DISCLAIMER: This recap of The Good Place contains more spoilers than the number of times Janet has procured various types of cacti from thin air. She’s a big fan of cacti. You’ve been warned. Have a pleasant afterlife, and enter at your own risk.
Welcome, Afterlife-rs! The Good Place debuted its second season with an hour long episode. Boy, did I miss this show. As per usual, everyone was on their A-game. Our quartet found themselves back in The Good Place, bereft of memories. Michael continued to hone his plan and make sure that every moving part acts accordingly so he doesn’t get tortured for all eternity. Shawn the Eternal Judge is still Shawn the Eternal Judge.
Ready to delve into tonight’s forking premiere? Everything may seem great, but trust me, shirt is about to hit the fan.
We open with Michael (Ted Danson) talking to Shawn the Eternal Judge (Marc Evan Jackson) regarding Version 2.0 of the former’s plan to torture our quartet for all eternity. Shawn seems skeptical in the execution of said plan. He reminds Michael that the minute things go south our architect will be fated to retirement, and we all know what “retirement” is actually like. Yes, he’ll be doomed to burn on the surface of a billion suns.
Later, we see Michael speaking to a crowd gathered in the neighborhood square. Said crowd are all in on the Eleanor/Chidi/Tahani/Jason torture plan. “Real” Eleanor (Tiya Sircar) is upset that her character is now called Denise. Just when she was really nailing “Real” Eleanor, Michael decides to change things up. Well, I guess our Eleanor is actually the only one now. Anyway, Michael reveals that our quartet will not be soulmates with each other, but they’ll have different life partners. They’ll also live separate lives. Michael reminds the bunch that no physical torture (including biting) is allowed.
Meanwhile, Eleanor (Kristen Bell) is standing in her home after Janet takes her leave. She’s studying the note she left herself, wondering who the fork a Chidi is. Then, she sets out in search of our Chidi. After interacting with a couple and getting nowhere in her search, Eleanor stumbles upon none other than Jason (Manny Jacinto). He’s currently playing the “quiet Tibetan monk” in order to avoid detection. Jason hands Eleanor and bicycle part, and she mistakes it for something of symbolic value.
Suddenly, Michael swoops in and carries Eleanor away from Jason. He informs Eleanor that since she garnered the most points out of everyone in The Good Place she is deemed The Best Person. Michael asks her to give a speech at the neighborhood housewarming party. Of course, Michael’s diabolical plan involves getting Eleanor good and drunk so her speech will take a disastrous turn. Drinking and speeches go so well together, though!
Later, Eleanor arrives at the party with her soulmate Chris (Luke Guldan) in tow. Every time she attempts to confess something personal to Chris he immediately pops off his shirt and “goes to the gym.” Such an intimate fellow, that one. Anyway, Eleanor is ambushed by a handful of residents that try to persuade her to drink, as it’s part of Michael’s devious scheme. However, our girl doesn’t take their bait, but does decide to pour some shots for herself at the bar.
Next, she overhears someone speak Chidi’s name. She approaches Chidi (William Jackson Harper) and is instantly grateful that the latter is not a type of soup. Eleanor urges Chidi to go with her to someplace private so they can talk.
Flashback time! Now, Chidi has just “arrived” at The Good Place. Michael gives him the standard “You’ve made it to paradise” spiel. Then, he informs Chidi that not only does he have a soulmate, he matched with three other people. Michael tasks Chidi with choosing who he’ll spend the rest of eternity with. Such a massive decision! Chidi instantly bonds with Angelique (Paulina Bugembe) and is about to choose her when Michael barges in. He informs the quartet that the system made an initial error – Chidi does in fact have a singular soulmate, and it’s not Angelique. Sad day.
Later, Chidi runs into Angelique at the party and awkwardness abounds. Chidi asks Janet (D’Arcy Carden) to show him to the bar. Then, Eleanor ushers him into a separate room so they can talk privately. She shows Chidi the note she wrote and explains how Janet gave it to her. Chidi, one for absolute realism, is incredulous about it all and brushes Eleanor off.
Flashback time again! Tahani (Jameela Jamil) is being welcomed by Michael to paradise. He introduces Tahani to her new soulmate, Tomas. Tahani notices that he’s much shorter than her, but tries not to let it bother her. Then, Michael takes the couple to their new home. Our architect reduced said home to only one floor since an activist like Tahani doesn’t need frivolous things…or so he thinks. Tahani internally objects to the whole affair but tries to play along.
Later, Tahani arrives at the party with Tomas, dressed down in cargo pants and a denim jacket. Lumberjack chic indeed. Michael approaches Tahani and she confesses that she’s unhappy with her living arrangements. The architect vows to restore her home to her liking, and that he’s more than happy to accommodate Tahani with whatever she needs. Aw, such a sweet and devious puppet master.
