The Good Place: The Book of Dougs
January 10, 2019 7:02 PM - Season 3, Episode 10 - Subscribe

Michael's resolve is put to the test. Meanwhile, Jason wrestles with his feelings and Chidi surprises Eleanor.
posted by duffell (120 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
 
NICOLE BYER WAS SO GOOD IN THIS

CHIDI THE POSTMAN

4 OREOS FROM HEAVEN

FROGS! IHOP! EVERYONE BEING ADORABLE!
posted by duffell at 7:04 PM on January 10 [17 favorites]


ahh you beat me to it!

Gwendolyn is so wonderfully naive and I want more of her.

So the Good Place is just as we mostly thought, it's very charming and nice and the people are super rulesy and bureaucratic.

"I was wrong emotions don't come out of your butt! They come out of your eyes! And somehow it's still embarrassing!"
posted by numaner at 7:05 PM on January 10 [6 favorites]


when nicole byer walked in the room i GASPED
posted by JimBennett at 7:06 PM on January 10 [5 favorites]


re: the tags, the group Michael talked to is "the committee", not "the council". carry on.
posted by numaner at 7:09 PM on January 10 [1 favorite]


I was so forking excited to see Nicole Byer here.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 7:12 PM on January 10 [4 favorites]


Chidi's How? Why? was so good. Nice to see Chidi mostly super relaxed when pretty much everyone else was freaking out about strong emotions.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 7:15 PM on January 10 [29 favorites]


I think some of us speculated correctly that the points system is messed up because of all those unintended consequences, that you can't do a thing in this world without being terrible because of how complicated it as become to produce everything you need to live. Which makes me wonder about modern isolated tribes: what would the points system be like for them? Does hunting and gathering negatively impact their total? Would it be outweighed by them basically living with the earth and giving back, per se, and have a neutral or negative carbon footprint? Does their failure to convince the rest of us to be more like them hurts their score?

And what about tribes with minimal contact with the rest of the world? Does interacting with a camera crew cause negative points because of the products used to conduct such an interview that in turn didn't convince the world to be better?
posted by numaner at 7:18 PM on January 10 [2 favorites]


Yes, I really enjoyed Chidi comforting Eleanor through her freak out. The smell of pretzels/absolute moral certainty must be heady stuff!

Also, Tahani awkwardly trying to help Janet feel better - I thought her "death did us part" certificate was a great idea, but her trying to recover after it fell flat was hilarious.

The guy assigned to shower Michael with compliments did an excellent job. I was sorry to see him have to resign for an improper "here, here."
posted by the primroses were over at 7:22 PM on January 10 [17 favorites]


I think I would constantly smell "cuddling with my favorite person while the waves of the beach lull us to sleep"
posted by numaner at 7:24 PM on January 10 [4 favorites]


YAY, IT'S BACK!

"Remember about 200,000 years ago when they invented stabbing and they were all just stabbing each other?"
posted by wiskunde at 7:25 PM on January 10 [18 favorites]


The Good Place, Chapter 37: there’s no ethical consumption under capitalism
posted by bigendian at 7:34 PM on January 10 [75 favorites]


Chidi being so very chill made me suspicious, like he wasn't really Chidi... but maybe everybody else's high anxiety made him Zen right the hell out. Anyway I'm adding his "pop that bench" moment to my mental file of things that bring me joy, along with Janet's concern about feelings flying out of her butt.
posted by palomar at 7:40 PM on January 10 [13 favorites]


I was so incredibly delighted to see Nicole Byer I missed most of the rest of the episode.
posted by jeather at 7:52 PM on January 10 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I was glad to see Chidi's obvious growth, but it feels a little out of nowhere. Maybe the point is that genuine love for someone takes him outside of himself.
posted by dry white toast at 8:22 PM on January 10 [6 favorites]


"What kind of a messed up place turns away refugees?"
posted by bondcliff at 8:37 PM on January 10 [91 favorites]


The idea that the world becoming more complex makes it harder to be moral is comforting, he said, typing on his rare-earths-containing computer as he burns fossil fuels to heat his single-occupancy residence. But doesn't that let us off the hook a little easy? Good intentions can't be all that matter.
posted by pykrete jungle at 8:59 PM on January 10 [6 favorites]


"What kind of a messed up place turns away refugees?"

That one hurt.

Good intentions can’t be all that matter

I don’t understand what you mean—good intentions aren’t all that matter, in fact, good intentions are currently heavily outweighed by the negative externalities of our welll-intentioned actions. Even giving flowers to your mom is now a significantly morally negative act. As bigendian pointed out, there is no ethical consumption under capitalism.
posted by skewed at 9:06 PM on January 10 [7 favorites]


I mean not in the fictional accounting within the show, in which consequences outweigh intentions, but in Michael Schur's / the writers' implication that this system is wrong, and that the universe should cut 2004 Doug a break because he's just trying to get along in this messed up world and he means well.
posted by pykrete jungle at 9:21 PM on January 10 [6 favorites]


Tahani stole the show, from Death Did Us Part to Of Course I Did.
posted by Monochrome at 10:15 PM on January 10 [4 favorites]


Is it odd that my first thought was wondering if Nicole Byer was going to be on the podcast? (She is, by the way).
posted by Gary at 12:28 AM on January 11 [1 favorite]


Um, so, these guys are the democrats, the demons are I guess libertarians, uh...are our heroes anarchists? Is that what's going on??
posted by kittens for breakfast at 5:08 AM on January 11 [3 favorites]


Disappointed that the Good Placers are such dingbats. Kinda Miltonian that the demons are way cooler.
posted by whuppy at 5:47 AM on January 11 [6 favorites]


Everyone's reacting to Gwendolyn's relentless positivity ("Great! No follow-up question!") was great, but oh my god Jameela just killed the look game.
posted by Etrigan at 6:16 AM on January 11 [15 favorites]


I have been looking for more Nicole Byer since falling in love with her on Nailed It so I too almost missed the rest of the episode.
posted by emkelley at 6:45 AM on January 11 [5 favorites]


I had no idea who Nicole Byer was but I looked her up immediately.

