The Good Place: Jason Mendoza

“Bortals!”

In the episode called “Jason Mendoza” we literally meet Jason Mendoza. And he is sure a character. Turns out silent, wise, level-headed Jianyu is actually an amateur DJ, hip-hop background dancer, body-spray inventor, and Vine prankster who’s been pretending to be a Taiwanese monk (he’s actually Filipino and heaven’s racist) to stay in The Good Place. And, most importantly, Jason Mendoza is way too dumb to function.

I usually don’t love the dumb (or extra dumb) character on sitcom shows. Don’t get me wrong, I still like Andy from Parks and Rec and Joey from Friends (to a lesser extent) and the others, but not as much as the other characters. To me, they usually come off as extra cartoony and their stupidity makes it harder for them to grow—they’re usually dumber by the end of the series. But Jason mostly works for me. First of all, he belongs in The Bad Place because he is so stupid that he was incapable of garnering the necessary Good Place points, so it makes sense he’d be so incredibly dumb. Plus, the characters’ entire motivation on this show is to grow, to become better people so they can stay in The Good Place. Which means, even if Jason doesn’t somehow become smarter, he should grow in other aspects. Finally, his stupidity has already reached such crazy levels that there’s no way he could become dumber as the series goes on. And, if he does, then I would kind of have to give it up to the writers, wouldn’t I?

This week’s philosophy lesson is all about knowing the self. Turns out, Jason is all about that. Problem is, his self gets him in a lot of trouble. Back home it cost him a DJ gig and at The Good Place it could lead to his, Eleanor’s, and possibly Chidi’s damnation. Throughout the episode, Jason deals with a real existential dilemma: what do you do when you want to be yourself, but yourself sucks (as Eleanor puts it)? It’s a real question, especially when we’re constantly bombarded with platitudes about the importance of being yourself. Of course Jason’s confused. Eleanor, of all people, finally shows him that what we need to do is not give up who we are, but become better versions of ourselves. And Jason, showing Eleanor, Chidi, and the viewers that he’s not a total lost cause, listens to Eleanor and shows up for a lesson on how to do this. Which is enough to show me that Jason is capable of more than being a hilarious dummy; he’s also capable of deep inner conflicts that lead to actual growth.

Bits and Pieces

-- Tahani also wants Jason (or, to her, Jianyu) to grow. She works with Michael to help with a new restaurant’s opening, hoping the special occasion will move Jason to speak. Obviously, things go horribly wrong, leading to a massive, growing sink hole. And possibly killing Glen? His soup’s okay though, and that’s all that matters.

-- Apparently anything can be up to 104 percent perfect. It’s how we got BeyoncĂ©.

-- Jason had dreams. He wanted to DJ in Daytona, Tallahassee, Tampa even.

Jason: “I think we might be in an alien zoo or on a prank show.”
Eleanor: “No Jianyu, we’re dead”
Jason: “Oh, that’s a dope prank. Gotta give it up.”

Eleanor: “You crashed your jet ski into a manatee?”
Jason: “Yeah, I’m from Jacksonville Florida, it happens a lot.”

Tahani, on her most successful gala: “International Sophisticate magazine gave us five Gwyneths.”

Chidi, when Eleanor’s distraction causes the sink hole: “You broke the world. That’s not a compliment.”

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