Choosing to accept help has been a running theme of “The Good Place,” parallel to the track of standing by your own mistakes. The humans have had quite a bit of help this season with Michael’s aid, but in a nice return to form, they are once again left on their own. No supernatural advisers, no helpful robot genies, no elaborate plans to escape. It’s just the self, the soul, and an all-knowing burrito, as nature intended.
If The Good Place were filmed in front of a live studio audience, you know that everyone would wildly clap when Maya Rudolph made her entrance. It’s what happened at my house in any case, but more people would be encouraged to participate! Judge Rudy is going to give them all tests to find out if they are worthy of the Good Place, and in a risky move, Eleanor requests that if one person fails, then they all fail as a unit. They couldn’t have come this far without each other, and eternal damnation is really more of a group activity.
For his task, Jason must do his version of the unthinkable and play against the Jaguars in Madden NFL. Tahani, perfectly dressed no matter the occasion, will be sent down a long hallway filled with rooms of people who are talking about her behind her back, and she must make it to the red door at the end without falling prey to her own ego.
Eleanor and Chidi’s predicament is intertwined. The Judge hands them glowing medallions and reveals that they don’t get a test: they’ve been selected to go to the Good Place based on their hard work studying. It’s a celebratory moment until she explains that Tahani and Jason already failed and will be sorted into the Bad Place no matter what. They must choose whether to accept their status in the Good Place while their friends suffer or take the highway to hell with them.
Meanwhile, Michael is dealing with the fallout of his sacrifice and must endure the wrath of Sean and Bad Janet. He tries desperately to argue that the humans improved and are worthy of the Good Place, but he probably ought to know better than to argue with the man who taught him how to turn humans inside out. Fairness does not exist in the vocabulary of the Bad Place – nor does staycation.
Michael assumes he will be retired, but Sean doesn’t want everyone to see his soul getting ladled and start asking questions. Then it’s just paperwork, paperwork, paperwork, man! Instead, Michael will be shut away in an empty room for the rest of his eternal life, with nothing but a growing stack of New Yorker magazines that will never be read. These are the nightmares that wake liberal arts grads up in the night in a cold sweat.
But when Sean instructs Bad Janet to deliver the fart to launch a thousand ships, she has a different surprise in store: Bad Janet has been Good Janet the whole time! I for one was taken aback: Good Janet struggled so much with behaving poorly the last episode it wasn’t rational to think that she could pull off the phrase “junked your jeans.”
The clock is ticking on the individual ethics tests. Tahani, just a door away from her freedom, sees her parents’ names and caves, walking into a psychological trap. Jason is losing to the Jaguars, although he hilariously realizes that he is being tested very, VERY late in the game.
Eleanor and Chidi are debating whether to take their shot at heaven, but she notices something off about his reasoning. He gives up on their friends almost immediately and treats the subject of ethics (sharp intake) lightly? And he doesn’t appear to have a stomach ache?! Something is off here.
Putting together the clues, Eleanor realizes she has been arguing with a mirage, and, in my favorite reveal of the episode bar none, the real Chidi is stuck in a room being forced to choose a hat.
The gang feels pretty confident about their individual performances but unfortunately they all failed in some way, especially Chidi who took 82 minutes to select brown over gray. Everyone, that is, except Eleanor, who chooses to pretend that she failed as well. Her growth here is remarkable. The Eleanor at the beginning of the series would take that pass and run with it, finger guns blazin’ on the way to heaven. This Eleanor is so concerned with the feelings of others that she doesn’t want to discourage her friends and accepts her fate right along with them.
The Judge is ready to push them back to the Bad Place, when Janet and Michael stumble in the front portal.
If they’re all going down in the Season Finale next week, at least they’re all doing it together.
The Good Lines
“I’m not scared of any burrito.”
“Wait, is it after 4 pm? Doesn’t matter.”
Michael trying out “Ya Basic”
“That was your moral quandary grimace.”
“It’s the concept of envy. It really adds to Mexican food.”
“Whoever said philosophy is stupid?”“You did as early as this morning!”