The Good Place: Existential Crisis
October 12, 2017 7:42 PM - Season 2, Episode 5 - Subscribe

Michael struggles with an existential crisis and a mid-life crisis as the gang contends with conflicting parties
posted by zachlipton (76 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
 
Umm, damn Janet.

Janet: I don't eat
Michael: She's perfect!
posted by Suffocating Kitty at 7:47 PM on October 12 [8 favorites]


So we got more examples of the awfulness of Eleanor's mother. The focus on family in the past, as it's completely absent from the present, is interesting to me, as typical depictions of the afterlife usually involve reuniting with family and beloved pets and such. Of course, that's not necessarily part of the bad place experience, but we never had a "if this is the good place, where's my childhood dog?" moment in season one. I'd be curious whether we ever go off to find family members or something

It also occurred to me that Michael is far more flawed than the gang of four in this episode. Ultimately, this kind of felt like a filler episode. Fun, with some opportunities to play around with Michael's character, but we're so used to episodes that advance seasons worth of plot in 22 minutes that something more normal like this feels light.

Other memorable bits:

A millennial is someone who has only been torturing people for a thousand years. Millennial.

Build a Real Bear Workshop

And the game of Hungry Hungry Hippos with actual hippos!

Go ahead and cry all you want, but you're going to have to pay for that toilet plunger
posted by zachlipton at 8:31 PM on October 12 [10 favorites]


I liked this a lot. Some good bits. It didn't have a major twist, but it definitely sets trajectories --Michael gets a bit more human, romances get addressed, personal growth happens through the realizations of how petty their personal hells are.

It's hard to tell how long it's going to be before Sean shows back up and upsets our status quo again. The Janet stuff is all definitely going somewhere, though. I also wonder if we'll see any representatives from an actual good place this season, or what the good place would be like in this universe -- white light and release from the self? specific zones or neighborhoods on a silly theme?
posted by Rinku at 9:14 PM on October 12 [2 favorites]


I'd give this episode an 8 out of 13.
posted by Gary at 9:31 PM on October 12 [35 favorites]


AAAAAAAAAAAAAA! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!

Okay, my squeeing is out of the way.

I loved this episode. I found the last episode to be...good but not great. And this? This was back to what I have grown to expect from the show. Seeing Eleanor's vulnerable side at her dad's funeral and when looking at the toothbrush holder...that toothbrush holder monologue kind of broke me (in the sad way). As opposed to Michael's first experience with existential despair, which broke me in the good I-can't-stop-laughing-let-me-rewind-this way.

It was also nice to see Jason do something to make Tahani feel cared about and empathized with. Oh, and then there was the sex. (Is Jason going to be this show's Andy Dwyer?) But...at the same time...now Jason's not with Janet! :-(

Poor Chidi. His torture is having to teach ethics to these people.
posted by rednikki at 10:41 PM on October 12 [15 favorites]


But...at the same time...now Jason's not with Janet! :-(

We don't know this. He might be with Tahani, and Janet, and Bad Janet, and the unicorn, and Michael.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 4:19 AM on October 13 [10 favorites]


Jason is always happy. He can always make the best of a weird (to put it mildly) situation and find some way to amuse himself. Are we sure he's human?
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 5:22 AM on October 13 [7 favorites]


But...at the same time...now Jason's not with Janet! :-(

On one hand, they've both been rebooted at least once since their wedding; ON THE OTHER HAND, there was a "ride or die" agreement and I hope that outlives everything, even Jason's wiped memory.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 5:32 AM on October 13 [5 favorites]


Build a Real Bear Workshop

One of the innumerable reasons that I love this show is that we got one shot that lasted less than 2 seconds to show us the actual Build a Real Bear Workshop!

Tahani enjoyed sex with Jason, so he's not inept, but Jason and Janet couldn't figure out how to have sex after their wedding when they were in the Medium Place. I think Janet isn't meant for sex.