Next, Michael introduces Eleanor prior to her speech. Before she can get any further than the dictionary definition of “best,” Tahani barges in, casting Eleanor aside. Tahani is fueled by the many shots Eleanor gave her beforehand. Eleanor attempts to politely guide Tahani away. However, Tahani attempts to rid Eleanor of her “Best Person” sash but instead topples over, knocking down a table of h’orderves and inadvertently starting a fire. That’s how you really party.
Flashback time (one more time)! Jason begins Version 2.0 in Michael’s office. Michael introduces Jason to his newfound soulmate Luang (Hayden Szeto), who’s also a Tibetan monk bound by a vow of silence. Well, we of course know this dude is acting and he’s privy to Michael’s diabolical scheme. Anyway, Luang commences living with Jason in a yurt. Jason is driven to insanity with the silence and Luang never leaving his side. Jason, after meeting Eleanor, fiddles with Luang’s bike and leaves him in the town square.
Later, Jason and Luang arrive at the party in matching robes. Michael orders Janet to bestow upon the soulmates with the best yak’s milk she can find. Jason stares longingly at Eleanor pouring shots (he really wants the shots). Then, we flash forward to Tahani crashing Eleanor’s speech and catching part of the house ablaze. You know, the house she used to own and covets. Michael questions what the fork is going on, and we see him retrace his steps.
Then, we see Michael interact with everyone: Eleanor, Chidi, Tahani and Jason. At the party, our architect is checking in with his little agents of chaos, making sure everything is going off without a hitch. He even tells Denise/”Real Fake” Eleanor to do whatever she wishes. So, Denise decides to have a limp, as you do.
Now, back to the Tahani scene. After the fire is started and the party descends into madness, Chidi pulls Eleanor aside. He recognizes the book Eleanor wrote her message in as one that he owns and teaches with. Chidi starts to believe that perhaps they’ve known each other this whole time.
Meanwhile, Michael meets with his little devils and attempts to alleviate the situation. He orders his minions to hunt down Eleanor, Jason, Chidi and Tahani. The plan must continue on. Wow, evil Michael is evil.
Later, Chidi is at Eleanor’s house. She confesses that she doesn’t belong in The Good Place. Chidi ponders on his own moral worth, and whether he also belongs elsewhere. Both of our former soulmates know they must keep their knowledge from Michael at all costs.
Meanwhile, Jason runs into Janet outside. He finally speaks up, and confesses that he doesn’t want to return to his “yogurt” (the yurt) with Luang. Janet listens intently, giving Jason her undivided attention. Jason then hugs her, since she was so nice to him. That makes them friends. Aw, see how even with erased memories the Jason/Janet ship will never sink?
Then, Michael shows up at Eleanor’s house under the guise of making sure everyone is okay after the fire. Tahani also appears, giving Eleanor her sash back. Jason winds up with them after Janet drops him off. The gang’s all here! Then, our quartet’s soulmates appear and attempt to lure them back in. Eleanor once again puts two and two together, discovering that they’re really in The Bad Place and that Michael is evil.
Michael learns that Eleanor’s note is what propelled the whole situation, and allowed them to figure out the plan so quickly. He vows to never allow something so juvenile as a note slip through the cracks again. Eleanor attempts to furiously shove said note inside her mouth, but fails. Michael snaps his fingers and they’re back to Square One.
Now, Michael and Janet are standing in front of a crowd. “Third time’s the charm,” Michael tells them. He demonstrates that Janet is note-free by jamming his hand down her throat. Michael encourages his fellow Bad Placers to continue the charade and make our quartet miserable. Later, Michael informs Shawn of his plan’s success, fibbing by telling the Eternal Judge that everything is running smoothly. Shawn reminds him there will be no Version 3.0. Michael then ushers Eleanor into his office for a third time.
Holy shirt, I’m so excited that The Good Place is back! Not only was this my favorite new comedy from last year, but the sheer brilliance behind the show’s mythology is astounding. I love me some intricate world building. Not to mention, Ted Danson makes a fantastic baddie (that you love) and Kristen Bell is always worth the watch. I’m ready for more laughs, NBC. Bring it on.
Do you think our quartet will be able to break the viscous memory loss cycle? Will Michael eventually retire? How many times will our gang have to keep finding each other? Do you think we’ll see The Medium Place again? How about the real, genuine Good Place? Guess we’ll have to keep watching. See you next week for more forking madness!
The Good Place airs Thursdays at 8:30pm on your NBC affiliate.
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