The Good Place: Michael's Gambit
January 19, 2017 6:10 PM - Season 1, Episode 13 - Subscribe

Fake Eleanor, Tahani, Chidi, and Jason face a grave choice.
posted by Small Dollar (105 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
 
Well, I did not see that coming.
posted by Aznable at 7:11 PM on January 19 [15 favorites]


A.) I too did not see that coming.
B.) I had forgotten that Ted Danson could be so good. His transformation from WTF face to smiling evil was fantastic.
C.) D'Arcy Carden (Janet) continues to astound me. She absolutely steals the show.
posted by komara at 7:20 PM on January 19 [18 favorites]


oh and
D.) Incredible way to reboot for the second season.
posted by komara at 7:21 PM on January 19 [12 favorites]


Man, they really kept that hidden well.

I am so pissed that we have to wait eight months for more of this.
posted by Etrigan at 7:22 PM on January 19 [3 favorites]


God that was fun. And original. Schur said on The Jonah Keri Podcast that NBC essentially gave him carte blanche because he had had so many successful shows. And he felt like he owed it to himself (and the network) to actually use the opportunity to do something different. (much like Michael, really)

And boy has he. I loved watching it unfold, and I want to see what happens next, this time with us on the inside. If this is basically a longform adaptation of The Star Trek: TNG episode Cause and Effect, I am here for it!

I confess I feel a bit gratified in that from a very early stage, I couldn't figure out why Chidi and Tahani were there. At the very least, their presence contradicted each other. Chidi never seemed to have done anything good of consequence, and Tahini was obviously self-centred. And last week's episode where Eleanor figured out that her motivation mattered was a huge telegraph that Tahani didn't belong.

I loved it when the Sulfur Demon interrupted Michael's pitch meeting.
posted by dry white toast at 7:32 PM on January 19 [13 favorites]


Also, obviously all the acting is great here, and Janet rightly gets all the credit for stealing just about every scene, but I have to say I love the actress that played Real Eleanor. Her comedic timing was underrated, and the way she played the reveal could easily have been hammed up, but she played it perfectly.
posted by dry white toast at 7:40 PM on January 19 [16 favorites]


What the fork?!? This was a great ending and I can't wait for season two. Please tell me there will be a season two.
posted by tipsyBumblebee at 8:59 PM on January 19 [5 favorites]


OMG that twist! I think I actually gasped. That was so fun. Is this what is feels like to be someone who watches, like, Game of Thrones or Westworld??

The Good Place being full of frozen yogurt should have been the first tip-off to its true, sinister nature, really.

I'm delighted and horrified, and I want the next season so badly.
posted by mixedmetaphors at 9:06 PM on January 19 [27 favorites]


That was a really forking good season of television. I wouldn't even be sad if it was a one-season show, because it was so perfect (but I'm also dying to see more). I don't remember the last twist that surprised me like that.
posted by Pryde at 9:08 PM on January 19 [2 favorites]


Michael writing "The Good Place" in scare quotes was a great last-minute clue that I totally missed.
posted by Knappster at 9:39 PM on January 19 [13 favorites]


I have to go back and watch it again, SO GOOD.

I always had questions about Tahani and her pride (one of the seven deadly sins, you'll recall). QUESTIONS. FULLY. PAID. OFF.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 11:08 PM on January 19 [9 favorites]


I've enjoyed the show, and I liked the twist. However, I was really turned off by the Chidi explanation. He's seems to be suffering from extreme anxiety. He doesn't mean to cause suffering. I feel like he's being punished for having a neurological disorder. That really rubs me the wrong way.
posted by obol at 12:01 AM on January 20 [9 favorites]


Please tell me there will be a season two.

Last I heard, the series has not been officially picked up, but the writing staff has been given permission to plan S2, which is an unusual but encouraging sign.
posted by Etrigan at 4:02 AM on January 20


Also, who else is planning a rewatch binge to see how many clues they planted?
posted by Etrigan at 4:02 AM on January 20 [12 favorites]


The Good Place being full of frozen yogurt should have been the first tip-off to its true, sinister nature, really.

Thank you! A genuine good place would have real ice cream!

I really want to rewatch the whole season and look for clues. Sepinwall's review noted that Vicky/Real Eleanor wasn't in Eleanor's flashback to her death. I missed that. I do want to know if Mindy St. Claire and the Medium Place are real, and I guess that the Bad Place gang is real too. I assume they are, and that if Michael stole Janet from a Good Place neighborhood, there are actually Good Places. The other thing I love -- there are no soul mates!

The friendship/infatuation between Tahani and Eleanor might be my favorite thing after Janet. "You sexy skyscraper" is an awesome nickname, and it reminds me of Leslie and beautiful Ann.
posted by gladly at 5:54 AM on January 20 [12 favorites]


I watched about 75% of the pilot episode while visiting someone and then basically forgot about the show entirely.

Last night, I caught Sepinwall's tweet about how it turned out there'd be A LOT to discuss about the finale in time for the Mountain time zone airing, so I watched these last two episodes.

Good decision. Went back and watched the first five episodes, will marathon the rest tonight.
posted by rewil at 7:59 AM on January 20 [1 favorite]


Motherforking shirtballs, that was a good finale.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:02 AM on January 20 [15 favorites]


Rewatching this (because fork the other big thing that's going on today), and the first big clue:

Only six people didn't fly during flying lessons in Ep2: the two weird guys who love cleaning up, and Eleanor, Chidi, Tahani, and Jason.

