The Good Place: Best Self
January 11, 2018 5:57 PM - Season 2, Episode 10 - Subscribe

Michael gets into a bind; Eleanor has an idea that leads Chidi, Tahani, Jason and even Janet to put their feelings on the line.

description via imdb
posted by everybody had matching towels (62 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
There has never been a show as willing to JUST FUCKING GO FOR IT as this one.

My God.
posted by tzikeh at 7:21 PM on January 11 [20 favorites]


I mean -- that writers' room has to be full of the world's best Yes And players. I don't think we've seen the last of Michael's "Good Place," but I also would not be overly surprised if we have. Talk about having faith in your audience.

And now Michael can lose his car keys and choose not to throw out a stress ball! He's so happy! It's like watching a toddler exploring the world!
posted by tzikeh at 7:40 PM on January 11 [8 favorites]


I never thought I'd be so sad to see a fictional not-really-heaven dissolve into nothingness.

Also, when the gang was drunk on the lawn, I was half expecting a cut to them waking up hungover on the hot air balloon.
posted by bassooner at 9:05 PM on January 11 [1 favorite]


Drunk!Cockroaches = BEST!Cockroaches
posted by tzikeh at 9:28 PM on January 11 [3 favorites]


I can only hope the next episode features a lot of Janet pretending to be Bad Janet.
posted by ckape at 10:47 PM on January 11 [29 favorites]


I feel like "You know the sound that a fork make in a garbage disposal? That's the sound my brain makes all the time" was a direct depiction of how everyone in the writers' room must operate.

Ted Danson was so damn good in this, and Michael got some great lines
"Kissing is gross. You just mash your food holes together. It's not for that."

"You humans have so many emotions! You only need two: anger and confusion"

"This is not torture. I was stalling so I could keep searching for a way in"

"A Dr. Oz diet book because you're all such suckers"

"And now we're going to do the most human thing of all: attempt something futile with a ton of unearned confidence and fail spectacularly"
Michael has managed to put the gang on the train to hell with all of them smiling, which is quite the accomplishment.

I also appreciated everyone with red Solo cups except Tahani, who has a champagne glass.
posted by zachlipton at 10:49 PM on January 11 [16 favorites]


Or 69. Or 420.

*high-five*
posted by rewil at 11:20 PM on January 11 [23 favorites]


"Kissing is gross. You just mash your food holes together. It's not for that."

I missed whatever Michael said after this because of my giggles.

I can't even remember what Jason wanted and was denied, but Manny Jacinto's "Awww" sound was 100% perfect.

Eleanor and Chidi's relationship might be my favorite thing on television. Unrequited love that isn't creepy or dishonest and is grounded in genuine care for the other person. It takes the whole "will they/won't they" trope and makes it much more human.
posted by gladly at 6:31 AM on January 12 [11 favorites]


I was kind of surprised at the way the Good Place dematerialized, like a huge computer simulation, rather than in a more hell-ish, apocalyptic way.

And, what was the thing that flew out from the dematerializing Good Place right at the end? It got zapped, too, but it seemed like it should be something important.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:03 AM on January 12 [2 favorites]


This was just such a FUN episode.
The real bad place was the friends we made along the way.
I call right nipple.
Not a robot. Not a girl. Yes a straight-up hottie.

(Also, we got confused in episode numberings somewhere this season -- we have two episode 5s, depending on whether the first hour long episode is 1 or 2 episodes. But officially this should be episode 10.)
posted by jeather at 7:22 AM on January 12 [6 favorites]


Only one more episode this season.
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:44 AM on January 12


Three more! This season is 13 episodes long, and this is episode 10.
posted by jeather at 7:45 AM on January 12 [4 favorites]


My bad.
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:47 AM on January 12


Michael's (and Ted Danson's) reaction to the Human Starter Kit was so sweet and genuine it made me cry (although, to be fair, I've had a stressful week). And I think that is, in essence, what this show is about -- all the little things that make up our lives. It's Eleanor giving Chidi a tissue.

