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'The Good Place' recap: 'Best Self'

Kristen Bell as Eleanor, Jameela Jamil as Tehani.
Kristen Bell as Eleanor, Jameela Jamil as Tehani. (Colleen Hayes/NBC)

You know your characters are about to be in trouble when the previous episode ends on “we have everything we ever wanted.” It’s just inviting conflict, like ants to a conflict picnic, and while the fictional characters may not appreciate the mess, boy does it make for enjoyable television.

In order to reach The Good Place, Michael must call a fantastical, one-of-a-kind transportive device to whisk them away, and no, it’s not the steely yet comfortable nipple of an autobot (sorry, Jason). A literal golden parachute appears, but Michael still needs to work out the kinks, so the rest of the gang heads down to FroYo Square for one last treat.

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They wistfully discuss their hopes for the real Good Place. Tahani doesn’t care what it looks like as long as they’re together and she has a well-moated mansion, and Chidi is looking forward to living NerdCon every day of eternity. He also hopes soulmates are real, an exclamation which cuts Eleanor to the quick.

Michael does some quick research into ancient ways of determining ethical purity and settles on a Soul Scale. To gain access to the hot air balloon, they will all have to step up and have their soul weighed to see if they have truly become the best versions of themselves (and have cholesterol below 200). Eleanor, Tahani and Jason pass with the same flying color of green, but Chidi is shut out.

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Daunted by the idea that his best self may be part of a previous reboot, he is working himself into a lather the likes of which L’Oreal has never seen! Much like a dog needs to run out its energy, Chidi has to go to the park to ramble through his philosophical anxiety, and luckily Eleanor is able to talk him down off a ledge. After all, if he helped everyone else become their proven best selves that in itself means he is the best person he could be.

Eleanor’s pep talk works out — temporarily. His head clear, Chidi passes the Soul Scale, but now Eleanor, filled with longing for the version of herself that was vulnerable enough to love honestly, gets rejected.

Turns out, none of it matters anyway: The scale is a fraud! It’s all a fraud! Michael has no idea how to travel to the Real Good Place and has been actively stalling for the entirety of their deal. He was hoping to stumble on a solution along the way but knew it was impossible and feels all the bad feelings that come after sad. Team Cockroach is not mad, just disappointed, which is always worse. Their hopes of escaping ruined, Eleanor realizes they all need to follow the motto engraved on the Shellstrop crest: Get drunk and delay the inevitable.

"The Good Place" comes back from its winter hiatus, and everyone is trying to figure out: Can they trust Michael?

The party kicks off with some lovely self-realization from Tahani. She admits that the only way she got through life was by asking to speak to a manager and now she is facing a crisis that no corporate envoy can solve. If it helps, Jason’s mom was a manager at a pet store, which he burned down, after he and his mom robbed it. Long story short, it was all a dream.

Eleanor faces her own inner struggles and confesses to Chidi that she has feelings for him. She doesn’t want an apology. She wants to have said it for herself. In turn, Chidi’s heartfelt reflection about his anxiety is lovely, and maybe that’s because my brain also has an endless fork/disposal duet in play, or maybe it’s great writing, or maybe it’s definitely both.

The gang gathers together in Eleanor’s backyard to raise a glass to the people they’ve become. They name Michael Honorary Human, giving him all the non-essentials that make us fragile, ridiculous people, from car keys to Band-Aids to a Dr. Oz book.

As the night draws to a close, everyone begins to realize they are on their way to hell. Jason will go to a Skrillex concert where the bass never drops, Eleanor will camp forever, Chidi will provide his own torment, and Tahani (does the sign of the cross) will go to the alps in the off season.

Typical Tahani, always being bossy and proper and looking for ways to speak to a higher authority. Wait a second. What if they DO speak to a manager? According to Michael there is a power higher than Sean, a judge who hears extreme cases. The problem is, they have to cross through the Bad Place undetected to get to him AND plead their case AND hope he doesn’t turn them into soup the second they walk through the portal.

But if there were ever a human experience to be had (apart from losing your car keys), moving through terrible odds with extreme confidence would be it. Looks like we’ve got our remaining four episodes mapped out for us.

The next morning, Bad Janet arrives with the train to the bad place, but Michael has a paperclip up his sleeve. Before you can say “fat dink,” Janet is shut down and Good Janet takes the wheel/stick shift/whatever you use to guide a train to the underworld. All aboard to the bad place!

The Good Lines

“And no, there is no business class.”

“I hope the library is air conditioned because we will be working up quite a sweat.”

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“’You’re not better than me’ was my high school yearbook quote.”

“Love isn’t a triangle. It’s a five dimensional blob.”

“AFTER SAD – WHAT’S THAT?” Really all about Ted Danson’s delivery here.

“Kissing is gross. You just mash your food holes together.”

“Oh, she’s done. She’s not going to give a speech.”

“This is all garbage I have no real use for!”

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