I loved Ted Danson's existential crisis, and I especially loved Kristen Bell trying to tempt him with a nice Cool Ranch Baby to eat.
posted by gladly at 5:48 AM on October 13 [14 favorites]


I like that Jason/Tahani sex is an episode-ending jawdropper (at least there were jaws dropped at my house), but Eleonor/Chidi sex was a throwaway during a conversation with Mindy.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:27 AM on October 13 [8 favorites]


I was really struck by how much Eleanor looked like her mother in the Bed, Bath & Beyond scene.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:43 AM on October 13


The rainbow hoofmarks when the unicorn trotted. ZOMG.
posted by desuetude at 8:33 AM on October 13 [20 favorites]


I know Jason mentioned he was in a 60 person dance group before, but is this the first time he mentioned he was the head of it?
posted by drezdn at 10:10 AM on October 13 [1 favorite]


How bad could have young Eleanor's life have been if she got to watch such quality television as "Thunderbats" ?

Poor Chidi. His torture is having to teach ethics to these people.

I felt like this is the least tortured we have seen Chidi. To the extent possible, he understands what is going on and his place in it. They've decided on a plan so there are less big decisions to wrestle with. He doesn't have any soulmate drama to deal with. He is not being torn between the idea of being good/ethical and the idea of hiding Eleanor's secret. And he seems legitimately excited about the challenges of teaching ethics (which he loves to do anyway) to someone who doesn't have a human frame of reference.
posted by mikepop at 10:35 AM on October 13 [11 favorites]


What were Jason's criteria? Dancing ability, dopeness, freshness, smartbrainedness,...?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:43 AM on October 13 [2 favorites]


Dancing ability, coolness, dopeness, freshness, smartbrained.
posted by desuetude at 10:46 AM on October 13 [22 favorites]


I know Jason mentioned he was in a 60 person dance group before, but is this the first time he mentioned he was the head of it?

I thought he mentioned that he was the head of it in that Donkey Doug anecdote in "Dance Dance Resolution", but I just checked a transcript and he says he was a member. ("I was a member of a 60-person dance crew in Jacksonville.")
posted by minsies at 11:10 AM on October 13 [2 favorites]


I sure hope this character growth doesn't cause Tahani to forsake the Hostess Code.

I feel like if they didn't know what was going on, at least one of them would find something odd about all of these animals being used at an animal-rights activist's birthday.

Poor Chidi. His torture is having to teach ethics to these people.

Causing Michael to experience existential despair is the happiest I have ever seen Chidi.
posted by ckape at 1:05 PM on October 13 [21 favorites]


Ted Danson officially has the best 😱 impression.
posted by curious nu at 1:20 PM on October 13 [16 favorites]


Causing Michael to experience existential despair is the happiest I have ever seen Chidi.

I loved Chidi excitedly saying offscreen "Going to get some Camus!" (paraphrased) after Michael freaked out.
posted by jcreigh at 3:08 PM on October 13 [21 favorites]


"It's Chinese for Japan!"
posted by mochapickle at 3:23 PM on October 13 [23 favorites]


ThePinkSuperhero Jason is always happy ... Are we sure he's human?

qv. Lisa Simpson
posted by porpoise at 6:34 PM on October 13 [2 favorites]


I really liked the bits of Eleanor's scenes and Tahani's soul searching, but they didn't add up to an episode for me.
posted by Monochrome at 7:04 PM on October 13 [2 favorites]


I was really appreciating the deranged idiot genius of Jason's 8 out of 13 rating system today. I think It's like an inverted uncanny valley effect.

Coolness of 1 = not cool.
Coolness of 5 = pretty cool, but still some room for improvement.
Coolness of 8 = the pinnacle of cool. Exceeds expectations.
Coolness of 10 = cool, but you're trying too hard = not quite as cool as an 8.
Coolness of 13 = you've gone way, way overboard and you're not as cool as a 5, but at least you're still cooler than a 1, but still categorized as underperforming.

See also the ugly vs. cute rotational bi-axis theory.

