Friday, September 22, 2017

The Good Place 2.01: “Everything Is Great!”

“You gotta trust me buddy, I would never put you in a painful situation.”
- Michael

This double episode premiere of season 2 of “The Good Place” did a lot and not very much plot wise all at the same time. I wasn’t a huge fan of the reveal at the end of the first season about them being in the Bad Place so maybe I’m just biased. We start the season off with Eleanor having met her soul mate who keeps running off to the gym whenever she tries to talk to him about well…anything. It’s very odd. She also finds the note and can’t figure it out. Slowly, Eleanor almost runs into the core four. Out on a walk with Michael, she runs into Jason and he gives her a piece of a bicycle that she thinks is a talisman of some sort and then at the neighborhood welcome party, she finds Chidi.

As we see Eleanor start to wonder what is going on, we also get some insight into Michael and the rest of the people in the “good place”—aka all the other demons. I will admit seeing him try to rally the troops is kind of amusing. He also gets tongue-lashed by his boss who is obviously not meant to be a nice guy. Michael has one more try to really show that his vision can work or else he’s going to be recycled. It also appears that a lot of people aren’t happy about their role changes. The woman who played “real Eleanor” last time, is now a pizza shop lady named Denise. And one of the gay guys asks repeatedly if he can bite our core four. Michael instructs his people to ensure that Eleanor gets wasted at the party because he’s going to make her give a long speech and he’s planning to pull from her speech for the chaos the next morning (it seems they are sticking with some of the same things from last season).

Unfortunately for them, Eleanor is more interested in figuring out who Chidi is and why he’s important to her. We also see some of the torture the rest of the core four is put through and I will admit it was clever and built on their individual insecurities and issues. Chidi was made to choose between two soul mates and when he was going to choose the one he really felt like he almost had a connection with (this is Chidi after all and he can’t commit to much of anything), Micheal bursts in and says that the woman Chidi didn’t connect with is his soul mate. Bummer man but it definitely fits with his character flaws. I mean, he hated to have to choose and would have preferred someone else make the decision but he clearly wasn’t happy with the decision that was made. And Tahani is paired with a short guy in a small house (with a rather hideous self-portrait of her sister) who prefers comfort to style. Michael even gets rid of the second floor of the small house when Tahani’s soul mate says they don’t need all the space. It was fun to see her squirm. And Jason, he’s paired with another Buddhist monk who will never leave his side (hence the bike sabotage). I will admit it was funny to see him mirroring the other guy because he had no idea what he was doing. It really was a good punishment and personal torture for Jason. Not being able to have his space and not being able to talk.

Tahani in particular is having a bad go of it, especially when she agrees to go ‘comfy” and ends up in an oversized denim top and cargo pants with Crocs. Seriously, no one thinks that’s a good look ever! So when Eleanor is pouring herself some shots (she abandons them when she hears Chidi’s name), Tahani takes them and gets really drunk. When it’s time for Eleanor’s big speech, Tahani busts in all drunk and ends up knocking something over and starting a fire. Eleanor and Chidi manage to slip away and Jason wanders off and bonds a bit with Janet while the rest of the neighborhood regroups. Michael is furious that things didn’t go according to plan. And he’s even madder when he realizes all of the humans are missing!

Of course, everyone ends up at Eleanor’s house. Chidi is trying to wrap his brain around the fact they’d clearly met before in the ‘good place” and that she doesn’t belong there. He then comes to the realization that he doesn’t belong there either. Enter Michael and a bunch of soul mates that are “worried sick” about their human halves. This keys Eleanor in to the deception and she calls Michael’s bluff far sooner than he expected. He didn’t know about the note Eleanor hid in Janet’s mouth the last time. So he takes action faster this time and we start back up again. Michael hasn’t told his boss about the third try (for obvious reasons).

I’m concerned that we basically moved through all of season one in about 40 minutes and that we’re already on our third reset of the plot and characters. How long can this really go on without being repetitive and boring? And what happens ultimately when they come to the realization yet again and Michael runs out of chances with his boss to try this out? I mean, do they get sent to the real version of the Bad Place? Do they show that they’ve improved themselves enough to legitimately score a spot in the Good Place? It isn’t clear at all from what we’ve seen in the premiere and I’m a little annoyed we don’t have a clear direction this season. The show was so fun and creative the first season. I don’t want to see it fall into the sophomore slump! The acting caliber is too good for that to be the case.

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