The Good Place: “The Trolley Problem” Roundtable

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This week Chidi, Eleanor, and Michael are dealing with an ethical dilemma, while Tahani and Jason work on more personal issues. In the end, Janet tells Michael that they all might have bigger problems to worry about.

Tahani and Jason are still “pounding it out.” How do you feel about their relationship and the progress, or lack thereof, that they’ve made in therapy?

Cara: Ug, Tahani was the worst this week. And that was made worse by seeing a caring and sensitive Jason recently. I’m still not on team Jahani.

Melissa: I’m starting to care about Jahani. Yes, Tahani was difficult, but Jason’s wise (?!) counsel led her to using Janet’s services as a therapist, which led to couple’s counseling, which seems to be moving Tahani forward. And possibly Jason. What is happening?!?

THE GOOD PLACE — “The Trolley Problem” Episode 206 — Pictured: (l-r) D’Arcy Carden as Janet, Manny Jacinto as Jianyu, Jameela Jamil as Tehani — (Photo by: Colleen Hayes/NBC)

Roz: I don’t want to care about Jahani, because I’m all for Janet/Jason. But I suppose that Jason is the best foil to Tahani’s brand of narcissism, and all his willingness to still be with her despite being treated like a turd is a sign of how much they can work together.

Lexie: I love their relationship. Now, I should point out that I do not ship them, but they are doing one thing I love to see and yet rarely do for relationships on TV: they are making each other better people. I like that instead of dismissing him, Tahani was willing to talk to Janet about things.

Michael pulled off some pretty successful torture of Chidi this week, but the others got a little bit of a pass. Why do you think Michael seemed so focused on making Chidi miserable?

Cara: “Some parts of the fake people FLEW INTO MY MOUTH.” Chidi dropped the fork-bomb this week, so you know this had to have been one of Chidi’s worst weeks in the bad place. I think Michael’s got it in for him because he knows Chidi is the one that brings out the goodness in the others. Or, maybe Chidi really is getting to Michael, and Michael doesn’t like it. I hope not, because bad Michael is the best Michael.

Melissa: OMG the people bits were so gross! GAH! I think Michael targeted Chidi because 1) the was just so easy and 2) he’s resisting change. Just as I have to allow Tahani time to change (whatever, Lexie), I suppose we need to allow Michael time as well.

Roz: I think most of the first season was torturing Eleanor and Chidi together and now that there is Team Cockroach, Michael has to work on torturing in smaller groups. But Chidi is the one who wants to be the best person, even if he can’t make a choice (and thus becomes to the worst person) so it’s the lowest hanging fruit for Michael to pick.

THE GOOD PLACE — “The Trolley Problem” Episode 206 — Pictured: (l-r) Kristen Bell as Eleanor, William Jackson Harper as Chidi, Ted Danson as Michael — (Photo by: Colleen Hayes/NBC)

Lexie:will drag you all into being Tahani fans, even if I have to host a viewing party of Jameela Jamil’s wonderful time in the Bake Off tent for charity to do it, you guys. Not sure how to answer this, as this is literally what the emotional closure of the episode was about. Michael was torturing Chidi because he was pulling a Shellstrop. Chidi made him feel inadequate and therefore Chidi must pay. It led to one of my favorite conversations on the show and also to one of my favorite parallels. Eleanor seeing all of her classic moves in Michael and confronting him is one of the things that really shows the writing on this show to be a higher caliber than anything else on TV. The show allows the characters to be smart and nuanced and the conflicts to be deeper than petty insecurities over misheard conversations that too many shows rely upon.

We’ve seen multiple incarnation of Janet: bad Janet, bride Janet, blond eye candy Janet, Janet the therapist, pleading for her life Janet…which is your favorite Janet, and/or what Janet would you like to see?

Cara: I love Janet so much that I’m thinking of raiding my grandmother’s closet so that I can cosplay her. Blonde Janet is probably my favorite so far, with bad Janet from last season as a close second. I really want to see her go completely on the fritz and wreak some havoc to torment Michael.

Melissa: OMG Cara, you need to dress up as Janet for Halloween. You already have the hair and the glasses. Do iiiiiit! Also, I think we may be about to meet a new Janet: Jealous Janet.

Roz: I’m all for meeting Jealous Janet if that’s why she’s so glitchy, but I really think that perhaps because Team Cockroach is trying to get into the Good Place, Janet is having more trouble. She was meant to be the way for no one to know they were in the bad place, but they all know the gig is up.

Lexie: Who has one more thumb than Janet and loves all the Janets? This girl. Can I be shallow and say that I love all of Janet’s ensembles, too? Like she made Janette work really well, but her purple vest and patterned shirt this week makes me actually want to care about fashion for the first time in my life.

But on a more serious note, what’s up with Janet? What’s causing things to fall apart in the bad place?

Cara: Janet just spent weeks counseling Tahani and Jason, which is enough to make anyone start to crack. Then again, maybe Michael is about to be in for some real trouble.

Melissa: I think Janet is supposed to be with Jason and by counseling Tahani and Jason, strengthening their relationship, she’s glitching.

Roz: I sort of just answered it, but I think her programming is failing because she knows this is the Bad Place not the Good Place.

Lexie: Trust the Good Place to come up with the one instance where a ship is literally destroying the show and I couldn’t be more thrilled about it. Janet is supposed to be with her true love Jason and because she’s not the world will end and I love it so much. Finally a love triangle with actual consequences beyond should she pick the dark-haired abusive guy or the blond abusive guy! I love everyone in this punnily named bar, you guys.

Best line/scene?

Cara: “Sacre bleu! I peed in le pants” -Victor Hugo

Melissa: Tahani’s utter confusion as Jason explained that she needed to find someone to talk to about not talking about their relationship was a classic “Who’s on first” routine and it cracked me up.

Roz: Janet’s last line. Just the delivery with the pause and the added, “How are you?”

Lexie: “Old habits die hard….not as hard as those people you crushed on the trolley, though!” is an amazingly cheerful putdown about involuntary manslaughter, and I am here for it. But also Eleanor pleading with Chidi about being his prettiest friend–no, wait, Tahani–his nicest fri–no, wait, Jason. “I’m your friend!”

The Good Place airs Thursdays at 8:30/7:30c on NBC.

Cara spends way too much time thinking about subtext and, when not watching TV, can generally be found with her nose in a book.