The Good Place: Chidi Sees the Time-Knife
January 17, 2019 6:53 PM - Season 3, Episode 11 - Subscribe

The gang meets the judge at the crossroads of all dimensions, time and space to plead their case and Janet makes a reconnection.
posted by numaner (135 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
I love that it was Jason that perfectly described the messiness of human life with one of his breakdancing crew member's story.

Also Chidi and Eleanor holding hands while they're sitting at the meeting table and then Chidi being the horndog and Eleanor being the nerd was all super cute.

I question why Derek's reset button is in the Medium Place backyard, but his advancement was hilarious!

I can't wait to see who the other 3 new humans are!

So I'm guessing Eleanor is going to be running the neighborhood because Michael is a crumbing ball of anxiety?
posted by numaner at 7:01 PM on January 17 [14 favorites]


oh yeah and once again the show is super brave at basically skipping at least a quarter of a typical show's season with just summing up Judge Gen's experience as a human instead of actually showing it

also now we know why William Jackson Harper was teaching Ted Danson how to floss!
posted by numaner at 7:17 PM on January 17 [40 favorites]


What a lovely easter egg for podcast listeners: a Niednagel is a very real thing!

Chidi being the horndog and Eleanor being the nerd was all super cute.

I had a feeling that Chidi and Eleanor wouldn't be able to live together like a normal couple. I think you're right: Eleanor has to become the neighborhood architect.

I loved the improvements to Derek, and his attempts to show off to Janet. D'Arcy Carden's noise when she made Daphne was excellent too. I want to see if Janet's new people still have powers like Derek does. Mostly I'm just happy to be back in the neighborhood.
posted by gladly at 7:32 PM on January 17 [7 favorites]


AV Club's annotations of the episode
posted by numaner at 7:35 PM on January 17 [3 favorites]


from the annotations: the screenshot of Douglass Lerpiss' point totals for buying a tomato

Ok I have to quibble with the accountants here, volunteering to go to the store for groceries in place of someone else should give you a much higher point than .06616. That is a lot of effort!
posted by numaner at 7:38 PM on January 17 [8 favorites]


What a lovely easter egg for podcast listeners: a Niednagel is a very real thing!

I actually found that kind of too fourth-wall-breaking. Like, I love hearing all the behind-the-scenes stuff during the podcast, but having an onscreen reference to the visual effects during the episode itself was like seeing the man behind the curtain instead of the Wizard of Oz. Just pulled me out of the scene for a bit.
posted by oh yeah! at 7:40 PM on January 17 [1 favorite]


Ok - I get partial credit for my theory .

Also, why was no one from the good place invited to that meeting? It seems they would be interested in this experiment too.
posted by Suffocating Kitty at 7:48 PM on January 17 [3 favorites]


The Good Place was probably asked but then was busy convening a committee to vote on who from the Good Place would go to the meeting after the committee review themselves for ethical violations for being in the committee and then also review the candidate after selection to see if they are probably trained and capable to take notes of the meeting and also compliments everyone at the meeting.
posted by numaner at 7:53 PM on January 17 [31 favorites]


Oh, universe, thank you for the gift of a dapper Jason Mantzoukas with a martini glass full of olives. I needed that.
posted by palomar at 7:55 PM on January 17 [26 favorites]


also, penis-bees
posted by palomar at 7:56 PM on January 17 [8 favorites]


and the TIME-KNIFE

Derek got old fast, the first time....but evolved Derek is a pretty interesting comparison point to Janet. And FUNNY.

I'm hoping for more Mindy, too. They've made such a point about humans helping each other grow that it's no wonder that Mindy has stagnated in the medium place. It would be interesting if they managed 3/4 improved humans + Mindy at the end of the experiment. (If the experiment goes the way it's supposed to, which of course it won't.)

...also I think they're discounting the notion of their group growing stronger and changing easier because of the added stress of the demons. Is any member of the group planning to play antagonist? (Chidi Chidi please Chidi)
posted by grandiloquiet at 10:29 PM on January 17 [9 favorites]


What kind of terrible ‘journalist’ will we get? Red Pill troll or Bachelor recap vlogger?
posted by politikitty at 12:20 AM on January 18 [4 favorites]


He parks in the handicapped space because he's "just gunna be a minute".

He takes two samples of everything at Costco, knowing full well he's never going to buy.

Hangs the toilet paper wrong.

Writes human interest stories that are just press releases with the identifying features sanded off, badly.

Sends pictures of his genitals to people on social media.
posted by Jilder at 3:33 AM on January 18 [9 favorites]


On the one hand, what's about to happen seems pretty obvious: Eleanor pretends to be the Architect of the neighborhood and we have zany hi-jinx running the new experiment.

On the other, any other show would use this as the setup for the entire 4th season. We know that's not how this show rolls, and we have one episode left to go this season. So they'll probably burn through this entire concept in 21.5 minutes and set up the next one in the last few seconds of the finale as a cliffhanger. What THAT will be I have no frickin clue.

I assume the Time Knife is more than just a quick throwaway gag, since they named the entire episode after it?
posted by Aznable at 5:09 AM on January 18 [14 favorites]


Given that my immediate response to Chidi seeing the time knife was to, first, shout “Time Knife!” and then posting it in all caps on social network, I’m pretty sure it’s the greatest throwaway joke of all time.
posted by thecaddy at 5:22 AM on January 18 [8 favorites]


Some other things I loved in this episode: after spending much of the season feinting towards a Jason/Janet/Tahani love triangle, we're actually going to get one between Jason, Janet and Derek! Quickly spooling out a chicken sandwich conundrum as knotty as the trolley problem! Knowing, as Aznable said, that the season-ending cliffhanger is going to be totally different than "let's create purgatory!" William Jackson Harper's unbelievable "TIME KNIFE" reading, which I'm still giggling about this morning!

Also, Janet is creating people. That doesn't seem important in the long run, no sir.

The one thing that bugged me is Shawn mentioning that they weren't keeping score for the Brainy Bunch during each reboot. So what happened to the scorekeeper that Eleanor received in season one, before she decides to get on the train to the Bad Place? She wound up with a +4000 score at that point, and it's a loose-hanging thread that I keep thinking has to mean something.
posted by thecaddy at 7:08 AM on January 18 [15 favorites]


Also, Janet is creating people. That doesn't seem important in the long run, no sir.

