The Good Place: Tahani Al-Jamil
September 22, 2016 7:01 PM - Season 1, Episode 3 - Subscribe

When Tahani gives Eleanor a housewarming present, Eleanor tries to dig up dirt on her. Michael tries to introduce Chidi to a new hobby. Janet tries to find herself.

Jianyu tries to open up.
posted by Small Dollar (21 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Awww yeah. This is where it gets good.
posted by Etrigan at 7:21 PM on September 22, 2016 [3 favorites]

Aaaaand of course my dvr chopped off the very end of the episode, right after Jianyu says "I don't know how I got here, I'm not supposed to be here either" (But from the AV Club recap, it looks like the next & last line was “I am freakin’ out, homie!”?)
posted by oh yeah! at 8:00 PM on September 22, 2016 [3 favorites]

Here's the final exchange, from the transcript of the episode:

Eleanor: And I think I'm changing for the better, so just please, please don't rat me out.

Jianyu: Don't worry, I won't.

Because I'm not supposed to be here, either. I don't know how I got here, I have no idea what's going on, and I am freakin' out, homey! You got to help me. I'm scared!

Eleanor: What?

The whole soulmate thing is bugging me now, because if both Jianyu and Eleanor got in by accident, getting accepted in someone else's place, what's to say they're with the "correct" person?

(Which may be the point: we're where we are, and we should make the best of who we're with, even if they're not perfect, because no one is, but we can still make each-other better)
posted by filthy light thief at 7:44 AM on September 23, 2016 [6 favorites]

Mmmmm...I dunno, I don't think that's the indicators we're getting. More the reverse. Chidi, for example, is someone who cared deeply about ethics and lived a good life himself but could never assemble his thoughts into a coherent plan of action, something other people could actually use; he kept getting stalled out on the theory. And he is presented with Eleanor, someone who requires practical moral guidence delivered immediately or she will be eternally damned. Tahani is someone who did a lot of good on a practical level to help others. But clearly a part of her motivation for that was that she has a deep need to be seen to be good, to be admired and desired for her goodness. She's not certain of her worth as a person if the people around her aren't constanly affirming it. And she's presented with someone who never gives her the public affirmation she so deeply craves.

Michael, too, is interesting. He claims he has designed a perfect utopia. Clearly he hasn't, there's quite a lot he doesn't know or understand about people. The failures and flaws of the Good Place seem to be a whetstone for him, too, of a sort, meant to sharpen his understanding as he attempts to grapple with them.

So far the joint seems far more of a purgatory than a heaven...I hope they can keep on expanding the world in interesting ways. Also I was really glad about the Jianyu revelation, he seemed like a weird stereotype up to now, the idea that his suppossed Bhuddist serenity was a con job meant to mask his panic is fun.
posted by Diablevert at 9:01 AM on September 23, 2016 [31 favorites]

So far the joint seems far more of a purgatory than a heaven

This is my spouse's theory -- that it isn't really the "good" place, it's a school to teach people how to be actually good. All the things that are "going wrong" are object lessons, and Eleanor just fucked up more than anyone else early on, so they were all about her.
posted by Etrigan at 9:10 AM on September 23, 2016 [13 favorites]

Michael, too, is interesting. He claims he has designed a perfect utopia. Clearly he hasn't, there's quite a lot he doesn't know or understand about people. The failures and flaws of the Good Place seem to be a whetstone for him, too, of a sort, meant to sharpen his understanding as he attempts to grapple with them.

...or maybe that's what he wants everybody to think. The "flaws" in the system could be exactly what each participant needs to grow. We grow because of well-calibrated adversity. Maybe he's a mastermind who knows exactly what he's doing.
posted by amtho at 12:15 PM on September 23, 2016 [2 favorites]

I second that "soulmate" translates into "someone to learn from." Especially clear with Chidi wanting to do nothing but study ethics.

JIanyu is probably pretty smart to deliberately choose to keep his mouth shut, under the circumstances. I loved that reveal like mad.