I am willing to follow this show wherever it goes. It's always surprising me.
posted by darksong at 7:47 AM on January 12 [8 favorites]


zachlipton: "And now we're going to do the most human thing of all: attempt something futile with a ton of unearned confidence and fail spectacularly"

Michael found the wordiest, most over-explainy way to say "Hold my beer."
posted by tzikeh at 8:08 AM on January 12 [12 favorites]


The Hilarity and Horror of Ted Danson on The Good Place
The camera pans to Michael (Ted Danson), the architect of the “Good Place.” His face is perched between curiosity and puzzlement; then, in an instant his eyes grow cold and a devious smile appears. A childlike giggle curdles into a malevolent cackle that essentially splits the series in two, launching it into a bold new direction. This moment is a supreme marriage of craft and theme — an actor’s prowess, assured directing, and great writing — and it encapsulates the greatness of the series in roughly less than 30 seconds. But to understand what has made Danson’s performance such a revelatory standout in his storied career comes seconds after this laugh. He huffs and spazzes in frustration at Eleanor’s ingenuity, plopping down into a sloping white chair his tall frame seems ill-suited for. He turns calm and faces Eleanor, staring at her with catlike insolence as he gently knocks a potted plant to the floor, as if to say, “What the hell are you going to do about it?”
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:15 AM on January 12 [13 favorites]


I wonder what happened to Janet's button.
posted by ZeusHumms at 8:27 AM on January 12 [2 favorites]


I rewatched "Michael's Gambit" a little while ago, and I still don't know how that laugh was done. It's a magic trick.

Anyway, I know it's unusual to use this as a compliment, but I thought this episode was like a fanfic. Fanfic at its best is about synthesis, pulling together all of a series' iterations. A TV show is written by writers with various preoccupations, and acted out by actors of varying skill, which usually results in inconsistencies and flaws and big gaps of self-awareness. The work of being a fanfic writer is about writing stories that reconcile and smooth over these problems, which is part of the reason I don't really do fan stuff anymore. It becomes this weird kind of labor, this hard work to love something whose creators don't think about you at all.

The Good Place is different; its creators think about the metagame more than the fans do. They do all that work for us -- keeping characters consistent, letting them grow, exploring their complexities, adding in some fluff and banter, getting quickly to the point of a plot -- and let us enjoy the ride.

Also, I've really loved watching Michael's arc this season. It's been a long process of reconciling the two opposing things he pretends to be, and demonstrating that there's no contradiction in thinking that humans are weird, absurd, gross, fascinating, delightful, and worthy of emulation.
posted by thesmallmachine at 9:16 AM on January 12 [17 favorites]


Also, if you put a paperclip in the first act, it's got to go off in the third.
posted by thesmallmachine at 9:21 AM on January 12 [15 favorites]


And, what was the thing that flew out from the dematerializing Good Place right at the end? It got zapped, too, but it seemed like it should be something important.

Ladybug, I thought?
posted by minsies at 10:26 AM on January 12 [2 favorites]


Yep, just a ladybug.... OR WAS IT ?!?!?!?

...

.......

Nope, just a ladybug.
posted by Pendragon at 11:33 AM on January 12


I'm just in absolute awe of this show. This was amazing.

(Also, man, that fork analogy. I know what Chidi means.)
posted by mordax at 12:16 PM on January 12


I loved how Michael just completely obviously fiddled with that paperclip through Bad Janet's whole speech.
posted by ckape at 1:45 PM on January 12 [2 favorites]




And well deserved says I.
posted by tzikeh at 1:59 PM on January 12 [2 favorites]


It's amazing to me that season 3 is green-lit at this point...how long can they keep throwing away the premise of the show every season?
posted by jcreigh at 3:06 PM on January 12 [2 favorites]


So, next episode do we find out that the whole inability to swear thing is actually a standard Bad Place torment and they just lucked out that it also seemed like a plausible thing for the Good Place to do?
posted by ckape at 3:21 PM on January 12 [4 favorites]


how long can they keep throwing away the premise of the show every season?

