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'The Good Place' Finds Its Long Game AND End Game

By Dustin Rowles | TV | October 6, 2017 |

By Dustin Rowles | TV | October 6, 2017 |

This week’s episode of The Good Place answered the two most pressing questions I had after last week’s episode: “Where is this show going?” and “Will it find a storyline it can maintain for more than a few episodes without resetting?”

In what ended up being something close to a bottle episode, all the major characters spent last night’s episode discussing Michael’s new plan: Join him and conspire against Vicki in order to save themselves from being buried up to the neck in scorpions.

Eleanor, naturally, is the hold out, but — as he always does — Chidi eventually convinces her to do the right thing, after Eleanor confirms with Michael that Chidi has, in fact, convinced her to do the right thing in every single iteration of the Bad Place.

Importantly, however, we also find out that there’s a potential endgame: If Eleanor and Co. help Michael, he has promised to take them to the “real” good place. And Michael also believes that, by redeeming the four of them, maybe he can get into the Good Place, too. So, now we have a series finale episode to aim for, or another season finale episode in which they find out that the real Good Place is actually the Worst Place. (The Medium Place is looking really attractive these days).

Meanwhile, the show can settle in for a while, too, by playing along with Michael. They have agreed to live in Vicki’s version of The Good Place and continue to learn ethics from Chidi. In exchange, they won’t have their minds reset and they won’t have to spend eternity in the fires of hell. My question, however, is this: Doesn’t Michael want Vicki to fail, and doesn’t failure necessarily involve Eleanor and Co., revealing to Vicki that they know it’s the Bad Place? And if they do, doesn’t that just end in them being reset again? How is pretending to be psychologically tortured forever a win for Michael? And if Michael just wanted to save his own ass, why didn’t he join forced with them 400 resets ago?

My lone concern — because there’s always a concern that Mike Schur resolves in the very next episode — is how much different The Good Place will be under Vicki’s iteration than Michael’s? How long can Schur and Co., maintain the joke? The only difference between this version and Michael’s version, it seems, is that Eleanor is secretly in on the ruse, but how long can that winking comedy last? Unless, of course, there’s more to it — because there’s always more to it on The Good Place. Is Michael secretly undermining them? Or is this another form of torture in and of itself?

Random Thoughts

— Tahini’s entire death sequence was gold, from discovering that she was once a neck model to her pained reaction to finding out that she died in Cleveland.

— Jason has always been dumb, but they really turned that up a notch this season.

— I’m not sure how much I love the idea of reintroducing the weekly ethics lessons and returning to that pattern of seeing Eleanor — and now Michael — gradually improving as people. The ethics lessons were always my least favorite part of The Good Place while the restaurant puns, of course, are my favorite.

— LAY OFF THE CLAM CHOWDER ALREADY. I’m glad we’ve gone back to hating on frozen yogurt again.

— Line of the night:

Michael: “It took me a while to get used to the hanging bits.”
Eleanor: “Gross!”
Michael: “Oh get your mind out of the gutter, Eleanor. I was talking about my testicles.”

Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.

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