). Certainly Lincoln deserves a big credit for ending slavery, but being the Commander of an army in any war is bound to have plenty of negative consequences.

So, why hasn’t Accounting noticed this problem? They should have seen that “bringing your sick grandmother flowers” has gone from being a positive to a negative. Oh, well. They were remarkably incurious about everything. Or maybe I am poking too hard at a great story.

Alas, Tahani didn’t get much to do in this episode. I hope one of the new humans is just the right guy for her.

Quotes

Judge Gen: Don’t suck up to me, you suck-up.

Michael: Humans think they’re making one choice, but they’re actually making dozens of choices that they’re not aware of.
Judge: Your big revelation is life is complicated? That’s not a revelation. That’s a divorced woman’s throw pillow.

Judge Gen: Earth is hot and crowded, but somehow also somehow cold and lonely.

Michael: If you eat anything in this place, you’ll explode.
Jason: I knew it was an IHOP.

Overall Rating

When rating an episode, I look at it from several perspectives. The two questions that are most relevant here are: How amusing is it on its own? How well does it serve the arc of the series? On the first point, the episode was very talky. But on the second, the episode was absolutely brilliant. Three and a half out of four Neednoggles.

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

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

It would also mean Mindy is the best person of the last 500 years, which also seems inconsistent.. still really enjoying it! Helen

Victoria Grossack said...

Another fair point! But Mindy is GREAT and I would not want the series to be without her.

Lamounier said...

I'm so excited that they are going back to the fake Good Place. I have enjoyed this season, but it's been too much of a crazy ride and going back to a familiar place is just what the show needs. And it makes sense as the next chapter of this story. I'm also very happy with the prospect of more Mindy next season, she's the best.

I wonder who the four new humans will be. Will Simone be one of them? Poor Chidi is going to have a rough time if that's the case. And if Michael isn't ready to lead the experiment, will Eleanor replace him? I'm so excited for next week.

Chidi’s concerns, which were mocked in earlier episodes, turn out to have been right all along. He knew that he shouldn’t be drinking almond milk but he just couldn’t help himself.

Great catch, Victoria. And...

The reconnection of the continents, the beginning of the exchange, led to plenty of unintended consequences.

Another great observation, I'm impressed. Did the writers think of that? Because it makes total sense, that was the time the world became more connected.

Alas, Tahani didn’t get much to do in this episode.

Or this season. Except for the episode where she and her sister made amends, I have the feeling that there hasn't been enough Tahani. Here is hoping she gets more to do next season.

Billie Doux said...

I keep wondering what they'll do next and where they'll go from here, and they keep surprising me. Repeating the experiment is brilliant and it even makes sense.

Victoria Grossack said...

I'm hoping that next season will have a person who is more suitable for Tahani. Although she's fond of Jason, and she actually learned some stuff from him, it would be nice for her to have a real relationship. Although NOT having a relationship was important for her growth.

They do come up with neat stuff, don't they? I'm agog.

Victoria Grossack said...

Also, there's a book, 1493, by Charles C. Mann, which reviews many of the ways that the world changed after the voyages of Colmbus. We covered it in one of my reading groups and it was fascinating.