Speaking of which, I guess we need to call Real Eleanor "Fake Eleanor" now, and it looks like maybe Jianyu never really existed?
posted by Etrigan at 9:15 AM on January 20 [11 favorites]


I saw a comment on the AV Club that pointed out one of the first thing Michael does is literally kick a puppy.
posted by rewil at 10:21 AM on January 20 [24 favorites]


Bad Place Janet was amazing.
posted by Thorzdad at 10:31 AM on January 20 [3 favorites]


Drama nerds: How much was this "No Exit"? I haven't seen in it in a long time.
posted by purpleclover at 2:10 PM on January 20 [2 favorites]


Re-watching this show and noting all the clues that were dropped but we didn't notice because that was before we knew what we know now, is going to be forking great! Can there be a REWATCH THREAD for this show? Is it too soon?

Obviously the yogurt was the first and most obvious clue. Only real Italian gelato - specifically from Baciollo in Sestri Levante (Liguria) would ever, ever, ever be good enough for the real Good Place. SIDE NOTE: I, too, might have a thing for Janet.
posted by pjsky at 2:39 PM on January 20 [4 favorites]


Well, that was unexpected but totally fair. Time to rewatch to see every single missed clue. Please pick up for season 2. Please pick up for season 2.
posted by jeather at 2:46 PM on January 20 [3 favorites]


Rewatching the first episode: Eleanor (drunk) and Chidi (exasperated) share a bitter laugh over her theory that her parents are both in the Bad Place, being used to torture each other. "It would work."
posted by mixedmetaphors at 3:03 PM on January 20 [28 favorites]


Was the Medium Place a real place, or was that all part of Michael desperately trying to shore things up?
posted by jeather at 3:38 PM on January 20 [1 favorite]


Mini McGee (7 years old) review: "The Good Place was actually The Bad Place the whole time! They tried to blow up the train. Fake Eleanor was the one who figured out that The Good Place was actually The Bad Place. Fake Eleanor, Tahani, Chidi, and Jason were the people in the Good/Bad Place. At the end their minds got rebooted up! I think [next season] everyone might go to the Medium Place at once."

Final Rankings: "All of them should be at Mindy's house in the Medium Place. I think at the end Eleanor was a good person. She might be good enough to go to the real Good Place. Jason should have gone to another house, in the Medium Place. Tahani should went to The Good Place. They need another neighborhood that isn't good, bad, or medium, Medium-Good, for Chidi. It's just weird."
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 4:51 PM on January 20 [10 favorites]


Mini McGee had a bit of trouble following the backstory of Michael working for hell and the office jokes, etc. He was much more interested in the main four characters' story. Not sure he totally gets that Michael was the evil architect and that everyone else were actors. Like, he understood what that meant for the main four characters, but not so much the systemic implications.

He did, however, like the lava demon.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 4:53 PM on January 20 [6 favorites]


The lava demon was awesome.
posted by purpleclover at 5:07 PM on January 20 [1 favorite]


I totally didn't see full-on Evil Michael coming, but I'm very proud of my initial theory that Tehani and Chidi also didn't deserve to be there.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 5:07 PM on January 20 [1 favorite]


Also, I just realized: The big twist of the season was that the entire setting was a lie and the main characters are all being tortured in the afterlife for their mortal sins...And it forking WORKED. It was effective, and moving, and genuinely good payoff! That's the platonic ideal of a cheap cop-out twist ending and they nailed it!

This show rules.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 5:18 PM on January 20 [26 favorites]


That was the best heel turn since Hulk Hogan joined the NWO.
posted by The Gooch at 6:12 PM on January 20 [9 favorites]


1) Man, am I dumb. They got me good.

2) Ted Danson: Top 10 all time evil laugh. That was magnificent.

3) The way Tahani's eyebrows disappeared under her bangs when Eleanor offhandedly said she had a thing for her slayed me for some reason. Just fucking killed.

4) I already miss Chidi.
posted by Diablevert at 6:14 PM on January 20 [16 favorites]


I have some issues with how they define good and bad, but this assumes Michael wasn't further lying. But I'll see how they play things out in S2 -- because Chidi, who meant well but hurt everyone was not really more deserving than Tahani, who didn't really care much but helped people.

Also, please note that The Good Place v2.0 no longer serves froyo, it has been replaced by "All the Pizza", "Perfect Temperature Pizza", "Plenty of Pizza" and "Correct Combination of Toppings".
posted by jeather at 6:44 PM on January 20 [14 favorites]


Another change in v2 is that the welcome sign went from "Everything is fine." to "Everything is great!"
posted by Etrigan at 6:50 PM on January 20 [11 favorites]


Ok, pretty good ending. I approve. I started watching this show by accident, and I don't know if I've ever had a happier accident.
posted by kevinbelt at 7:31 PM on January 20 [1 favorite]


No Exit! HELL IS OTHER PEOPLE! This is perfect! I loved it! Excellent use of tropes! Excellent use of evil on the part of Ted Danson! Excellent use of good on the part of Eleanor!

Maybe Eleanor and Tahani will end up banging in the next season, speaking of soulmates (har har).
posted by jenfullmoon at 7:37 PM on January 20 [2 favorites]


I'm gonna torture y'all by dropping a TV Tropes link!
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:15 PM on January 20 [1 favorite]


This was a truly head-spinning finale! Loved it. One question though: why do you all think they did the mistaken identity thing for both Eleanor and Jianyu/Jason? Just to torment them? It does seem to have tormented Eleanor some, but not Jianyu all that much.

However, I was really turned off by the Chidi explanation. He's seems to be suffering from extreme anxiety. He doesn't mean to cause suffering. I feel like he's being punished for having a neurological disorder.