And fucking Jameela man. How is she so good?
posted by schadenfrau at 7:17 AM on January 11 [6 favorites]


in Michael Schur's / the writers' implication that this system is wrong, and that the universe should cut 2004 Doug a break because he's just trying to get along in this messed up world and he means well.

Ah, gotcha, and agreed. I think at this point I'm not really sure what I think the writer's POV on Doug Forcett is--I don't think we got much in the way of deep on-screen analysis of his life, which would pretty much have to be lead by Chidi, who is too busy to deal with that now that he's noticing that he's fallen in love with Eleanor.

Also, this may just be me, but never in the previous 36 episodes of this show have I felt less chemistry between Eleanor and Chidi than in this episode. If this was the first time I had seen this show I'd think they were forcing two characters together that don't belong, or that the actors weren't that good--two ideas that are absolutely not the case based on the show thus far.
posted by skewed at 7:29 AM on January 11 [3 favorites]


Chidi, who is too busy to deal with that now that he's noticing that he's fallen in love with Eleanor.

Also, this may just be me, but never in the previous 36 episodes of this show have I felt less chemistry between Eleanor and Chidi than in this episode.


I think those two things together are why. Previously, the two were on equal footing in at least the timing of their relationships -- each one was a whole new thing, experienced in the period of a few days, even if they were being told they were soulmates. But now, we're seeing an Eleanor who is (however subconsciously) more comfortable with Chidi, because she's sort-of-experienced some portion of those previous relationships; Chidi, on the other hand, is still fairly new to the idea. He's trying to arrange what is in essence a first date, while she's seen and (to an extent) experienced them being in love.
posted by Etrigan at 7:39 AM on January 11 [8 favorites]


Also, this may just be me, but never in the previous 36 episodes of this show have I felt less chemistry between Eleanor and Chidi than in this episode.

Ok but I cried during their date. Which I’m watching right now. Crying.
posted by annathea at 8:33 AM on January 11 [14 favorites]


There are only two more episodes this season, according to Sepinwall? Maaaan.

Someone give me a lollipop shaped like a Transformer. :(
posted by rewil at 8:51 AM on January 11 [10 favorites]


Yeah, I was glad to see Chidi's obvious growth, but it feels a little out of nowhere. Maybe the point is that genuine love for someone takes him outside of himself.

I think that since Jeremy Bearimy broke him, he's able to relax now?
posted by emjaybee at 9:15 AM on January 11 [9 favorites]


I don't think you can underestimate the power of the scent of absolute moral certainty / warm pretzels in your nose at all times, when it comes to Chidi's ability to keep it cool in this space. That's why I'm okay with Chidi/Eleanor leaping into farther into the relationship, because even though Chidi is new to it, he doesn't have his usual anxiety. This is how he would be if he didn't have his major flaw, crippling doubt about decisions. (Then again, why doesn't everyone get to smell the scent of whatever would fix their flaw -- that would be nice?)
posted by emkelley at 9:41 AM on January 11 [11 favorites]


There are only two more episodes this season, according to Sepinwall? Maaaan.

I suspect/hope that one of them is a double episode.
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:16 AM on January 11


TIL why I make pilgrimages to Mart Pretzel when confronted by moral quandaries.
posted by whuppy at 10:18 AM on January 11 [6 favorites]


Also, this may just be me, but never in the previous 36 episodes of this show have I felt less chemistry between Eleanor and Chidi than in this episode. If this was the first time I had seen this show I'd think they were forcing two characters together that don't belong, or that the actors weren't that good--two ideas that are absolutely not the case based on the show thus far.

This and the over-Jason'ing of Jason at the beginning made this the most "regular TV" episode for me so far. Also, the Paul Scheer Bureaucracy Group made me think that a corner had been turned, so that instead of our heroes being dropped into an existing universe and dealing with that, now there are characters being dropped into the their universe. "Dramatic re-centering," is that a thing?

Tahani and Gwendolyn totally saved this episode, and it makes me sad that I have to say even that!
posted by rhizome at 10:24 AM on January 11 [2 favorites]


There are only two more episodes this season, according to Sepinwall? Maaaan.

I suspect/hope that one of them is a double episode.


They do 13 half-hours per season, and this was the 11th half-hour of this season.
posted by Etrigan at 10:28 AM on January 11


On the podcast, they mentioned the decision to air Janets before the break meant they only have 3 after the break.
posted by politikitty at 10:35 AM on January 11 [1 favorite]


The IMDB episode guide for season 3 (mild spoiler alert: includes show titles and plot summaries) has two half-hour eps left, dates 1/17 and 1/24.
posted by sapere aude at 10:44 AM on January 11 [1 favorite]


Being on that council would absolutely be my own personal version of hell.
posted by simonw at 10:51 AM on January 11 [15 favorites]


I have been looking for more Nicole Byer since falling in love with her on Nailed It so I too almost missed the rest of the episode.