FOREVER THEY CAN DO THIS FOREVER
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 6:01 PM on January 12 [20 favorites]


I wonder what happened to Janet's button.

Janet is neither good nor bad. She had no free will.

edit: in that case BadJanet is also neither good or bad too...
posted by porpoise at 8:03 PM on January 12


I could watch an entire show of Bad Janet insulting people for 22 minutes a week.

It was so cool and odd watching the neighborhood get pixel-langoliered.

"The Good Place was inside the Bad Place all along!" I think there's truth to this. I can't shake the idea that Michael really is a/the better angel, and he's helping (a selection of) four truly awful people become good humans, and all this (flourishes arms) is just Michael's masterminded program for getting people who needed more help get to the good place eventually. I still really like the idea of a creator/being/whatever that so engenders the power of good that the creator/being/whatever makes sure everyone gets there, even if it takes all this (flourishes).
posted by mochapickle at 9:01 PM on January 12 [11 favorites]


I'm kind of curious how "bodies" work in this universe. Is being on the train the only thing that makes our four cockroaches' human bodies not disappear? Did Janet create them? Could Michael shrink them down and put them in his pocket to walk through the bad place? What is Michael's true form? Is appearing human for him different than when lava demon guy pretends to be human?
posted by Rinku at 2:11 AM on January 13


I can't wait for the Bad Place. It's going to be chaotic, I'm guessing, which means so many background jokes!

Awww, Jason, I am also disappointed you don't get to ride Optimus Prime to the Good Place. I will cheer for the Jaguars for you this weekend against the Steelers, by yelling "Maximum Derek" at Blake Bortles a lot. It will be very confusing to everyone I'm watching with - also, possibly angering, which only proves Michael's point about which emotions are useful.
posted by the primroses were over at 8:45 AM on January 13 [6 favorites]


I will cheer for the Jaguars for you this weekend against the Steelers, by yelling "Maximum Derek" at Blake Bortles a lot.

You've just pre-made a bunch of my maybe-only-until-after-the-game friends very confused.

And possibly angry.
posted by tzikeh at 11:23 AM on January 13 [2 favorites]


This is not torture. I was stalling so I could keep searching for a way in

I felt like this was said directly to me rather than the gang - literally seconds prior as they started bouncing around which of them was their best self and what did that mean I had a flashback to the last ep of Season 1 and said "They ARE still being tortured!!"

So basically, Michael is my puppet-master and I've been his puppet for a long time.
posted by solotoro at 12:31 PM on January 13 [3 favorites]


I can't totally bring myself to trust the Michael is still with them.

But it's all so great. Also I'm pretty sure this was the first time we've seen genuine self-actualizing from Tahani.
posted by dry white toast at 8:49 PM on January 13 [3 favorites]


So the Jaguars just pulled off a huge upset and beat the Steelers. If they can beat the Patriots in the AFC championship game, they will go onto the Super Bowl.

My person opinion is in line with Michael's: I can't predict the future, but they won't.
posted by jcreigh at 3:53 PM on January 14 [2 favorites]


But we can all agree that Bill Belichick is going to the Bad Place, right?
posted by the primroses were over at 4:51 PM on January 14 [1 favorite]


Bill Belichick might run the Bad Place.

Mike Schur is a New England fan, but he's mostly quit the NFL and wasn't super excited to be rooting for Trump's chosen team last season. I wonder if there isn't a part of him that would be thrilled to see the Jags beat the Pats.