But remember, the Bad Place is not so much a punishment as it is the default, since 99.99% of the world's population goes there. That is, if that was true, and not just a lie/part of the game. Who knows? They get to rewrite pretty much whatever rules they want next season!

Did anyone else get some Westworld echoes from this episode? The Old West train, the resetting their memories, the clue Eleanor leaves for her rebooted self ... It did make me wonder if this is actually the first time all of them have been through this!
posted by lunasol at 9:01 PM on January 20 [2 favorites]


One question though: why do you all think they did the mistaken identity thing for both Eleanor and Jianyu/Jason? Just to torment them? It does seem to have tormented Eleanor some, but not Jianyu all that much.

If I had to guess, I'd say that for Eleanor it's because she was the only one really self-aware enough to realize she didn't belong in the Good Place; convincing her that she got in through a clerical error would be the best way to keep the ruse intact, while also feeding her resentment against being stuck with the goody-two-shoes crowd. If she was told that she actually deserved to be there (for...some reason), then she could assume that everybody else was secretly just as much of an asshole as her.

For Jason, it seemed to be partly about making him feel isolated, which is the only negative emotion that really seems to register with him, partly about keeping Tahani unfulfilled and envious of people with better soulmate relationships, and mostly about stressing out Eleanor and Chidi over the prospect that this idiot would blow their cover.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 9:13 PM on January 20 [11 favorites]


I have some issues with how they define good and bad...

Well yes, but don't we all?

I do want to know if Mindy St. Claire and the Medium Place are real, and I guess that the Bad Place gang is real too.

Yes to Mindy's place because Janet brought them there and she's the most real. I kinda love the idea that the Bad Place gang are being played by Good Place staff just letting loose, but that's just wishful thinking on my part.

My wife and I are divided over what happens next season. I say there's no way they can take the whole season dragging this discovery out all over again and that it will be over in an episode or two.

So the real question: Doug Forcett. Real story or BS?
posted by ODiV at 10:29 PM on January 20 [3 favorites]


When the reveal hit, I gasped and had to pause the episode to go WHAT? WHAT? WHAT? WHAT? WHAT? about that many times. Completely, totally unawares. I have really enjoyed the smart, brisk pacing of the show: no hangout episodes, no faffing about, just moving the storyline along like a speeding train to Cincinnati, sorry, the Medium Place.
I AM shipping Chidi and Fake-but-is-Actually-Real-Eleanor; I usually groan at male and female leads being mushed together like two dolls in the hands of childish producers, but the leads have great chemistry. Eleanor believes in Chidi; if she can just reunite with him, everything else can be solved. William Jackson Harper's line readings are consistent gold.
And holy moly, how many seconds do you need to get an Emmy, because Ted Danson dropping the ruse with that viciously evil grin made my stomach drop. Astounding.
This is such an inventive, fun, witty show. I completely trust the writers not to re-do the discovery for the second season. Can't wait 'till it's officially renewed!
posted by missmary6 at 10:35 PM on January 20 [12 favorites]


I think Doug Forcett is real, but that what we currently think is the case isn't actually the truth: my wishful thinking is that the whole thing is a post-mortem ethical training ground - a sort of Purgatory - and that the staff is made up of people who've been through the same process.

(One of my favourite movies is Kore-edu's After Live, so I think I'm bringing baggage from that. Also, that the Heaven/Hell divide is so obviously untenable from the point of view of real morality that I think it has to be another act.)
posted by Grangousier at 3:06 AM on January 21 [3 favorites]


2) Ted Danson: Top 10 all time evil laugh. That was magnificent.

Gods, yes, that was so good. The build from "oddly off-kilter" straight to "evil-maniacal" sold the whole reveal.
posted by Thorzdad at 3:25 AM on January 21 [4 favorites]


Callback: Michael said during orientation (or thereabouts) that he was only there to shepherd the new neighborhood along for the first thousand years or so -- the same time he figured it would take them to figure out the ruse.
posted by Etrigan at 3:58 AM on January 21 [2 favorites]


Also, he literally kicked a puppy. Into the sun!
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 5:21 AM on January 21 [5 favorites]


We all should have known that something was seriously wrong with the place when 'pobody's nerfect' worked.
posted by komara at 6:43 AM on January 21 [26 favorites]


I'm still grinning from the genius of it all. This is one of the best and most satisfying single seasons of TV I've ever seen.

Of course the bad place is teeming with pastels and frozen yogurt and clown paintings. I rewatched the first two episodes yesterday and they're AMAZING, you guys. Totally worth going through it again.
posted by mochapickle at 10:51 AM on January 21 [4 favorites]


Yes!!

And 'side note, I might legit be into Tahani' was at the point where I internally shouted that at the TV!
posted by ellieBOA at 10:54 AM on January 21 [5 favorites]


Michael is SO FUN to watch in the rewatch.
posted by mochapickle at 10:58 AM on January 21 [2 favorites]


Until the big reveal, I was working on the theory that The Good Place was a Lost sequel. I was thinking that Hugo turned over the island over to Michael and he was making a mess of things.

You have people ripped out of their ordinary lives dropped into a mysterious pseudo-paradise full of doubt and fear. People with secrets who aren't necessarily who they say they are with a chance to remake themselves in new circumstances. People working through their karma, their choices are given context through flashbacks to their earlier lives. There is a struggle between good and bad, people searching for answers while being judged by arbitrary rules. There is confusion over who is supposed to be there and who is supposed to leave, who has been chosen. Wishes are granted in a monkey's paw way. There is an awkward love triangle, or love rhomboid even.

