DISCLAIMER: This recap of The Good Place episode “The Book of Dougs” contains more spoilers than the number of cocktail shrimp Eleanor can consume in one sitting. That’s a forkin’ lot, folks. You’ve been warned. Prepare for the afterlife, and enter at your own peril.
Welcome back, Soul Squad! The Good Place has returned to our screens to make our lives exponentially better. My skin has cleared significantly, my crops are finally growing and we’re on the cusp of world peace. Okay, the last one’s a fabrication but you get the picture. “The Book of Dougs” finds our heroes in the actual Good Place. Michael requests a meeting with a Committee that sorts out issues such as the afterlife points system kerfuffle. Meanwhile, Eleanor and Chidi embark on their first real date. Tahani attempts to help Janet and Jason sort out their complex feelings for one another.
Alright, ready to delve into “The Book of Dougs?” Just be sure to leave a Transformers-shaped lollipop for Jason. It’ll keep him temporarily preoccupied.
We open where we left off: our Soul Squad has just landed in the Good Place courtesy of a mail shoot from the accounting offices. They’re inside a mail room, which of course begs the question: are they in the actual Good Place? Michael (Ted Danson) makes our humans undergo a sniffing test. In the Good Place, the air smells like a favorite memory according to each respective afterlife resident. When Eleanor (Kristen Bell) reveals that the air smells like a water park, one rife with the scent of band-aids and teenage hormones, the Soul Squad’s location is confirmed. Welcome to the Good Place!
Next, Michael urges Janet (D’Arcy Carden) to destroy their entry point, so nobody from the accounting offices can follow them. He tries to fabricate a cover story for our crew to explain their appearance, should they collide with a Good Place resident. Suddenly, they’re spotted by a mail employee named Gwendolyn (Nicole Byer). She inquires why the mail shoot is in pieces. Eleanor reveals they were being chased by demons, while Jason (Manny Jacinto) helpfully adds that a “Dracula” was also on their collective tail. Oh, Jason. Never change. Gwendolyn slurps the story up with gusto, and cheerfully introduces herself. Michael tells her he’s an accountant, accompanied by a neutral Janet and four humans. Said humans have won a contest consisting of a mail room tour in the Good Place. There probably is a division in the accounting offices for “weird contests,” because this certainly falls under that category.
Then, Michael offers to aid Gwendolyn in cleaning up the debris from the mail shoot explosion. Eleanor pulls Chidi (William Jackson Harper) aside. They’re standing in front of a door that leads to the Good Place, although Gwendolyn previously instructed them not to open it. Naturally, Eleanor goes against the grain and attempts to pry the door open, but to no avail. She becomes distraught that her efforts were futile. Chidi cheers her up by suggesting they go on their first real date. Finally!
Meanwhile, Michael asks Gwendolyn for assistance in contacting the Committee regarding an “urgent matter.” Unfortunately, she reveals that contacting them is against the rules. However there is a handy dandy phone solely used for ringing up the Committee – you know, if Michael were allowed to do so. How convenient! Michael temporarily distracts Gwendolyn so he can use the phone. He asks the Committee to meet him in the mail depot – the top floor, so as not to alert Gwendolyn of his rule breaking.
Later, Tahani (Jameela Jamil) finds Jason sulking on the sidelines. He’s preoccupied with thoughts of his discovery in Janet’s void. If you’ll recall, Jason stumbled upon Janet’s videos documenting her immense love for the former. And evidence that they were married in another timeline. Jason isn’t sure how to process it all. Tahani urges Jason to speak with Janet. The pair should sort their feelings for one another in tandem. This should go well. Jason broaches the subject with Janet, but the latter brushes him off. She reveals that she’s supposed to be a neutral Janet, and neutral Janets don’t have feelings. They are…neutral.
