Monday, February 11, 2019

The Good Place 2.11: “The Burrito"

“If this isn’t a test, then it’s something way worse: a choice that we have to make.”
- Chidi

You can definitely tell that we are getting to the end of the season with the characters reaching what we’ve been led to believe is an endpoint (and again, I’m not sure where they are going to go after this). When last we saw, the core four were being sent through the portal to the Judge and Michael sacrificed himself to let Eleanor get away. Admittedly, I thought this episode showed the most character growth for the most characters (albeit not all because lets be real, I don’t think Jason is ever going to be more than the dumb stoner kid).

Michael gets berated by Shawn and Bad Janet (which is such a minor part of the storyline that it doesn’t need more than a few sentences dedicated to it). In fact, it turns out Bad Janet is actually Good Janet in disguise and she and Michael abscond to the Judge’s chamber by the end of the episode. The real meat of the episode revolves around the core four humans trying to plead their case to the Judge.

At first, the gang thinks the Judge is a burrito (just because the Bad Place can do weird things) only to find out the Judge is a real being. She’s kind of quirky and a mix between what we’ve seen in the fake Good Place and the real Bad Place. She is more neutral than the demons and everything and not as nice as Janet. I like her. She says she has to deny their case because they just showed up and didn’t file the proper paperwork but the moment Tahani opens her mouth, the Judge is enthralled with her accent and agrees to hear the case. She ends up issuing them each a test to see if they can make it into the Good Place. Eleanor negotiates that the decision will be all or nothing. The Judge thinks this is a ridiculous idea but I happen to think it shows Eleanor’s growth. She’s thinking about more than just herself for once. So, they each get tested.

Jason and Chidi’s tests are kind of ridiculous, but they do fit their personalities and the flaws that landed them in the Bad Place initially. Chidi is tasked with picking a hat (It takes him over an hour to choose one…thus failing) and Jason is supposed to try and exercise control with a videogame where he’s told if he plays, he has to play against his favorite team and win. He doesn’t realize that he could have opted not to play the game at all. Something tells me Jason would never have gotten that possibility at all. He’s just not that bright. Thus, he loses as well. So things aren’t looking good for our gang.

Tahani’s task is to walk down a hallway to a door and along the way she’ll pass closed rooms where various people (from Winston Churchill and Steven Hawking to her parents) are sharing how they truly feel about Tahani. She makes it almost to the end without going inside but she then comes to the door with her parents and she can’t resist. They are pretty terrible people, too. Something tells me when they kick the bucket; they’ll end up in the Bad Place, too. They basically say that she’s never been as good as her sister and she never will be. But in the end, Tahani realizes that she has accepted that she’d never be good enough for them and she’s actually found happiness in the afterlife, including eating a Cheeto. But, because she went into one of the rooms, she too fails her test. I was honestly proud of her for confronting her parents and being self-aware enough to accept the things she couldn’t change and move forward with her existence.

This leaves us with Eleanor. At first it seems like she and Chidi are given the same test in that they are given tokens granting them entrance to the Good Place but they can only go just the two of them. They’d have to leave Tahani and Jason behind. At first it seems like Chidi is doing his usual thing and waffling back and forth but then he says they should forget ethics for a second and consider their own happiness together. This is the clue Eleanor needs to realize this is a fake Chidi because he’d never toss ethics aside or put his friends’ welfare behind his own satisfaction. She says she isn’t going to the Good Place (even though she realized that she wasn’t going there in the test already). She won’t leave her friends behind. This is a huge step for Eleanor and I’m glad to see she is actually becoming a better person. She does lie about her test (and cuts off the Judge when she is about to applaud Eleanor for passing her test). Eleanor didn’t want to hurt her friends by letting them know she’d passed and they all failed. It seems they are on their way to the Bad Place when Janet and Michael up, teeing us up for the season finale.

I may have had my issues with the plot and pacing of this season but I have to admit this penultimate episode was pretty strong. We almost didn’t even need the Michael subplot. It really didn’t add much. But, I was pleased to see how far most of the core group has come. I mean, Chidi was actually able to make a decision and Tahani was able to accept that people didn’t like her and realize who her real friends are. And Eleanor has finally found her tribe and is willing to fight for it. For all the bumps in the road to get here, I’m pleased we did and I am genuinely intrigued to see what happens in the finale and where the show goes in season 3.

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