THE GOOD PLACE Review: “Most Improved Player”


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After last week’s turning point, there’s nowhere to move but forward. For Eleanor, forward might be vaguely downward toward the ominous Bad Place. As always, balances the ever heightening plot with silly little jokes. Though “Most Improved Player” was more focused on one important high stakes story, it still made time for the small moments of comedy and humanity that make The Good Place truly good.

In a sequence mirroring the pilot, “Most Improved Player” opens with Eleanor in the waiting room of Michael’s office. “Everything Is Fine” is displayed just like it was before, but we all know it’s not fine, especially Eleanor. What follows is essentially the trial of Eleanor Shellstrop, the moments that the series has been leading up to until this very moment. After a series of great gags about the small things that make someone a bad person (sorry, Red Hot Chili Peppers), and another series of great gags about a cactus (thank god for Janet, in any form she is in), it’s time to get down to business.

Credit: NBC

What makes Michael’s interrogation of Eleanor great is that it’s clear that he truly cares for her as a person and doesn’t want to have to send her to the bad place. He takes out a lie detector cube, and Eleanor’s answers more or less line up with the qualities of a good person. However, she’s not willing to tell Michael who killed Janet. This is, of course, the biggest step in how far she’s come and how Chidi was the one who brought her there. Alas, Michael is in the dark and starts conducting brief interviews with her friends. While Eleanor and Chidi brace themselves for Chidi’s soon to be lie detector test, Tahani and Jason/Jianyu get to briefly shine. Michael takes Jason’s silence as wisdom, and Tahani’ name drops being friends with Taylor/Kanye/Beyonce, while also revealing a softer side in her betrayal from Eleanor’s friendship.

Luckily, Chidi is saved by the appearance of Eleanor’s file, which reveals some not great things about her past. Faced with no other choice, it’s time for the bad place. The Michael of the bad place is none other than some douchewad named named Trevor, played by the always excellent Adam Scott. Trevor is just the worst, and it’s perfect. With his aura misogyny and constantly putting down Michael, Scott makes it so much fun to hate Trevor. He takes Eleanor on the bad place train, which has about just as many inconveniences as a train can have.

Credit: NBC

The people of The Good Place have other plans in mind though. Mainly Chidi, who confesses to Michael that he was the one who killed Janet. It’s more of a plea with Michael about the problems with having someone be either good or bad, and that Eleanor can become good post death. It’s a lovely speech, and given Michael’s clear affection for Eleanor, it’s effective. They save Eleanor from the clutches of Trevor, and it seems to be okay. She is an anomaly, and Michael can decide whether or not she stays. It seems for a brief moment that all is well in The Good Place.

Seeing as this is only eight out of thirteen episodes, the other shoe had to drop. And boy, did it. Trevor, with his gross smarm is totally fine with Eleanor staying in the Good Place. As long as he can keep other Eleanor in the bad place. And there she is: other Eleanor. The one who loved helping orphans, and weirdly clowns, and probably is Chidi’s soulmate. With that, we wait until next week to see how this new, good Eleanor will jeopardize the morally okay Eleanor we all know and love. With another big mystery, and a whole half hour of pretty intense story, it was good to see that through all of it, The Good Place kept its charm and humor. With the more hurdles that will get thrown during the second half of the first season, it’s exciting to see that the show can handle them with such grace.


Season 1, Episode 8 (S01E08)
The Good Place airs Thursday at 830PM on NBC

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Raina spends most of her time watching television and trying to find the perfect bagel and lox, because she likes being emotionally distraught.
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