Like Brian Grubb, who wrote this excellent piece on Jason Mendoza/Manny Jacinto awesomeness, I'm an Eagles fan who's rooting for the Jags.
posted by gladly at 5:02 PM on January 14 [5 favorites]


I thought Eleanor probably got to what we all probably hope is the real qualification for getting into the Good Place: trying our best. Maybe we're not our best selves, maybe we fuck up, but the important thing is trying at all. And here our cockroaches are, still trying, still not giving up. I think that's genuinely really moving, and I also found them partying together really moving too. They were meant to torture each other, but they've found comfort and love with each other, if in somewhat weird forms.

I also thought it was a great moment of character growth that Eleanor, in all earnestness and with actual concern, asked Michael about how he felt about seeing his life's work destroyed with the fake Good Place being dismantled.
posted by yasaman at 5:33 PM on January 14 [10 favorites]


As someone who has gone from knowing nothing about Blake Bortles to having oddly deep feelings about the Jaguar's playoff run, I have only this to say:
please don't milkshake duck, please don't milkshake duck please don't milkshake duck please don't milkshake duck please don't milkshake duck please don't milkshake duck

and also, if the improbable happens, don't fuck up season 3 trying to adapt Jason's storyline to accommodate the intrusion of real winning by jacksonville.
posted by Cold Lurkey at 5:58 PM on January 14 [1 favorite]


I suspect they'd handle the Jaguars' success about the same way as Lost dealt with the Red Sox winning the World Series: By having Jason assume it was some sort of trick.
posted by ckape at 6:27 PM on January 14


Jason would be thrilled, and everyone else would assume it was a joke that Jason didn't get. Whether or not they would successfully convince Jason of that depends on where they are in season 3. Which is anybody's guess, because this show rules.
posted by the primroses were over at 6:32 PM on January 14


Cold Lurkey, I'm confused by your comment - how are you relating the Milkshake Duck meme to the Jaguars' Superb Owl chances? Is someone on the team likely to say something racist in public or on social media?
posted by tzikeh at 9:33 PM on January 14


Of course the scale was going to let Jason in, because Jason Mendoza might be a terrible person, but he is always the best version of himself.
posted by Tentacle of Trust at 9:59 PM on January 14 [2 favorites]


Is someone on the team likely to say something racist in public or on social media?
Basically, I fear, yes. The following is very dumb, but no less internally true for it:
Because I would not GAF about Bortles or Jacksonville, absent The Good Place, it makes me nervous that I'm setting myself up for collateral embarrassment and outrage if someone says or does something stupid or offensive. Because my media diet has a lot of good place in it, there would be no avoiding it, and i'm plenty supersaturated with outrage already, thank you. Essentially, if it weren't for this show, I would be more able to ignore any furor that arose around a sports team that I don't inherently trust not to do stupid things.
posted by Cold Lurkey at 6:49 AM on January 15


The Good Place was inside the Bad Place all along!

Heh, this one is true on at least two levels: as a cheesy aphorism ("We found our own goodness even in hell") and as a simple statement of geography ("This neighborhood, 'The Good Place,' was literally located in hell").

Though I think Michael should also get credit for "The real Bad Place was the friends we made along the way."
posted by mbrubeck at 7:46 AM on January 15 [6 favorites]


Oh yeah, and the significance of the ladybug was from the very first episode. Michael explains that "every blade of grass, every ladybug" has its exact place within the precision machine of the neighborhood. Then in the original chaos sequence, giant ladybugs terrorize the neighborhood.
posted by mbrubeck at 7:49 AM on January 15 [4 favorites]




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

Our house discussed this and riffed on it to include smashing pee-areas together. We are not well people.

I wonder what happened to Janet's button.

Just windchimes
posted by phearlez at 1:32 PM on January 15 [4 favorites]


I can only hope the next episode features a lot of Janet pretending to be Bad Janet.