Or, maybe I'm just addled from end-of-year performance management nonsense. It would very very much make my life easier if I could simply rate some of my co-workers on a sliding 13 scale.
posted by ssmith at 7:09 PM on October 13 [22 favorites]


I realized, watching Chidi teach, that he has taught worse students than them and regularly. He wasn't even phased by them.

How does a toilet plunger seem like a good place to hide?

Jason knows how to make cereal!
posted by Margalo Epps at 7:41 PM on October 13 [1 favorite]


We've seen how Eleanor's and Tahani's families screwed them up, and one might think that Jacksonville itself (plus snorting copier toner) created Jason. But unless I've missed something, it seems like Chidi's issues are of his own making? Or at least, have not been caused by awful other people, just his reactions to quirky folks living their lives.

I'm almost always bothered by "stupid" characters, but there's something quite endearing about Jason. (But shouldn't they be working to make sure he doesn't talk among the faux neighborhood demons?)

I'm also pretty sure Janet is the key to everything. Cosplaying Janet would be cool.
posted by The Wrong Kind of Cheese at 10:48 PM on October 13 [2 favorites]


Causing Michael to experience existential despair is the happiest I have ever seen Chidi.

Upon further consideration, this may be part of the reason why Chidi ended up in The Bad Place.
posted by ckape at 12:04 AM on October 14 [6 favorites]


It seems perfectly sensible at this point to conclude that Jason and Tahani actually are soulmates, and that the job of the staff of The "Good" Place was to keep them close enough that they drive each other mad without actually connecting. Tahani's problem is that she constantly needs to prove herself, and she doesn't have to prove anything to Jason, and he's perfectly happy to let her do all the thinking (which might not be the finest idea, but is a step up from him doing it).

At this point, I think the staff are distracted enough by having a good time that they're on the verge of forgetting the gang of four completely, although it would be funny if all of the Bad Place operation was infected with humanity.
posted by Grangousier at 1:34 AM on October 14 [6 favorites]


This episode seemed too short.

The more we learn about Eleanor's life, the more I feel sorry for her. Her parents were awful. They didn't just divorce, they were neglectful and uncaring. No wonder she never wanted to get attached to anyone.

I do love Eleanor and Micheal's friendship.

Tahani and Jason works. So does Eleanor and Tahani. And Chidi and Eleanor. And Janet and Jason.
posted by daybeforetheday at 2:40 AM on October 14 [4 favorites]


TBH if Michael really wanted to torture Eleanor he'd have tried pairing her up with Jason. She has no patience for how dumb he is and she can't trust that he's really the open book he looks like.

(It'd be a short book, granted. With lots of pictures.)

(also it occurs to me that a scenario Michael really should have tried is making Tahani and Chidi the ones who made it to the good place by clerical error. Have the other demons play well-intentioned disasters like Jason and jerks with awful childhoods like Eleanor, claim the Good Place doesn't let you in for selfish good deeds but rewards hardship and effort, and watch the chaos unfold.)
posted by nonasuch at 3:28 AM on October 14 [10 favorites]


Tahani's problem is that she constantly needs to prove herself, and she doesn't have to prove anything to Jason

Not only that, but he thinks she's perfect and tells her so enthusiastically.
posted by amtho at 6:20 AM on October 14 [4 favorites]


How long until Eleanor’s Dad shows up?
posted by amro at 7:19 AM on October 14 [1 favorite]


I would be happy if all four of the humans were each other's soul mates. I've heard Mike Schur praise his casting director before, but the chemistry of this cast is really perfect, including Michael and Janet.

For a second, I thought Tahani could actually throw a party to outdo the demons, but she doesn't know how to have fun. Jason only knows how to have fun, even in the Bad Place. He's a good foil for her.
posted by gladly at 10:08 AM on October 14 [8 favorites]


I wonder if the Trump reference is a throwaway or if they continue to riff on it (Demon Real Eleanor rejecting Michael's detailed torture plans, asking that in future they be a max of one page... and with lots of pictures)?
posted by porpoise at 10:56 AM on October 14 [10 favorites]


It's very unsettling to realize that within the reality of the show, it's like 2300 by now. We're all long dead.

