DISCLAIMER: This recap of The Good Place contains more spoilers than the number of times Good Janet practiced being Bad Janet. A tiger can’t change its stripes, unfortunately. You’ve been warned. Prepare for The Bad Place, and enter at your own eternal peril.
Welcome back, Team Cockroach! The Good Place returned this week with a jam-packed installment, topped with an emotional cliffhanger. Our heroes ventured undercover into the authentic Bad Place, since the portal to the Judge is nestled within Bad Place headquarters. Each person picked a disguise/alias and mingled with all the baddies at a shindig. However, in the end Shawn discovered Michael was harboring those pesky humans, and Michael sacrificed himself so our quartet could escape through the portal. Tears for days. Not enough tissues in the afterlife could mop up my tears. Michael claimed he finally understood The Trolley Problem – instead of choosing which group of people to save, you sacrifice yourself. The student becomes the teacher!
Alright, ready to delve into “Rhonda, Diana, Jake, And Trent?” Just be sure to don your disguise before entering The Bad Place. You wouldn’t want to be found out, would you?
We open with our quintet on the train en route to The Bad Place. Michael (Ted Danson) unveils his plan for smuggling them through the portal to the Judge. Said portal, however, is located in the heart of Bad Place headquarters, to make things even more difficult than they already are. Michael will give them disguises to sport while cavorting around hell, complete with pins worn by Bad Place officers of the highest rank. These pins will help solidify their cover. Also, there’s an IHOP, but the pancakes eat you. Hell truly sounds like hell.
Later, our gang is spic and span sporting their 1950s disguises. Apparently, the style is all the rage in The Bad Place. Each one crafts their alias and job in The Bad Place. Tahani (Jameela Jamil) is Rhonda, a demon who shoves people into hot dogs as a method of torture. Weirdly specific, but The Good Place is known for that weird specificity and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Eleanor (Kristen Bell) is Diana from Canada. Jason (Manny Jacinto) is Jake, who utilizes Molotov cocktails to torture poor souls. Chidi (William Jackson Harper) feels guilty for lying and refuses to create his fake persona.
Next, Eleanor and Chidi have a discussion over his guilt. Chidi’s moral code is so strict that, even to save his soul from potential eternal damnation, he refuses to lie. Eleanor is temporarily distracted by the fact that she can now properly swear. No more fork, shirt, ash and bench for this gal. Chidi is still not convinced he should lie, but goes along with the gang anyway.
Meanwhile, Michael and Tahani are helping Janet (D’Arcy Carden) polish her cover as Bad Janet. However, our Good Janet is just too good at being, well, good.
Later, Team Cockroach arrives in The Bad Place proper. Michael stows the humans away in The Museum of Human Misery. “No one goes here,” he adds. Michael has to make an appearance at headquarters to maintain their cover. After he leaves, our heroes explore the museum and its exhibits within. Each exhibit represents a moral low in human behavior, from the first “d**k pic” to the first white man to wear dreadlocks.
Then, our gang discovers a party is being thrown at the museum. So much for hiding. Good Janet tries on her cover for size in front of a real Bad Janet, and is moderately successful. Only moderately.
Meanwhile, Michael makes his triumphant return to headquarters. He strolls into Shawn’s (Marc Evan Jackson) office with a detailed plan for extracting “the humans” from The Medium Place. However, Shawn reveals that he has his own plan already in motion, throwing a wrench in Michael’s plan. Uh oh.
Next, we see our quartet attempting to mingle with demons at the party. Tahani and Eleanor pair off, while Chidi and Jason go their own way. The boys run into Chet (Dax Shepard), who mistakes Chidi for a fellow coworker named Trent. And therein lies Chidi’s true cover. Also, I’d like to note that Chet is played by Dax Shepard, who is Kristen Bell’s real-life husband. Adorable. Chet presents a torturous quandary to Chidi: another demonic coworker is having trouble torturing a human. Since Trent is such an expert in that department, perhaps he could provide some insight into the matter. Chidi freezes up and flees to regroup his thoughts. Now’s not the time to blow your cover, dude!
Meanwhile, Shawn reveals to Michael in a meeting of senior officials that said party at the museum is in honor of its newest exhibit – an homage to the latter’s The Good Place neighborhood. Shawn also informs everyone that his team is currently at Mindy St. Clair’s house. He uses Bad Janet as a speakerphone and everyone listens in. Unfortunately, the extraction team only finds Mindy (Maribeth Monroe) and Derek (Jason Mantzoukas) doing the horizontal tango. Of course, Shawn is taken aback that anyone else should be in The Medium Place but Mindy. Michael then takes this opportunity to flee, and Shawn orders that he be hunted down. Well, there goes the cover.
Then, Chidi wanders over to Eleanor for advice. Our gal presents a code of ethics that Chidi never covered in their coursework. He’s shocked that she would do any kind of reading without supervision. According to this particular code of ethics, one must make decisions according to the situation one is in. Not everything is “black and white” in terms of ethics. Sometimes your decisions have to be tailored to your current circumstances. A light bulb goes off in Chidi’s head. He finally decides to play along. Chet finds the duo chatting and he hits on Eleanor. Having these two interact has completed me. I am now whole.
Next, Chidi presents his advice on how best to torture someone – with books. Philosophical books, to be exact. Everyone hates philosophy. Chet and his cronies are beside themselves with glee. Yay Chidi!
Now, Janet pulls Team Cockroach aside and reveals the real reason for this party…to unveil an exhibit paying homage to their Good Place neighborhood. A presenter takes the stage and pulls back the curtain to reveal four robots that look identical to our quartet. Each one introduces themselves to the laughter of the audience. Then, certain demons in said audience begin to drawn comparisons to The Good Place robots and our disguised crew.
Suddenly, Michael bursts in with Shawn hot on his heels. Shawn sees “the humans” with Michael and orders they be seized. However, Jason is a man with a plan. He lights up a Molotov cocktail, well known to get one out of any unwanted situation, and hurls it at Shawn. A wall of flames separates the two groups as Team Cockroach makes their escape.
Later, Team Cockroach is at the portal in Bad Place headquarters. Each person is given their pin. However, Michael lost one of them and now Eleanor is pin-less. Chidi, Tahani and Jason jump through the portal. As Shawn looms in on them, Michael makes an executive decision. He informs Eleanor of his understanding of The Trolley Problem. Instead of picking which group to save from the charging trolley, you must sacrifice yourself. He takes off his own pin and gives it to Eleanor, citing that the group needs her to keep everyone in line. He shoves her through the portal, and we see Shawn standing behind our favorite fake demon architect of The Good Place.
The Good Place was chock full of laughs and, surprisingly, tears this week. Hats off to Carden for, once again, effortlessly stealing the show with her Good Janet/Bad Janet routine. Watching Good Janet try to be evil was sidesplitting, to say the least. Of course, Michael’s ultimate sacrifice was heart wrenching, solidifying Danson’s place as the heart and soul of The Good Place. Not to mention the intricate details of The Bad Place, which always makes for a happy Melody.
Do you think Michael will evade “retirement” and join Team Cockroach in the end? How will our heroes face the Judge without the knowledgeable Michael by their side? If they’re successful, will we finally see The Good Place by season’s end? 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.
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