I am more down for this than you will ever know, because this show made me realize three things:

1.) I am really into Bad Janet;

2.) I am really, really into evil domineering method actor Vicky; and

3.) I should probably make that appointment with a therapist I've been putting off. I got some stuff to work through.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 1:53 PM on January 15 [6 favorites]


> I wonder what happened to Janet's button.

no but seriously this is a good question. If Michael just disappeared everything that was "The Good Place" that includes Janet's button on the beach. If he was able to make it disappear then was it real? And if it's not real, how is she advancing through all these reboots and retaining bits of her original "consciousness"?

I really want to know the answers to these things.
posted by komara at 2:01 PM on January 15


1.) I am really into Bad Janet;

2.) I am really, really into evil domineering method actor Vicky; and

3.) I should probably make that appointment with a therapist I've been putting off. I got some stuff to work through.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 1:53 PM on January 15 [1 favorite −] Favorite added! [!]


Eponysterical!
posted by mordax at 2:34 PM on January 15 [3 favorites]


There has never been a show as willing to JUST FUCKING GO FOR IT as this one.

This. And Since Michael claims that he learned everything about human relationships from watching Friends - it is interesting to think of there being "the one where" the action involved the torching of the sets for Central Perk and the Monica's apartment while the whole cast set of on a trip to (...checks) Memphis - apparently. And that all this were to have been scripted not even as a season finale.
posted by rongorongo at 6:19 AM on January 16 [2 favorites]


no but seriously this is a good question. If Michael just disappeared everything that was "The Good Place" that includes Janet's button on the beach. If he was able to make it disappear then was it real? And if it's not real, how is she advancing through all these reboots and retaining bits of her original "consciousness"?

Eh, the physical button was just an API hook. Afterlife IFTTT.

You're probably edging way too close to the completely impossible question of what exactly is physical in that world anyway. Obviously the humans aren't in regular human bodies; they don't age and ought to be immune to physical harms (Chidi's stomach issues aside). They eat but it's unclear if they need to. The flaming fire demon dude was physically smaller when wearing his skin suit.

I presume it's all just metaphor to some extent, a la the way it was in an STTNG episode where Q shows Picard where he and his fellow omnipotents hang out when they're not playing Mxyzptlk in the human universe.
posted by phearlez at 8:25 AM on January 16 [4 favorites]


phearlez: Kissing is gross. You just mash your food holes together.

Our house discussed this and riffed on it to include smashing pee-areas together. We are not well people.


Was it a comedian, or a bit in a tv show or movie, where someone says that God doesn't exist or is a terrible designer or something because he put the entertainment center next to the garbage shoot?
posted by tzikeh at 2:38 PM on January 16 [1 favorite]


It's even worse when you think about chickens.
(If you don't know what I mean, don't look.)
posted by jenfullmoon at 2:51 PM on January 16


Though I think Michael should also get credit for "The real Bad Place was the friends we made along the way."

I believe Jean-Paul Sartre has priority on that one.
posted by The Tensor at 3:12 PM on January 16 [2 favorites]


tzikeh - It was Forgetting Sarah Marshall
posted by willnot at 7:02 AM on January 17


tzikeh - It was Forgetting Sarah Marshall

That gag was old when I was in grade school in the late 70s/early 80s; the variant then was something about putting the toilet so close to the snack bar.
posted by phearlez at 11:32 AM on January 17


... and the third one says: "God has to be a civil engineer -- who else would run a waste disposal pipeline through a perfectly good recreational area?"
posted by komara at 7:33 PM on January 17


Yeah, I guess it's one of those that can't ultimately be sourced. I never saw Forgetting Sarah Marshall, so my introduction to the idea wasn't that.
posted by tzikeh at 8:02 PM on January 17


(Also, we got confused in episode numberings somewhere this season -- we have two episode 5s, depending on whether the first hour long episode is 1 or 2 episodes. But officially this should be episode 10.)

Ahhh thank you. That was totally my fault, counting is hard. I contacted the mods and it's fixed now.
posted by everybody had matching towels at 11:21 AM on January 18


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