DISCLAIMER: This recap of The Good Place episode “Chidi Sees the Time-Knife” contains more spoilers than the number of times Tahani has name dropped celebrities. She’s just a gal with a shirt ton of friends. You’ve been warned. Prepare for the afterlife, and enter at your own peril.
Welcome back, Soul Squad! The Good Place has returned to bless our Thursday nights once more. Praise be to Doug! In the penultimate episode, our crew negotiated with the Judge at the Interdimensional Hole of Pancakes (IHOP). After Michael revealed the points system flaw, a deal was struck. Michael and Janet were tasked to create a new neighborhood with four humans from the Bad Place. They will observe said humans and see if they morally improve over time, as our Soul Squad did. Should the experiment fail, of course, the Judge will punish our heroes accordingly. So keep your fingers and toes crossed, messy benches!
Alright, ready to delve into “Chidi Sees the Time-Knife?” Just be sure to steer clear of Eleanor’s cocktail shrimp. She’ll go “Arizonian trash bag” on you at the drop of a hat if you don’t.
We open with our gang preparing to cross the threshold into the Interdimensional Hole of Pancakes. Michael (Ted Danson) explains that, should negotiations with the Judge fail, they can hop through a portal to another dimension. Here’s hoping said new dimension won’t decimate our humans molecule by molecule.
Next, we see everyone has made it safely through the portal. Wow, IHOP looks like a trip – literally. It’s an acid trip. Colors shifting, dimensional portals writhing, strange monsters popping about to and fro. However, even amid the multicolored chaos, Jason (Manny Jacinto) asks Janet (D’Arcy Carden) if she would like to go on a date. My heart grew three sizes merely by watching this interaction.
Suddenly, the Judge (Maya Rudolph) appears. She chastises our crew for escaping. Tahani (Jameela Jamil) finds a new friend nestled about her shoulders – a creature known as a “Need Noggle.” Thankfully, the brain-melting atmosphere of IHOP evaporates and reforms into the IHOP that we know today – the International House of Pancakes. Jason and Eleanor (Kristen Bell) are tickled pink. Of course, Michael reminds our heroes that they’re still in the Interdimensional Hole of Pancakes.
Next, Michael presents the Judge with the evidence he’s accumulated. He reveals that it’s become increasingly difficult to be a good person. Each choice made could serve as the catalyst for thousands of potentially dangerous sub-choices. The Judge isn’t impressed, and shoos away Michael’s presentation. That’s when, surprisingly, Jason swoops in with a story about his friend Big Noodle to save the day. The moral of his story was this: nobody truly knows what one is going through on face value alone. Michael piggybacks off that and proposes the Judge take a quick trip to Earth for herself. Jason for the win!
Then, the Judge returns from her Earthly jaunt. She concludes that Earth truly is a mess. Humanity is a mess. Yes, life is chaotic and unpredictable. But, it’s also incredibly difficult to make morally sound choices due to the unforeseen consequences of said choices. The Judge is finally starting to see the light. She calls forth Shawn (Marc Evan Jackson) for some Bad Place perspective. Everyone is transported to a meeting room.
Now, Michael and Shawn debate over the merits of humanity. Of course, Shawn believes people are inherently bad, full stop. His reasons? Limp Bizkit and slavery. Honestly, he has a point. Both of those things are inherently bad. Suddenly, Chidi (William Jackson Harper) shrinks and begins flying about the room willy nilly. It appears he’s careening through different portals to other dimensions. Finally, Janet catches him in the palm of her hand, and Chidi returns to his normal size. Chidi reveals everything he’d seen, including the infamous Time-Knife. That’s a lot for a human brain to absorb.
Next, Chidi admits that our Soul Squad becoming better people through Michael’s incessant torturing could have been a fluke. He proposes they repeat the experiment – bring in four new people and construct a similar neighborhood with similar torture techniques. Bingo! Everyone agrees to test the waters on this subject. The Judge grants Michael and co. one human year to see this through.
Later, everyone arrives on Mindy St. Claire’s (Maribeth Monroe) doorstep. The plan is to create the new neighborhood in Mindy’s backyard. She acquiesces. Derek (Jason Mantzoukas), of “Maximum Derek” fame, finds Janet and Jason chatting on the back porch. Derek is sophisticated now – he drinks martinis in suits. Apparently, Mindy has been tirelessly rebooting him, and with each reboot Derek’s kinks seemed to correct themselves.
Meanwhile, the Judge lays out the ground rules for Michael’s new neighborhood. Shawn gets jurisdiction over choosing the quartet of humans, naturally. Michael gets to tweak the neighborhood as he sees fit. Now, one question remains: how are they going to find other residents? More Bad Place demons, perhaps? Janet makes the executive decision to create them herself, the way she did with Derek. Problem solved!
Next, we see Michael and Janet standing in an open expanse of land – presumably Mindy’s backyard. Janet adds a restaurant reminiscent of the original neighborhood. In fact, once they construct the new neighborhood everything looks identical to the original. Ah, brings back memories. Meanwhile, Eleanor and Chidi are officially living together…like a real couple. Finally! Chidi wonders why Eleanor kept the original design, the one plastered with creepy clowns, for her home. Eleanor cites that it’s where they fell in love. My heart is fit to burst, people. Fit to motherforking burst.
Then, Janet is hard at work creating new residents. Derek slides into view and proposes he aid her in crafting the rest of the populace. After all, it’s difficult for one to do it all alone. He assures Jason that it’s purely professional. We can tell by the lemon sitting in his martini glass. Just a lemon, mind you. There’s still some of the old Derek nestling beneath the new.
Later, Michael is in his new/old office, staring at a portrait of a young Doug Forcett. Shawn pops up for a little video chat. He reveals that if the experiment fails our Soul Squad will be tortured for all eternity by a demon who looks identical to Michael. In fact, it’s Vicky wearing a Michael skin suit.
Next, Michael gets an alert that the first human is about to wake up in five minutes. Eleanor drops in to see how our favorite architect is doing. Michael is flipping through the human’s record, noting that said record is relatively clean. Eleanor pops her head out of the office and finds a male sitting there with his eyes closed. Suddenly, Michael gets cold feet. The clock ticks down to zero, and the man wakes up. Eleanor urges Michael to push through the nerves, that they have to welcome this man into the afterlife. However, Michael insists he’s incapable of doing it. Which means that ol’ Shellstrop might have to Shellstrop her way out of this one.
Now, there’s only one episode left of The Good Place. The grand season finale, benches. “Chidi Sees the Time-Knife” was a terrific installment in an already A+ series. The writers are so adept at constantly reinventing The Good Place while surprising viewers at every turn. This, of course, keeps the series fresh. I loved seeing the supporting cast this episode, especially the resurgence of Mindy and Derek. Rudolph as the Judge and Jackson as Shawn are always welcome sights. This show is fueled not only by solid writing but terrific performances, so it’s nice to see all hands on deck where that is concerned.
Do you think Michael will snap out of his funk and usher the first human into the afterlife? Will Eleanor have to take the wheel? What will Tahani’s opulent party look like this time? Will Michael use the exact same tactics to torture the newbies? Join me next week as I recap The Good Place, here on Geek Girl Authority.
The Good Place airs Thursdays at 9:30 on your NBC affiliate.