'The Good Place': Can Our Heroes Make the Judge See Reason? (RECAP)
[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Season 4, Episode 10 of The Good Place, "You've Changed, Man."]
The eternal Judge Gen (Maya Rudolph) is, in many ways, somewhat human. She’s a sucker for human TV shows. She likes human food. As we find out in this episode, she’s a big fan of disco music. And, as she’s mentioned many times before, she’s got a real thing for one actor in particular.
Thankfully, in "You've Changed, Man," her pseudo-humanity might just be the group’s (and Earth’s) salvation ... if they can figure out a good plan to fix the afterlife and a way to make Gen see its validity. She's so certain of the need to destroy Earth that in order to even get her attention, the pals might just have to conjure one of her human crushes — and if his presence isn’t enough to reverse her wrath and open her mind, all of Earth will be gone in an instant. No pressure!
A Sense of Clarity
As the episode opens, Judge Gen continues searching through Janet's (D’Arcy Carden) voids for her Earth-resetter. She’s not having much luck, but that won’t keep her from trying — and if she’s continuing to try, Michael (Ted Danson) tells Janet they have to keep “playing keep away.”
Chidi's (William Jackson Harper) been silently contemplating how to fix everything wrong with the points system, but Eleanor (Kristen Bell) wants to check in with him about their relationship. He says, without hesitation, that he loves her. Sweet, but weird for Chidi, right? “When you have a thousand different versions of yourself across different timelines fused and instantly placed into your consciousness, it gives you a real sense of clarity,” Chidi says. Fair enough.
The Cruelty of Punishment
The gang gets to work figuring everything out, and it seems like Chidi already has a plan. He draws on the works of Judith Shklar and the “cruelty of punishment,” explaining that the “punishments” of the afterlife don’t fit the “crimes” people commit on Earth. They arrive at the conclusion that everyone who reaches a certain point level should get their own Medium Place. Those who don’t have enough points go to The Bad Place, and those who have accumulated way, way too many go to The Good Place.
The Good Place folks are in. The Bad Place — well, namely Shawn (Marc Evan Jackson) — is quite a bit trickier to convince, because Shawn just wants Michael to lose. Jason (Manny Jacinto) interjects that they have to give Shawn something he wants, which leads Eleanor to an epiphany: Shawn wants them. With that, they try to make a deal with the leader; if he gets on board with their new system, he can torture the four pals for eternity. Shawn almost accepts, but he still wants things his way, and The Good Place leaders will cave to him to make him happy. “Fork this!” Michael yells. “If we’re going to lose, let’s lose on our own terms. Let’s come up with a completely new idea that actually makes the universe better.”
They come up with a new plan … but the Judge isn’t willing to listen. They have to go into Janet’s void to even have a conversation with her, although Janet has that handled (she conjures Gen a Timothy Olyphant, who tells her she should hear them out). Gen summons Shawn, and they give their presentation. Eleanor suggests that life on Earth is a “class you take,” and the test comes in the afterlife to see whether improvement is possible. The number of points they accumulate on Earth would serve as a baseline for the difficulty of that test.
That test, designed by a Good Place and a Bad Place architect, would draw from a person’s biggest flaws on Earth to see if the individual can surmount them after death. At the end, the architects would explain how the person did and reboot them with a vague memory of that last conversation if they flunked, over and over again, until they pass. The Bad Place demons won’t be out of work, because they’ll help design tests.
“I don’t know guys,” Gen says. “Do you think this’ll work?” Chidi and Janet are living proof that multiple reboots and versions of oneself make a person/not-a-person better, and Gen seems to be coming around to the idea. Unfortunately, the whole thing is derailed with one word from Shawn: “Pass!”
Not Ready For It to End
Michael has one last idea for a Hail Mary of sorts, seconds before Gen erases Earth. He goes to Shawn and, upon hearing Michael has no plans left, the demon admits fighting Michael is the most fun he’s ever had. “I’m not sure I’m ready for that to end,” Shawn says. Michael says things ending is always hard, but now they need to think about what’s next. What’s next, as it turns out, is Shawn agreeing to their plan and them returning just in the nick of time to keep Gen from erasing everything. Reluctantly, she agrees to their plan and asks what the first step should be. The whole group turns to Chidi, who says, “Oh, don’t look at me. I’m just the idea guy.”
The Good Place, Thursdays, 9/8c, NBC