I watched the first episode of 'Nailed It' after hearing a lot of hype, and then the Queer Eye guys' episode when that dropped, but the show didn't really grab me. But Byer guested on the "Ghost" episode of the The Bechdel Cast podcast and was hilarious, and she just guested on an episode of The Fix and cracked me up there too, so, I'll have to give "Nailed It" another try.
posted by oh yeah! at 12:48 PM on January 11 [1 favorite]


I love the show and good on them for taking the step to point out the massive moral issues inherent to late stage capitalism, but have they maybe bitten off a little more than they can chew here? I mean, this is a problem without a lot of trivial solutions. How are they going to wrap up this thread? They either have to massively remake the human world in the show so that the issues don't exist anymore (and what does that even look like? could they really try to give us a blueprint for fixing all of modern global society in their half-hour primetime comedy program?), or they have to change the points system so that it's okay to lead a life that is only enabled by slavery, brutality, and suffering so that people are essentially let off the hook, right? Now, granted, the writers are more creative than I am so maybe they've found some other way, but just from the perspective of them probably wanting to continue to have advertisers I have to imagine they're going to head in the latter direction, and it would feel pretty disappointing for the show to bother bringing up this issue at all and then go "Sure, tons of evil is being done to allow you to live the way you live, but hey, whattayagonnado?"
posted by IAmUnaware at 1:10 PM on January 11 [6 favorites]


Love this episode, but some beats have left me very much thinking this wasn’t actually the good place, and this whole show has been a trial of the group.

Like, that the Good Place committee that would take 4000 years to even start investigating? That’s beureacratic obstructionism at its most evil. That’s not Good. Tahani’s good intentions this episode all going horribly wrong? We know we’re THOSE things lead...
posted by coriolisdave at 1:14 PM on January 11 [10 favorites]


I am so happy my show is back! I am not 100% convinced they made it to The Good Place. I'm not even sure a Good Place exists, but I am happy to know there is a place where your favorite scent exits. That sounds nice....

I think the end of the show, after however many seasons they get, and however many times they can Jeremy Beremy the story, is simply going to be: The Good Place is the friends we made along the way. And I'll be ok with that.
posted by pjsky at 2:15 PM on January 11 [6 favorites]


It was mentioned already, but I would just like to reiterate: "What kind of messed-up place would turn away refugees?"

Also, "Jason, you seem thoughtful. And that concerns me."
posted by ckape at 2:28 PM on January 11 [11 favorites]


They either have to massively remake the human world in the show so that the issues don't exist anymore (and what does that even look like? could they really try to give us a blueprint for fixing all of modern global society in their half-hour primetime comedy program?), or they have to change the points system so that it's okay to lead a life that is only enabled by slavery, brutality, and suffering so that people are essentially let off the hook, right?

They could solve it with some version of Universalism - decide that there's no value in eternally torturing people for something that's already been done and can't be changed, thus eliminating the Bad Place entirely.
posted by Ragged Richard at 3:00 PM on January 11 [12 favorites]


Honestly, this was one of my favorite episodes. I loved the goody two shoes, gushingly polite, completely ineffectual Committee. It was a great twist moment--they were built up so that we would expect some kind of harsh, scary cosmic Inquisition. And they feel like the perfect parody of a certain kind of NIMBY liberal-centrist culture. And that's one of my favorite things about the show, that I'm just realizing--it feels like the show is exploring class and class-related experiences in a very refreshing way for network TV. (More on that later, maybe.)

Also, I love love love that they are essentially acknowledging that the current economic system is evil. Like, I get the concerns about where the show might go with that, but just the simple fact that a network TV show is acknowledging these things that so often get swept under the rug feels radical and exciting and refreshing and honestly like a sign of some really important shifts. #capitalismisdying
posted by overglow at 3:19 PM on January 11 [19 favorites]


The key thing here is that The Good Place just inexplicably namechecked my obscure hometown of Scaggsville, Maryland and I am now reasonably certain that the creators of the show have been secretly reading my online writings for years and possibly decades.
posted by sonascope at 5:17 PM on January 11 [22 favorites]


They have not.
posted by NSA at 5:47 PM on January 11 [42 favorites]


Well, you would know.
posted by kyrademon at 6:11 PM on January 11 [14 favorites]


I am now reasonably certain that the creators of the show have been secretly reading my online writings for years and possibly decades.
posted by sonascope

They have not.
posted by NSA


ಠ_ಠ
posted by duffell at 6:11 PM on January 11 [4 favorites]


dang though they're going all-in. I'm not sure I've ever seen anyone use a major platform like this show to propagandize the way I'd propagandize if I were granted a major platform.

They just told us that capitalism is sending everyone to hell and are I guess gonna set out to smash it? like, that's what's happening.

also that's what's happening in the same episode where they had Jason practically break the fourth wall to explicitly tell the audience that it's not okay to be a fascist.

This episode just told America that it's not okay to be fascist and also it's not okay to be capitalist either.

like holy shirt y'all.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 9:51 PM on January 11 [20 favorites]


I am a bit disappointed to learn that the Good Place crew is exactly as gullible as the Bad Place demons have been saying.
posted by ckape at 10:36 PM on January 11 [6 favorites]


I think the committee were demons who have infiltrated TGP, or maybe legit Good-Placers who are drugged or mind-controlled. That one guy was just way too pleased about the invention of stabbing.

A better parody of ineffectual liberalism would have been OUTRAGE followed by cake-eating or meditation or anything else getting sold to us under the name of "self-care."

