Most episodes of The Good Place this season (and the entire series) have followed the traditional sitcom format of giving each earthly character a relatively short and evenly distributed amount of screen time. When they have flashed back to their lives, it’s been brief, but always delightful to watch. So it was high time that we get back to the nitty-gritty character study and zoom in close on someone. This time, predictably, it’s Eleanor, inarguably our protagonist, the one we’ve known the longest. At times, she’s achingly relatable. (You might be ashamed to admit it, but you know it’s true.) I’m hoping we’re set up for similar case studies of every other fallible but lovable human we’ve come to know, but we’ll (tear) have to wait to find out.
The tension had escalated naturally with each episode to this point. Two eternal beings united to decide the next steps for the Fab Four, and Gen, as the more powerful judge, was perhaps a little too easy to turn. (There’s a totally subtle, almost gentle menace about her character, cementing her as one of the strongest guest stars thus far.) With a snap of her fingers, each of our characters have apparently jumped the space and time continuum and surely multiple dimensions, back to the moment before their death on Earth. It’s also, potentially, a complete and total head game/illusion, and completely in each “soul’s” head, or consciousness. Yes, it’s another metaphysical mind-blower, with more traces of religious philosophy and pure creative juice from the show’s creators.
When Michael leaves his post counting data in some office, like a secretary at a switchboard, to pose as an innocuous but wise bartender, it delivers one of the most intriguing scenes in recent memory: a heart-to-heart between tipsy Eleanor and a totally different Michael than we’ve come to know. It’s a beautiful showcase, again, of Danson’s brilliant acting chops, as he dials all his antics and devilish charm back to become a benevolent sage.
Eleanor’s transformative journey as she attempts to be “good” and her life, superficially, gets worse, is almost hard to watch for its tragicomic elements. We’ve gotten to the point in the series where we are personally invested in the characters, rooting for them to succeed and feeling that deep disappointment when they still can’t seem to get it together. Bringing Chidi and Eleanor together on earth is a victory for them, and a perfect note to go out on for us.
All wild guesses are now valid for where the show will go next. We could see three more similar episodes for Tahani, Jason and esteemed Dr. Chidi Adagonye, tracking their progress as they get perhaps their last chance to get into the Good Place. I’m sure we’ll enjoy other twists from parallel universes thrown in to prevent monotony, or, the creators of this genius work could complete rewrite the script all over again. Until then, fan theories, come out and play. Hot diggity dog.
Choice Quotes & Moments:
“A little bit crazy? It’s loo-dee-toons.” – Maya Rudolph in her element, reacting to Michael’s idea.
Eleanor’s completely vile friend, in a glorious moment of vileness: “My boyfriend’s calling. His wife’s out of town, so I’m gonna head over there.”
“This chick is suing me for whiplash. She wasn’t even in the car!” – Eleanor. Ah, the pitfalls of being good.
Season 2, Episode 11 (S02E11)
The Good Place airs Thursdays at 830PM on NBC
Emily Nuncio Schick | Contributor