Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The Good Place 1.02: "Flying"

“Look, I think you are capable of change and I’ll help you try.”
- Chidi

As we saw at the very end of the pilot, Eleanor wakes up to find the neighborhood in disarray. There are giant flying shrimp (and enormous lady bugs) and things are just generally running amok. Everyone seems to be wearing yellow and blue zig-zag patterned clothes, except for Eleanor. Chidi is quick to point out that her attire is off and blames her for whatever is going on. For one thing, she was stealing shrimp and she called Tahani a giraffe and there are now some of those running about, too. Everyone is called to a gathering at Tahani’s house (lord that thing is huge) and Micheal tries to calm everyone down. Being a celestial being, he’s unfamiliar with certain human responses to fear such as sweat. I have to admit I didn’t know Ted Danson could do physical comedy but him licking a sweat-covered hanky was pretty funny. We also get to know Janet (the human-looking super computer with uber Google).

As Eleanor tries to convince Chidi to help her learn to become a better person so she won’t get booted out, we find Michael beginning to unravel. He fears he’s made a huge mistake in designing the neighborhood and for some odd reason he seems to be confiding a lot in Tahani. It’s not like she minds, though. It seems she likes to be the center of attention. Seriously, what did she do in her life that put in the “good place”? She’s really annoying! There’s one scene in particular where she is sitting with her soul mate and she tries to be “silent” but it lasts maybe a second or two. Yeah, she has some control issues.

In the hopes of seeing if Eleanor can be selfless for once, Chidi volunteers them to help clean up the debris from the giant shrimp/lady bug attack earlier in the day. Eleanor is quite miffed by this turn of events since everyone who didn’t volunteer gets to fly (yes, actual flying). Eleanor acts like she’s making friends with a gay couple (who are really into trash pickup it’s almost weird) when she decides to just ditch the trash she was collecting (her bag broke and so she just hides it in various places) because she really wants to fly. Unfortunately, just as she’s about to start flying, a giant trash storm hits them (literal trash coming out of storm clouds). This seems to tip Michael over the edge and he seems ready to give up. Heck, he even kicks a lady’s dog into the sun for fear it was another glitch in the system. He tries to brush it off as nothing but it clearly upsets him that he can’t seem to distinguish between what is supposed to be there and what is a problem. I want to know more about his character and what makes him the way he is.

We get a lot more backstory on Eleanor in terms of how she handled relationships with people she considered friends while she was alive. She drank too much and manipulated them so that she could enjoy herself far more than they did. She wasn’t even upset when they kicked her out of their drink group when she decided hooking up with the cute bartender was preferable to being the designated driver for the group. This bleeds through at first in her approach to the whole trash situation. She tries to cover up her part in it but Chidi isn’t buying it. He decides that she can’t be helped. At least not until she starts to feel some guilt and remorse for what she did. So in the middle of the night, she gets up and starts cleaning up all the trash she put in other people’s yards. In fact she cleaned up the whole neighborhood. Okay, so maybe she was going to dump some trash on the gay guys (there was a bit where during the trash storm a dumpster lands on the couple but they just pop up, saying they are fine and that you can’t die (again) in the “good place”). But it was a solid effort. I’d give it a B- for sure. Chidi sees that she is trying and has the potential for change and ultimately agrees to help her. I have a feeling they are going to be good for each other.

I am interested to explore more of the neighborhood as the show progresses and see what other things go haywire along the way for our characters. It definitely has a “Dead Like Me” and “Pushing Daisies’ vibe which works well for us here at More TV, Please. I do hope that Eleanor gets to rub off a little on Chidi and it isn’t just trying to fix her the whole time. If they could tone down Tahani a little bit that would ideal as well. I get what they are trying to do with her but it is a little too much over the top. Again, I really think Eleanor isn’t the only mistaken identity in the place and I’m intrigued to see what happens when Michael realizes what’s actually going on. Will he kick Eleanor out because based on the elaborate point system she didn’t deserve to be there or will he see the effort and progress she’s put in and let her stay? And will we find out how he came to be able to build his own neighborhood? Will we see other places in the “good place” or are we just staying confined to our candy-coated haven? So many questions need to be answered and we have already gone through 2 episodes of our 13 for the first season. Don’t get me wrong, I like shorter seasons as I believe they allow the writers to tell more cohesive stories most of the time but it is kind of a bummer that we only get 13 episodes for the first season.

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