The committee was a good satire of HR type bureaucracy. Massive buck-passing. Maybe that's the message of the show: that the only way for TGP to exist is to be a gated community where the walls *cough* are not so much to keep people out, but to keep people in (and therefore not engaged or empathetic with the rest of the universe).
posted by basalganglia at 4:32 AM on January 12 [1 favorite]


That... REALLY felt like a pretty accurate depiction of ineffectual liberalism to me
posted by kittens for breakfast at 4:48 AM on January 12 [12 favorites]


Perhaps it’s all leading up to the idea that the Afterlife in general is a really bad idea and that oblivion after death is actually preferable. It’s unjust to be individually judged on aspects you can’t individually change, but as people have said, it also seems unfair to let people off the hook and reward them purely for intentions.
posted by rikschell at 5:36 AM on January 12 [5 favorites]


A fun-idea-which-would-almost-certainly-be-bad-TV would be for Michael and Janet, with the help of the Book of Dougs, catalog various actions and their related point values, and for Team Cockroach (I'm expecting Chidi to do much of the heavy lifting) to try to divine the moral system, if any, used by the Powers that Be to allocate points.

Also would be useful to see when certain values are added, and how things are classified--do the extremely specific rules mean that point deductions for annoying voicemail prank messages were only created when voicemail was created, or were they waiting in the wings for its invention? If the former, is there such a thing as point inflation?
posted by pykrete jungle at 6:56 AM on January 12 [1 favorite]


That... REALLY felt like a pretty accurate depiction of ineffectual liberalism to me

Yeah...millions of people are suffering and there was reasonable suspicion of foul play on the Bad Place's part, but the Good Place's priority was to make sure they adhere to a set of rules that their opponent disdains. That's...Chidi, actually, before Eleanor's influence.

(also the Good Place reps all look/behave like an SNL skit of NPR listeners)
posted by grandiloquiet at 7:33 AM on January 12 [22 favorites]


So Tahani is now the second human to declare love for Janet. In a platonic way, sure, but sincerely and heartfelt. If there'd been any Terry Pratchett nods before now, I'd be convinced Janet was becoming a god. As it is, I'm merely hopeful.
posted by harriet vane at 7:52 AM on January 12 [8 favorites]


I guess they’ll have to break off and form their own good place full of thoughtful individuals instead of Dudley dogooders. Otherwise I have no idea how they’ll stretch it out to season 4. I'm really disappointed in the actual good place so far...
posted by St. Peepsburg at 8:09 AM on January 12 [1 favorite]


Guess I run in different ineffectual liberalism circles than y'all. Mine seem to be less about bureaucracy/rule-following and more about #ownvoices book groups and/or rage-posting on Facebook.
posted by basalganglia at 8:37 AM on January 12 [1 favorite]


I mean not in the fictional accounting within the show

Fiction? Best documentary ever.
posted by sammyo at 10:45 AM on January 12 [1 favorite]


The Good Place insistence on being polite, kind, accommodating, even to the point of getting distracted from a very real problem = centrists insisting that the most important part of any debate is performing civility. (And it is a performance: telling Kirstjen Nielsen what you think of her in a restaurant isn't the same thing as the monstrous policies she helps enforce. Being a hasty or rude worker in the Good Place is not the same thing as a Bad Place demon hurting humans. It's just a matter of focusing on the easy "good" of being polite and following the rules because you don't know where to begin fixing the bad things.)

The gullibility felt pointed, too. How much time does the media spend taking hypocritical, bad faith arguments seriously? And sending a member of your limited workforce to go get snacks (was it fresh pluots? what are the growing seasons like in the good place, anyway?) is also probably a bit of a comment on the self-care craze.

I don't know, I thought this whole episode was a pretty scathing! I figured that's why the humans were doing hijinks; Michael's storyline was bleak af.
posted by grandiloquiet at 11:17 AM on January 12 [23 favorites]


I find it interesting that Michael isn't immediately (or seemingly ever) recognized as being a Bad Place demon. Does that mean that he's physically identical (in whatever nine-dimensional way that one is physical in the afterlife) to Good Place people and Accountants? It's certainly convenient plot-wise.
posted by mumkin at 12:52 PM on January 12 [4 favorites]


I used to work in international development, for an ngo that collaborated closely with various UN agencies, and this episode was so spot-on that it had me laughing til I cried. I have been in more rooms than I can count where privileged, educated dogooders spent hours hammering out the criteria to select a committee to conduct research for the purposes of releasing a position statement which would then be presented at a conference after which etc etc etc.
posted by showbiz_liz at 1:14 PM on January 12 [30 favorites]


could they really try to give us a blueprint for fixing all of modern global society in their half-hour primetime comedy program?

Michael Schur has a plan to make everything OK, and it will work this time, and no one will have to get nailed to anything, and 10 minutes into the broadcast of that episode the earth will be demolished to make way for a hyperspace bypass.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 3:06 PM on January 12 [51 favorites]


There is no commentary on how Eleanor's crying over the postal uniform was at least somewhat resembling of her actress's infamous sloth meltdown? None?

So that was a delight.

Otherwise, wow, this is now extremely painful and obvious as to why nobody can ever be good enough to get into the Good Place. You can't account for the rest of the world--so did industrialization/capitalism/what doom us all? That is officially Too Big A Problem to solve for even God, if God was around and bothering, I suspect. Unless someone in charge becomes a whoooole lot more lenient about the point system or you get "points for trying," I guess?
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:25 PM on January 12 [8 favorites]


Jenfullmoon, Elanor Crying over Chidi's thoughtful gesture might be a comment on the actress' propensity to cry when she's excessively happy, but it's physiological reaction that lots of people have that totally fits with Elanor's character so ..

::shrug::

It was funny either way!
posted by Faintdreams at 3:34 AM on January 13 [2 favorites]


Also I love how Janet is consistently having the most character growth of all the group, indeed she's evolving minute by minute, and yet none of the other characters seem to very much notice, nor ponder what that might actually mean.

