Monday, December 4, 2017

The Good Place 2.06: "Janet and Michael"

“They keep their Janets in a neutral pocket dimension beneath the shapeless time void. It’s right next to accounting.”

“Michael and Janet” was a bottle episode, so not much happened, but it was entertaining in the way that it really dug into the title characters and showed us some new things about both of them. It was interesting to see Michael and Janet’s relationship develop over the very long amount of time they’ve spent with each other (over 800 resets takes up a lot of time!). We also learn a lot more about how Janet works and what she thinks about things. I really enjoyed seeing how Michael and Janet first met and some of the highlights of their creating the OG version of the neighborhood together. It was also interesting to find out the true source of Janet’s glitching and everyone’s reaction to it. Overall, it was a fun little pause in the action, and I’m very interested to see where Janet’s latest actions take the gang next.

Janet has been glitching, and the consequences are serious (I think earthquakes and changing the fabric of reality is serious, at least). We open the episode with a flashback to how Michael and Janet first met. Much like the Doctor and his TARDIS, Michael stole his Janet. He needed an authentic Good Place Janet for his nefarious plan, and luckily, the Good Place architects are so trusting that they didn’t really secure their supply. Michael is able to steal her easily. He has to explain to Sean why a Bad Place Janet pretending to be good won’t do, though. He explains it through a demonstration where a Bad Place Janet completely melts from trying to be nice. Our Janet of course, is only too happy to help Michael build his neighborhood, even when he warns her it’s going to be a bit different from what she’s used to. Janet assures Michael that while she builds and operates the neighborhood, the design is all his.

In the present day, Michael gets Janet to find her manual (which is in her nose, apparently), and he starts running some diagnostics. She passes early tests with flying colors (including producing an ostrich steak impaled on a 40th birthday pencil). When Michael reads that trying to process information other than objective truth can harm a Janet, Michael worries that her glitching is all his fault. After all, when they first met, he lied about being a Good Place architect and about what they were going to be building. Janet reassures him that if Michael’s lying was the culprit, the glitching would have started much sooner. The cause of the glitching starts to become more clear when Tahani and Jason stop by wondering why Janet isn’t appearing for them. Jason wants to procure some jalapeno poppers for Tahani to try. This is the first Michael realizes that Tahani and Jason have been sleeping together. Janet says she’d be happy to produce some poppers once Michael is finishing his diagnostics. Then a really bad glitch happens – so bad that the room everyone is standing in disappears, and everything is just black.

Tahani and Jason leave, and Michael and Janet are left to contemplate the consequences of what just happened. It turns out that after 800-plus reboots, our Janet has gained the ability to lie. The problem is that her lying comes with earthquakes and other worse glitches. Michael puts together the pieces that it all stems from when Janet and Jason were married during her second reboot. There’s part of Janet that is still in love with Jason, and it has intensified with ever reboot. Every time Janet says she’s happy to help Jason and Tahani with something related to their relationship, glitches happen. Janet at first doesn’t want to believe this, but when she accepts it, she thinks there is only one solution. She wants Michael to kill her, and she even points him to the self-destruct section of the Janet manual. She’s convinced that if she’s killed, another Janet can take her place, and all will be well again.

We get a brief interruption from Chidi, who shows up at Michael’s old office covered in needles (Michael had encouraged Vicky’s latest torture idea to get her to go away and leave him to diagnose Janet). Michael basically just shoos him away. Janet again asks Michael to kill her. He grabs a paperclip and is ready to do the deed, but then we get a flashback to when they were first building the neighborhood. The place was full of pudding shops, but Michael didn’t think it was quite right. He also didn’t think Janet could help him make it right. Then he asks her to name something people think they like but is really just okay. When she replies with frozen yoghurt, Michael knows he has a winner. Janet is just happy he’s happy, regardless of whether or not this means that something just “okay” is going to be part of their neighborhood. In the present day, Michael tells Janet he can’t kill her because they’re friends. Furthermore, she’s his oldest, most loyal friend. Janet is flattered, but she still wants Michael to kill her.

Michael wants to use a different tactic. Since this is an emotional, human problem (even though Janet isn’t human), he wants to bring in a human to help. Specifically, Eleanor. Eleanor is a bit surprised at the whole story (and thinks it’s TMI), but she’s got good advice for Janet. She reminds Janet that she has all the knowledge in the universe and a bangin’ bod, so she should be able to recover from this Jason thing nicely. She just really needs to find a rebound guy. Janet takes this advice to heart, and she says she’s going to go to her void for a little while to figure things out. When she returns, we learn she has created a rebound boyfriend named Derek who is just as dumb (maybe even moreso) than Jason and is played by the guy who played Pimento on “Brooklyn Nine-Nine.” Michael does not seem pleased by this turn of events at all, although Janet seems happy.

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