Sunday, September 22, 2019

The Good Place 3.01: “Everything is Bonzer!”

“I know what you mean. My goal in life was to be completely different, too.”
- Michael

When we last left our core four, Michael had convinced the Judge to send them back to earth as living people to see if they could be better people. Throughout this episode, we see Michael go down to earth and save them all from the incidents that would have killed him. But, unfortunately, while they all have short-lived bouts of wanting to be better people, inevitably, all four revert back to their original selves. Eleanor gets bored of being good, Chidi suggests a friend get in shape and his friend then ends up seriously injured. Tahani spends time in a Buddhist monastery for a while until a news reporter finds her and she ends up back in the spotlight and Jason assembles a dance crew but after repeatedly losing competitions, he goes back to a life of crime.

Despite the Judge’s instruction that the core four needs to succeed on their own Michael can’t sit by and just let them all fail. He’s invested in this little experiment and against Janet’s better judgement, he goes back down to push them together. He thinks at first that it just needs to be Eleanor and Chidi. He had a lot of fun playing the bartender for Eleanor and the librarian (whom Eleanor dubbed as sexy) and it does get Eleanor to head to Australia to ask Chidi for help. I enjoyed the little forays into the year of their lives from when they had their near-death experience and where they end up during the present timeline of the episode. I also found it interesting that there is going to be a love interest for Chidi, just so that he and Eleanor don’t’ end up together too fast. Clearly as it stands now, they have very little in common. Although, it was pretty funny to see Eleanor play match maker while Chidi underwent another MRI. It does seem like a semi-reformed Eleanor thing to do.

This prodding by Eleanor sparks Chidi’s third thesis idea (thank goodness he dumped the first one). He wants to study survivors of near-death experiences and see what impact it has on ethical decision-making. And he gets to partner with Simone, the neuroscientist that he’s now kind of dating. As much as I want Eleanor and Chidi to be together I kind of like Simone as a romantic prospect for Chidi. She’s bubbly and quirky and fits into the group really nicely. I like that she has a way of bringing Chidi out of his shell.

I think I liked Michael’s persona the most when he was talking to Jason. I feel like he was able to get Jason to express himself. It was honestly the first time we’ve really seen Jason act like not a complete idiot. He had feelings and emotions and he didn’t sound like a dope. He was invested in his dance crew until he got caught stealing to try and pay rent on the rehearsal space. I just know that Michael’s little scheme to get all four back together is going to backfire somehow. The Judge isn’t that stupid. She was pretty all knowing last season. I can’t imagine she would see past Michael’s antics. And it may be sooner than he expects. Then again, he is convinced he made it through without anyone the wiser. He even bribed the Doorman with a frog covered insulated mug for his decaf anti-matter. I highly suspect the “key” made from the first atoms of the universe is going to come into play before the end of the season. They made a big deal about it. It can’t just be a throw-away gag. On his last trip, I thought Michael may have used the mug to distract the Doorman while he took the key. But, I think the Doorman would have realized it before Michael had a chance to get away. Still, it has to come back at some point.

While the Judge may not be aware of Michael’s meddling yet, Sean, Michael’s demon boss, is certainly aware. He has demons working to hack the Judge’s system so they can see what’s going on down on earth. They finally get access during Michael’s last trip down to earth. I was half-expecting Sean to pop down to earth and try to directly mess with our gang. But, it turns out he’s going to use one of his lackeys to do his dirty work. He sends one of the demons who got run over by a train in the fake Good Place to be part of Chidi’s study. Michael and Janet see this at the end of the episode and realize it’s bad. I will be interested to see where this goes.

Overall, I think I enjoyed this episode more than the season 2 premiere. Part of it was because we didn’t rehash the same plot line we’d spent all of the first season building to over and over again. I liked that we got to fill in the blanks on their lives during their second chance but we still ended up with everyone together by the end. I do think they have a lot of chemistry together and you can see little hints of the people they will become. I still think Jason and Tahani have the farthest to go but I suspect they will eventually get there. That said, I’m not sure where they can go with the storyline after this season. I’m assuming the whole season will be spent on earth trying to get them be good people so that they get into the real Good Place. Still, even if they are successful, to me that feels like a series ending arc. Given the popularity of the show and the caliber of the cast, I don’t see the network saying goodbye after only three brief seasons. NBC needs more successful comedies and they aren’t going to want to let this one go anytime soon.

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