Micheal is the guy pulling the strings, like Ben Linus hiding in plain sight. Real Eleanor and Bambadjan are fakes, our Ethan and Goodwin play acting in their midst. Jason tries to torch the train like Walt burned the boat and Locke blew up the submarine. Janet made a joke about walking is dumb, there were entire episodes of Lost where the major plot point is that characters go for a walk (dumb musical cue).

And Mindy St. Clair is our Desmond Hume, trying to change the world instead of sail around it, electromagnetic energy brought her to her medium place, now trapped alone in limbo, naked and crazy, pushing her own button on a regular basis, dreaming of cocaine instead of MacCutcheon's whisky. She provides answers that lead to even more questions on a VHS orientation tape. See you in another life, sister.

But the bad place reveal sunk that theory. I think. We'll see if the season 2 reboot has an atomic bomb or time travel subplot.
posted by peeedro at 1:30 PM on January 21 [2 favorites]


> I do want to know if Mindy St. Claire and the Medium Place are real, and I guess that the Bad Place gang is real too. I assume they are

I was intrigued by that, too. I think there are generic Bad Places and the Bad Places gang (and Shawn and all the celestial(?) bureaucracy, too) exists... but were never mortal humans?

GoodJanet is real, too, implying the existence of at least one Good Place.

As for Mindy St. Claire, I'm conflicted. If she was an "actor," why the rigamarole about not knowing where Beleanor/Jason/GoodJanet were?

If she was a real previously mortal human, why is she the only one in her purgatory? I know the script said that her case was (paraphrasing) lost in the bureaucratic machinery and the powers-that-be essentially forgot about her. Despite not having a MediumJanet, I'm leaning towards that Mindy's particular Medium Place being real, but am agnostic that there are Medium Places in general.

> So the real question: Doug Forcett

I don't see why Michael would lie about Doug Forcett. Michael never explained what Doug got right, only that he was the mostly right, to a surprising degree. I think that its funnier that its true that there was a real Doug Forcett.

Wow, I hope there's a second season; really looking forward to how the writers play it out.
posted by porpoise at 5:00 PM on January 21


Maybe Mindy was a previous alternate design for the Bad Place? Isolation instead of group insanity?
posted by Thorzdad at 6:29 PM on January 21


I think we can't believe anything we were told rather than shown was real, including the backstory of Mindy and the Medium Place. Plus flashbacks, I suppose -- those should be taken as real. But other than that, nothing else.
posted by Etrigan at 6:42 PM on January 21 [3 favorites]


I think Mindy is real and will be an ongoing element of the show. According to Michael (who we shouldn't necessarily trust when he reveals the backstory), Rebooted Good Janet falling in "love" with Jason was unexpected and genuine. And his reaction to the marriage is, in retrospect, very true to his actual revealed character. If so, she and that circumstance was what drove the whole Mindy St. Clair excursion. Mindy being real and continuing to be accessible to the group is a way the writers can complicate Michael's attempt to adjust things so that his plan works longer than a few months.

Maybe that isn't likely, but my sense was that the character was very highly realized, the actor was great, and this may be the case because the writers have plans for her. And even if they didn't, after that episode and that performance, I think they'd want to keep her around.

Anyway, I agree with everyone that this was just a great episode and a great season of television. All the relevant sites that track this sort of thing seem to agree that the show is on the bubble and more likely to canceled than not. However, I think that doesn't sufficiently account for NBC's desire to be successful with comedies again. From what I've read, this is one of only two on the network. I think TGP is going to get a fair amount of critical praise and buzz and may do well at the Emmys. Even if this particular show doesn't have the audiences that they're looking for, it could be seen as a cornerstone prestige show around which NBC will rebuild its comedy brand. So I'm thinking it will be renewed, even with the relatively low ratings.

Finally, the reveal didn't quite catch me by surprise as it did many people here. I've felt all along that things weren't as they seem and Michael has been playing a role and pulling the strings. I expected a purgatory reveal and, initially and at the time, I kept wondering if Michael was opportunistically pretending to confirm Eleanor's theory. So, taken together, I didn't get the full impact of the shock of the reveal as others did. I'm kinda envious. But it doesn't really matter because I'm more impressed and ultimately satisfied by how much a show is consistently and coherently good or great, and TGP is exceptional in this regard.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 7:49 PM on January 21 [6 favorites]


I was right there with you, Ivan. By Chapter 2 or 3, I was completely certain that Michael knew everything and this was some sort of purgatory. So certain! But then somewhere along the line, I wobbled. Maybe when Janet was murdered and there was cactus and everything went bananas? Everything could be so easily chalked up to Michael being in way over his head and under the thumb of management, and I fell for it.

So I guess I was completely right and yet utterly, utterly wrong.

I keep thinking about how well constructed this whole series is. Even the Real/Fake Eleanor thing... They could have called them Good/Bad Eleanor, and that would have been the logical thing to do, being from the Good Place and Bad Place. But it was Real/Fake because it's just one more delicious little way to torture Eleanor.

It works so well on rewatch: Chidi always has stomachaches. Tahani is WONDERFULLY annoying, just layers of it. Eleanor is pretty much Jason's personal Bad Place, constantly ordering him to be anything but himself. It's beautiful.

Oh, and Eleanor IS totally obsessed with Tahani from the start, much more than I noticed before -- seems you can't get through an episode without Eleanor going off on some rhapsody that starts with how irritating she is and ends with some reference to her general lusciousness.
posted by mochapickle at 9:58 PM on January 21 [4 favorites]


I would have loved it if Eleanor started her note with something like Ditzy May Lay.