Oh yeah, she's creating people in her rebooted image (!) and a whole world for them.

I hope this is Chekov's Time Knife, and it eventually stabs or cuts something.
posted by gladly at 7:40 AM on January 18 [7 favorites]


"Also: apparently, I'm black? And they do not like black ladies down there, y'all."
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:48 AM on January 18 [41 favorites]


My favorite line of the episode was "Possession of a non-fried vegetable is a felony in Jacksonvillle." I so love this show' s weird, alternate universe Jacksonville. Or, the strong possibility that Jason just has a lot of misconceptions of his hometown.

Nthing the "TIME KNIFE" love. William Jackson Harper's line readings are so great.

I can't wait to see the other "equivalently bad" humans!

I totally snack on just bowls of olives, and look forward to doing so from a martini glass and telling people it's a martini.

Ok I have to quibble with the accountants here, volunteering to go to the store for groceries in place of someone else should give you a much higher point than .06616.


I would guess that total varies by person - I know these things are supposed to be set values, but my boyfriend views grocercy shopping as the ultimate trial, whereas it is a fun activity for me - no way we get the same point bonus for volunteering to do it. There have to be different "volunteering to get groceries (siiiiiigh)" and "volunteering to get groceries (yay!)" scores. Maybe the descriptions we see on the screen are just simplified.
posted by the primroses were over at 8:11 AM on January 18 [6 favorites]


I got a far more sinister feeling from Derek v5000000.1's reappearance on the patio. Maybe it's just love triangle trouble brewing, but what if Michael wasn't the only skinsuit doppelganger the Bad Place managed to cook up? And now Derek is gonna help Janet make people too?

Also now I want a white paper from Bad Place R&D on the development and evolution of skinsuits. Like, skinsuits seem infinitely effective (see: Todd the Lava Monster) and customizable (I recall Michael specifically choosing to look like an old white guy), so why would duplicating Michael require extra effort?
posted by yeahlikethat at 8:15 AM on January 18 [6 favorites]


I kept waiting for someone to point out how many points you'd lose by researching tomatoes. Even putting aside anything else, just using the internet should be minus several thousand.
posted by trig at 8:20 AM on January 18 [9 favorites]


I totally snack on just bowls of olives, and look forward to doing so from a martini glass and telling people it's a martini.

A classy martini.
posted by Ragged Richard at 8:22 AM on January 18 [28 favorites]


(Also, wouldn't Simone (or Janet) have taught them that a negative result from a experiment with four subjects and a million variables might not be hugely meaningful?)
posted by trig at 8:26 AM on January 18 [7 favorites]


I both really hope and really do not hope that Simone is one of the four new humans.
posted by palomar at 8:39 AM on January 18 [18 favorites]


Pillboi or Donkey Doug could be another one...
posted by Rock Steady at 9:23 AM on January 18 [3 favorites]


...But that would mean Pillboi DIED and I can't live in a world where Pillboi is not alive and planning unsuccessful heists in Jacksonville, Florida taco joints.
posted by rogerroger at 11:10 AM on January 18 [15 favorites]


a Niednagel is a very real thing!

Apparently it also means hangnail in German.

Is Chidi going to be giving ethics lessons in this plan? Because that seems kind of important.
posted by trig at 11:32 AM on January 18 [3 favorites]


a Niednagel is a very real thing!

Apparently it also means hangnail in German.


Literally how is that a surname.
posted by Etrigan at 11:56 AM on January 18 [10 favorites]


Is there a screen capture/detail anywhere of the patch from the mailroom uniform Chidi ended up wearing? It looks like a Pegasus of some kind but I couldn't make out any text/details.
posted by mikepop at 12:20 PM on January 18


I assume it's the same patch he had on last episode, and Gwendolyn was wearing, in which case it just says ☆ POSTAL SERVICES ☆ THE GOOD PLACE
posted by ckape at 1:52 PM on January 18 [2 favorites]


Hangs the toilet paper wrong.

I love how that leaves which way is 'wrong' up to us.

(I think everyone gets 'hangs the toilet paper wrong'.
posted by tzikeh at 1:53 PM on January 18 [2 favorites]


As soon as Michael sat down at the desk I thought "huh, this makes him the protagonist of the show until it changes premises again, that's a big shift." And then comes the twist to make sure it's still Eleanor's show.

I'm looking forward to this status quo, for however long it lasts - Eleanor having to pretend to be an architect instead of another mortal while also keeping the "Good Place" fiction going is a fun way to flip the original setup on its head.

Also, if it works and she gets credit for saving the afterlife, it opens the possibility that the series eventually ends with Eleanor Shellstrop claiming the vacant throne of Heaven. That's delightfully insane.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 1:54 PM on January 18 [13 favorites]


Since Little Purr's current preschool meme is "dinner at Chick-fil-a!", the moral implications of a chicken sandwich has so much meaning in our house right now. (they have never had dinner at Chick-fil-a, but apparently their friends have)
posted by Hermeowne Grangepurr at 3:24 PM on January 18 [5 favorites]


notes from rewatch:

- the door to IHOP has I think 5 labels of what it is, the middle one is "I.H.O.P." and the rest are in some other non-human/non-English languages, although I could only see the top two.
- When Gen comes in, she's casually walking on a path of what I think are red dimension holes that fly away as soon as she steps off
- Michael and the captions very clearly call the slug creature around Tahani a Neednoggle. I'm sure it's still a shoutout to the FX artist, but it's not that 4th-wall breaking since they don't even pronounce it anything like his last name
- Judge Gen transforms it to an Earth IHOP by grabbing one of the dimensional plates and... cover the group with it? Like she puts them all through the hole
- I don't know how IHOPs look in NYC but that doesn't look like any I've been to in Maryland/Virginia/DC (or the one in Alabama). The real ones here are mostly blue and beige, especially the benches. Maybe it's an older IHOP that the Judge has seen at some point? The colorful stained windows are cool though
- I didn't even realize on first watch that she changed all their clothes in this reality instead of the office one. The only one unchanged is Janet. And Michael is wearing a tie! How did I even missed that the first time??
- The screenshot of Douglas Lerpiss buying a tomato I posted above is cut off at the bottom. Here's a full one.

