The Good Place: Jason Mendoza
September 29, 2016 9:03 PM - Season 1, Episode 4 - Subscribe

Tahani's soulmate reveals himself not to be Jianyu the silent Taiwanese Buddhist monk, but Jason Mendoza the Filipino-American Jacksonvillian EDM DJ, Vine star, and small-time fake drug dealer. Eleanor struggles to keep both their secrets from Michael, who meanwhile enlists Tahani's help planning the grand opening of a restaurant.
posted by Small Dollar (15 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Oh man, I was just about to post this.

So, is everybody faking it in this joint? Has Michael unknowingly assembled the island of the misfit toys?

You certainly get the sense that Tahani, too, could be a sort of imposter. But is Chidi? He doesn't read that way to me. At least, it's easy to imagine that spending your life in a library carrel doesn't rack up a ton of points per se if you're scored by how you impacted others. But everything else suggests that Chidi genuinely tried to be a good person, did read all those philosophers and grapple with their ideas, etc. He got his special meal. I guess he could be lying about all of that, but that would be a bit disappointing.

Speaking of reading all those philosophers, it seems pretty clear that book learnin' isn't going to be Jose's strong suit. And there seems to be some sort of moral we're supposed to pull from his flashbacks, about his irrepresible drive to be his authentic self whatever it costs him. So...yeah, he's pretty much a walking Chekov's gun. It seems curious that the show would go to all the trouble of setting up this complicated world only to blow it up after five episodes, in terms of finding out the place isn't actually good after all. But it seems hard to imagine keeping a lid on Jose for more than an episode or so. Seems like the the show is moving so fast you barey have time to wonder about the twists...
posted by Diablevert at 9:30 PM on September 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

They had me at, "That's not music. That's EDM!"
posted by Justinian at 11:30 PM on September 29, 2016 [11 favorites]

None of these philosophers were talking about masturbation.
posted by Grangousier at 8:08 AM on September 30, 2016 [12 favorites]

For all we know, Chidi went to graduate school and immersed himself in books instead of taking care of his aging parents and sick younger brother.
posted by amtho at 9:57 AM on September 30, 2016 [5 favorites]

So, is everybody faking it in this joint? Has Michael unknowingly assembled the island of the misfit toys?

I still like your idea from the prior episode, that everyone is incomplete, and has come here to improve. This is Michael's first project, and last episode he was trying to "improve" Janet, which didn't go well, so everyone has something to fix.

Jason has some innate knowledge of the value of being true to yourself, perhaps an inner monk, which can also help Eleanor. Patricia is too intense, and needs to learn to relax and work with changing circumstances, which is a strong suit for Eleanor. She also sees the value in others, and has helped Chidi find his purpose: helping others apply his learned (but generally un-applied) understanding of ethics.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:23 AM on September 30, 2016 [2 favorites]

Well, it's weird. Like, I still like the idea that every person's assigned soulmate is supposed to help them grow as a person, help them become their best selves/find a purpose. But I find myslef displeased with the idea that nobody in the joint is actully "good", that they're all faking. Because then that ruins the conceit that, as Chidi says in one of the other eps, "no, it is absolutely the case that all of these people are better than you and therefore you need to learn to be more like them." I mean, if they're all secret d-bags, then it seems like once the cat's out of the bag the world should rip apart at the seams, right? And who would care if it did? Since the Good Place would not then in fact be any of its denizens' idea of heaven.

I dunno, I mean ultimately we still know far too little about this world to get a good sense of any of this. But obviously wildly speculating about the rules of this moral universe fascinates me, so....sorry, I'll quit hogging the thread.
posted by Diablevert at 11:54 AM on September 30, 2016

It's entirely possible that unbeknownst to Michael (seriously don't think he's in on this) "perfect" people are being paired with imperfect people for inspiration/improvement reasons. We can see why Eleanor and Chidi would be put together, for example: totally amoral girl and guy who looooves to teach ethics. I'll admit at the moment I don't see why Jason/Jianyu and Tahani would be paired together, though. I'm actually really surprised that Jason ISN'T all over Tahani like white on rice given how hot she is and his 12-year-old boy tastes.

But it was nice to see Eleanor actually being nice and supportive of people, even if she still caused a sinkhole and broke Jianyu.
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:31 PM on September 30, 2016

We rewatched every episode to date last night with our kids (who adore Parks & Rec so it was a good fit). The measurement system that determines their eligibility does include negatives, something I keep forgetting, so everyone will definitely have flaws. It makes sense therefore that Tahani did 1 billion points worth of amazing works but can afford to be condescending and name-droppy. I keep expecting every person to be perfect. Patricia presumably did something amazing (with her cooking?) but undoubtedly got negative points for making people uncomfortable with her extreme intensity.

It made me wonder if people could do one truly amazing/selfless thing in their lives which heavily outweighed all their negatives. Like the chicken soup guy who somehow fed thousands with it could be a complete asshat, for example.

This is not helping me figure out the twist, but I do think that even though Eleanor caused the sinkhole, it's not her fault (or her fault alone) that it's growing. There's more than one snake in paradise.
posted by tracicle at 12:24 AM on October 1, 2016 [6 favorites]

No idea how this fits into the larger mythology of the show, but it seems like Jason may be doing more than anything else to bring out the good in Eleanor. She's said earlier that being around people she perceives as better than her prompts her to try dragging them down to her level. In trying to stop someone behaving worse than she is (admittedly, for entirely self-serving reasons), she's ended up caring about someone else's fate, showing appreciation for Chidi and taking the ethics lessons at least a little more seriously.

Modeling correct behavior because you're worried about getting caught and thrilled that it makes you look smart in comparison isn't exactly saintly, but given that this version of the Good Place seems to reward action over intention, maybe it's a start?
posted by eponym at 12:25 PM on October 1, 2016 [9 favorites]

I'm way , way late to this party (started watching season 2, said 'holy shit this is good' and am now starting from the beginning). Acid Cat and DJ Music made me laugh really hard. That and 'bud hole'. So far Jason is my favorite.
posted by Fig at 8:38 AM on November 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

'holy shirt this is good'

posted by tobascodagama at 9:29 AM on November 2, 2017 [6 favorites]

".... even Tampa"
posted by schmod at 12:59 PM on December 17, 2017

Dream big, Mr Music. Dream big.
posted by rmd1023 at 2:23 PM on January 21, 2018

Coming even later, but working through these and enjoying them.

Subtle gag: Tahani, apparently being familiar with British English, has to double-check what Michael means by 'suspenders'.
posted by Major Clanger at 4:52 AM on August 14, 2018 [1 favorite]

so I'm late to this party

but did anyone else shout "WHAT ABOUT DIOGENES" after "none of these philosophers were talking about masturbation" line?
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 5:33 PM on October 12, 2018 [8 favorites]

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