No sooner are we getting used to being back on ‘Earth’ then The Good Place goes and changes it all over again. The study has run its course, the group is splintering, and Michael, desperate to keep everyone together, starts getting more and more outlandish with his now-not-so-gentle interventions. But by the time these 22 minutes are up, so is Michael’s game and we’re off onto a new path already.
When we left off last week, Janet and Michael had fled from Judge Gen with the help of the frog-loving doorman. It turns out the key is also some kind of cross-dimensional Skype thing, which Gen uses to berate Michael for his disobedience. Penis flatteners and butthole spiders will be the least of his worries once she gets hold of him, but Michael is far too invested in saving his friends to let that stop him. One thing I love about how Michael has evolved as a character is how he’s a little over-committed to the whole friendship and loyalty thing now, which is exactly what you’d expect from someone who’s only recently cottoned on to the concept. It’s like when I discover a new band that I love: I listen to them excessively, buy all their records and three t-shirts and follow them on every social media outlet possible.
Now deprived of any way to monitor the group from afar, Michael and Janet set up shop in an abandoned office on campus, which used to belong to the journalism department (nice one Michael Schur). “Bad for the world, good for us,” Michael says. Via an elaborate set of hidden cameras, Janet and Michael can continue to spy on the group and influence their behaviour in the right direction. Although, Michael should really have learned from Judge Gen’s admonishment last week that even the tiniest tinkering can have drastic results. In order to prevent Tahani from sleeping with Jason (which Janet has absolutely no personal feelings about whatsoever), they contrive a meeting between her and her ex-boyfriend, Hemsworth family black sheep Larry (who is only a paediatric surgeon with barely an eight-pack). They’re both very beautiful people who live in the shadows of more famous siblings, so naturally they get engaged.
As Tahani and Larry announce their engagement and plans to move back to England, Chidi and Simone recognise that the study has run its course and it’s time to start again with new subjects. In true Eleanor style, she deals with the impending loss of her new friends by trashing the engagement party and acting like a total dick. But what Eleanor has never had before (at least in her memory) is a bunch of people who won’t abandon her for acting out. Simone touchingly keeps referring to Eleanor as “my friend” while trying to help her unpack her behaviour, while the others decide to hold a yearly get-together so that they can stay in each other’s lives.
Still, this isn’t enough for Michael, who can’t let them go their separate ways. Previously, he would have just reset everything and start again, so he reasons there must be some way of doing that in the real world. But as he and Janet open the portal to go in search of the reset button, they’re discovered by the group. This is going to change everything… for the 800th time.
It’s about time though. We’ve only been in this iteration of The Good Place for four episodes but it was starting to wear thing. Simone has been a wonderful addition to the cast and I hope they find a way to keep her involved (although, does that mean killing her?) but Larry doesn’t feel like a longer term part of the show. He worked brilliantly in this episode, especially as his name had popped up previously, but he’s not as memorable as Derek, Trevor or Mindy St Clair. But the beauty of The Good Place is that if it’s not working as well as it could, just like Michael’s neighbourhoods, they can just reset the whole thing and start again. I, for one, can’t wait to see where we go next.