Life calls, I'll resume my rewatch later.
posted by numaner at 4:04 PM on January 18 [3 favorites]


I'm sure it's still a shoutout to the FX artist, but it's not that 4th-wall breaking since they don't even pronounce it anything like his last name

They pronounce it exactly the way it's always said on the official podcast, though.
posted by palomar at 4:37 PM on January 18 [2 favorites]


If you didn’t catch it the first time, go back and watch Jason’s reaction to Michael’s flossing. Split-second view but so funny.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 5:05 PM on January 18


Numaner, did you catch Chidi screaming through space behind everyone while they were walking through Grand Central?
posted by thecaddy at 5:18 PM on January 18 [4 favorites]


...But that would mean Pillboi DIED and I can't live in a world where Pillboi is not alive

Jeremy Bearimy. They can still have Pillboi even if he doesn't die until 2285.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 5:26 PM on January 18 [17 favorites]


I love this show and watch it on repeat but I confess to being incredibly disappointed there hasn’t been some (throwaway would be fine) reference to Defending Your Life.
posted by emkelley at 6:47 PM on January 18 [4 favorites]


I'm such a podcast dork that I'm more excited about the host switcharoo than about the show and the show's reveals we're amazing.
posted by Space Coyote at 7:37 PM on January 18 [6 favorites]


Fun Fact: Based on numaner's screenshot, the tomato was purchased at a store called "Food and Stuff." Coincidentally, this is also the name of the store in Pawnee where Ron Swanson purchased his supplies for his hamburger cookoff with Chris Traeger.

(They sell food and they sell stuff.)
posted by mochapickle at 7:42 PM on January 18 [14 favorites]


Coincidentally, this is also the name of the store in Pawnee where Ron Swanson purchased his supplies for his hamburger cookoff with Chris Traeger.

And "Lerpiss" is a somewhat common name in Pawnee, Indiana.
posted by bondcliff at 8:15 PM on January 18 [9 favorites]


Oh wow... looking at the screenshot again, the tomato was purchased on April 9, 2009. That was the air date of the Parks and Recreation pilot.

(I didn't read any recaps or links so forgive me if this has already been figured out everywhere)
posted by bondcliff at 8:21 PM on January 18 [21 favorites]


I love this show and this episode was fantastic. As said above about how they quickly burn through plot points that other shows would spend a whole season exploring, it was incredible how Michael's slam dunk discovery of the unfairness of the point system (which we've been pondering the implications of for weeks, but was really just ten minutes ago in airtime) was dismissed in five seconds by Judge Gen. Then Jason's surprisingly cogent homily gets fully explored in another five seconds. Bringing Shawn in to debate lasts a whole three minutes before Chidi comes up with the idea of reproducing the experiment. So much happens so fast in this show, which is great because it has a hell of a lot to say.

And I am so excited by the idea of a new foursome of freshly dead, fully flawed humans, if they'll be as brilliantly conceived for maximum hilarity and bathos as the original four, and acted as amazingly. Also looking forward to our heroes getting them to be each others' torture somehow.

Also I love Mindy St. Clair and want to have a passionately medium relationship with her, in which I get passive aggressive about her excessive cocaine use and she gets annoyed at me for not just speaking my mind, we spend evenings watching movies neither of us want to watch because we assume the other does, we're usually too tired for sex, and dinner is always preceded by half an hour of "What do you want to eat? I don't know, what do you want to eat?"
posted by ejs at 8:39 PM on January 18 [19 favorites]


Janet is up to something. Listen to what she says when she oh-so-casually offers to create people for the experiment: "If the Judge restores my powers in the Medium Place, I can do it." I don't think she just offered to help because she's helpful. I think she's seizing an opportunity to shore up her defenses in order to protect her friends.
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:56 PM on January 18 [29 favorites]


Also may I say - the Michael suit concept that Shawn cooked up is genuinely horrifying. I had no problem believing Michael's resulting panic spiral.
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:19 PM on January 18 [8 favorites]


Maybe I blinked during that part of exposition but I don’t get how fake Michael fits in here - how is he going to screw this up?
posted by St. Peepsburg at 9:50 PM on January 18 [1 favorite]


Michael is horrified at the idea that his friends will think he's betrayed them by torturing them. I say Eleanor will figure it out if necessary.

I admit I am not excited to see a boring looking white dude as the first guy up. He better be something good.

I like New Derek. But uh...has he been rebooted more times than Janet? I thought he said he was, so that should make him smarter than her? Please clarify.

Overall, I am kind of sad that the "it's completely unfair that trying to do good only makes your score lower" didn't really get as much attention as I think it needs to. I am glad that Gen sees how bad it is down here, that's great, and the "let's try this again but without the point system" is a good idea, but at some point you gotta deal with the fact that no matter what good you try to do, you can't. Someone's gotta lighten up on the point system or SOMETHING. I also keep wondering what was the inciting event to doom everyone to the Bad Place.
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:08 PM on January 18


I’m guessing since Jason started out as a total mess, he would need loads more resets to significantly improve than fully engineered Janet 1.0 would need.
posted by mochapickle at 10:36 PM on January 18 [7 favorites]


(I think everyone gets 'hangs the toilet paper wrong'.

Except the people who lose even more points for just putting it on the back of the toilet.

I like New Derek. But uh...has he been rebooted more times than Janet? I thought he said he was, so that should make him smarter than her? Please clarify.

As mochapickle pointed out, his baseline was SUBSTANTIALLY below Janet's, so he's probably still playing catch-up.
posted by DebetEsse at 11:45 PM on January 18 [6 favorites]


TIME-KNIFE! and William Jackson Harper's/Chidi's reactions to that just get exponentially more funny to me.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 1:01 AM on January 19 [1 favorite]




I am listening to the podcast; there originally was a third place where the group went in between the "it's the IHOP but it looks like an IHOP" and that boardroom-looking place.