One big gaslight would certainly be my worst hell.
posted by Monochrome at 6:51 AM on January 22 [1 favorite]


Eleanor believes in Chidi; if she can just reunite with him, everything else can be solved.

I actually got a tiny bit teary when Eleanor's goodbye to Chidi was "I was dropped into a cave, and you were my flashlight."
posted by gladly at 10:14 AM on January 22 [16 favorites]


We've already started our rewatch and the Eleanor Tahani thing is delightful in retrospect. From the first episode she mentions how attractive she is.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 3:30 PM on January 22 [2 favorites]


Oh, and Eleanor IS totally obsessed with Tahani from the start, much more than I noticed before -- seems you can't get through an episode without Eleanor going off on some rhapsody that starts with how irritating she is and ends with some reference to her general lusciousness.

Schur said in an interview that Tahani was meant to be someone with the "bearing of Grace Kelly" who's height and appearance would drive Eleanor (played by 5 foot tall Kristen Bell) crazy with insecurity. Which, again, should have been a hint.
posted by dry white toast at 3:40 PM on January 22 [2 favorites]


Thinking back (haven't yet gone into full re-watch since the reveal), the only good moment any of the characters experienced was when Chidi got to read on the lake. Which is something Eleanor made happen for him.

I guess you could also include the time Jason got to spend in his budhole.
posted by dry white toast at 3:42 PM on January 22 [4 favorites]


I reviewed my past comments here to see whether I could claim omniscience. Here are the pertinent ones, most recent first. They're rather far off the mark:
  • Jan 13: My thoughts on Janet are colored by my thoughts on Aida from Agents of Shield.
  • Nov. 5: Maybe having some kind of injustice to address, some kind of mission, is what _makes_ the good place good for most of its residents. Maybe if Eleanor was gone, and everything really was "perfect", the actual do-gooders would be miserable.
  • Nov. 5: My theory: Tahani realizes that her real soulmate is in the Bad Place and undertakes an Orpheus-like quest to retrieve him.
  • October 14: Janet is the architect. Notice how she volunteered information that helped Eleanor avoid detection -- she is the agent by which Eleanor is allowed to be the one to out herself...Michael is the architect of the neighborhood, but maybe Janet is the real Architect (or something like that).
  • September 23: [follow up from Diablevert's delicious-in-retrospect: Michael clearly hasn't designed a perfect neighborhood, there's quite a lot he doesn't know or understand about people. The failures ... seem to be a whetstone for him, too, of a sort, meant to sharpen his understanding...] ...or maybe that's what he wants everybody to think. The "flaws" in the system could be exactly what each participant needs to grow. We grow because of well-calibrated adversity. Maybe he's a mastermind who knows exactly what he's doing.
  • September 21: I found myself wondering if the Bad Place sound clip was of a roller coaster. Maybe it's basically a fun theme park.
posted by amtho at 7:13 PM on January 22 [1 favorite]


Amazing twist that feels earned. Man, I hope this show gets picked up for another season.
posted by jcreigh at 7:45 PM on January 22 [1 favorite]


Etrigan (and Etrigan's wife!, and others) had lots of similar side-eyes at the presentation of The Place being a (much less The) Good one.

Yeah, the re-watch is going to be incredible.
posted by porpoise at 10:34 PM on January 22


Thinking back (haven't yet gone into full re-watch since the reveal), the only good moment any of the characters experienced was when Chidi got to read on the lake. Which is something Eleanor made happen for him.

But Chidi gets in the boat and he's never rowed before! So the end of the chapter is him stranded in the middle of the lake freaking out. So he's still miserable -- he's just a different kind of miserable.
posted by mochapickle at 11:47 PM on January 22 [8 favorites]


So I had a thought this morning -- most of us seem to have realized "They aren't really in the Good Place" early on, but we all figured it was a Medium Place or a Mostly-Good-But-Need-Some-Help-Getting-Better Place or something like that. How much of our failure to consider that they might be in the Bad Place was because this was on broadcast television? Like, if this show had been on AMC or even FX or Comedy Central, would it have been easier for us to make the leap to "Oh, no, Heaven is really Hell, duh."?
posted by Etrigan at 6:18 AM on January 23 [6 favorites]


I guess you could also include the time Jason got to spend in his budhole.

Jason's budhole really was the gift that kept on giving. I know it's juvenile, but literally no sentence of his that included "budhole" wasn't funny.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 8:35 AM on January 23 [9 favorites]


I just can't stop thinking about Danson's (and Michael's) acting the second time Jason-revealed-as-not-Jianyu laid his hands on Michael's chest to calm him and Michael said something like, "How is this still working?"

Just a wonderful level of deceit. I love it.
posted by komara at 9:05 AM on January 23 [14 favorites]


If the deception does extend through most or all of next season, it would be fun to see the behind the scenes with Michael perspective the whole way.

They can also have Vicky/Real Eleanor play a completely different role, which would be fun too.
posted by Pryde at 3:45 PM on January 23 [3 favorites]


This episode was great and the thread's great too, I just stopped favoriting comments because it was every single one.

Like Etrigan, I note that something felt off to most people--"maybe everyone's there by mistake" was a common theory that didn't quite work. (Gratuitous literary reference: The Man Who Was Thursday though there it is done by 'God' to help everyone.)

One trick was all the anomalies were so funny--like Michael kicking the dog--that you thought you knew what you saw and didn't feel the need to puzzle over it. Like a magician's performance you're paying attention to the flair and pizazz and not the trick itself, even though the trick was unsubtle and happened right in front of us.

