Friday, October 6, 2017

The Good Place 2.03: “Team Cockroach”

“How about this, you help me trick Vicky and those other goons, I can get you into the real Good Place.”
- Michael

While I wasn’t entirely pleased with the season opener for “The Good Place” (or the prior episode if I’m being truthful), I do think the point we find our characters at now is interesting and could prove a lot of fun. Our core four know they’re in the Bad Place and Michael is fed up with his group of demons (who have increasingly weird demands) that he decides he’s going to team up with our gang. Let the new dynamic begin!

Understandably, Eleanor and the rest of the gang are very skeptical of Michael’s offer and figure he has to be lying to them. He explains that he was only given two tries to get the whole torture right and that it was supposed to last thousands of years. His boss doesn’t know he’s on attempt 802 and if he lets Vicky (former “real” Eleanor) run the place and it fails, she’ll spill the beans to Sean and everyone will be screwed. We also learn that every time Janet is rebooted, she gets more socially aware, which is kind of an interesting concept but they haven’t really shown how it is helpful to the plot. Eleanor drags everyone into a private meeting to figure out what they should do. Jason goes on a tangent about trusting guys in bow ties because he once did something illegal for a guy in a bow tie and made $600. He’s not really making sense but they agree to ask Michael all the questions they can think of to try and decide whether to trust him or not. Jason, obviously, is asking stupid questions and Eleanor has Janet give him something shiny to amuse himself with.

Michael answers all of their questions, and even offers to get them into the real Good Place if they help him out. All they need to do is pretend they’ve been rebooted. When they question whether they would be let in (including Michael), the demon tries to assure them that it would be fine but it’s complicated and would need to be done in secret. Oh boy. Eleanor drags Chidi and Tahani into another meeting and she insists they can’t trust him. Chidi suggests that they give a go, seeing as it would give them the chance to become better people. Tahani is still against it until Michael shows her how she died. We all know Tahani is self-centered and constantly comparing herself to her sister, Camilla. She was doing that right up until she died, pulling down a giant gold statue of her sister and getting squished by it. At first, she doesn’t get Michael’s point that she’s still being self-centered but eventually she realizes she does belong in the Bad Place right now and that she wants to be the person she was perceived as on Earth (for the most part anyway).

So now, Eleanor is the only one still questioning the plan to team up with Michael. She tells Chidi she needs a minute to think things over in private but she secretly summons Janet and decides she’s going back to the Medium Place (which Michael has confirmed is real) with lots of cocaine for the place’s only inhabitant. I’m not sure if Eleanor is just going to bail or if she’s going to try and get some advice from Mindy. It turns out she’s just bailing and Chidi catches her trying to sneak out the door. She offers to let him join her but he’s not having any of it. So, Eleanor realizes she needs to ask Michael a few follow up questions. She wants to know whether Chidi ever declined to help her and thus she had to improve on her own, to which Michael says no. I really like that they are slowly setting up that Eleanor and Chidi really are going to be soul mates, even if they weren’t intended to be in reality. He does make her better.

In the end, Eleanor agrees that they need to work with Michael but she’s got conditions that he’s not going to like at all. In fact, he balks at them immediately. They will let him be on their team (Team Cockroach) so long as he also attends ethics lessons with Chidi and tries to become a better person. After all, I highly doubt he’s going to be able to get into the real Good Place in his current state. Eleanor flips the script back on Michael by telling him that he’s running out of time (Vicky only gave him a half hour) and they’re his only option. I really enjoyed that this episode was a lot cleverer than the last few and it not only moved the plot along but it wasn’t repetitive. We are really going to get to see how they all work together. I also had to chuckle when Eleanor was asking her questions and Janet popped in with a brick of cocaine and the escape train at the ready.

Later on, Michael gives Eleanor a fake tour. They’ve gone back to a lot of how the set up was during the first iteration. That includes all the frozen yogurt shops and everyone having a perfectly matched soul mate. I’m kind of glad we went back to that set up. I liked how the neighborhood was the first season. It was quirky and had personality. At the “new recruits” gathering, Michael introduces Vicky as the top “point getter” and says she’ll kind of be the mayor (which makes sense since she’s running the show). But Michael has convinced her to tell him how she plans to torture Eleanor at the welcome party and he also got put on surveillance so he’s got an excuse to spend time with them to do ethics lessons. And best of all, we learn Janet’s purpose is to make humans happy so she’s on board for Team Cockroach. I can’t wait to see their plan in action!

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