YOU WANT TO HEAR ABOUT IT.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:45 AM on January 19 [5 favorites]


I wonder if the Time Knife isn't just a throwaway gag. It's supposed to be something like a glimpse of a gazillion different realities folded on each other like the steel in a katana*--if one of the reasons it's impossible to get a positive points score is the unintended consequences of even minor actions, and there's a way to see the "Remedial Chaos Theory"/Run Lola Run/It's A Wonderful Life-style realities created by these repercussions, well, that might mean something for Our Heroes down the road.

* How does Chidi know how samurai swords are made? He doesn't exactly seem like a Sword Guy.
posted by arto at 6:37 AM on January 19 [2 favorites]


He does seem like the kind of guy who, having alienated his peers (ex. the playground scene), spent most of his childhood reading and picking up random knowledge.
posted by Flannery Culp at 7:27 AM on January 19 [18 favorites]


Eleanor has to become the neighborhood architect.
Which my partner pointed out means she and Chidi can't live together, which they were super excited about, so now I am sad for the horndog and the nerd.

Michael is horrified at the idea that his friends will think he's betrayed them by torturing them.
I was confused about this point. Shawn thanked him for discovering the trick of erasing their memory, which he'd use if Michael warned them about the new skinsuit, but I only every remember Michael erasing their memories by rebooting them entirely, and if they did that, the gang still wouldn't feel betrayed by Michael because they wouldn't remember him at all. Am I not remembering a time that Michael more selectively stripped certain memories?

How does Chidi know how samurai swords are made?
I don't think it's that weird to vaguely know that samurai swords are made with lots of folding. Come to think of it, I'd even say that's possibly more true for someone from West Africa than from the US; old martial arts movies are hella popular there.
posted by solotoro at 8:28 AM on January 19 [7 favorites]


but I only every remember Michael erasing their memories by rebooting them entirely, and if they did that, the gang still wouldn't feel betrayed by Michael because they wouldn't remember him at all

I dunno. If I were Michael, I wouldn't want any part of me betraying any part of Team Cockroach, even if they didn't know me at all. It would be heartbreaking to think that after all we'd been through together, all they knew of me was torture/bees.
posted by mochapickle at 9:03 AM on January 19 [6 favorites]


They knew Michael when they were alive. The reboots only wiped their memories of the afterlife.
posted by LarsC at 9:42 AM on January 19 [13 favorites]


This episode was 20 pounds of plot in a 10 pound bag and I was thrilled. I also loved this week's podcast and the host switcheroo! I'm grateful to FanFare for introducing me to the podcasts, they have exponentially increased my enjoyment of the (already incredibly enjoyable) show.

The ONE thing that has begun to wear on me on the podcast is the Mike Schur fawning in every episode by everyone who works on the show. Clearly the guy is very talented but it reminds me of a job I had where we'd have weekly all-staff conference calls and you would be subtly punished if you did not spend your time on the call telling the CEO what a Visionary he was and how Thrilled and Lucky you were to be working there, week after week. Is this Schur's thing, that he rewards people who flatter him, or is it just Hollywood in general? Praise him once and then focus on the actual stuff the person does!
posted by rogerroger at 9:44 AM on January 19 [3 favorites]


solotoro: Am I not remembering a time that Michael more selectively stripped certain memories?

Well, the very first use of it is to cause each of the humans to forget how they died. This is originally explained as a small favor in cases of "traumatic or embarrassing deaths". Now I've started to wonder why, given that the actual goal was torture, he ever bothered with that. There might not be a "Watsonian" explanation for it, just the "Doylean" reason, namely to introduce the fact that he can do it before the first-season finale so it would be less of a suprise on top of all the other surprises.
posted by InTheYear2017 at 10:35 AM on January 19 [2 favorites]


Looks like I wasn't too far off the mark guessing how the meeting with The Judge would go down. And yet now that it's happened, it's hard to believe that's really the premise of Season 4. If Schur sticks to form, the season finale will be a paradigm-shifting cliffhanger. Eleanor having to cover for Michael might have filled that need, but they've played that card an episode too soon. Then again, someone on the podcast (Joe Mande?) did say that this basically set the stage for Season 4. Perhaps that was skillful misdirection.
posted by mumkin at 11:14 AM on January 19 [1 favorite]


Well, the very first use of it is to cause each of the humans to forget how they died. This is originally explained as a small favor in cases of "traumatic or embarrassing deaths". Now I've started to wonder why, given that the actual goal was torture, he ever bothered with that.

Their deaths were all pretty embarrassing, so he was probably saving the memories for later torture.
posted by Etrigan at 11:55 AM on January 19 [5 favorites]


If Schur sticks to form, the season finale will be a paradigm-shifting cliffhanger. Eleanor having to cover for Michael might have filled that need, but they've played that card an episode too soon.

Eleanor has actually been a demon all along, and this has been Michael's Bad Place?
posted by Thorzdad at 12:13 PM on January 19 [9 favorites]


also I think they're discounting the notion of their group growing stronger and changing easier because of the added stress of the demons.

Maybe Team Cockroach 2.0 doesn't improve, because they've got Team Cockroach Original Flavor subtly trying to help them, and instead of demons secretly torturing them which encourages them to bond, they only have at-worst-neutral creations of Derek and Janet around them.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 12:59 PM on January 19 [3 favorites]


Great use of title, A+.
posted by Going To Maine at 2:06 PM on January 19


It'll be nice to have everybody not have their memories erased for the new season, assuming that they don't completely throw out everything they just set up and do something completely different which ... ok well maybe I shouldn't assume that.
posted by ckape at 4:19 PM on January 19


I don't like how this show always wants Eleanor to be in charge. First of all, Janet should be in charge. Second of all, if Janet isn't in charge give Tahani a chance or something. I realize Jason is too stupid and Chidi can't make decisions, but the dynamic gets old to me.