Janet is the key to fixing everything - I'm sure of it.

I mean, she won't because that would negate everyone's free will, although tweaking things so that it's a fairer system overall might be something a Janet could rationalise, but ...

Yep.. The One True Janet is totally becoming some kind of Deity isn't she/they/it ???
posted by Faintdreams at 3:41 AM on January 13 [11 favorites]


Something my family noticed that I don't think is necessarily a coincidence. The number of people on the committee (if we include the one who humorously resigned) is six -- the same as the number of leads. That could point to the show's ultimate resolution...
posted by InTheYear2017 at 5:50 AM on January 13 [10 favorites]


Are they going to meet God? If so, will it be Andre Braugher?

I've been thinking for a while the humans will get off the hook as a result of redeeming Michael, a demon.
posted by biffa at 8:57 AM on January 13 [6 favorites]


I am convinced that the ultimate resolution will involve using Michael's hell-is-other-people concept to improve people after death and then reincarnate them, but I mostly just can't wait to see what happens.
posted by restless_nomad at 9:10 AM on January 13 [6 favorites]


There's a pretty serious practical problem with letting just anybody into the Good Place. This is a community of people who are in what seem to be fully functional (and normally vulnerable, if possibly immortal?) physical bodies, so if you release antisocial souls into the general hoi polloi, some Good Placers are going to have a very bad experience. That's essentially indistinguishable from mortal life, of course, but in the grand cosmic scheme of things, if the afterlife is just like earth, why don't we just live forever? I mean, practicality aside, presuming as religions do that physical life all borders on pure metaphor for a larger spiritual war of some sort or what have you.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 9:20 AM on January 13 [2 favorites]


using Michael's hell-is-other-people concept to improve people after death and then reincarnate them

I think if Michael (the character and/or Schur) was going to go in that direction he would have reincarnated them as each other at some point, similar to Janets. It feels like it would be jarring to upend the cast's world right now, but then again that's what season finales are for.

Not that reincarnation-to-other can't still be added, but with the storylines so far I don't see any momentum in that direction. While the execution of the episodes remains great, it's also been awhile since we've had a surprise. All in all this season feels like the establishment of a new foundation.

if you release antisocial souls into the general hoi polloi, some Good Placers are going to have a very bad experience

I think this points to The Good Place never having appeared on the show yet! If heaven is supposed to be a stress-free eternity that contains all of your dreams and desires, nobody, but nobody has exemplified that yet. Not even Gwendolyn, who in a certain light behaves like Good Janet trying to be Bad Janet.
posted by rhizome at 9:30 AM on January 13 [1 favorite]


Only realizing now that Shawn the demon is surely named after Wallace Shawn, whose play "The Fever" is basically what Michael's realization in this episode is about.
posted by escabeche at 9:32 AM on January 13 [14 favorites]


I’m still predicting that Judge Gen planned all along for Michael and Janet to sneak out to Earth and help the humans. Originally I thought it was so she could judge all six of them, but now I think that their investigation into the point system was the real goal.
posted by mbrubeck at 10:48 AM on January 13 [4 favorites]


I am going to quietly note that in the Doug Forcett episode the show went out of its way to establish that Janet has her powers if she's even partially in the afterlife.

My current hypothesis for where the show is going is something like "Janet, keeping one pinky finger on the other side of an afterlife portal, magics away capitalism and establishes an initially benevolent Janetocracy that ends up going terribly awry."
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 10:54 AM on January 13 [6 favorites]


Hey, Mindy's fate makes a little more sense in the grand scheme of things now. She had this plan that was massively point-getting on paper and then died before any of the unintended consequences could occur.

Presumably her sister, who actually put Mindy's plan into action, accumulated the negative points from all the unintended consequences and then promptly got sent to the Bad Place, which, yipes.
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:39 AM on January 13 [35 favorites]


Only realizing now that Shawn the demon is surely named after Wallace Shawn, whose play "The Fever" is basically what Michael's realization in this episode is about:

It never occurred to me that his character's name would be spelled Shawn and not Sean. Seans are more of the crafty demon type in my head.
posted by Space Coyote at 11:50 AM on January 13 [1 favorite]


>     The number of people on the committee (if we include the one who humorously resigned) is six — the same as the number of leads. That could point to the show's ultimate resolution…

I can imagine season 4 having the Judge agree to an experiment: to test Michael's theory, our heroes must oversee a new Good Place neighborhood populated by folks whose scores have been calculated sans the unintended consequences nerf. Will people rated under the revised point system be able to achieve a Good community? We'd essentially return to the season one set (Janet has an archive copy, of course), but with more ice cream and less froyo and—for the first time—a real human population to wrangle and keep happy. Much opportunity for philosophizing about what is best in [after]life. TGP has pretty much kept itself synched with present-day, Jeremy Bearimy not withstanding, but if they needed a broader range of issues to write to, the populous could be randomly drawn from 1497 onward, to pit zeitgeists against each other.

Mike Schur will have to memail me for deets on the big bad and how this informs season 5.
posted by mumkin at 1:16 PM on January 13 [7 favorites]


if you release antisocial souls into the general hoi polloi, some Good Placers are going to have a very bad experience

The starting point of the show was in a neighborhood of the Bad Place, which we have seen to be standard practice, with Bad Placers spending time worrying about individual, tailored punishments. And yet, every indication is that there is a Good Place. Seems odd.
posted by Etrigan at 2:09 PM on January 13 [1 favorite]


A couple of things.