Unless time runs differently in the afterlife which, actually, I guess why wouldn't it?

Is it, um, wrong that I hope Kamilah wound up in the Bad Place? I know it was last episode where we saw her last but GOD I'm still not over what a turbo-bitch she is.
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:02 AM on October 14 [6 favorites]


yeah, i'm knocked out of enjoying the show on its basic merits at least once an episode by shit like that. i can't really reconcile the fact that tahani is there and kamila isn't, bc then somehow constantly being a deliberate shitty awful asshole who ends up making people happy artistically (presumably? idk what the argument would be for kamila's proposed "goodness", to say nothing of their godawful parents) is better than constantly doing good but for selfish reasons which were brought on by mistreatment and neglect.

fuck im turning into chidi
posted by poffin boffin at 4:06 PM on October 14 [8 favorites]


Kamilah's in one of the more traditional neighborhoods. With the butthole spiders.
posted by schadenfrau at 4:14 PM on October 14 [20 favorites]


Given what little we know about the sorting, it's hard to tell where Kamilah ended up. All we know for sure is she's not in this one of innumerable Bad Place neighborhoods and she's not in The Medium Place. As much as I'm for her being in The Bad Place, I think it would be hilarious if the series ended with them seeing Kamilah in The Good Place just as they're about to get in, and Tahani just turns around and asks, "Which way to the bees with teeth?"

And then everyone else chooses to go with her, because Team Cockroach.
posted by ckape at 4:57 PM on October 14 [8 favorites]


All we know for sure is she's not in this one of innumerable Bad Place neighborhoods and she's not in The Medium Place.

I'm also guessing that Janet has been honest about who is in other Bad Places, so nuts to you, Columbus.

But yeah, Kamilah is for sure in a separate bad place. She's probably working retail and every time she tries to make art people tell her it's derivative. Plus rivers of magma.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 6:10 PM on October 14 [6 favorites]


Cosplaying Janet would be cool.

I have been thinking about that. Each time she is rebooted she gets a new hairstyle and different colors/patterns in her outfit. Which means as long as you adhere to the basics of the formula you don't have to have a certain color or pattern. Thinking about this for Halloween 2018.
posted by jeoc at 7:13 PM on October 14 [2 favorites]


Each time she is rebooted she gets a new hairstyle and different colors/patterns in her outfit. Which means as long as you adhere to the basics of the formula you don't have to have a certain color or pattern.

You should definitely carry a potted cactus.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:08 AM on October 15 [19 favorites]




I wasn't sure Jason could ever top "So I met this guy at the gun range in the Jacksonville bus station", but the 13-point scale comes really close.

Also, "Do you want breakfast? I know how to make cereal!"
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 8:22 AM on October 15 [13 favorites]


I love that Jason's grading curve isn't even.


(Only slightly related: I get super sad when the Fremulon vanity card doesn't include Nick Offerman's voiceover. It's a lovely show-ending punctuation.)
posted by elsietheeel at 1:18 PM on October 15 [7 favorites]


Ikea has stuffed ones!

And pottery, as well!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 2:30 PM on October 15


I can't help but feel that using Jason for the "Good Place" pilot was a huge mistake on Michael's part. He is just unbothered by pretty much anything as long as he gets to be himself. I think only boring normal torture works on him.

And Ted Danson's existential meltdown was possibly the best physical acting I've ever seen. Not just anyone can do that. Schur (who said that he already considered Danson the greatest actor on television before the show) had to know that he had that particular skill, despite it not being an overt part of his repetoire in previous performances.
posted by dry white toast at 7:44 PM on October 15 [1 favorite]


Did Kamilah die? I might have missed it. Last I recall seeing her was in the flashback to her Rock n Roll Hall of Fame thing.
posted by OlivesAndTurkishCoffee at 7:59 PM on October 15


Did Kamilah die? I might have missed it. Last I recall seeing her was in the flashback to her Rock n Roll Hall of Fame thing.