Actually it reminds me of Brooklyn 99 in that way. Jake/Eleanor has an epiphany about what REALLY happened but won't explain, everyone follow me and then my plan works out perfectly, voila! Or Eleanor/Jake teaches mature male authority figure (Michael/Holt) an important life lesson, so profound! Jake/Eleanor is a goodhearted goof who learned an important lesson today by being not cool to one of their dear friends and then later learning they were being not cool, wow how deep. I think they consider those two people the stars of the show, but really they were just the most famous cast members at the time the show started. Both are such heavily ensemble oriented shows and it takes me out of their world when they decide to push the "star" to the center of the plot.
posted by Emmy Rae at 5:31 PM on January 19 [5 favorites]


"Switch it up once in a while! Why don't you try teeth flatteners and bees with penises? "
"First of all..." *writes down BEE W/PENIS* "that's stupid."
posted by some loser at 6:02 PM on January 19 [14 favorites]


I assumed Michael flossing was written in because the video was popular! They aren't wearing the same clothes they were wearing when they taught Ted Danson the move.
posted by Emmy Rae at 6:47 PM on January 19


How does Chidi know how samurai swords are made? He doesn't exactly seem like a Sword Guy.

He teaches philosophy in Australia, and there's always That One Guy in undergrad who's way too into Japanese culture mainly expressed through buying anime figures with clothes that come off and shit swords from the Internet. He's probably learned that fact incidentally if he didn't know it already.

Also the multiverse is going to have to be important - the episode is named for that moment.
posted by Jilder at 7:27 PM on January 19 [1 favorite]


I can't wait to see more of Vicky in the Michael suit.
posted by mbrubeck at 9:31 PM on January 19 [2 favorites]


I am listening to the podcast; there originally was a third place where the group went in between the "it's the IHOP but it looks like an IHOP" and that boardroom-looking place.

YOU WANT TO HEAR ABOUT IT.


Having heard about it, that third place would have had a better chance of showing up if it were the back alley behind an IHOP.
posted by ZeusHumms at 9:55 PM on January 19


I just want to see more of Vicky. Umm. What I mean is, bring back Vicky already, for, for story, for story reasons.

I too feel like the new neighborhood won't be the premise for season four. It's too neat and predictable. I also don't think the show has room for four new recurring major characters. One way or another, I think the new experiment will reach a conclusion in the finale -- probably in the first five minutes.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 5:20 AM on January 20 [5 favorites]


How does Chidi know how samurai swords are made? He doesn't exactly seem like a Sword Guy.

There are many paths to enlightenment, grasshopper.

I'm not a sword guy, either. I'm also not a fan of martial arts films of any sort. What I do appreciate is true craftsmanship. Thus, I have watched more than a couple documentaries on the traditional methods of forging a samurai sword, and understood exactly what he meant.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:30 AM on January 20 [5 favorites]


Chidi literally saw a trillion layers of reality being folded into a literal blade. Knowledge of samurai swords is not required. Someday later he could learn about sword forging and observe that, hey, that's just like the time knife.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 5:45 AM on January 20 [10 favorites]


Potential importance of the TIME KNIFE:

Samurai swords were (as I understand it) made that way due to only having access to low-quality iron. Repeatedly folding the steel over and over was a way of removing imperfections in it.

The Brainy Bunch started off deeply imperfect in their own ways, and went through hundreds of iterations in Michael's neighborhood, with even Michael coming out of it no longer fit to be a Bad Place demon anymore.

Our main cast, in other words, has been folded over, again and again, in slightly different realities.

They ARE, in some sense, the time knife.
posted by Navelgazer at 7:04 AM on January 20 [48 favorites]


^ Yes!!!!
posted by mochapickle at 7:23 AM on January 20 [1 favorite]


Which means that this new little experiment, with no restarts, is doomed. (and like kfb predicts, probably within the first five minutes...)
posted by mochapickle at 7:25 AM on January 20 [3 favorites]


Did they say "no restarts"? Honest question, I can't remember if it was on the list of rules. Certainly if I was trying to replicate Michael's process I'd expect to include reboots.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:50 AM on January 20


Yeah, Gen said it's just a one-shot deal. I think that's why Michael was panicking so hard.
posted by mochapickle at 9:14 AM on January 20


Also re the tomato screenshot, the second of three subtractions references Bearimy (plus an alphanumeric string that may or may not be significant).
posted by Marticus at 4:13 PM on January 20 [3 favorites]


I assume the Time Knife is more than just a quick throwaway gag, since they named the entire episode after it?

It's like Chekhov said: if there's a Time Knife hanging above the entryway to the Interdimensional Hole of Pancakes in the penultimate episode, it must slice through space-time in the finale.

(Chekhov is in the Bad Place.)

My take is that the new experiment will fail but Chidi will argue that they need to re-run the experiment multiple times to get good data, both because a) he learned about experiment design while working with Simone and b) because he saw the Time Knife. How this actually sets up Season 4 is beyond me.

Alternatively, the experiment actually succeeds, and Gen will demand that they implement this new process at scale to rehabilitate all the souls currently in The Bad Place. And then Season 4 is about that and TBP's attempts to sabotage the new system.

what I think are red dimension holes

No, those are the pancakes.
posted by tobascodagama at 4:52 PM on January 20 [6 favorites]


showbiz_liz: Also may I say - the Michael suit concept that Shawn cooked up is genuinely horrifying. I had no problem believing Michael's resulting panic spiral.

So, here's a thought -- Eleanor has to take over as "Architect," but she can't do that as-is. First thing next episode, she summons Janet, who makes her... a Michael suit. Mainly because I can't believe they introduced the idea of a "Michael suit" and there's no payoff coming.

Now we have Ted Danson playing Eleanor Shellstrop playing Michael. I don't care if we only get three minutes of it before Michael snaps out of it and is able to retake control. GIVE IT TO ME.

mbrubeck: I can't wait to see more of Vicky in the Michael suit.

kittens for breakfast: I just want to see more of Vicky. Umm. What I mean is, bring back Vicky already, for, for story, for story reasons. 

I think you guys didn't catch the whole line. She's not *in* the Michael suit; she's *part of* the Michael suit. Shawn made the suit out of demons who doubted he could do it, and she was one of them. I think she's the "right side."
posted by tzikeh at 5:30 PM on January 20 [5 favorites]


Per the podcast, it’s Vicky wearing the Michael suit, and Ted Danson relished playing Tiya Sircar playing Ted Danson.
posted by Etrigan at 5:38 PM on January 20 [4 favorites]


Don't know why everyone is making such a big deal about the time-knife, I mean we've all seen it.
posted by ckape at 5:58 PM on January 20 [22 favorites]


Per the podcast, it’s Vicky wearing the Michael suit, and Ted Danson relished playing Tiya Sircar playing Ted Danson.

