Michael and Janet Meet an Afterlife Legend on ‘The Good Place’ (RECAP)
This week’s The Good Place introduced viewers — well, and Michael and Janet — to a true celebrity in the show’s lore: Doug Forcett.
For those who might not know, Doug Forcett is a celebrity in the great beyond due to his incredibly accurate prediction of the afterlife points system and the existence of Good and Bad Places. Sure, he probably only hit the nail on the head because he’d taken some shrooms that night, but he still did it. To Michael, the zany accuracy is what matters.
“Don’t Let The Good Life Pass You By” sends Michael and Janet to visit an aging Doug in rural Canada, while it sees Eleanor struggle with whether or not to tell Chidi about reboot 119 and her feelings for him. Unbeknownst to them, they’re also being pursued by a veritable army of Bad Place demons. Things are about to get royally, um, forked.
The Perfect Model
The episode opens with Doug going about his daily life: making tea, reading a book titled The Most Good You Can Do, maintaining his solar panels, picking and eating radishes and seemingly logging his good deeds in a notebook. He hears a knock on his door and goes to answer it, finding Michael and Janet — who claim to be reporters — on his front doorstep. They say they want to do a story about his life for the local paper, and once he determines the paper is printed on recycled material, he agrees and lets them in.
Doug re-explains how he came to the conclusion that he had to live a “perfect life”: he and his friend got high on magic mushrooms, and his friend asked him what he thought happened after they die. He chides himself for not asking them if they’d like anything to eat or drink, and Michael and Janet both choose his offer of water. When he leaves, Michael freaks out. “For a celebrity, he’s amazingly down-to-earth,” he says. “Stars, they really are just like us.”
Michael says they have to learn everything that “makes him tick,” so they can use that information to help others. Doug returns with their waters, which Michael notes have an interesting aftertaste; this aftertaste is likely because, as Doug explains, he doesn’t want to take water from the animals and thus treats his urine to be drinkable. Michael and Janet stop drinking.
A Happiness Pump
Meanwhile Eleanor, Chidi, Tahani and Jason are hanging out at “The Puking Moose,” a saloon where they’re relaxing while Michael and Janet interview Doug. Jason asks Chidi to play a game of pool with him, and when they’re gone Eleanor asks Tahani for advice about Chidi.
While Chidi and Jason play a game of Jacksonville-style pool (you throw the balls with your hands and make up your points at the end of your turn), Eleanor tells Tahani about what happened in reboot 119. She’s not sure if she should tell him what happened, and Tahani says if she wants what happened in the past to happen again in the present, she should. “It’s never a bad idea to tell someone how you feel,” the heiress says.
Michael and Janet walk around Doug’s place with him, and slowly, they begin to see some abnormalities forming in the way he interacts with the world. He only eats radishes and lentils, he saves every stray dog that wanders onto his property (even when they injure him), and most of all, he’ll do anything a snide local teen asks of him if it’ll make the kid happy, which is how Doug ends up missing a shoe and doing the kid’s laundry.
Therein lies the trouble with living life the way Doug does: his central philosophy is that his actions must cause happiness, even if he makes himself utterly miserable in the process. Janet tries to explain this to Michael using one of Chidi’s lessons, calling Doug a “happiness pump”: someone who is obsessed with maximizing the overall good at his or her expense. Things start to go sideways when Doug appears with lipstick all over his forehead and cheeks. He’s volunteered to test cosmetics so animals aren’t tested, but it’s excruciatingly painful for him. The “journalists” say they have to head out and have everything they need, but Doug makes the grave mistake of calling Michael the wrong name and sends himself into an outburst and downward spiral that ends with him stepping on one of the snails from his garden. The horror!
The Only Rational Way To Live
Eleanor approaches Chidi as he plays pool and they sit down at a table, but before she can get the truth out, she sees Bambadjan — one of Shawn’s demons — walk into the bar. She realizes the place is filled with demons, and tries to get them all out without incident. Jason wants to do things “the old-fashioned way” and makes a Molotov cocktail, but before he can throw it, Vicki and Bambadjan restrain him and Shawn walks in. “Where’s Michael?” he asks.
Doug’s holding a funeral for the slug, which he has posthumously named “Martin Luther Gandhi Tyler Moore.” At Doug’s request, Michael gives a brief eulogy. When the funeral ends, Doug says he has to leave because he decided to make a donation to the Canadian Mollusk Association, and will be walking there over the next several weeks. Incredulous, Michael says they have a few more questions for him and try to give him some advice. He tells Doug he should have enough points to make it to the Good Place by now, and should live his life and relax.
Doug appreciates the advice, but won’t take it. He says there are accountants measuring his point totals (which is true), and he fears doing something that would lose him enough points to get him tortured for all eternity. “It’s the only rational way to live,” he says.
Back at the bar, Shawn’s keeping the humans around long enough to see the look on Michael’s face when he arrives and realizes he’s been beaten. Eleanor insists Michael won’t even come back to the bar, but of course, he does. Janet starts a fight, and one by one, they manage to throw all the “henchmen” demons back through the door to the afterlife. While all of this is going on, Eleanor confesses her knowledge of the Bad Place and her feelings to Chidi, who doesn’t have a chance to respond before they’re nearly dragged to the Bad Place by Shawn. Janet saves them, and they tie Shawn up.
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They interrogate the demon, who makes some interesting comments about the nature of the points system. He says the Bad Place is going to get all the humans, their loved ones and even Doug Forcett; when Michael asks how he would know that, Shawn says he “has a hunch.” Michael kicks him through the door to the afterlife, then confesses to the gang that he thinks there’s something wrong with the way the points system evaluates humans. He proposes that he and Janet go to the accountants to gather evidence, while Eleanor and the rest of the soul squad stay at Doug’s house. This is a fine plan for about ten seconds, until more demons show up.
In a split-second, Janet makes the decision to take the group into her void. She isn’t sure whether they can survive there, but it’s better than being dragged to the Bad Place. She tells them they’ll die when she tries to transport them, and tells them to say goodbye to Earth.
“Goodbye, Earth!” Jason yells.
“Wait,” Chidi says. “Did you just say we’re gonna d—“
They transport away, to whatever mystery awaits them in Janet’s void… assuming they’ve survived.
- That wasn’t the first funeral Doug held for an animal. Other posthumously-named critters include “Rosa Parks the deer tick,” “Franklin Delano raccoon” and “Abraham Lincoln Einstein Mandela goose.”
- Assuming the four humans don’t die — I assume they won’t — it’ll be interesting to see what Janet’s void is really like. Will Judge Gen know they’ve come back from Earth? Will the demons tell her?
- The humans messed things up when they returned from the afterlife; will everything click back into place now that they’re gone?
- Now that they’re no longer saving people on Earth, I wonder what the “Soul Squad” will call itself now. So far we’ve had Team Cockroach and The Brainy Bunch…what’s next?
The Good Place, Thursdays, 8/7c, NBC