Listen, I don’t want to point fingers or name names, but I know some of you people have given up on The Good Place. I’m going to address in a second why that’s a dumb thing to do on the whole, but first I’m going to get into the very specific reasons that’s dumb. And I’m going to do so by talking about the past couple of episodes so:
Let’s talk for a quick second on The Good Place’s biggest problem: It’s high concept, which means it could easily mistake unusual settings and wacky situations for plot. This is, to an extent, what happened in episodes 2 - 6. After the brilliant premiere, the show fizzled in the background. It wasn’t unpleasant to watch, it just didn’t go anywhere. And the possibilities of a show exploring the afterlife, morality, life’s other big questions seemed to slip away. That is until Michael Schur decided to blow shit up: at the end of ‘The Eternal Shriek’ Eleanor comes clean.
Which means this is no longer a wacky, fish out of water, hijinks show. We will not be spending another 4 or 5 episodes watching Eleanor, Chidi, and Jianyu trying to evade Michael’s suspicion. No more barely escaping a tricky situation where
Tahani might discover people aren’t who they say they are. We’re completely outside of standard sitcom tropes, and I am fully onboard.
Oh, speaking of being onboard: Michael alerts the Bad Place that there’s been a mix up, so Alter-Michael hops on the first train up(?) to collect the wayward soul. And the Alter-Michael? The person responsible for ensuring everyone in that specific neighborhood in the Bad Place has just the worst time?
Adam Effing Scott. I know it can’t say anything good about me, but Slimy Adam Scott is my favorite Adam Scott. Keep your straight-laced Ben Wyatt. Give me the scummy Catalina Wine Mixer Guy. And Scott is in full scummy glory here. The man really knows how to play a prick.
Only it turns out Scummy Adam isn’t just there to collect Bad Eleanor. Another bombshell ending introduces us to Good Eleanor, who was meant to be swapped out. Meaning Michael, Chidi (Good Eleanor’s real soulmate mind you), and Bad Eleanor herself will have to decide what they’re going to do now that they’re faced with the innocent person who’s been tortured because of their mistake, ambivalence, and general assholery, respectively.
What’s going to happen this week? I literally don’t know. And usually I have a pretty good idea. A couple of people are going to fall in love, there will be some wild misunderstandings, someone will say something they didn’t mean to and everyone will have to deal with the fallout. But in the question of “Will a demigod opt to send a legitimately bad person to the appropriate Bad Place or choose to break the rules by keeping her in the Good Place for a probationary period?” I really have no idea. We’re in uncharted territory, people.
Given all that, the recent flawlessly-executed plot advancements are really only a small reason to watch the show. Even if the show weren’t genuinely exciting to watch because of the unpredictability, it would be delightful to watch because it’s Kristen Bell as a bad human and Ted Danson as a charmingly incompetent demigod. Plus Janet. Janet hasn’t let me down once.
Ordinarily this is where I’d plead with everyone to watch in order to guarantee the show’s renewal. But honestly, I’m not sure this show needs it. They’ve already been signed for 13 episodes, and considering what NBC is currently working with, I’m guessing they won’t cancel it regardless of how bad the numbers get. I also feel like this is a show that doesn’t need a second season. They could follow in the footsteps of my other favorite high-concept show of the year Braindead, and wrap everything up in one. Just give me seven-and-a-half-hours of Ted Danson being disappointed by Saltines, and call it a day. I mean, they are pretty dry and way too salty.