The Good Place: Dance Dance Resolution

"What do we do? Panic, freak? I usually panic but I’m happy to freak.”

“Dance Dance Resolution” is probably my favorite episode of all television—no, the Buffy musical episode still holds that title. But it is probably my favorite comedic episode of all television. It uses all The Good Place’s strengths so well. But before I explain how, a brief synopsis:

Michael readies his third attempt at his “Good Place” scheme. This time the humans have no secret tricks or clues and Michael thinks the third time’s the charm. It seems like the rest of the season—or at least the rest of the episode— will be about the humans and Michael navigating this attempt. Except that by the time we reach the title sequence Eleanor’s figured it out again. So then we seem to be in for a compilation of various failed attempts, featuring hilarious sequences of Eleanor’s introductions to her various “soulmates,” Eleanor and the humans realizing they’re actually in the Bad Place (“Jason figured it out! Jason! This is a real low point. Yeah, this one hurts”) and Michael killing Janet off over and over again despite her convincing, automatic protests. But then things slow down again and we focus on one attempt: the one where all Michael’s demons give up on the scheme. Eleanor and Chidi realize they’re in the Bad Place when they walk in on the demons complaining (the fountain of clam chowder really should have been a dead giveaway) and Michael seeks advice from Jason about what he should do about his failing plan—and somehow Jason actually helps. In the end, the humans are once again aware of their fate and trying to hold off Michael, but, in a new twist, Michael is ready to team up with the humans against Vicki. Without context, this outcome seems completely crazy, but the show does such a great job of demoralizing Michael and the humans that a demon-human team-up seems the only reasonable solution.

So reason #1 why this is the best episode of all comedy shows: You never know what’s going to happen. This is something that’s always true of the overall plot of The Good Place. You think you’re in for a show about a sucky girl making it into heaven, needing to un-suck herself (that doesn’t sound eloquent), and then it turns out heaven was always hell and all the main characters are sucky people or demons (or whatever Janet is). And every episode has at least one crazy twist, but in this one the twists just kept on coming. In a world so overly saturated with television shows, it’s easy for plot-lines and characters to become predictable. It’s refreshing when you watch a show and you genuinely don’t know what to expect. It’s really refreshing when that’s true for every minute of the episode.

Reason #2: It’s just so unbelievably funny. Honestly, my notes mostly consist of line after line of amazing dialogue (it’s going to be painful to pick only a few for the quote section). There are amazing visual gags (that weird scene with the clown comes to mind), great one-liners (“What do we do? Panic, freak? I usually panic but I’m happy to freak”) and hilarious and—yes Michael—innovative torture techniques (that three hour spoken-word jazz opera may have gone a smidgen too far, but was still ridiculously funny). I don’t really know any other way to say this episode was hilarious, except to once again say this episode was hilarious.

Reason #3: Somehow, in the midst of all this, they managed to further the character and relationship development. I’m mainly talking about Eleanor and Chidi. Apparently, during one of the humans’ fifteen trips to the Medium Place, Eleanor told Chidi she loved him and, even more unbelievable, Chidi said it back. This is huge for Eleanor (who has only ever said “I love you” to two men: Stone Cold Steve Austin and a guy she mistook for Stone Cold Steve Austin) and Chidi (who’s had a panic attack over having to choose between frozen yogurt toppings). Now this version of Eleanor knows she must be capable of real growth, and we know selfish Eleanor and indecisive, anxious Chidi are capable of love, accepting and admitting to their love, and loving each other.

Because apparently anything is possible on The Good Place. (Was that too cheesy?)

Bits and Pieces

-- It’s important to note that Shawn still thinks they’re on attempt two.

-- Added to Eleanor’s incorrect names for Janet: Busty Alexa. I think she’s already used Robot Slave-Lady in another version, but I could be wrong.

-- The best attempt would have to be number 108, when Eleanor woke up and walked in on Michael while he was recording his pre-attempt notes.

-- Soulmates I wish we could have seen: Eleanor and Tahani and Eleanor and the golden retriever.

-- Chidi once again thinks he’s in the Bad Place because of almond milk. He loved the way it coated his tongue.

-- It wouldn’t be an episode of The Good Place without a philosophy lesson! Chidi explains to Eleanor that the humans are karma but they can’t learn from their mistakes. He calls it an epistemological nightmare.

Eleanor, about Tahani: “Go fork yourself you mean giraffe.”

Jason: “I’m too young to die! And too old to eat off the kids’ menu! What a stupid age I am!”

Janet, when trying to stop Michael from shutting her down: “I’m pregnant and this is your baby!”
And: “I had tickets to Hamilton and there’s a rumor that Daveed Diggs is coming back!”

Eleanor, on clam chowder: “Maybe they finally figured out clam chowder is disgusting cause it’s basically a savory latte with bugs in it.”
And: “Clam chowder is disgusting. It’s just hot ocean milk with animal croutons.”

I haven’t been doing episode ratings for The Good Place, but if I were I would give it one thousand out of four hilariously, spectacularly failed attempts.

2 comments:

Billie Doux said...

What a wonderful review, Ariel.

And the Buffy musical is probably my all-time favorite piece of television, too. :)

Ariel Williams said...

Thanks, Billie!