The writers estimate that the central four have been rebooted enough times by now to last about 200 earth years, so Kamilah is definitely dead at this point-- of old age if nothing else.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 8:03 PM on October 15 [2 favorites]


200 earth years, yes, from the 4's reference point. For all we know time exist in a different parallel in the afterlife, and they can insert new people from earth at different points in the afterlife. But I'm just spinning my wheels since I find the show more refreshing if characters like Kamilah remain in flashbacks.
posted by numaner at 9:00 PM on October 15 [1 favorite]


Rewatching from the start, it's pretty striking how quickly and correctly Eleanor pegged Tahani as a phony. On the first watch it seems like Tahani is just a characature, but on rewatch, her insincerity is totally obvious.

The more I think about it, the more it seems like these four may be perfectly suited to bring out each other's good qualities as well as their bad ones, precisely BECAUSE they're so different. Which makes me wonder if the theories about Michael being some kind of triple agent are right.
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:49 PM on October 15 [1 favorite]


PS I know that 'Eleanor pegged Tahani' could be read as an entendre and I'm ok with that
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:50 PM on October 15 [8 favorites]


Which makes me wonder if the theories about Michael being some kind of triple agent are right.

My first instinct is to say that Schur won't pull another switcheroo on us, but I don't know anymore.

For all of season 1, I was dismissing anything that seemed "off" by saying "it's a silly sitcom, so it uses silly sitcom tropes." Of course it doesn't make sense that there would be fro-yo in paradise, but they used it to make some pretty good jokes ("There's something very human about making something worse so that you can have more of it."), so I assumed it was just there to hang jokes on. But now we know that while it was there to hang jokes on, it wasn't just there to hang jokes on.

So now there's this episode, where:

1) Character A has a problem.
2) Character B offers some bad advice.
3) Character A follows advice to an absurd, never-intended degree, wacky hijinx ensure.
4) Everyone realizes the error of their ways and there is some heartwarming emotional growth.

We have all seen this exact episode in dozens of other sitcoms. It's a classic. It provides a crazy situation to which jokes can be added and allows a facsimile of personal growth to happen in a 22 minute interval. Sitcom 101 stuff.

BUT.

Is that the only thing that's going on here?

Are we really supposed to believe that Michael, in the hundreds of years of hiding reboots from Shawn, explicitly under threat of "retirement," hasn't thought about what that would mean? That he's been repeatedly confronted with his failure but the potential consequences of his failure haven't sunk in?

I dunno guys. I think Michael is be playing dumb with the four (and maybe Vicky too?) to get their guard down.
posted by jcreigh at 11:03 PM on October 15 [6 favorites]


it would be funny if all of the Bad Place operation was infected with humanity.

The show seems to be embracing a virtue theory of ethics--that acting like a good person wil, over time, make you a better person. What if centuries of pretending to be humanitarians is starting to rub off on them? Yeah, they made Tahani miserable, but it seems telling that their conception of infernal torture is now "throw the most incredible party ever."
posted by EarBucket at 4:54 AM on October 16 [7 favorites]


FanFic: Iteration #803. Michael regains control, decides to torture everyone with something comforting & familiar where everybody knows your name and opens a bar.
posted by ZeusHumms at 6:28 AM on October 16 [17 favorites]


For a second, I thought Tahani could actually throw a party to outdo the demons, but she doesn't know how to have fun. Jason only knows how to have fun, even in the Bad Place.

And if Jason had helped Tahani plan the party, he would have come up with all sorts of things like "Hungry Hungry Hippos with real Hippos" because he'd just exclaim that sort of thing and Janet would have made it happen.
posted by mikepop at 7:56 AM on October 16 [8 favorites]


I enjoyed this a lot, but I also concur with skepticism that Michael hasn't contemplated retirement before, and I'm really starting to come around to the theories that he's actually a Good Place plant (not cactus).