Aha! I went back and listened - I thought Shawn said "That's Vicky on the right." after explaining that he'd made it out of demons. He actually said "That's Vicky in there right now."

Thanks for the clarification!
posted by tzikeh at 6:09 PM on January 20 [3 favorites]


Per the podcast, it’s Vicky wearing the Michael suit, and Ted Danson relished playing Tiya Sircar playing Ted Danson.

I really like this and would love to see both the Bad Place and Mindy St. Claire's back yard place with people in Michael suits. Back in the Void, D'Arcy Carden as Jason pretending to be Eleanor saying she was "Arizona shrimp horny" cracked me up as much anything else has in this show.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 7:11 PM on January 20 [3 favorites]


I won't post the title of next week's finale episode, but here is the blurb being sent to media outlets:

"Various events occur, in a certain specific order."
posted by tzikeh at 7:15 PM on January 20 [23 favorites]


Also per the podcast, Ted Danson was only recently informed that he says "Eleaner" rather than "EleanOr".
posted by Etrigan at 7:54 PM on January 20 [3 favorites]


the second of three subtractions references Bearimy (plus an alphanumeric string that may or may not be significant).

It looks like the subtraction references research done by some accountants presented as "How Do We Calculate the Effects of Farm Labor When the Farmers Essentially Don't Have Any Other Options?", and the Bearimy number is probably the point in the Jeremy Bearimy that it was presented.

ok continuing my rewatch:

- It's interesting that Michael calls it the Backpack Kid Dance instead of Flossing. Also with every cut he gets better at it.
- So IHOP usually has 3-4 syrups they set on every table. This one has 4, on one table one looks like a typical pancake syrup, however the other two are bright green and bright pink/magenta. The other table has a bright yellow one. I wonder what flavors those are.
- If you tried to Google "big juicy natural tomatoes" and only got gardening tips, you're using the wrong search engine. Try Bing (h/t reddit).
- Maya Rudolph's reading of "Oh no, you are nobody's problem, sweetheart." is award-winning. As is WJH's reaction face.
- The framed art pieces in the office meeting room setting are similarly colorful like the windows in the fake IHOP, but one of them is more artsy with random strokes of white. The smaller one is less colorful but more geometric.
- All the water glasses on the table are made of glass, but somehow Jason is holding on a plastic cup.
- Chidi never references samurai swords. He says "a trillion different realities folding onto each other like thin sheets of metal, forming a single blade". That's just general sword knowledge that most curious people would know.
- Mindy's house has a mail box.
- The reset for Derek is a "plunger", which could mean it's an actual plunger or some fancy term Derek uses for "button".
- You can almost hear the Canadian accent when he says "house" and "out", except Jason Mantzoukas is American.
- The rules of the new Neighborhood. Indeed, Michael does not get to just reboot everything.
- The books on Mindy's sidetable.
- I don't think Eleanor watched the memory where they learned how to operate the stairs up to the bedrooms, so I wonder if they know now.
- So there's the Yogurt Yoghurt Yogurte place like the first iteration of The "Good" Place. I also see Scent Memories, Elements of Happiness, Lasagn[unclear]tomo[unclear], Knish From a Rose, Caramel Police(?).
- Shawn says he'll erase the memory of Michael telling them that it's not him doing the torturing if Michael tells them.
posted by numaner at 8:56 PM on January 20 [5 favorites]


Numaner, did you catch Chidi screaming through space behind everyone while they were walking through Grand Central?

if you mean I.H.O.P., I only noticed Chidi still on the ground screaming as everyone walks through. I went back through that scene a few times and didn't see a miniature version of him flying around.
posted by numaner at 9:01 PM on January 20


No, they meant the very first scene - and yes, you can definitely see him and hear him fly by. I watched the episode a second time and since I was keeping an eye out for this, I noticed it immediately.
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:05 PM on January 20 [3 favorites]


they probably didn't call the dance "flossing" because that's the name it was given in fortnite after it was stolen from its originator.
posted by JimBennett at 9:07 PM on January 20 [8 favorites]


The ONE thing that has begun to wear on me on the podcast is the Mike Schur fawning in every episode by everyone who works on the show. Clearly the guy is very talented but it reminds me of a job I had where we'd have weekly all-staff conference calls and you would be subtly punished if you did not spend your time on the call telling the CEO what a Visionary he was and how Thrilled and Lucky you were to be working there, week after week. Is this Schur's thing, that he rewards people who flatter him, or is it just Hollywood in general? Praise him once and then focus on the actual stuff the person does!

i don't listen to the podcast but i think the reason people fawn over mike schurr (and have done so across every project he's been in charge of) is because he is a uniquely compassionate and wonderful person to work for in the cesspool of misery that is hollywood.
posted by JimBennett at 9:13 PM on January 20 [11 favorites]


> Lasagn[unclear]tomo[unclear]

Oh, that's on Megan Amram's food pun list: "Lasagna Come Out Tomorrow."
posted by Pronoiac at 9:32 PM on January 20 [11 favorites]


Also per the podcast, Ted Danson was only recently informed that he says "Eleaner" rather than "EleanOr".

Just finished the podcast and ahhh that was satisfying as that’s how I pronounce my full name, thank you Ted Danson!
posted by ellieBOA at 10:59 PM on January 20 [2 favorites]


I pointed out this episode kinda of makes the same central argument as Wilde’s The Soul Of Man Under Socialism “It’s hard to be a good person if you have to pay rent!”
posted by The Whelk at 11:34 PM on January 20 [7 favorites]


All the water glasses on the table are made of glass, but somehow Jason is holding on a plastic cup.

