Jason Goes Home to Jacksonville on 'The Good Place' (RECAP)

Emily Hannemann
Spoiler Alert Colleen Hayes/NBC

"BORTLES!"

Surprisingly, that iconic Jason Mendoza quote isn't said by him during The Good Place's "The Ballad of Donkey Doug" — it's said by Donkey Doug himself, who is also, shockingly, Jason's dad.

Let that sink in for a minute.

Donkey Doug, who walked off Jason's dance crew, who isn't allowed in to Disney World because he bit Buzz Lightyear, who answers the door during this episode with a bong in his hand, is Jason's dad. Explains a lot, doesn't it? Despite his father's seedy history and less-than-amicable relationship with the law, Jason wants to save him from eternal damnation. (Awwwwwwww.)

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This would be a decent idea if his dad/dance crew member wasn't so dedicated to building his get-rich-quick schemes on the foundation of crime. Meanwhile, Chidi's suffering with some relationship troubles, which Eleanor and Janet use technology and good old-fashioned advice to help him through.

Trouble in Paradise

The episode opens with Chidi, Eleanor and Janet contemplating who they’ll save, since Michael, Tahani and Jason have gone to Jacksonville to save Jason’s father. As it turns out, they’re not going to save anyone, or at least not right away. Chidi still has to break up with Simone, in order to protect her from finding out about the points system.

Of course, Chidi’s none too excited about this. He doesn’t actually want to break up with Simone, but feels obligated to terminate their relationship so he doesn’t accidentally doom her to eternal damnation. How romantic! To help him figure out what he’s going to say, Janet builds him a simulator that’ll place him in the exact moment when he needs to tell Simone it’s over.

Breaking Up Is Hard to Do

This does not go well. Chidi can’t figure out a way to let her down easy, and even getting Eleanor to do it for him is no help. After what can be assumed is several hours’ worth of trial and error, the (former, newly-fired from the university) moral philosophy professor is ready to get it over with. But when he meets Simone at the café to do the deed, they’re interrupted by overbearing waiters and his patience evaporates. “Ya dumped!” he tells her, which is about as gentle and soft as sandpaper.

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Simone leaves the café, and back at the university, Chidi’s feeling pretty guilty about what he did. With Eleanor’s encouragement, he works up the will to talk things out with Simone a second time, and when he freaks out over the neuroscientist telling him, “I guess I’ll see you in another life,” she decides parting ways might be for the best.

Donkey Dad

Most of the episode revolves around Jason’s quest to save his dad. Tahani, Michael and Jason fly to Jacksonville with the plan of inspiring Donkey Doug to revisit his career as an electrician — something he had been good at, once upon a time, but now spends most of his days testing out get-rich-quick schemes.

The team meets Doug at his apartment, where he invites them in and, naturally, tells them all about his new harebrained scheme for success. He’s involved Jason’s friend Pillboi in it, and is calling his new brainchild, an energy drink-body spray combo, “Double Trouble.” Doug is convinced this is the idea that’ll make him a rich man, and he’s hurt when his son doesn’t show faith in him.

Saving Pillboi

Michael and Tahani eventually decide to play along with Doug’s misplaced sense of self-confidence, until they learn he’s planning to rob three factories (a body spray factory, an energy drink factory and a bottle factory) in order to start production. After conversing with Jason, they decide it might be too late to save Doug’s soul, but it isn’t too late for Pillboi.

From there, the group splits up. Tahani detains Pillboi at his work at the retirement home, where they inform him he won’t be robbing the factories. Jason, then, finds his dad at a factory and starts talking to him, but the police show up. Donkey Doug heroically distracts the police so that Jason can get away, saying, “It’s what my dad did for me, and his dad for him.”

Jason, Tahani and Michael manage to trick Pillboi into being a good person by telling him they’re from NASA (“secret astronaut spies,” as Jason put it). Michael tells him that his mission is to help the elderly as much as he can and not commit any more crimes. Jason and his friend share an emotional goodbye.

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One More Surprise

It wouldn’t be The Good Place if there wasn’t another twist coming. At the end of the episode the whole group has reunited in Budapest for the opening of Kamilah’s art gallery, where Tahani plans to reconcile with her snobbish sister. Jason’s happy he got closure with his dad, while Eleanor laments that she’ll never have that opportunity: both of her parents are dead. Or are they?

Michael and Janet reveal a shocking truth. Eleanor’s mom is still alive! When she supposedly “died,” she had just faked her death — a true Shellstrop move.

“I’m sorry, Tahani, I don’t think I’ll be able to stay with you here in Budapest,” Eleanor says. “Turns out my mom isn’t dead, so I need to fly back to America. To murder her.”

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Stray Observations

  • Donkey Doug explains so, so much about Jason. Really, that was all the explanation for Jason we ever needed.
  • For something that was a major plot point in earlier episodes, I was surprised by how quickly Larry Hemsworth was swept under the rug. Poor guy.
  • It looks like next week’s episode will continue being all about family redemptions: specifically, Eleanor’s and Tahani’s. I’m looking forward to the Al-Jamil reunion already.

The Good Place, Thursdays, 8:30/7:30c, NBC

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