First, this show posits "bad" as emotional and physical suffering and "good" as emotional and physical... enjoyment (within a prudish sort of frame). Those are (mostly) physical stimuli - to me this is all shorthand and storytelling rather than some Deep Grand Truth.

Second, there is an older trope within fantasy where instead of good and evil it's more about order and chaos - and that things at each extreme are both surely evil.

I did really enjoy Michael revealing "moral inflation" as a result of evolving social systems and its ills.
posted by porpoise at 2:13 PM on January 13 [1 favorite]


Etrigan: The starting point of the show was in a neighborhood of the Bad Place, which we have seen to be standard practice, with Bad Placers spending time worrying about individual, tailored punishments. And yet, every indication is that there is a Good Place. Seems odd.

There have been multiple references to Good Place neighborhoods (that's what Janet said her job was to build), as well as to "the" Bad Place. Everything thus far indicates that the language is equivalent: "The ___ Place" refers to one zone of the afterlife, whose residential area (as opposed to the managerial stuff) is composed of neighborhoods.

Adding to confusion is that sometimes "the actual __ place" has meant the managerial subdivision (that's how Michael described where they'd have to go in Season 2, by way of contrast with the fake Good Place) and sometimes, more sensibly, the implication is that it refers to the part humans dwell in, which I think is implied by Gwendolyn's description of what lies on the other side of the four-oreos-thick door.
posted by InTheYear2017 at 4:23 PM on January 13 [1 favorite]


And we do know there's a bunch of Janets and they're supposed to be only for the Good Place(s)...as long as nobody steals one.
posted by rhizome at 5:38 PM on January 13 [4 favorites]


Stealing a Janet? But that would be against the rules!
posted by ckape at 7:42 PM on January 13 [2 favorites]


IAmUnaware: ...have they maybe bitten off a little more than they can chew here? I mean, this is a problem without a lot of trivial solutions. How are they going to wrap up this thread? They either have to massively remake the human world in the show so that the issues don't exist anymore (and what does that even look like? could they really try to give us a blueprint for fixing all of modern global society in their half-hour primetime comedy program?)....

Who says they are the ones who will be burdened with coming up with that blueprint? More and more, I find that The Good Place is sort of an inverse reciprocal of The Twilight Zone. Polar opposites in their mise-en-scène, perhaps, but united by their ultimate message. They're talking to us, after all.
posted by tzikeh at 7:49 PM on January 13 [2 favorites]


Things are lining up to feel so close to an end game in this show, like they could wrap it all up in the next two episodes and it wouldn't even feel rushed, but I can just feel them getting ready to flip the table and I love having no idea what that's going to be like.
posted by jason_steakums at 8:35 PM on January 13 [1 favorite]


It never occurred to me that his character's name would be spelled Shawn and not Sean.

Me either! It's a weird choice and that's why I think it has to be a deliberate reference.
posted by escabeche at 9:10 PM on January 13 [2 favorites]


I can just feel them getting ready to flip the table and I love having no idea what that's going to be like.

Right! Like, I could imagine them all getting into the Good Place, but having it still be torture for them knowing how many people are being unjustly kept in the Bad Place. Or maybe everyone in the Good Place is unaware of how the system's been set up and Team Cockroach spills the beans and ruins paradise for everyone. Or maybe the judge knew all along about the hinky math behind the afterlife and has been keeping it under wraps for Reasons, and she offers to buy Team Cockroach's silence by sending them to the Good Place.
posted by duffell at 3:46 AM on January 14 [1 favorite]


WAIT

WAITWAITWAIT

THIS MEANS CHIDI WAS RIGHT ABOUT THE ALMOND MILK
posted by Huffy Puffy at 4:48 AM on January 14 [54 favorites]


They can't wrap it up yet! We haven't found out what the whole extensive bureaucratic afterlife mechanism is actually in service of. At some point, if you're trying to get a system to change, you have to find out why it exists in the first place.
posted by trig at 7:21 AM on January 14 [2 favorites]


I find it interesting that Michael isn't immediately (or seemingly ever) recognized as being a Bad Place demon.

It's noted a couple of times that the demons wear the "human suits" to get a better sense of how to torture them. So why would the Committee of Good Place Beanplaters show up in human suits? For that matter, why would the person working in this mailroom be in a human suit, when there is zero expectation of human interaction?
posted by mikepop at 7:24 AM on January 14 [3 favorites]


I'm worried about the future of the show, because it seems like any ending is going to be disappointing. The whole thing is a metaphor for how systemic inequality and oppression prevent us from living good lives here in our world. So what are the categories of ending?

A. The gang figures it all out and fixes everything! Hooray!
B. The gang is condemned to the Bad Place, justifiably, because of the consequences of all their actions.
C. The gang finds a loophole that lets them end up in Oblivion or the Medium Place or someplace not so bad.
D. The gang end up reincarnated or working in the afterlife, the daily grind just trying to make things better.

A is cheating and breaking the metaphor. B is depressing and terrible. C retains the metaphor, but is still cheating and makes the gang pretty awful for getting away while everyone else on earth gets sent to eternal torture. D is my best guess for where they go but is dramatically unsatisfying. Our characters are individuals, and individuals only have so much power in the face of institutionalized injustice. I don't know that the show could sustain our gang working to build a deep and massive infrastructure of countercultural activism. Exploring how bad things are is a lot funnier than trying to make them better (See also the current final season of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend).

This show has surprised me many times with its massive plot shifts, but I feel like they're painting themselves into a corner as the reveal more of the machinations behind the scenes. I mean, I guess they have a plan they think will work, and obviously they're really good at what they do, but it will REALLY blow my mind if they can wrap up the series in a way that doesn't feel unearned in one way or another.
posted by rikschell at 8:09 AM on January 14 [4 favorites]


Maybe the end result is a medium place for everyone except the worst sorts and best sorts. How nice your medium place is depends on your point score.
posted by fimbulvetr at 8:50 AM on January 14 [1 favorite]


I will take your dichotomy and turn it into a continuum?