However, I was really turned off by the Chidi explanation. He's seems to be suffering from extreme anxiety. He doesn't mean to cause suffering. I feel like he's being punished for having a neurological disorder. That really rubs me the wrong way.

The people who run the bad place are bad. They are clearly sadists and not interested in justice.

There is the question of how they are apparently allowed get their hands on decent but ineffectual people like Chidhi and get allowed to torture them for eternity, but I don't think you need to buy into this as a moral judgment on Chidhi. You can go with Eleanor and think it's just wrong and these people are being treated unfairly. I do.
posted by mark k at 8:32 PM on January 23 [5 favorites]


Michael's evil laugh seemed so perfectly Scooby Doo Villian.
posted by CoffeeHikeNapWine at 9:23 PM on January 23 [1 favorite]


Mostly I thought it was odd that it was such a limited cast. There's what, 250+ people in The Good Place but we only hear about these four and Michael most of the time?
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:55 PM on January 23 [2 favorites]


That should have been a clue, but speaking for myself, I was suckered by the television -- especially half-hour comedy -- conceit where everyone outside of the cast basically doesn't exist.

And I think Etrigan is right, at least in my case: I wasn't looking for something this layered, coherent, and carefully executed because I just didn't expect it from a broadcast network. I mean, yeah, this was clearly something more ambitious than usual and exceptional, but I never expected this. I was thinking about the existence of the show quite firmly from the whole traditional sitcom pitch (in this case "what if someone got to heaven who didn't deserve to be there and they tried to pretend they did?)" with expectations that they further refined the concept as it was realized. But this feels more to me than something that came from a pitch -- and, according to what I've read, that's the case. The showrunner was given carte blanche to do what he wanted, a blank slate. So this isn't just a partly improvised elaboration on a conceit, this is something else, something much better.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 1:04 AM on January 24 [8 favorites]


Between this and Hannibal (and possibly other series that I'm not aware of), it seems that NBC are taking the new realities of TV consumption more seriously than the other networks - series that are likely to have passionate followings, with coherent narratives rather than maximal accretion of episodes, that will be perfect for reselling to the Netflix of the world, or packaging on Blu-Ray. Is this the case, or am I reading too much into it. I've certainly not noticed the provenance of anything that might have come from ABC or CBS, and I don't know if any of their series have done anything to command my attention.

(Viewing in the UK, via a means of distribution likely to significantly stunt my points score.)
posted by Grangousier at 5:34 AM on January 24 [4 favorites]


I am so, so, so so glad I didn't spoil myself before having a chance to watch the final three episodes last night. The reveal was incredible, especially since it was hinted all the way through the series but the show just encouraged you to roll with it.

(Among other hints: social-hungry Tahani has every party she throws ruined, whether it's by Eleanor's selfishness at the beginning, or a sinkhole opening up, or Michael announcing his "retirement" is actually being eternally tortured. And why, by the way, would the punishment for failure by an angel be eternal torture?)

Also of note:
* The welcome sign in the rebooted neighborhood has been changed from "Everything is fine!" to "Everything is great!"
* Is Eleanor's score of -4003, as shown on the tracker, her legit score? Does that make her positive score over a million (after she plans to leave) legitimate as well? Michael told Tahani that scores can't change after death, but we also know that everyone's score on the chart is fake. If scores can change after death, then does that mean that Eleanor has a high enough score now that the actual Good Place may want to claim her in season 2? Or does it mean that we're still in Purgatory rather than straight-up hell?
* That Michael thinks the torture will last for 1,000 years (rather than eternally) may be a hint as well.
* Eleanor's new soulmate being so vain might tip her off that this isn't the good place more quickly next season.

This show had better get picked up for another season.
posted by thecaddy at 6:41 AM on January 24 [7 favorites]


"Between this and Hannibal (and possibly other series that I'm not aware of), it seems that NBC are taking the new realities of TV consumption more seriously than the other networks - series that are likely to have passionate followings, with coherent narratives rather than maximal accretion of episodes, that will be perfect for reselling to the Netflix of the world, or packaging on Blu-Ray."

As much as I wish this were true, the reality is more complicated. The shows that consistently have the highest ratings among the most desirable demographics are almost entirely either reality television or the same by-the-numbers broadcast stuff. There are a very few exceptions to this, I suppose, but not many.

And I don't think that's ever likely to change -- even assuming some sort of industry-wide shift to the Netflix all-at-once model, which I think is extremely unlikely (I think Netflix will end up being the one to change). Binge-watching and an investment in watching every one of the episodes in even just twelve-episode seasons is too much of a commitment to ever expect the majority of the television audience to make for the majority of shows.

Instead, what we'll get is what the industry is moving toward -- a mix. Every network, cable or broadcast, is still going to hope for truly high ratings shows that make them a lot of money (on a relatively small budget, which is why reality television of various types are not going away soon) and so will still continue to attempt this -- so they'll keep throwing things against the wall and canceling the failures until they get another Big Bang Theory or whatever. And people like their pablum television. Even very occasionally, me. It's like the appeal of fast-food.

All that said, the broadcast networks have been notably behind-the-curve on this particular segment of the market. For last year's Emmys, wasn't it that the broadcast networks had something like only two wins among the major awards and all the rest went to cable shows? Something like that. And so the broadcast networks are making a mistake in not accepting this new reality and trying to capture some of this segment of the market. We might call this "prestige television", usually serialized, which does inspire a lot of critical acclaim, devoted audiences, and secondary sales in the form of blu-rays (less and less relevant) and via all the streaming services later. There's value in that for various reasons, but one of the more important is branding. HBO is a "brand". They worked very hard for two decades at producing original programming to achieve their prestige branding. The broadcast networks used to have some branding in this sense -- particularly NBC with their (two-decade?) domination of Thursday nights with sitcoms. It's pretty humiliating for NBC to have been reduced to third-place among the broadcast networks in comedies -- they have only a few, actually. Meanwhile, ABC is now the sitcom brand among the broadcasts.