Michael Schur shows this season are making a not insignificant amount of references to eating children. COOL RANCH BABY.

I also love the 8 out of 13 scale.

Ted Danson was so monumentally absorbing and distracting this episode, I didn't get to properly appreciate all of William Jackson Harper's amazing reaction faces. Gotta rewatch, yay.
posted by mixedmetaphors at 10:41 AM on October 16 [5 favorites]


I'm disturbed by how much sense the 8 Out Of 13 Scale makes. Thinking about it.

Also, there was a gif of Jason telling Tahani "You're awesome! You should be kinder to yourself". And I went all soft inside, because I realised that it's probably the first time Tahani has ever heard anyone say anything like that to her. I suspect I'm over-investing in this particular relationship, but it's interesting. By Good Place standards, Jason has arguably never done anything that wasn't wrong. But given the opportunity, and absent distractions like junk food or sparklers, he's fundamentally and naturally kind and decent. There is definitely a contradiction within each of the Gang of Four between their actions and their intentions (and it's clear that Tahani's self-aggrandisement and Eleanor's self-absorption are trained in - their "bad" selves are carapaces to protect their "true" selves, but we've seen that it's possible to get past the shell).
posted by Grangousier at 4:19 PM on October 16 [12 favorites]


Tahini and Jason are cute an all but I ship Janet and Jason FOREVEAH

JayJay is my OTP.
posted by Faintdreams at 5:05 PM on October 16 [6 favorites]


The way they're rapidly cycling through romantic pairings make me think they're tweaking the tendency of sitcoms to put their characters into evermore implausible couples. It fits right in with the show's narrative acceleration.
posted by EarBucket at 6:17 PM on October 16 [3 favorites]


The way they're rapidly cycling through romantic pairings make me think they're tweaking the tendency of sitcoms to put their characters into evermore implausible couples. It fits right in with the show's narrative acceleration.

All I heard was "we'll get to see Eleanor and Tahani for real"

That's what this says right
posted by schadenfrau at 6:39 PM on October 16 [18 favorites]


All I heard was "we'll get to see Eleanor and Tahani for real"

That's what this says right


They did tease that for about 2 seconds in Episode #3 (the "Groundhog Day" episode), but maybe we'll get lucky and they'll loop around to it again.
posted by Johnny Assay at 7:36 PM on October 16 [1 favorite]


I'm disturbed by how much sense the 8 Out Of 13 Scale makes. Thinking about it.

Too much of any good thing is harmful. Dietary iron, water, exercise, self-control, perfectionism, acceptance, sleep, food, sun... I actually really love this scale. Can a dancer be "too fresh" or "too smart-brained"? Certainly.

Even the "flaws" of the main characters are probably exaggerations of otherwise healthy qualities: Tahani's obsessive need for accolades is an overabundance of the basic desire to please others that makes society work at all; Eleanor's cynicism is one end of a spectrum which has Jason's harm-through-cluelessness on the other end. The sweet spot is always in the middle.
posted by amtho at 12:45 PM on October 17 [5 favorites]


The show is very Aristotlean.
posted by EarBucket at 3:36 PM on October 17 [1 favorite]


The show is very Aristotlean.

I genuinely love that this is a thing you can say about a comedy on network TV, and have it be true.
posted by nonasuch at 5:20 PM on October 17 [6 favorites]


I dunno guys. I think Michael is be playing dumb with the four (and maybe Vicky too?) to get their guard down.

Or he's not playing.