I could see that, I guess, especially if self-improvement is an available option, since one of the themes is that some people don't have a real shot at being decent due to their environment. Teach the demons how to give ethics lessons? Except that that's basically purgatory. I just invented purgatory.
posted by DebetEsse at 9:08 AM on January 14 [3 favorites]


I'm not too worried about the future of the show because I know Schur started with an endpoint in mind. So, I trust that he can get to his resolution in a way that's satisfying. But, I also don't think the show has to show us the resolution of how humans are sorted. It would be enough for me to know that the Bad Place stops.

I think one of the points that the show has to resolve is how a demon can earn a spot in The Good Place. Michael has done tons of terrible things over thousands of years. How could he ever deserve a spot?

For that matter, why would the person working in this mailroom be in a human suit, when there is zero expectation of human interaction?

All the demons in the Bad Place, at the reception, were in human suits, and they didn't recognize the humans as human, so there's something inconsistent or very consistent there. I don't know which.
posted by gladly at 9:29 AM on January 14 [1 favorite]


I don’t know. This episode felt off, flat, and uninspired. Little of the magical—what’s going to happen!— feeling that characterized so much of this show’s run. I fear that this is the new normal for the show as we drive towards an ending.

Also, I felt that Nicole Byer’s acting was pretty amateurish. She’s really funny, but not much of an actor.
posted by Don.Kinsayder at 9:37 AM on January 14 [1 favorite]


I kind of want to talk to everyone the way Our Janet talks when she's doing an impression of Neutral Janet. I feel fine but also not fine end of conversation.

I don't think you can underestimate the power of the scent of absolute moral certainty / warm pretzels in your nose at all times, when it comes to Chidi's ability to keep it cool in this space.

That was my read on Chidi's behaviour this episode, too, once I gave up on my suspicion that he was some kind of doppelganger. (The smell of) absolute moral certainty is a hell of a drug.

I'll have to give "Nailed It" another try.

Skip it and watch Loosely Exactly Nicole instead. It's on (sigh) Facebook.
posted by tobascodagama at 11:23 AM on January 14 [1 favorite]


I thought that only some demons had to wear human suits, e.g. the lava demons. It seemed like most of them just look like humans to start with.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 12:01 PM on January 14 [2 favorites]


The "Be Blacker" UCB sketch is quintessential Nicole Byer. My wife and I quote it to each other constantly.
posted by duffell at 12:46 PM on January 14 [2 favorites]


I thought that only some demons had to wear human suits, e.g. the lava demons. It seemed like most of them just look like humans to start with.

Michael frequently remarks on how horrible human bodies are. I think he just wears it to get a sense of humanity. And Shawn has said he specifically took the form of a middle-aged white man so he can only fail up.
posted by Etrigan at 1:32 PM on January 14 [1 favorite]


There's a scene where a lava demon tells a human-looking one that they have no idea how uncomfortable the suit it. I don't think any demons are "originally" human, but some might be pure formless energy or whatever.
posted by InTheYear2017 at 2:54 PM on January 14 [1 favorite]


I'm worried about the future of the show, because it seems like any ending is going to be disappointing. The whole thing is a metaphor for how systemic inequality and oppression prevent us from living good lives here in our world. So what are the categories of ending?

I mean...I feel like reincarnation is the only solution, though I can't imagine the writers choosing something from an actual religion as the endgame for the show.
posted by grandiloquiet at 3:00 PM on January 14 [1 favorite]


I disagree that some variant of "and now we all have to work toward constant improvement" would be dramatically unsatisfying, whether that improvement focuses more on the afterlife's structure, or Earth's, or whatever.

Honestly, half my problem with many pop-culture stories about about heroic revolutionaries is that they tend to end with And That's How We Saved Everything Forever. E.g Harry Potter paints a world where blood-purism is clearly systemic, but nonetheless Voldemort is treated as the core of this sickness and his defeat is the Ultimate Victory. Return of the Jedi ended with the implication that blowing up one big Imperial base meant galactic peace and/or democracy rather than uncertainty and chaos, and the sequels (which I still enjoy, especially when they've subverted other Hollywood conventions) haven't addressed those what-is-everyday-life-like-now political concerns head-on.

Even smaller-scale stories like conventional romances fall into the trap (the day the characters fall in love, or have their wedding, or whatever is the Now Everything Is Permanently Better moment... and maybe not coincidentally, numerous real people actually think that long-term relationships should coast after commitment). I think it's a widespread error that stories need "happy endings" or even endings in the sense we're accustomed to. Some satisfying endpoint, sure, but "Let's get to work" can suffice.

I'm also puzzled by the fact that this worry, which I'm seeing from a lot of corners, happens specifically with respect to this show. All nominally real-life shows take place in our very imperfect world! If Brooklyn Nine-Nine had officially not been continued, would fans be like "What! But there's still crime and police corruption in Brooklyn!" (Shout-out to Peralta specifically saying otherwise in the new season's debut.)
posted by InTheYear2017 at 3:12 PM on January 14 [10 favorites]


I think the fact that the committee is reviewing why nobody has been admitted to the good place in a long time raises the possibility that the group could be split up thereby.
posted by rhizome at 3:48 PM on January 14 [1 favorite]


Maybe it will all blink out of existence, Sopranos style, at the end of the series. Nothingness certainly seems like a possible end (both irl and in the context of the show).
posted by sockermom at 5:04 PM on January 14 [2 favorites]


Before or after the feature-length movie?
posted by rhizome at 5:24 PM on January 14 [1 favorite]


Mike Schur said on an old podcast that Shawn was a placeholder name chosen entirely because he didn't have anyone in mind for the part yet and so deliberately chose a name that worked for any gender.
posted by absalom at 6:04 AM on January 15 [2 favorites]


I think I would smell the sun-warmed skin of my favorite person after he'd gotten out of a pool. That, or a Mexican bakery.

