THE GOOD PLACE Roundtable: Somewhere Else
The Good Place wrapped up another stellar season and we have some thoughts.
Do you like how they “resolved” being in the Bad Place?
Roz: For what they ended up doing with all of them, I think it was as good a resolution to the Bad Place as possible. We saw that even the all-knowing beings maybe got it wrong so long ago and that they’re willing to change. That’s better than Dante ever imagined…
Lexie: Gosh, I love how this show is unafraid to reset itself. Growing up, my favorite books where the Boxcar Children series, which were great when written by the original author. The oldest boy, Henry, went all the way through high school and into college. The youngest was nearly in fifth grade by the time the rights were sold and ghostwriters took over. What they did was reset Benny to be permanently five years old, and it was a drag after awhile because nothing changed. The Good Place doesn’t fear that. At the end of the first season, we got a huge twist that redefined everything. The second season was all about transit and growth, even with the memory resets. And now they’re brave enough to do yet another memory reset? I love these writers.
Cay: I’m assuming we’ll get to see what each one of them is doing. OMG, Jason is going to be hilarious! It’s very clever! The writing this season has just been top notch – this is the only comedy that I watch and I’m rarely disappointed. It’s one of the few shows on TV that I honestly laugh at. I find most sitcoms cringeworthy.
Melissa: Yeah, it makes sense based on the previous two seasons, but it’s still a reset that opens up stories for another 12 episodes. I loved Michael’s argument that his experiment in The Bad Place proved that we are NOT the sum of our actions while we’re alive, that there is always room for growth and improvement if we’re given the chance. I mean, he’s arguing that humans are basically good and who could have predicted that from Michael at the beginning of the season???
Cara: I just have to say, I totally called it! But, more seriously, I think it was the best direction ( and probably only direction) for the show to go. As Melissa said, it opens them up for something new that also gives possibilities for the future. This risks making the show a much less innovative show, but I have high hopes that it’ll be as excellent and surprising as it has been.
Do you think being good depends on Eleanor and Chidi being together? Are they really soul mates?
Roz: I think Chidi makes Eleanor her best – and most good – self, so for her to really be good for an extended period of time, she needs him to keep her in check.
Lexie: I think it’s more complex than “being good depends on being with another person.” Eleanor had enough drive on her own to start out and showed a great deal of mental and emotional strength in separating herself from clearly toxic friends, but she ultimately stumbled and needed an assist because she didn’t have great resources around her. And I think that’s one of the most human and wonderful things about this show, in that it doesn’t regress everything down to romantic relationships but to human ones. John Donne, eat your heart out. Eleanor didn’t need Chidi at first so much as she needed the philosophical boost. Kind of a guiding arrow, if you will, provided Cheersfully by Michael himself. But on the flipside of that coin is my little shipper heart, which adores any couple that crosses continents/universes/the good place & the bad place for each other. So I like the pull and I like that Chidi makes Eleanor more into the person she wants to be, but I do think it’s not so much that Eleanor being good depends on Chidi wholly. Eleanor being good depends on Eleanor, too. And Michael. And Tahani, and Jason. No team cockroach member is an island, indeed.
Cay: Although Eleanor was the only one to actually pass the judge’s test. I think she overall has the most self-realization and self control. I saw I, Tonya last week and while it obviously has a bias, it did make me think of how much your upbringing affects the adult that you become. The flashbacks we’ve seen of Eleanor’s childhood remind me of Tonya’s. As for whether her and Chidi belong together, opposites attract, right?
Melissa: I think we’re being set up for season 3 to be all about nature vs nurture, which is what Lexie and Cay both referenced above. Eleanor needs Chidi because he provides not just romantic love, but the moral philosophy knowledge Eleanor craves. I’m not entirely sure what Jason and Tahani bring to the table for her, but I do think Eleanor brings resourcefulness and sometimes brutal honesty to Team Cockroach which the other three need if they’re going to make a success out of their respective second chances.
Cara: I agree that Eleanor needs something or someone to help her learn that she can be different, and Chidi works so well in that role. I also think that Chidi needs someone like Eleanor to knock him of his moral philosophy high horse from time to time and show him that perhaps understanding ethics isn’t the same as being ethical. And, I’m on board for romance too.
What’s next for Michael? He is still a demon, right?
Roz: Well, we know that each of the four of them was in their own Medium Place so maybe he and Janet have to watch everyone else to make sure they get reunited as a quartet sooner rather than later.
Lexie: Absolutely no idea but I’m so pumped to find out. I can’t imagine Shawn won’t have some kind of retribution for him, and can you imagine Janet and Michael running around and trying to help out Team Cockroach on earth? Janet becoming kind of like Gilmore Girls’ Kirk in that she has eleventy billion jobs would be A+++ in my book.
Cay: I find myself wondering who is actually in charge of the Bad Place AND the Good Place – traditional God and Satan, just God, something/one else other than electronic scorecards or ticker tape machines? Maybe Michael can appeal to a higher power or it will recognize his struggles. He’s been acting very un-demon like.
Melissa: He’s becoming the benevolent architect he pretended to be in the beginning, right? Monitoring the humans, but Eleanor in particular. Giving a (literal) push or a timely word of advice when needed. I have a hard time actually predicting anything on this show because the writers are wildly creative and so many steps ahead, so I’ll just guess that he, too, will continue to grow as a person…demon…thing.
Cara: I can’t predict what’s next for Michael, but I really, really really want to see him spend some time in the human world.
Roz: I’m probably showing how much I loved Cheers, but Michael (Ted Danson) behind that bar brought be back to the 80s and early 90s in the best way possible.
Lexie: I’m gonna emotionally hurt Cay and say that I loved loved loved the scene we got at the beginning where Tahani and Eleanor just have a quiet little moment and talk about Tahani facing down her parents. See, shows? IT IS NOT HARD TO PASS THE BECHDEL-WALLACE TEST. IT’S REALLY NOT. But I’ll admit it: I screamed out loud when Chidi kissed Eleanor. My dog was Very Concerned.
Cay: haha, I was so annoyed at Tahani that she didn’t have the self-control to walk past that door, even though she was told it was the key to her salvation! I liked the kiss, too. Nice to see Chidi reciprocate after how he reacted when she told him that they had been lovers. I think Chidi needs Eleanor more than she needs him.
Melissa: I still maintain that Tahani did not fail by going into the room with her parents. What she drew from that encounter was vital to her personal growth. But back to this episode…her conversation with Eleanor was definitely a highlight, as was Chidi finally shutting down the garbage disposal in his mind and kissing Eleanor already. Maya Rudolph and Ted Danson, tho! Oh, I hope Maya is back for season 3!
Cara: I need to give a nod to Jason’s call back dibs moment, but my favorite was our gals. The Tahani and Eleanor moment was so endearing, especially when Eleanor got in one last eye role at Tahani. High fives to Chidi for making a decision and acting on it, though. Hot diggity dog!
The Good Place airs on NBC