Next, Michael meets with the Committee on the top floor of the mail depot. He reveals the issue at hand – the afterlife points system being tampered with by the Bad Place. Thankfully, the Committee takes said issue very seriously, opening a channel to Headquarters and stocking up on a plethora of pluots. They are in season, after all. Michael initially addresses the Committee with his biggest concern of the hour – that nobody has gained access to the Good Place in over 500 years. He uses Doug Forcett as an example, explaining that Doug has lived a life worthy of the Good Place but unfortunately hasn’t accrued enough points to enter. The Committee decides to take on Michael’s case.
Meanwhile, Eleanor and Chidi are on a date, complete with champagne and assorted fruits. Chidi blesses Eleanor with another surprise – him donning a mail man uniform. You know, because Eleanor has a thing for a man in uniform. Eleanor bursts into tears, and expresses her fears of inevitably screwing up their budding romance. Chidi vows to stay by her side, and they’ll weather the waters of their relationship together. Chidi is the best of the best.
Then, the Committee reveals that it will only take 400 years to select members for the elite team meant to investigate the points system debacle. Michael doesn’t take too kindly to this, citing that this issue should be dealt with pronto. The Committee insists that they’re on Michael’s side, and will remedy the situation…in 400 years or more. Well, so much for a quick fix.
Next, Tahani drafts up a “Death Did Us Part” certificate, stating that her marriage to Jason is officially null and void since they’re both dead. Janet reveals she feels awkward and “put on the spot,” while Jason is reminded of his own death. Tahani tears up the certificate. It never happened!
Later, after Chidi comforts Eleanor and quells her fears regarding their relationship, the two embark on another kind of journey. They scamper off to have sexy fun times at the mail depot. Ah, young, dead love.
Meanwhile, Tahani goes to Michael for advice regarding Jason and Janet’s romantic kerfuffle. However, Michael is consumed by his encounter with the Committee. Suddenly, the light bulb flicks on. Michael searches through the Book of Dougs, examining multiple Dougs from over the centuries. He studies a simple good deed from two different Dougs living over 500 years apart. The contemporary Doug had quite a few more points docked for various reasons, which brought Michael to this conclusion: the Bad Place doesn’t have to tamper with anything. As the world modernizes, being a good person becomes more and more complicated. Michael urges Tahani to gather the troops for a briefing.
Next, Tahani apologizes to Janet for meddling in her affairs. She just wants Janet and Jason to be happy, because she loves them both. Janet bursts into tears, which causes Tahani to do the same. Jason wanders in and cries in tandem, citing that he doesn’t want to be left out. Lots and lots of crying, folks. Suddenly, Gwendolyn enters and finds the trio in tears. She immediately grows suspicious, as there’s no crying in the Good Place. Uh oh. Eleanor and Chidi saunter into the room post-coitus, arms wrapped around each other. Gwendolyn asks Michael if he’s been lying to her. She reveals that she must turn the group over to the Judge. However, Michael is one step ahead of her.
Then, a portal opens and the Doorman (Mike O’Malley) enters. He informs Michael that the Judge has agreed to his terms and they’ll convene together at IHOP. Of course, Jason believes this stands for International House of Pancakes. Michael reveals what the acronym really stands for: Inter-dimensional Hole of Pancakes. Much more insidious and downright scary. But, whatever it takes to save humanity. Our Soul Squad leaves Gwendolyn and the mail depot behind to meet with the Judge at IHOP.
The Good Place brought us another A+ episode, with a wonderful mixture of comedy, intrigue and heartfelt moments. Byer was the MVP for me, stealing every scene as the overly optimistic Gwendolyn. Bell also shines, bringing Eleanor’s relatable complexities to the surface. And, as per usual, The Good Place never fails to present us with a tantalizing cliffhanger. I’m excited to see what the IHOP meeting with the Judge will entail.
Do you think the Judge will be open to working alongside the Soul Squad to save humanity? Will Chidi ever get an opportunity to change out of the mail man uniform? Can Jason and Janet overcome their insecurities and couple it up? Join me next week as I continue to recap The Good Place, here on Geek Girl Authority.
The Good Place airs Thursdays at 9:30pm on your NBC affiliate.