I realize it doesn't apply to television, in particular sitcoms, but I still strongly subscribe to the belief that one should never attribute to conspiracy what could just be bone headed dipshittery.
posted by phearlez at 7:45 PM on October 17 [1 favorite]


Whether or not it was intentional, Michael did a better job tormenting the four this episode than all of the other demons combined.
posted by ckape at 9:20 AM on October 18 [2 favorites]


The mid-life crisis thing was super weak. He's a demon who has lived for a very long time, but he gets the earring, red sports car, and Janet as arm candy? That just seems like a really lazy sit-com joke.
posted by ODiV at 9:28 AM on October 18


But Michael learned about humans by watching all the episodes of Friends so of course his human response default is "lazy sitcom joke."
posted by paisley sheep at 9:41 AM on October 18 [5 favorites]


Sure, but if he's actually having a crisis then why a human response at all? I hope there's something smarter going on, but I'm not holding my breath.
posted by ODiV at 9:49 AM on October 18


Remember, though - he's also spent the entirety of the last 200-odd years pretending to be a human and live a human lifestyle. (Though I wonder what he gets up to in the privacy of his own home!)
posted by showbiz_liz at 12:34 PM on October 18 [1 favorite]


probably more suspenders shenanigans
posted by numaner at 4:53 PM on October 18 [2 favorites]


One explanation for the particular manifestation of Michael's crisis: he's going to die, like a human, so he decides to live as much as possible -- but his only models for that are humans. Since demons live forever, they haven't invented ways to intensify their own experiences, so human experiences are the only models.
posted by amtho at 6:13 AM on October 19 [1 favorite]


Really this sort of runs up against my biggest concern about making Michael a part of the crowd as a collaborator such that he has any credibility. We've already got a sort of problematic - at least from my perspective as an afterlife denier - setup for the universe here where exact consciousness persists past death and a sizable number of people end up in an eternity of torment.

We have Chidi - a person I think most of us here in life would consider at worst a kind of -eh- person who is oblivious to other people in a real way while being obsessed with ethics as a theoretical - quantified as a sufficiently bad person to deserve to be consigned to an eternity of having giant spiders crawl out of his anus and demons nibble on him etc.

The captors of these human souls can erase entire chunks of their experiences - 200 years worth at this point - with a trivial effort. They outnumber human souls to such an extent that it's no biggie to assign almost a hundred of them to torture exactly four people. They're capable of near total omniscience about the lives of those people.

All of this seems really pointless and incredibly fucking awful and depressing. Which till now we've been able to ignore because things were happening kind of fast, but given some time and scrutiny this is a bleak universe in a way that doesn't lend itself well to light humor.

And now we have a theoretically accurate source of information about all this weirdness, which before we could just write off as almost complete misinformation. And if he's sneering at people who have only spent a millenia torturing humans he's likely at least 20% older than that, yes? This is an experienced and credible source with a motivation to be truthful since his entire existence is on the line.

There's ways to fanwank around the problems this can cause, but the bottom line is that the writers now have to deal with threading the needle about fleshing out an already problematic universe and being stuck with what answers Michael gives. Their best probable option here is to almost immediately start throwing doubt into how wide a knowledge of the workings of the universe Michael really has. That would lend itself well to the above theory about his frames of reference. Maybe demons spurt fully formed and intelligent into the universe and Michael has never knows anything beyond filling requisitions for whips and butthole spiders and his little project learning about humans and how to more effectively torment them.

But that's the fanwank; I think this is a real minefield for the writers. The premise of the show depends on the organization of the afterlife and now they have to crank out stuff on a weekly basis that doesn't paint them into a corner or subvert the humor.
posted by phearlez at 8:49 AM on October 19 [2 favorites]


I've been wondering whether the four humans actually showed up in the fake Good Place right when they died, or whether they had actually already been residents of the Bad Place being regular-style tortured. We don't really have any evidence that they hadn't been.
posted by showbiz_liz at 2:22 PM on October 19 [3 favorites]


Michael did a better job tormenting the four this episode than all of the other demons combined.

This just makes me think that Michael's alliance with our four intrepid anti-heroes is a Hail Mary pass at a successful torture model. I mean, if anyone could actually play 9th dimensional chess...
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:31 PM on October 19 [1 favorite]


a sizable number of people end up in an eternity of torment

As a side note, have they mentioned anyone other than Lincoln that actually made it to The Good Place?
posted by Gary at 10:17 PM on October 19


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