Etrigan's spouse's theory is sounding pretty dead on to me.
posted by jenfullmoon at 3:59 PM on September 23, 2016

I hope the speculation is correct because it will make for a better show than just the high-concept fish out of water gimmick it appears to have been pretending to be.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 4:45 PM on September 24, 2016 [2 favorites]

This show is turning out to be pretty good. I didn't expect much. I don't like Kristin Bell or Ted Danson, and the premise in the commercials seemed bland. But the dialogue is sharp, the characters (especially Chidi, who I love) are enjoyable, and the cinematography is really pretty. The twist at the end of this episode was pretty shocking, and now I'm excited for the next one.
posted by kevinbelt at 7:05 PM on September 25, 2016

I'm a bit surprised by how much I like this series so far - I watched the three episodes again last night, and laughed even more than before, despite the fact that they're not that great jokes and I already knew the punchline, but the pleasure is in how the jokes are put across rather than the joke itself (for example, Janet's constant mood-shifting). Also, characters' behaviours mean different things when you know more about them (for example, the haunted, fugitive expression on Jiyanu's face during the chaos at the end of episode one).

It's seems likely that everyone is faking in some way or another - I suspect that in life, Tahani was a withdrawn, shy person, and that what she's acting out here is how she really wanted to be. Just as Eleanor was a bit of a mean person in life, but possibly didn't want to be. I'm not sure I could conjecture what Jianyu is "really" like, perhaps a party animal. Obviously, Chidi's case is slightly different, but he's still being confronted with challenges (like his life's work being literally useless) that he carefully designed his life to avoid.
posted by Grangousier at 5:58 AM on September 27, 2016 [2 favorites]

In addition to which it's just struck me that the title of Chidi's book - initially, at least Who We Are And Who We Are Not - is probably not thematically incidental.
posted by Grangousier at 2:54 PM on September 27, 2016 [9 favorites]

Does it bother anyone else that Tahani's "diary" didn't get as much screen time as it was set up to have? She swipes it from her home and we don't even get a satisfying scene of her reading it to find out more facts. Also did anyone catch who wrote the forward/introduction of the diary?
posted by obtuser at 4:43 PM on September 27, 2016

It was Malala Yousafzai and Kylie Minogue.

I suspect we didn't get a scene like that because we aren't supposed to know whether she actually read the diary or just returned it immediately. Personally, I think she returned without reading--but the possibility that she did could potentially come up later.
posted by thecaddy at 7:24 PM on September 27, 2016 [3 favorites]

I don't like Kristin Bell

Misspell Kristen Bell's name: -3.1205
Dislike Kristen Bell: -155.3126
posted by Spathe Cadet at 4:51 PM on August 24, 2017 [20 favorites]

I just started watching this, and I'm down with the "actually a purgatory learning place" theory.
posted by rmd1023 at 12:22 PM on January 21, 2018

I really hope you'll keep posting your observations as you continue watching!
posted by tobascodagama at 2:12 PM on January 21, 2018

We just started watching too (after so many Mefites have recommended it) and oh dear. For me as a former philosophy student and teacher, who spent far too long on a thesis that got more convoluted and less connected to anything useful, and spent far too long agonizing over these exact questions about the utility of reading/teaching classical western ethics -- Chidi's situation in this episode hit home for me in a way tv rarely has.

When he asks Michael to be his advisor, sitting in the grad student chair, throwing out his thesis, asking to spend the rest of eternity on more of the same.... my god. Someone on this show has been a philosophy grad student, or been around them a lot. They should show this to people after their qualifying exams. This is an affectionate picture but boy it's going right for the gut. I'm glad William Jackson Harper is so good and so likeable, in someone else's hands this could be terrible but he's nailing it.
posted by LobsterMitten at 6:43 PM on March 21, 2018 [6 favorites]

My roommate has been showing me these. And at some point he told me that he had been introduced to them by a friend who was himself a philosopher/ethicist, and kept pausing playback after key moments from Chidi to launch into complicated lectures on "okay, here's the interesting backstory about what he just said...."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:14 PM on April 16, 2018 [5 favorites]

4342.6  Introducing a friend to The Good Place
-523.1  interrupting The Good Place (each occurrence)
posted by Tabitha Someday at 6:48 AM on April 17, 2018 [8 favorites]

So my points off for being late to The Good Place are possibly offset by asking my partner to watch it with me? And hopefully I'm picking up an additional bonus by not letting on that I'm mildly spoiled on the show and he apparently managed to miss all the buzz and is coming to it totally fresh. We're not marathoning the show, so this might end up being the longest I've ever had to try to keep a spoiler from someone (I don't actually know that much, I just read a bit about the show when it exploded all over the internet and occasionally catch the odd spoilery meme) so I'm really glad FanFare is here as an outlet!
posted by EvaDestruction at 7:21 AM on September 21, 2018 [1 favorite]

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