Tuesday, October 30, 2018

The Good Place 2.09: “Best Self”

“You’ve been our teacher this whole time. If we’re the best versions of ourselves, which that balloon just proved, then you definitely are.”
- Eleanor

When our core four and Michael duped Sean and the rest of the demons last episode, I wasn’t sure what this week was going to entail and frankly was the rest of the season (let alone series) was going to be. It feels like the writers tend to blow through story rather quickly on this show. Anyway, the gang is left in the “Good Place” and they need to find a way to get to the actual Good Place before Sean realizes what happened and punish everyone. Michael says he’s come up with a transportation device to get them there that turns out to be a giant hot air balloon which some rules that you have to be your best self to get on. Eleanor, Tahani and Jason get on but Chidi ends up being booted. He starts spiraling emotionally and Eleanor ahs to talk him down. The next go around, Tahani, Chidi and Jason make it and Eleanor doesn’t. When Janet tries to get on, she breaks the thing and Michael admits that the balloon was a lie and that he never figured out how to get to the Good Place. I guess it’s kind of interesting that he’s learned to admit his mistakes and take ownership of them. I thought Michael was going to admit that he made the balloon purposely not let everyone on so he could stall and spend more time with them but I was wrong.

While the gang is temporarily pissed at Michael, they end up sharing some really good moments while they are all getting hammered (thank you Eleanor). Tahani and Jason break up (whether it’s because Tahani realizes Jason is kind of an idiot or she doesn’t want to compete with Janet it’s unclear but she’s actually solving her own problem for once so that’s progress. And Eleanor admits to Chidi that she still has feelings for him. I did like Michael reciting the time they fell in love. Sure, he was all grossed out by the kissing but it was really nice to hear that there was some version of Eleanor and Chidi who were comfortable enough with each other to actually express those feelings. I suspect if Chidi just relaxed a bit, he and Eleanor could actually be together and be happy. I feel like they’ve spent more time on the whole Janet/Jason/Tahani triangle and they are just not nearly as interesting. I still find Jason really dumb and annoying and Tahani is just so self-centered and full of herself that I want to smack her. For me, Eleanor and Chidi are the couple of the show that interest me and we’ve barely seen any development with them. I know we still have a few episodes left for the season (and the show has been renewed for season 3) so maybe we’ll get more progress with the two of them.

Near the end of the night, the gang ends up awarding Michael “Honorary Human” status, complete with a gift box of useless crap that makes him happy and highly amused including car keys, a beat up stress ball and a diet book. He really has found his tribe in all of this. I wasn’t expecting that to be the outcome when this season started but he’s actually making progress in being better. We also get some fun dance montages, including a sweet Chidi and Eleanor slow dance. Things then devolve into the core four wondering what the real Bad Place will be like for them all. After some drunk rambling, Tahani suggests they go to the Judge and plead their case. That’s all fine and good except the only way to get there is through the actual Bad Place (and a portal).

Elanor leads the charge to just throw caution to the wind and try to get to the Judge through the Bad Place and after Sean sends a bunch of texts to Michael about a Bad Place train arriving in the morning and the core four being rounded up and tortured, our ragtag bunch of misfits is off and running. Michael deactivates Bad Janet and our Janet conducts the train to their next destination as the fake Good Place disappears into a black void. I know we only have a handful more episodes this season but I honestly can’t predict what’s going to happen. Will they make it through the Bad Place? Will they actually get into the Good Place? I will be interested to see what the actual Bad Place looks like and how they end up changing it from what we’ve seen so far. Will we get to encounter some of the other demons we got to know, like Vicky?

The one problem I still have with this show is that the episodes sometimes seem random. I honestly worried we’d spend an entire episode dealing with the scale on the hot air balloon this week. The fact that they are burning through story (and not exploring things like the Eleanor and Chidi relationship in more depth) is worrisome to me. I feel like they could have spread things out over a longer period of time. They kind of wrote themselves into a bit of a corner by revealing that Michel was a Bad Place architect and they were in the Bad Place too early. They could have built up the other characters more before doing that. And now that they are on the verge of maybe getting into the Good Place, it makes me wonder how they will continue the story. I suspect they won’t actually make it into the Good Place this season. Or if they do, Michael won’t be let in and the rest of the group will have to decide whether they do an all or nothing approach or if they abandon him.

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