This was beer from the previously-alluded-to other setting that got cut out of the show, and they digitally changed the beer into water.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 4:57 AM on January 21 [1 favorite]


New prediction: they fail to improve the Bad Place-approved humans but they succeed at making Mindy less selfish.
posted by tobascodagama at 8:08 AM on January 21 [2 favorites]


I'm a little confused by Mindy TBH. I don't remember when she died, but if it was within the last couple of hundred years, then is she the best/highest scoring human to have lived in that time? And if we're considering the downstream effects of consumerism, then how is that possible for a cokehead? Or is she just really old?
posted by rhamphorhynchus at 8:50 AM on January 21 [2 favorites]


She was a high-powered attorney in the 1980s.

In previous episode discussions, we speculated that because she only had the idea for a foundation and wrote out a detailed plan, which her sister(?) followed through on after she died, she got credit for the positive part before any of the negative downstream consequences could kick in. Whoever actually ran the foundation is definitely in the Bad Place, though.
posted by tobascodagama at 9:07 AM on January 21 [11 favorites]


and they digitally changed the beer into water.

My gods, a literal Antichrist!

At any rate, Chidi recognized the folded construction of the Time Knife because he and Eleanor fell in love while binge watching 'Forged in Fire' in the torture cabin.
posted by stet at 10:09 AM on January 21 [1 favorite]


Mindy's clothes have always struck me as very medium. Not what I would want to wear every day, but they seem alright for office clothes.
posted by Emmy Rae at 10:26 AM on January 21


Also per the podcast, Ted Danson was only recently informed that he says "Eleaner" rather than "EleanOr".

I was disappointed to learn his reaction to being called out wasn't a blank stare morphing into a gleeful smile morphing into a maniacal laugh.
posted by ckape at 11:12 AM on January 21 [5 favorites]


The person flying past at speed in the distance in the first couple of minutes of the episode has been confirmed (by Marc Evan Jackson) as being Trevor.
posted by simonw at 12:09 PM on January 21 [9 favorites]


As much as this show turns itself upside down regularly, I'm kind of hoping we really do get to see a whole season of this new neighborhood experiment playing out, since it has so much potential:

- Eleanor trying to be the architect
- The realization that they'll probably have to torture the residents in order to get them to become better, and the ethical implications of that.
- Half the residents were created by Derek, who may be unstable or insane. Or maybe that's not even Derek, as someone pointed out above.
- The constant threat of Jason telling the new humans what's going on.
- Mostly a chance for our characters to develop without losing their memories! Case in point: while Eleanor got some of her memories back, the other three have never seen the original neighborhood at all.
posted by mmoncur at 7:16 PM on January 21 [3 favorites]


Mostly a chance for our characters to develop without losing their memories! Case in point: while Eleanor got some of her memories back, the other three have never seen the original neighborhood at all.

While I greatly enjoy all of the "firsts" we get to have over and over thanks to wiped memories on this show, I think it's time (or next season, anyway) for Michael to give them ALL of their memories back. Those memories are rightfully theirs, and it would be fascinating to see what relatively young people would do with several hundred years' worth of life experience.

Sure, they'll all go bald and their brains will smoke and their teeth will fall out, but it's temporary.
posted by tzikeh at 10:11 PM on January 21 [9 favorites]


I very much want a b-plot of a religious schism between "sons of Derek" and "daughters of Janet" to develop, each group having weird idiosyncrasies inherited from their creators.
posted by motdiem2 at 2:59 AM on January 22 [15 favorites]


Or maybe that's not even Derek, as someone pointed out above.

Have we seen any evidence that demons or any other non-Janet eternal beings can beep-boop in and out of existence or cause other things to do that? If not, the not-Derek theory would rely on a Bad Janet in a Derek suit, and we've seen how well Bad Janets cope with trying to be anything other than Bad.
posted by solotoro at 7:50 AM on January 22 [3 favorites]


Related question: we obviously have Neutral Janet from Accounting, but did we ever see Medium Janet before? I don't think Medium Janet was introduced or referenced in Mindy's episode.

I think it's pretty amusing that Derek has become the sort of de facto Medium Janet of the Medium Place. See also: the plunger being the Medium version of Janet's button pedestal. And I guess instead of pleading desperately for his life, Derek just gets mildly passive aggressive about being killed so often. That seems pretty Medium.
posted by tobascodagama at 8:08 AM on January 22


we've seen how well Bad Janets cope with trying to be anything other than Bad.

We've seen how well Bad Janets cope with pretending to be good. I'm not sure Derek qualifies.

(Now I'm imagining a Good Place RPG with five six alignments: Good, Neutral, Bad, Human, Derek, and MAXIMUM DEREK.)
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 8:43 AM on January 22 [19 favorites]


So, is the beach in the new neighborhood now populated with a forest of reset buttons? Will some of the fake Good Place residents start randomly resetting when Mindy struggles to find the right one to press to get some alone time from Derek?
posted by ckape at 8:48 AM on January 22 [4 favorites]


No, they meant the very first scene - and yes, you can definitely see him and hear him fly by.

I see him now! On my rewatch I didn't really pay attention to that first scene. Also the Grand Central note threw me off, because that's what Michael use to describe IHOP so I was assuming it was in that scene.
posted by numaner at 8:59 AM on January 22


The person flying past at speed in the distance in the first couple of minutes of the episode has been confirmed (by Marc Evan Jackson) as being Trevor.

Ahh that makes sense!
posted by numaner at 9:05 AM on January 22


See also: the plunger being the Medium version of Janet's button pedestal.

FWIW, I would refer to Janet's button as a "plunger". Any button you push down with some degree of force is a plunger, for example there is a plunger in a french press coffee maker. I didn't think Derek was talking about a toilet unclogger, but now that you mention it, yeah, he probably was.

(Now I'm imagining a Good Place RPG with five six alignments: Good, Neutral, Bad, Human, Derek, and MAXIMUM DEREK.)

I will play this immediately.
posted by Rock Steady at 9:51 AM on January 22 [5 favorites]


so I'm super bad at predicting where the show is going, but I'm going to uhh update my prediction from last episode. That prediction was, loosely, "Janet, keeping one pinky finger in the afterlife, uses her Janet powers to establish an initially benevolent Janetocracy that eventually spins out of control."