Anyway, this is why I'm pretty sure that they'll renew this show, even though its ratings normally (by broadcast network standards) wouldn't merit it. And, yeah, I think we'll see the broadcast networks increasingly attempt to compete with the cable networks in prestige programming. But it will never be the majority type of television programming -- it is, really, sort of niche, all things considered.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 8:05 AM on January 24




The CW is already going down that route -- when they renewed Crazy Ex-Girlfriend despite its downright pathetic ratings, the network's president defended it on the basis of network prestige.
When you have great critical work and a critically acclaimed and nominated show like [Crazy Ex-Girlfriend], it deserves to be picked up. It has nothing to do with numbers. It has everything to do with how Crazy Ex, Jane the Virgin and the DC franchises have helped alter the perception of what The CW has become.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:02 AM on January 24 [6 favorites]


In the very first episode, Michael wears a peacock bowtie, and as I learned via comments at Kate Nepveu, Lucifer is called the Peacock Angel, and honestly that little detail that almost no one even has the knowledge to see is such a great hallmark of this show.
posted by jeather at 11:31 AM on January 24 [12 favorites]




In his flashbacks, Michael is working in an office with an open floor plan. That should have been a big enough red flag that it wasn't the good place.
posted by Gary at 7:15 PM on January 24 [23 favorites]


Vulture on some of the hints from earlier episodes that things aren't quite right

Oh, this is so clever!
In the finale, when Jason thinks he has to go to the Bad Place, he tells Janet, "I'll miss you so much babe, promise you'll visit?" Janet responds, "I will not, it is literally impossible for me to do that." That's because she's already there.
posted by mochapickle at 7:51 PM on January 24 [14 favorites]


Is Eleanor's score of -4003, as shown on the tracker, her legit score? Does that make her positive score over a million (after she plans to leave) legitimate as well? Michael told Tahani that scores can't change after death, but we also know that everyone's score on the chart is fake

I don't think we even know if there are scores. Michael could've made them up to mess with people. Certainly he messes with Tahani and they help keep fake Eleanor off balance and feeling isolated.

Based on this discussion there's apparently a spectrum of what people believe is real about the "Good Place" which seems fitting. I think I'm on the extreme agnostic side of things. Even when it comes to Janet who some people think is mostly honest--I'm more focusing on how she says in the first or second episode the one thing she can't do is answer questions about the bad place.
posted by mark k at 8:28 PM on January 24 [2 favorites]


Michael mentions working on score tabulation in the flashback that opens episode 13, before he gets the assignment to design a "neighborhood" solo, so that part seems to be legit (though the particular scores shown before the reveal are obviously bullshit, at least where Tahani and Chidi are concerned).
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 9:06 AM on January 25 [3 favorites]


There is the question of how they are apparently allowed get their hands on decent but ineffectual people like Chidhi and get allowed to torture them for eternity, but I don't think you need to buy into this as a moral judgment on Chidhi. You can go with Eleanor and think it's just wrong and these people are being treated unfairly. I do.

You can really elephant this all the way down and wonder - are Michael and his brethren really cogent of their reality? They clearly have a lot of power over the humans but perhaps they're all being played as well. We know so little about what goes on in the universe, it's possible that Michael et all are being jerked around by having them do tabulations and handling of humans but once they go through their tedious bureaucratic work and slot the humans into their new digs, do the humans actually stay there? Michael's ambition to do something new has led him into a lot of hassle and discomfort.

There's a lot of ways this could go and this season gives me confidence that they might find really brilliant ways to execute it.

All the relevant sites that track this sort of thing seem to agree that the show is on the bubble and more likely to canceled than not.

Cancellation Bear has TGP as "likely to be renewed."


The Good Place being full of frozen yogurt should have been the first tip-off to its true, sinister nature, really.

I WILL FIGHT YOU. Unless it's sickly-sweet TCBY 80s style and not tart stuff in which case yeah, totally.
posted by phearlez at 9:35 AM on January 25


Rewatched episode 1, and when Michael introduces Eleanor and Chidi to Tahani and Jason, he says "Oh, the thought of you four amazing people living next to each other for eternity just...it brings joy to my heart."
posted by jcreigh at 10:36 PM on January 25 [27 favorites]


I just re-read all of the old Fanfare threads and all of our wrong theories and misplaced concerns about people not getting the right soulmates made this show the gift that keeps on giving.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 12:03 PM on January 26 [7 favorites]


Michael mentions working on score tabulation in the flashback that opens episode 13, before he gets the assignment to design a "neighborhood" solo, so that part seems to be legit

I missed that and look forward to an eventual rewatch.

The theological implications of those who run "the bad place" tabulating scores is a bit subversive, no?

Along those lines, does fake Eleanor retain any of her improved self when the world reboots? Or is it all gone with the memories? If so, that means the bad place folks can undo the good that people do, which really messes with the whole idea of a "score" that tabulates the impact of your deeds as being any sort of justice. (I realize there's an "already dead" out some people would point to but no, that does *not* make it fair.)

They clearly have a lot of power over the humans but perhaps they're all being played as well. We know so little about what goes on in the universe, it's possible that Michael et all are being jerked around by having them do tabulations and handling of humans but once they go through their tedious bureaucratic work and slot the humans into their new digs, do the humans actually stay there?

