THE GOOD PLACE Review: “Derek”


There are few roles in which Jason Mantzoukas doesn’t flourish–mostly because every role given to him seems extremely appropriate. Whether it’s in a recurring role Parks and Recreation (another Schur joint), an occasional spot on Transparent, or my personal favorite as one of two “DJ Roommates” in a guest appearance on Broad City, it always seems like no one else could quite play the part as perfectly. As rebound guy “Derek” on The Good Place, who bears plenty of similarities to Jason–and is designed that way by the heartbroken Janet–he’s equally spot-on, and his goofiness helps carry the majority of the episode until it winds down into the long-awaited inevitable.

While Jason and Tahani are more confidently attempting to solidify their bizarre yet adorable relationship, Janet’s Derek is causing Michael, Eleanor, and Chidi to panic. Obviously, Derek’s presence is disruptive in more ways than he’s just ridiculously dumb (“Good Bob, I hope we same place again very now” is one choice line); Michael is nervous that if Vicky or any other person notices him, she’ll call shenanigans on Michael, and be forced to investigate the “why” behind his existence, which will blow his cover completely and could banish everyone in their little circle of rebels to an eternity of really, really bad torture.

Chidi, in true form, chimes in with plenty of “buts” as Michael attempts to devise a scheme to protect Team Cockroach, saying that Jason and Tahani need to be split up so that Janet isn’t sad anymore. (One delightful moment occurs here to break up the anxiety as Eleanor calls Michael a “messy bench” for coming up with such a Real-Housewives type of petty act). Showing again how intelligent and heady this show is, Chidi puts forth more knowledge from the realm of ethics studies, such as the “doctrine of double effect,” which states that if an action meant to do good has a bad side effect, it can be permissible, as long as the bad effect wasn’t intended. Ultimately, the group decides to stop Jason and Tahani’s wedding (planned, of course, by Jason, who literally wears a top hat to the ceremony) and it’s finally revealed that Janet’s sadness has been causing the glitching.

What Eleanor decides to do next is another testament to how the ethical and moral conundrums of Michael’s Bad Place have actually helped her to be a better person. In pulling Janet aside to explain to her how to actually process a breakup, she again does one of the hardest, most honest most things, which not coincidentally, is the best thing. Jason and Tahani remain together, but Janet is able to accept the very necessary jettisoning of Derek (“I’m gonna toss this steamer trunk containing the lifeless husk of my ex-boyfriend into a remote corner of my limitless void”). When Michael and Eleanor have a heart-to-heart next to Michael’s office about each of their growth, it’s, well, heartening.

And then the hammer drops. Shaun, leafing through papers, confronts Michael at what was his desk and tells him to shut the door. We see the realization that he’s totally forked wash over his face like a shadow, and the episode ends. In true The Good Place fashion, this absolutely had to happen–things were getting a little too comfortable in this tenuous, wavering spot, and now we wait with bated breath to see what the consequences will be for everyone we care about on this show.

One disappointment, however necessary, was watching Chidi and Eleanor come to the realization that their former romance however many reboots ago may have once been strong, but is no longer quite so. When Eleanor shows Chidi the VHS of them laying in bed together, confessing love for one another, it’s hard not to feel saddened when Chidi reacts with “Sorry, I don’t think I do” (love Eleanor, that is). Kristen Bell captures that uncomfortable faux-relief expression of nervous smiles and “All good”s with heart-wrenching accuracy. It certainly seems like she still has feelings for Chidi, but the conversation is abruptly interrupted by Michael, and it helps slice through the awkwardness. That the show was able to take the concept of lovers-from-past-(not really)-lives addressing the fact of something they once had and make it seem painfully earthly familiar is a statement on how brilliant its creators truly are.

What will become of Team Cockroach is dubious at this point, considering Shaun’s punishment could be epically brutal. But to cut off what are some lovely developmental arcs would also seem wrong. We’ll have to wait til 2018 to discover their fates. Until then, Good Bob!


Season 2, Episode 7 (S02E07)
The Good Place airs Thursdays at 830PM on NBC

Read all of our reviews of The Good Place here. 
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