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'The Good Place' Recap, 'Michael's Gambit': Holy Motherforking Shirt Balls Is Right!

By Emily Cutler | TV | January 23, 2017 |

By Emily Cutler | TV | January 23, 2017 |

I originally planned to write this review Friday morning, but I decided I didn’t want it to get lost or mixed up in the weekend’s “celebration” (interestingly enough, regardless of your political affiliation, there was something for you to celebrate this weekend. Except for poor Kellyanne. I’m sure she hates her life). So given that I’ve been steeping in this for three days now, I want to make it good. Starting with:

I TOLD YOU THIS WAS AN AMAZING SHOW. I’ve been telling you the whole time! The two-part season finale gave us, what I can say with absolutely no hyperbole, a jaw-dropping ending. If you haven’t watched it yet (or haven’t even started the series), turn back now.


As amazing as this first season was in combining ethical dilemmas and discussions, a fairly original plot and subject matter for network TV, and straight-up amazing comedy, the most important thing I’ll take away from the season (other than Janet dancing) is: Oh my god, it was The Bad Place the whole time! This is how good plot twists work. Surprising without being completely unrealistic, and, most importantly (Sherlock, maybe take a note or two), vitally important to the story. Everything makes more sense, and is way better for it. Ted Danson is secretly an evil genius? That’s better. “The Good Place” is a hell specifically designed to torture Eleanor, Chidi, Tahani, and Jianyu/Jason? Brilliant. This is why they couldn’t say “fork” or “shirt”? Of course! What kind of heaven is Heaven if you can’t fucking properly express yourself like you goddamn want to and shit? Ass.

The mystery of the show (how did all of these mistakes happen) not only now seems unimportant, but completely obvious in retrospect. Yeah, I see you now, Bambadjan. You dick. But literally until Eleanor shouted what I can only imagine will become her merchandising catchphrase (put “Holy Motherforking Shirt Balls” on all of the things, please), the only indication I had that anything was seriously amiss was the lack of Real Eleanor from Fake Eleanor’s death flashback. Should Chidi maybe have picked up on the now clear No Exit references the show was dropping considering his academic and ethics background? Maybe. But given my Facebook feed, I’m guessing the show was crafted well enough to get one over on a lot of people. Most importantly, the revelation allows for a natural and earned way to reset the series. Not only was season one not bogged down with excessive almost-caught shenanigans, but we get the benefit of watching what’s to come with this insider knowledge. Once again, Michael Schur has proven the best way to make a great show is by actually bothering to want to make a good show. That and possibly be a goddamn genius. I’m pretty sure this guy’s a genius.

Now without trying to freak you out too much, I do have to acknowledge that NBC has not yet officially picked up the show for the second season. But the ratings have been good enough that it feels like a safe assumption that they will. In the meantime, we’ll have to content ourselves with what is now clearly the undisputed most satisfying rewatch on TV (sorry, Westworld). It’s all so much clearer now. Only an incredibly powerful, evil being would have that much goddamn frozen yogurt.

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