‘The Good Place’ Is Hitting Reset Again in a Totally Unexpected Way (RECAP)
One of the best things about The Good Place is how it retreads old ground in new ways. Much of Season 3 has been exactly that; the show returned to the Judge, to Earth, to specific people who haunted the characters and to old relationships that never got closure.
In “Chidi Sees The Time-Knife,” the show addresses those fresh regressions and more. It also sets up an exciting experiment that could doom — or save — our favorite reformed demon, Janet, and plucky, heroic humans. Hold onto your neednoggles (or rather, don’t). Things are getting forked up.
The Interdimensional Hole of Pancakes
The episode opens with the gang heading to IHOP; the Interdimensional Hole of Pancakes. Michael describes it as the crossroads for all dimensions. “Like Grand Central Station, but for space and time,” he says. He shoves a nervous Chidi through a portal first, and in turn, the rest of the group follows.
They end up in a place that can only be described as “trippy” — blue and green, shimmering portals swirl all around them and it looks like they’re in outer space. Jason chooses this setting to talk to Janet about their complicated romantic history, and suggests that he’d like her to be his girlfriend. Though Janet reiterates she isn’t a girl, she says she’d very much like to go on a date with him. Their cute moment is interrupted by the Judge’s arrival.
The Judge isn’t too pleased about the amount of rules Michael and his group have already broken, but she agrees to hear them out. When Tahani ends up with a “neednoggle” — which appears to be a giant, green, fanged slug — around her neck, the Judge modifies their reality to make it seem like they’re in a real IHOP. Much better!
Big Noodle to the Rescue
From there, Michael gives his presentation. He tells the Judge that being a good person on Earth is getting harder, and that there are many unintended consequences to people’s well-intentioned actions. The Judge, however, isn’t sympathetic to humans’ plight and says they should “do the research” before making their choices. His initial argument derailed, Michael starts doing the Floss Dance to put the Judge in a better mood.
It doesn’t work, but surprisingly, Jason’s story about a man from his dance crew named “Big Noodle” — who was always late to dance practice because he had to take care of his four elderly grandparents — gets the Judge to reconsider. She can’t judge humans because she doesn’t know what they go through.
To remedy the problem, the Judge goes down to Earth to experience human life. She returns to the group and qualifies their assertions; it’s incredibly hard to be a good person and make good choices as a human. Now understanding their plight, she decides it’s time to solve the problem and summons Michael’s old boss from the Bad Place, Shawn.
Go Medium or Go Home
The Judge modifies their reality again so that they’re in a conference room, and they discuss whether or not humans are better than the point system shows. Michael’s rebuttal to Shawn is that his four humans got better in the afterlife, over and over again, but Shawn says he has no proof because Michael didn’t keep track of their points.
Chidi, after falling through a portal and being rescued by Janet, suggests a worthy solution — they should repeat Michael’s initial “Good Place” experiment with different people and see if they get the same results. Eleanor solves the problem of the neighborhood’s location, and the whole group goes to see Mindy St. Clair. Mindy’s okay with the experiment as long as she’s left out of it.
Of course, being at Mindy’s entails running into Derek, which makes Jason a little uncomfortable. Janet tells him not to worry about her “son-rebound booty call,” but she finds Mindy’s half a million Derek reboots have made him more advanced. Poor Jason ends up getting a little jealous.
The Old Bad Good Place
Later, the Judge outlines the rules for the experiment. Michael gets to design the neighborhood, the Bad Place gets to pick the people (but they have to be around the same level of “badness” as the original four), there can’t be any reboots and Michael will have only five minutes of time with each human’s file before he must welcome them to “the Good Place.” He will be allowed to change the neighborhood if he wants. Both Michael and Shawn have “a billion objections,” which the Judge says makes it a fair plan.
Janet volunteers to create the residents, and the Judge says they’ll have a year of Earth time for the experiment, during which she’ll be monitoring the residents’ progress. Shawn and Michael shake hands, and Janet gets to work building a neighborhood that looks much like the old one — complete with Chidi and Eleanor’s old house. When Chidi asks her why she wanted Janet to rebuild a place that was meant to torture her, she says that was the place they fell in love. “Why mess with success?” she says. Awwwwwww!
Things aren’t getting any easier for Jason, as far as dealing with Derek goes. When Janet realizes how hard it is to make people Derek volunteers his help, and Janet accepts. Jason looks crestfallen.
Unfortunately, Michael’s not in for smooth sailing, either. Right before the first experimental human resident arrives, he gets a call from Shawn. The demon’s mind games don’t have an effect on him until he sees one of the newest Bad Place creations: a suit made to look exactly like him. Shawn says that when the experiment fails, Michael’s human friends will be tortured by a demon wearing the Michael suit. It’s a testament to how far his character has come that this genuinely rattles him, and he’s nowhere near the right headspace to start the experiment when Eleanor walks in to help him prepare.
With only five minutes to look at the new human’s file, Michael gets progressively less intelligible. When John, the new human, wakes up, Michael still isn’t ready for him and has a breakdown. Despite Eleanor’s best attempts to calm her friend, he says he can’t do it. A panicked Eleanor is left staring at the door and listening to the first human in their experiment say, “Hello?”
- Chidi seemed pretty shaken by the time-knife, which he saw when he fell through the portal in the IHOP. I wonder if that’ll come back into play somehow or if it was just a one-off joke?
- Poor Michael! I wonder if Eleanor will have to step up and welcome John to “The Good Place.”
- Ted Danson was absolutely stellar throughout this episode. His acting as Vicki in the Michael suit was hilarious, as was his dancing to cheer up the Judge (which didn’t work, but at least he tried).
- I was hoping we’d see Derek again if the experiment was being set in the Medium Place, and we did! I get tired of the constant drama surrounding Janet and Jason, though — here’s hoping that storyline gets resolved soon.
- The next episode is titled “Pandemonium,” which probably doesn’t bode well for the rest of this experiment.
The Good Place, Thursdays, 9:30/8:30c, NBC