My new prediction, incorporating predictions from this thread, is that the Team Cockroach 2.0 experiment is a wild success, that we see that success play out in the next episode, and that the end of the season finale is Gen telling Janet that:
  1. She can use her powers on Earth now, and
  2. She's in charge of fixing everything.

posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 9:54 AM on January 22 [3 favorites]


When Janet made Derek, she made him out of herself, which means that like her, he can't consume food or beverages (which gives us his hilarious "martini" "drinking" in this episode). But if she (and Derek) are making people for the new Neighborhood, are they going to be able to eat and drink? If not, the 4 new humans are going to really be confused.

This episode was so, so, good. Every word was perfect, and the plot moved really quickly but didn't seem rushed. I kept stopping to write down quotes. I am curious how much of Maya Rudolph's and Marc Evan Jackson's lines were on the page vs improvised—I wish they had covered that in the podcast!

Trying to work "over my dead skinsuit" into my vocabulary.
posted by radioamy at 12:12 PM on January 22 [2 favorites]


I'm just waiting for Janet + Jason babies
posted by littlesq at 12:22 PM on January 22


Podcast spoiler: they toyed with a Mindy/Derek pregnancy since the actress (Maribeth Monroe) who plays Mindy was super pregnant during the filming of this episode. (They were going to focus on her belly when she opened the door.)
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 6:41 PM on January 22 [1 favorite]


I am curious how much of Maya Rudolph's and Marc Evan Jackson's lines were on the page vs improvised—I wish they had covered that in the podcast!

Pretty much every time someone has ever asked about that on the podcast, the response has been that it was on the page. It seems like they get to "flavor" it (e.g., Gen's pronunciation of "Paaaa-ah-why" evolved over multiple takes, and Michael's evil cackle at the end of S1 took approximately a billion times to get right), but it seems like Schur runs a tight ship as far as the actual words.
posted by Etrigan at 6:57 PM on January 22 [2 favorites]


Pretty much every time someone has ever asked about that on the podcast, the response has been that it was on the page.

I seem to also recall that they sometimes have multiple options for lines, get the actors to read them all, and then pick the best one for the final product.
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:44 PM on January 22 [1 favorite]


I would have cracked up if Mindy was pregnant since he has MOST of a functioning penis now, but then that leads to theological debate of whether or not you can get pregnant by a made up person in the afterlife.
posted by jenfullmoon at 7:45 PM on January 22


The four humans always managed to find out that their Good Place neighborhood wasn't real; my guess is that the same thing happens pretty quickly with the new people - in part because of Michael's nerves, and in part because Janet's creations are still clearly a little off.

I like watching the main characters cut an arc of justice-seeking chaos across the afterlife/Earth, and I think one of the potential paths of the show is that the afterlife becomes more like Earth - complicated, ad hoc, human.
posted by tarshish bound at 11:05 AM on January 23 [5 favorites]


>> See also: the plunger being the Medium version of Janet's button pedestal.

> FWIW, I would refer to Janet's button as a "plunger". Any button you push down with some degree of force is a plunger, for example there is a plunger in a french press coffee maker. I didn't think Derek was talking about a toilet unclogger, but now that you mention it, yeah, he probably was.


FWI further W, in S2:E2 ("Dance Dance Resolution"), as Michael is about to reset Janet, she says "I'm not actually upset! It's just the automatic failsafe mechanism that kicks in every time you approach the plunger. Go ahead… Michael you monster!"

So, Janet refers to her own reset button as a plunger.
posted by mumkin at 6:39 PM on January 23 [11 favorites]


That being said, I think we can all agree that Derek's plunger being a literal plunger instead would be, if not MAXIMUM DEREK, at least Rather Derek.
posted by tobascodagama at 7:29 PM on January 23 [11 favorites]


Derek's reset button is shown in S2:E7 ("Derek"), it is an old-school knife switch attached to a wooden post with a bunch of loose wires and a few antennas sticking out.
posted by ckape at 8:27 PM on January 23 [7 favorites]


It's really strange then that it would end up in Mindy's backyard, or maybe it's just a whole different thing that also resets Derek. Maybe the rest mechanism moves with the "Janet" wherever they relocate to.

Also I can't watch the finale live tonight and I'm super sad about it 😢.
posted by numaner at 4:25 PM on January 24


No spoilers, but Janet totally called it (hers and the concept overall) a plunger again in the season finale.
posted by Etrigan at 1:35 AM on January 25 [1 favorite]


The books on Mindy's sidetable.

These seem like the exact type of popular bestsellers that people don't actually keep that end up on your local library's .50 cent and $1.00 sale shelf. Very meh, yes.
posted by Rufous-headed Towhee heehee at 3:08 AM on January 25


As the show has begun to close in on the question of how much sense its own premise actually makes, from a moral standpoint, I really appreciate that it keeps on circling around the insight that "morality", if defined as a property of an individual person, isn't an idea that stands up to close scrutiny. It is deeply at odds with how Americans tend to think of things, to assert that morality might only make sense as a property of our social systems...we want to consider the good things that people do to be the result of their exercising a capacity to choose one way or the other, and choosing the "right" thing. And we want to blame people, individual people, for the bad things they do.

The notion that individual culpability, for good OR bad, may not be the whole picture, or even the biggest part of it, is pretty radical stuff for a prime time sitcom.
posted by Ipsifendus at 10:03 AM on January 25 [6 favorites]


No spoilers, but Janet totally called it (hers and the concept overall) a plunger again in the season finale.

Didn't Eleanor have an emotional meltdown over a toilet plunger in a home improvement store in the first season?
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 11:48 AM on January 25 [5 favorites]


She had a meltdown *over* a family set of toothbrushes, but *into* a toilet plunger, I think.
posted by duffell at 12:30 PM on January 25 [6 favorites]


I guess the question is, can you have an episode titled "Chidi Sees the Time-Knife" in season 3 without having an episode titled "Chidi Seizes the Time-Knife" in season 4?
posted by ckape at 7:07 AM on February 1 [8 favorites]


Finally catching up and reading this thread... What are the odds that we see the plot of Vonnegut's Timequake play out on Earth?

Everybody gets a replay and one reboot.
posted by schmod at 7:03 PM on March 4


IIRC, Timequake is more like a movie replay and not a videogame replay — everyone is basically a passive observer in their own bodies, unable to make any different choices than they did the first time around.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 3:46 AM on March 5


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