One of the classic heresies--Pelagianism maybe?--had the devil doing good unwittingly, and guaranteed 100% eventual salvation, even if your initial afterlife was hell. Or maybe these were two different heresies. But yeah, it's totally possible.
posted by mark k at 8:45 PM on January 27 [2 favorites]




Argh I came here just to post that -- this must be what Tahani feels like in her sister's shadow all the time.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 12:09 PM on January 30 [10 favorites]


Side note, I might legit be into MCMikeNamara.
posted by Etrigan at 12:17 PM on January 30 [9 favorites]


Yay! One bit of good news!
posted by gladly at 12:47 PM on January 30 [1 favorite]


Mike Schur speaks! He finally does an interview with Alan Sepinwall about the season.
posted by gladly at 11:23 AM on March 6 [5 favorites]


I know this is a controversial statement, but I think Ted Danson is good at acting.
Hee.
We knew, for instance, that we could never have a scene with Michael where one of the four others wasn’t around, because as soon as he was alone, he would drop the act.
I was watching for this on the second go-through, and they flirted with this at least one other time that he didn't mention, but it has the same basic resolution.
Medium Place is real. The essential story of Mindy St. Claire’s situation is on the up and up.
Intriguing...
In most of those scenes [where the Big Four might have figured it out], the writers would develop a backstory, for internal use only, of what [Michael] might have done if things had gone differently.
That is simultaneously awesome and terrifying.
posted by Etrigan at 11:40 AM on March 6 [4 favorites]


Well, the trick for Michael is to make it subtly terrible (for torture reasons), using the “this is what everybody here likes!” excuse, without making it obviously terrible so it’s a giveaway. There is a significant clue in the first season about how he will achieve this, with pizza.

I can't wait to see how the writers make pizza into torture. I need to go back and watch that part.
posted by gladly at 12:11 PM on March 6


I can't wait to see how the writers make pizza into torture.

Trevor had 100 Hawaiian pizzas delivered to Michael's office, so that's where I'm putting my money.
posted by Etrigan at 12:25 PM on March 6 [3 favorites]


Pizza predictions:

Eleanor and Jason are consistently served "Real Eleanor" and "Jianyu's" favorite pizzas, which are respectively Hawaiian and plain bread. Made extra horrible for Jason because his favorite pizza is actually Hawaiian.

Chidi is offered a choice between an infinite panoply of toppings and always ends up with either a collection of individually tasty things that are horrible together, further undermining his faith in his own decision-making, or extra cheese and a stress stomachache.

Tahani: Doesn't actually like pizza.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 12:34 PM on March 6 [10 favorites]


Tahani: Loves pizza, but needs to appear to not like pizza.
posted by ODiV at 1:45 PM on March 6 [9 favorites]




I did not guess the twist, but the infinite choices in the yoghurt shop - not the yoghurt itself - really bugged me.

I kept thinking surely in the Good Place you would always just automatically be given your favourite flavour the minute you even thought 'I'd like a frozen yogurt about now'.
posted by Faintdreams at 3:53 PM on September 20 [1 favorite]


When I rewatched this episode knowing the ending, I was blown away by the private conversation we see between Michael and Shawn.

This is a real mess, huh? No matter what they decide, I'd bet you're gonna be in pretty hot water with your boss. Wouldn't be surprised if retirement were on the table.

Retirement?

Course, what do I know? I'm just The All-Knowing Judge of All Matters in the Afterlife. But face it, this is your mistake.


It works perfectly when you know nothing and when you know everything.
posted by showbiz_liz at 1:55 AM on September 23 [4 favorites]


Oh oh, and there's also the scene in Michael's office where they're all arguing about the absent Eleanor, and Shawn looks right at Michael and says "I've just received word that she's not in the Bad Place. We have no idea where she is." Not only does Michael look genuinely angry for a sec (while everyone else is distracted by their own reactions), I swear you can see him mouth "fuck!"
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:36 AM on September 23 [6 favorites]


Can we just marvel at the fact that a guy named Michael made a show for our entertainment about a universe where a guy named Michael crafts a universe for his audience's entertainment where he slams four perfectly-crafted personalities against one another to torture them, and somehow none of us saw this twist coming?

Also, what showbiz liz points out implies that Shawn is real. And if (as Schur says) Mindy's story is on the up and up, then Trevor is real as well (and probably higher up the foodchain than Michael is.)
posted by Navelgazer at 7:53 AM on October 2 [2 favorites]


So, I binged this show last week for the first time (I knew about the twist and that was actually what made me interested in watching the show) and my husband was sort of in and out of the room while I was watching and he'd ask me questions about it and I'd tell him a joke from the show, whatever. (He's very patient with me that way.)

Well, we get to the last 15 or so minutes and he walks into the room and he's standing there watching the show. And just stood there and stood there until I was finally like, "OH MY GOD, JUST SIT DOWN AND WATCH THIS WITH ME" and he did and then we watched all the available episodes of season two.

You guys, this man watches almost NO tv. This is a huge deal.
posted by Aquifer at 7:20 AM on October 10 [7 favorites]


That was a brilliantly well-executed twist, right up there with the very best "fair play" mystery reveals. All the evidence was there out in the open, but it seems that hardly anybody put everything together until the very end.
posted by tobascodagama at 5:43 AM on November 10


I can't wait to see how the writers make pizza into torture.

I mean, have you ever tried to get four people to agree on toppings for a pizza before?
posted by ckape at 5:08 PM on November 10 [1 favorite]


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