The Good Place: Category 55 Emergency Doomsday Crisis

Tahani: “I brought some cheer and sustenance to raise your spirits. See, donut holes! Do you get it? Donut hole, sink hole. Funny, no?”
Janet: “No. Too soon. By exactly nine days.”

“Category 55 Emergency Doomsday Crisis” uses the giant sink hole to delve deeper into Tahani and Chidi’s characters, show Eleanor making real change—even dumb Jason shows character growth by understanding the latest philosophy lesson (on utilitarianism). All the while delivering some pretty great laughs. This was one of my favorite episodes when I first watched and now I see why.

So the giant sink hole Eleanor caused accidentally-on-purpose last episode is creating serious problems. So serious that Michael sounds a lockdown when Eleanor and Chidi are in the middle of a huge fight. Eleanor’s been a burden to Chidi’s ability to enjoy his time in The Good Place, and Eleanor’s pissed at being called a burden. After being stuck in a tense, passive-aggression filled house for a few days, they reach their breaking point when a marriage counselor and a human lie-detector show up. Finally, Chidi admits the source of his problem with Eleanor: he’s never had a soulmate.

A little later, in a very sweet scene, Eleanor tells Chidi that she’s a utilitarian nightmare for him. The more he helps Eleanor so she can stay, the less likely he is to ever meet his real soulmate. We see this dynamic play out at the start of the episode: Eleanor has a major breakthrough at the frozen yogurt shop and immediately runs to announce this to Chidi, leaving him with no frozen yogurt. Chidi seems to understand how hard this dynamic is on him but continues to go through with the lessons because it’s his ethical responsibility to help Eleanor, even if he has to suffer for it. We see here that Chidi isn’t just a straight-laced nerd with a constant upset stomach, he is also burdened by a constant need to weigh his ethical choices and eventually act in ways that may lead to his own harm.

Elsewhere, Tahani also has a terrible time during the lockdown. She steals a quick peak at the neighborhood rankings and finds out she has the next-to-least amount of Good Place points. This seriously rattles Tahani and through a series of flashbacks we see why: Tahani’s always felt second-best to her big sister Kamilah, and her parents’ and the worlds’ affinity for Kamilah only made this worse. This explains some of Tahani’s bombastic behavior—why she’s always name-dropping and throwing huge parties. She feels the need to prove to the world and to herself that she does measure up. This really softens Tahani’s character and makes her much more relatable without changing who she is.

By the end of the episode the lock-down is over, the sink hole is no more, Eleanor’s made amends with Chidi, and Tahani’s been briefly satisfied knowing she beat out millions of people to make it to The Good Place. All the episode’s problems may be solved, but we now will have a greater understanding of why Chidi’s getting his constant stomach aches or why Tahani always needs to showboat. And, although Eleanor’s made great progress, her soul is still at risk—maybe greater risk than ever now that Michael is determined to solve the problem with The Good Place with Eleanor’s help.

Bits and Pieces

-- Some of the new frozen yogurt flavors: a mother’s love, recognized actor’s voice from commercial voiceover, unmitigated joy, baby kittens, your favorite theme song, [indescribable but delicious], peeling an orange in one piece, finding a kidney donor, and satisfying TV finale (does that one hurt Game of Thrones fans?)

-- Kamilah is the youngest person to graduate from Oxford University, a world-class painter, social activist, iconoclast, Olympic gold-medalist for archery, BAFTA award-winning on her documentary on her Grammy award-winning album, and the person voted most likely to be Banksy. I’d be crazy jealous and insecure if she were my sister, too.

-- Apparently Jameela Jamil (who plays Tahani) gets a bunch of comments asking about Kamilah on all her social media posts.

Michael: “I’ve been working on my Western Hemisphere brunch banter. Tell me what you think. That New Yorker article was crazy! You haven’t seen Hamilton? Hey, did you hear about Stephanie?”

Michael describing a Category 55 Emergency Doomsday Crisis: “It’s nothing. It’s a tiny little inconvenience. Tahani, dear, could you show us to a private room where no one could see or hear us even if I yell very loudly out of fear?”

Kamilah: “I’m auctioning off a lunch date with me. The bidding shall commence at three million pounds.”
Tahani and Kamilah’s dad: “Five million!”

Eleanor: “I think they may have just come here to, you know, swing. I say we do it! It will get them to stop asking questions.”
Chidi: “I am not having sex with someone to get them to stop talking to me.”
Eleanor: “Really? You and me are very different.”

Eunice: “There's still quite a lot of, um, money and property that goes to you. There is one issue, however. They have, um, spelled your name incorrectly in the will.”
Tahani: “You've got to be kidding me.”
Eunice: “It says ‘we bequeath the rest of our estate to Tahini.’ Like the sauce.”

3 comments:

sunbunny said...

"does that one hurt Game of Thrones fans?" Too soon. By exactly nine days.

Victoria Grossack said...

One of my favorite episodes! Great review, Ariel.

Ariel Williams said...

Thanks Victoria Grossack! And my condolences sunbunny!