DISCLAIMER: This recap of The Good Place contains more spoilers than the number of times Janet has been upgraded. She’s right – she really is the best version of herself. You’ve been warned. Brace yourselves for The Bad Place, and enter at your own peril.
Welcome back, Afterlife-rs! The Good Place returned this week with a smattering of self-reflection as Team Cockroach prepared to leave Michael’s neighborhood behind. There was laughter, joy, fear, booze, booze and, well, copious amounts of booze. Let’s just say my girl Eleanor did things the “Shellstrop way” – she ignored the issue at hand and washed her hands of said issue with an overabundance of alcohol. A girl after my own heart. Oh, and Michael was dubbed an Honorary Human, which had the demon tickled pink (which is quite a change from his customary red).
Alright, ready to delve into “Best Self?” Just be sure to please allow Jason to ride shotgun. Otherwise he’ll sulk the whole trip.
We open with Team Cockroach emerging from the train station. The Bad Place demons just evacuated. Eleanor (Kristen Bell) suggests they high tail it out of there before Shawn discovers they’re not actually in The Medium Place. Michael (Ted Danson), however, is reticent. They need time to prepare their escape to The Good Place. Chidi (William Jackson Harper), Tahani (Jameela Jamil) and Jason (Manny Jacinto) are all in agreement with their fearless leader Eleanor.
Thus, Michael unveils an apparatus meant to deliver them to The Good Place. It’s one he’s been tirelessly designing for at least several reboots of his grand plan. And, much to Jason’s chagrin, it’s not Optimus Prime, and he can’t ride shotgun. I know. I’m just as bummed as you are, Jason. Anyway, with a wave of Janet’s (D’Arcy Carden) hand, a golden hot air balloon descends from the sky. They can ride to The Good Place in style!
Now, here’s the catch: our foursome must step on a scale that will determine if they’re the best versions of themselves. If it turns out they aren’t, they won’t be granted access to the hot air balloon. Makes sense. So, each human steps on the scale. Eleanor, Jason and Tahani enter the balloon with a whiz of flashing green lights. However, when Chidi steps on the scale the light turns a glaring red. Uh oh.
Later, Team Cockroach pulls the distraught Chidi aside as he attempts to suss out his emotions. He ponders whether this version of Chidi really is the best version. Michael did reboot them 802 times. Perhaps a better Chidi existed in one of the previous versions. Eleanor pacifies him by reminding him that Team Cockroach are all collectively better for his ethical wisdom. Aw, how sweet. If Chidi could turn them all into better people, who’s to say he’s not his best self? Self doubt is a killer, y’all.
Next, our team assembles before the scale once more. This time Chidi passes through with a green light. Yay! However, Eleanor encounters a red light. Apparently, Chidi’s self doubt was contagious and now Eleanor is doubting herself. She reveals that her best self existed whenever she divulged her feelings to Chidi after their horizontal tango. You know, Eleanor in reboot #119. Eleanor asks Michael to inform them of how her relationship with Chidi came to be in that version of his plan. It progressed from her merely anticipating his needs. Sometimes that’s all it takes to fall in love.
Then, Michael reveals that Shawn will send them to the real Bad Place for all eternity and he’ll be forced to retire, should this all go to shirt. Tahani votes the ones who were greenlit be allowed initial passage to The Good Place, while the red light folk follow at a later time. However, Eleanor believes they should all stick together and solve this problem the Shellstrop way – by ignoring it and drinking way too much. Sounds like a plan! She urges Janet to bring them the finest booze she can find.
Later, Tahani and Jason are at a table, squeezing in some alone time. Tahani decides to put the kibosh on their relationship, which saddens me. I just want her to be forking happy! However, Jason still has a lot of unresolved feelings for Janet, so this move makes sense. Jason respects Tahani’s wishes.
Meanwhile, Eleanor reveals she truly does have feelings for Chidi, even though she knows they aren’t reciprocated. Chidi responds by telling her that it is literal hell in his head – a constant, pervasive grinding. His many fears overpower everything else. He wishes they met under better, less peculiar circumstances – like a philosophy lecture, for example. Not everything is about waxing philosophical, dude.
Later, our Team Cockroach rallies together to toast each other – amidst their obvious flaws, they’re trying their best, which is what it’s really all about. Finally, they collectively toast Michael, who’s made the biggest strides toward self-improvement out of everyone. They dub him an Honorary Human, and my heart melts. He’s handed a “Human Starter Kit,” which contains unnecessary items like a stress ball, band-aids and car keys to lose. Michael is tickled pink. Next, our crew proceeds to dance their bums off on the dance floor. Janet even demonstrates her spectacular moon walk. Chidi and Eleanor slow dance and the sparks are flying, let me tell you.
Then, everyone is sprawled out on a picnic blanket and laughing themselves silly as Michael recounts humorous tales from various reboots of his plan. Now faced with the prospect of spending an eternity being tortured, Team Cockroach wonders aloud over what their own respective hell scenarios will be like. Tahani muses that perhaps there is someone higher up she can speak to – a “manager” of sorts. This can’t be the end. Michael reveals there is a Judge in The Bad Place that hears cases like this one, but they’d have to travel through the actual Bad Place undetected to get there. Of course, the Judge would have to be swayed to their cause, especially after they unconventionally seek him out. Eleanor says “fork it,” and throws caution to the wind. Michael, enamored by her human spirit, agrees to accompany them on this new endeavor.
However, Shawn has discovered they’re not in The Medium Place. He reaches out to Michael and urges the architect to abandon ship – destroy the neighborhood by the morning. A train will arrive to pick him up, along with Team Cockroach. Shawn plans to torture the shirt out of them. Uh oh. Busted! This means their escape is all the more crucial.
Next, Team Cockroach says goodbye to their neighborhood. Michael finds Bad Janet waiting for him at the train station and disables her functions, thus turning her into a marble. He boards the train along with our quartet, with Good Janet at the helm. They leave the neighborhood behind, and we see it slowly crumble away. Now, off to the real Bad Place to seek out the Judge!
The Good Place never fails to make me smile. It’s proven itself to be a surprisingly in-depth look into the human spirit, and this episode was no different. “Best Self” is an examination into how each core character has grown over the course of the series. Michael, naturally, had the most progression and was awarded for such. Wit, wisdom and booze flowed aplenty. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the main actors are all fantastic performers, accompanied by top-notch writing.
What do you think the real Bad Place will be like? Will we see the return of Adam Scott‘s character? Will Shawn eventually find them? How will Michael smuggle them in to see the Judge? Will Chidi just admit that he loves Eleanor already? Join me next week as I continue to recap The Good Place, here on Geek Girl Authority.
The Good Place airs Thursdays at 8:30pm on your NBC affiliate.