Sunday, October 22, 2017

The Good Place 2.05: “The Trolley Problem”

“Teaching him to be good is like teaching me to not be hot. How would you even do that?”
- Eleanor

I can’t really say that the characters moved forward a whole lot in this episode. While, yes, technically time passed by the end of the episode, I’m not sure much was really accomplished. And that’s part of what worries me a little about this season overall. It feels like the writers don’t quite have a plan together at this point. Anyway, Chidi is teaching the gang and Michael about a new philosophy problem. You are driving a trolley and the outcomes are don’t change track and kill five people or change track and kill one. Which do you choose. Eleanor gives the answer of killing one (as does Tahani after making one of her annoying “oh I know famous people” comments). Jason is just bummed it isn’t a game. And Michael misses the point entirely. Instead of trying to deal with the moral dilemma by applying various other theories (which is what I’m sure Chidi was hoping for), Michael instead comes up with a way to kill all six of them, completely with fairly graphic depictions. Dude has some drawing skills.

Over the course of the episode, Eleanor and Chidi try to find a way to help Michael connect with the material. First, Chidi tries to sort of chide Michael on his most recent homework assignment about analyzing Les Misérables. But that doesn’t really work out well. Michael seems to not grasp the concepts in a way that really matters to him so Michael decides to act it out in person and take notes on what Chidi does under various different scenarios. By about the seventh time (while Eleanor is simultaneously amused and horrified by everything that’s going on) Chidi realizes that Michael is in fact torturing him again. Michael admits it and says it was a joke and he needed to blow off some steam. But, Chidi is really upset by all of this (understandably). He rants that Michael never intended to help them and he would rather just be tortured than choosing to be tortured by trying to help Michael. Chidi kicks him out of class which leads Eleanor to drop some truth bombs on Michael. She realizes that he’s acting a lot like she would when she was alive. She’d blame other people and not take responsibility and be the adult. This momentarily makes her question what she was doing with her life. Ultimately, Michael brings peace offerings to everyone and while the other three are bought off with their shiny giant diamonds, Pikachu balloons and shrimp dispensers, Chidi won’t stand for it. He won’t be bribed. Then, Michael gives what sounds like a heartfelt apology, although we know it isn’t. Still, Chidi welcomes Michael back to class. I don’t really want to believe that Chidi is that naïve to think that Michael really apologized to him but I suppose they needed to resolve this particular bit of the story before the next episode.

While the rest of the group is wrestling with moral dilemmas, Tahani and Jason are dealing with a slightly less death-inducing one: telling their friends about their relationship. Jason thinks it is a good idea to tell people and Tahani flat out refuses. But in his kind of dumb way, Jason manages to convince Tahani to talk to someone about why she doesn’t want to share the news with their friends. So, Tahani talks to Janet which ends up causing some weird problems. Janet isn’t programmed to be a therapist but since her entire purpose to make the humans happy, she acquires all the knowledge on psychoanalyzing human emotions and becomes one. Tahani explains that she’s never dated below her “station” before and she can’t handle it. Jason eventually butts in and shares that Tahani is nice but she’s kind of mean to him and he doesn’t get why. I kind of felt bad for him a little bit. She is so controlling and I can’t figure out why she’d even go for him. I mean, she even says that he’s not her type and she wouldn’t shag him if he were the last man on earth … except she is shagging him and he is kind of one of the last people on earth or in the afterlife or whatever. So, they try to do some couple’s counseling with Janet and things start going wonky. First, her thumb pops off and goes floating away. Then, when Jason and Tahani reach a compromise about their relationship status out in the world, Janet barfs up a frog. It’s all very strange and then after a month, the neighborhood starts shaking and we learn that there’s something seriously wrong with Janet. And now, I suspect Michael and the gang will have to fix the problems before Vicky and the rest of the demons (who we didn’t even see any of this episode) find out.

You know, this season I did start to wonder if perhaps Tahani and Jason and Eleanor and Chidi were meant to be soul mates anyway. But, I’m not really that invested in either relationship (perhaps a bit more Eleanor and Chidi because they are more fully developed characters0. I still find Tahani’s name dropping incessantly annoying and Jason’s stupidity is kind of mind blowing. Like, how can someone really be that dim. So, spending half the episode on the pair of them wasn’t really that enjoyable for me. I’m hoping we move things away from that in the coming episodes. Although, I’m not really sure what I’d like to see them move to since what they’ve been doing this season so far hasn’t really wowed me. I think I liked the show better when we and the core four were duped into thinking they knew what was going on. Maybe next week’s episode with Janet on the fritz will be a better episode than this one.

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