The Good Place: Everything is Great!

“It’s a rare occurrence, like a double rainbow or someone on the internet saying ‘you know what, you convinced me I was wrong.’”

After exploding the show’s entire premise in an extraordinary season finale, The Good Place starts again with an entirely new premise. And then it destroys that one, as well.

The reveal of the twist allows the show to open a whole bunch of windows into story-telling. Most exciting, we finally get to see Michael’s point of view. Michael was a bit of an all-knowing figure last season, always relegated to the background. This made sense, given that he was always supposed to be close to god-like. But now we know the real reason for this was because Michael was actually puppeteering the humans, orchestrating their torture. And now that we know that we get to see him puppet.

It’s pretty smart, his torture strategy. Every specific plan fits the characters perfectly. And the audience can see that after getting to know the characters last season. He tortures Eleanor by sticking her with a bunch of people who are better than her to build up her insecurity, expecting her to blow up and unleash her insecurity on the entire neighborhood during a drunken speech. He tortures Chidi by forcing him to choose between a couple of potential soul mates and then informing him of his “real” soulmate when he finally makes up his mind; relying on his debilitating indecision and self-destructive need to always act ethically. He tortures Tahani by attacking her image of success and prestige through her short soulmate, tiny house, and “plummeress” clothes, while simultaneously making it impossible for her to complain or risk appearing like she doesn’t belong there. And finally, he tortures Jason by making it impossible for him to ever be himself.

It really is an expert, well thought-out plan. And if humans were as simple as butt-spiders and the like, maybe it would have gone better. But humans aren’t. So Eleanor’s too focused to get drunk, Tahani’s so broken down that she gets drunk, Jason escapes his spiritual soulmate, Chidi helps Eleanor, and they all figure out pretty quickly they aren’t in the Good Place. Even if it weren’t for Eleanor’s convenient clue from the more self-actualized, non-brainwiped Eleanor, their individual quirks and impulses probably would’ve poked holes in the plan, anyway.

So, instead of another season of the four humans being individually tortured while we watch Michael twirl his mustache behind the scenes, the whole thing is blown up all over again. And the direction of the second season is anyone’s guess (anyone who hasn’t already watched it, of course).

Bits and Pieces

-- It was really cool to see the way some aspects of the previous season bleed into this one. Eleanor once again can’t remember Janet’s name because she’s back to the inconsiderate Eleanor of the pilot. Chidi assumes he failed to make it to the Good Place because he kept drinking almond milk. Because they may have lost their memories but they’re still the same people with the same humble beginnings.

-- The episode also did a really great job playing up the disassembled structure. Seeing Eleanor pass her shots onto someone else and then finding out that someone else was Tahani. Feeling confused with Eleanor over the weird metal thing Jason gives her, and then finding out it’s the gear from the bicycle he sabotaged.

-- Michael is in pretty hot water with his boss, who doesn’t know about his second failed attempt, and even his coworkers seem to be losing interest in the whole scheme. Things aren’t looking good. For Michael, at least. This could go either way for the humans.

-- Poor Chuck really just wants to bite people. I know they’re demons and they’re evil and all, but they’re really just out of their depth.

-- Chidi once had a panic attack at a make-your-own-sundae bar because there were too many toppings. I understand.

Eleanor: “People are like nature’s apps.”

Tahani: “It’s just an unfortunate Freudian short.”

Tahani: “I’m just not used to dressing like a plumberess. Is that what you call a female plumber or is it a toilet sweep or a clockwench?”

Tahani: “Oh God, what’s happened to me? I’m praising off the rack separates!”

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