"Four Oreos from paradise" might be my favorite line from this episode.

Janet's character development has been super interesting to me. She really had to try hard to be Neutral Janet, and couldn't quite pull it off. Too many real feelings!
posted by fiercecupcake at 8:55 AM on January 15 [2 favorites]


Oh, and Michael getting complimented was just charming.
posted by fiercecupcake at 8:56 AM on January 15


Well, this article is very timely ....

How the Idea of Hell Has Shaped the Way We Think
For centuries, we’ve given lavish attention to the specifics of punishment, and left Heaven woefully under-sketched. By Vinson Cunningham New Yorker

(Our beloved show does get a brief mention!)
posted by pjsky at 9:19 AM on January 15 [2 favorites]


If Brooklyn Nine-Nine had officially not been continued, would fans be like "What! But there's still crime and police corruption in Brooklyn!"

God, I hope fans of that show don't feel invested in that particular aspect of its fictional world.

(In fact, if there's one show I feel could definitely benefit from a Good Place-esque world-rending plot twist, it's Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Imagine one of the characters coming to an ACAB-type epiphany, realizing that the police as an institution is inherently inequitable and corrupt and having that revelation stick!)
posted by Atom Eyes at 9:32 AM on January 15 [6 favorites]


Wouldn't that be awesome? Like B99 turns into more of a Veep feel.
posted by rhizome at 11:40 AM on January 15 [1 favorite]


Kind of a big ask of a sitcom to a) overthrow capitalism and systems of oppression and b) provide the answer to life, the universe and everything! Personally, I agree that "let's get to work" could be a perfectly satisfying ending for this show. It's a sitcom, not a religion. It doesn't need to provide us with all the Right Answers.

I wonder if the show won't end up with some sort of "as above, so below" style of revolution. Like Team Cockroach overthrows the current order of the Good Place and the Bad Place, ending up with some sort of equitable system of spiritual improvement. I favor the hell is other people. but, turns out, heaven is other people too. figure it out together approach. Maybe there could be some sort of spiritual quarantine for the truly heinous. And then, having achieved this, they'll look out upon the more just afterlife they've helped to create, and they'll realize, well, this is great, but the situation for the living is still bad. So: as above, so below. Go back to earth, reincarnate, spread the good word i.e. overthrow systems of oppression.

This is possibly too radical a take for a major network sitcom? But it's what I'd find most personally satisfying on both a narrative and ethical level.
posted by yasaman at 10:35 PM on January 15 [9 favorites]


This is possibly too radical a take for a major network sitcom?

As I noted at the end of the first season, I think the main reason we didn’t figure out the twist early was that a network sitcom version of No Exit is an insane idea that would never get picked up. So I think there’s nothing too radical a take at this point.
posted by Etrigan at 4:38 AM on January 16 [1 favorite]


Or Schur is on a shorter leash as a result. That happens sometimes, too.
posted by rhizome at 1:11 PM on January 16 [1 favorite]


[One deleted. If people really want to talk about Brooklyn Nine Nine, better to do that in one of those threads instead.]
posted by LobsterMitten at 2:01 PM on January 16


I loved that all the humans instantly became (embraced?) the best parts of themselves!

Tahani selflessly tried everything she could think of to make Janet and Jason happy, Eleanor gave in to her vulnerabilities, Chidi did not doubt himself for a second as he kept building on their first date, and Jason... well tbh Jason is already the best version of himself, so.
posted by nicodine at 7:19 PM on January 16 [13 favorites]


I'm 100% not sure how seriously we're supposed to take Michael's cover story to the committee, but I'm kind of in love with the idea that he might actually be a disgruntled neutral accountant so fed up with the unbalanced scoring system that he stole a Janet, infiltrated the Bad Place (maybe stuffing the real Michael into a cocoon in the back of a storage closet somewhere), and set this whole series up as an undercover whistleblower operation.

Much as I love all the characters, my central fascination with the show remains Just What Is Michael's Deal, Anyway.
posted by ook at 8:47 AM on January 17 [2 favorites]


It would be more moving to me if Michael really was just a demon who Learned To Care, though.
posted by showbiz_liz at 12:04 PM on January 17 [7 favorites]


Well, sure. But on the other hand imagine how much fun it'd be to watch Ted Danson play out the inevitable confrontation between Disgruntled Accountant Michael and Evil Recently Escaped From Cocoon Michael!

(Also, based on my track record with this show so far, demon-who-learned-to-care is what I expect to happen, therefore that can't possibly be what's actually going to happen)
posted by ook at 1:02 PM on January 17 [1 favorite]


I always kind of figured they had a shared-services arrangement between the good place and the bad place, so things like accounting and legal and HR could all be run from one cost center.

Assuming this, what's to say the accounting and legal departments are in fact not run entirely by demonic employees, as opposed to the ombudman's office or the directorate of information management which would of course be staffed entirely by angelic employees. ?

As you can tell, I don't pay attention all the time and sometimes make up stuff to fill in the gaps.
posted by some loser at 5:02 PM on January 17 [1 favorite]


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