Why do bad things always happen to mediocre people who are lying about their identities?
The Good Place picks back up at the neighbourhood meeting this week, with Michael announcing his retirement because he blames himself for all the bad things that have been happening. He asks Janet – who this will not affect in any way – to call a train to escort him into retirement.
After they witness Janet’s approximation of human crying – spot on work by D’Arcy Carden who should have all the Emmy’s btw – everyone retreats back home. Chidi thinks Eleanor did something to make Michael want to leave and he believes they need to come clean about EVERYTHING! She reasons that since Michael brought her there, this might be all his fault…boom, ethicsed.
The soulmates head over to Tahani’s who is of course throwing another party, this time for Michael’s retirement. She wants the event to be celebratory, reverential, bittersweet, upbeat, fun, and effortless. #TahaniTime
Michael stops by, and is really not feeling the party, not even the retiremint chocolate cake, the flan voyage or the piñata shaped like him. Turns out, retirement for beings like Michael (what is heeeeee?) is not to be celebrated, it’s more of an “extreme torture” situation. Michael’s soul is going to be disintegrated and each molecule will be placed on the surface of a different burning sun; his essence will be scooped out of his body with a flaming ladle and poured over hot diamonds; lastly, he will be endlessly beaten with a titanium rod like a pinata with a string around the genitals.
The perfect solution to all of Eleanor’s problems is now gone and she needs to find a way to continue to lie about herself AND keep Michael from retiring. If there’s no Janet to run the train, Michael can’t leave/retire. Helpful as she is, Janet even provides them with information about where her kill switch is located and how it works. Even though “killing is one of the most famous moral no-nos,” Eleanor maintains that it’s not killing because Janet is a robot and she wants to go through with it.
Redecorating happens hella fast in The Good Place. Tahani’s house is now somber, with grey balloons and sad banners. Sweet sweet Tahani is trying to make a speech and make Michael feel better but he’s being a little grump (understandably). He’s super bummed that he doesn’t get to do all the human things on his list.
Michael’s list of human things he wants to try
- get hair wet
- pull a hamstring
- learn difference between toward and towards
- that thing where you walk down a hallway and someone else is walking the other way and you both lean to one side then the other and you both chuckle over your shared foible
- get any rewards card
- talk briefly to someone and then say “take it sleezy”
- eat a saltine (he gets to try a saltine before he goes and he is not impressed, pretty dry & too salty)
We check in on Chidi, Eleanor & Janet who have reached the Janet kill switch. Janet is sharing stories about how every time there’s a new version of Janet (there have been 25) she likes to take a piece of birthday cake and smash it around where her mouth is. This human behaviour is really making Chidi uncomfortable with “killing” her. Eleanor convinces him with this pearl of wisdom “listen man, I’m dead, you’re dead, we all died; and now we’re killing her, pay it forward” so he decides to be the one to do it, “being a bystander seems worst somehow.”
Each time one of them approaches the kill switch, Janet starts pleading for her life in a verrrrrry effective way and neither of them has the heart to go through with it. Unfortunately, or fortunately, Jianyu shows up, has no idea what’s going on, and aimlessly reaches out to push the button. Chidi tries to stop him but he accidentally pushes the button himself soooooooo not Janet is dead.
The giant Janet alarm in the sky starts chanting that she’s been murdered and things are going to go to shit. “Crash course in getting away with bad stuff: act calm and cool like you don’t have a care in the world.” The three amigos flee the crime scene and go to Janet’s funeral where she comes back to life as a new version of Janet, with a ponytail and a purple vest. Her memory has been wiped and she needs to reset so Michael postpones his retirement. I’d like to repeat here that D’Arcy Carden is a treasure & someone should give her all the Emmy’s
Now seems like a good time to talk about the flashback to Chidi’s life where we learn just how uncomfortable he is with lying. When he was alive and teaching, he had a colleague who bought these awful red cowboy boots (like Ted’s on HIMYM but worse) and asked Chidi if he liked them. Caught between lying and hurting his friends feelings, Chidi said the boots were great even though he hated them. Finally, 3 years later, when the boot brother came out of surgery one day, Chidi comes clean and tells him he hates his boots. He literally lived with this lie for 3 years and it destroyed him and he ended up coming clean so I don’t think he can live with a murder for ~eternity~
Janet literally knew everything in the universe and now she’s broken – the English alphabet is apparently “A, B, Janet.” Chidi stresses to Eleanor that he hates lying and that he won’t be able to shrug this off and forget about it the way she can. William Jackson Harper delivers such a beautiful, layered performance & opposite him, Kristen Bell plays the complexities of Eleanor, someone who isn’t as cold and “bad” as she’d have us believe by her actions.
Michael gathers everyone in the town square again for a meeting to fill them in on everything they know about Janet’s murder and all the weird things going on in the neighbourhood. He also now knows that he’s not entirely at fault for all the weird behaviour (given that he did not kill Janet). He’s going to stay for a while to sort things out, Eleanor sees that Chidi is visibly upset over all they’ve been through so she stands up and confesses! GUYS! WHAT?! Girl just tells the truth in front of everyone! She goes so far as to say that she’s not supposed to be in the good place! Everyone gasps and the episode ends, leaving me wanting soooo muuuuch more!!!
The incredible thing about The Good Place is that it keeps subverting the trope and changing its own dynamic. Obviously the truth about Eleanor had to come out at some point, but most run of the mill shows would have waited a season, and even then have it come out accidentally in a way that they could spin, but this selfless act is totally unexpected and brilliant! The dynamics of the show are sure to change and I for one cannot wait to see what the next episode brings!
The Good Place airs Thursday at 8:30 pm EDT on NBC, following Superstore.