Season 3: episode 7 of Netflix’s The Good Place titled ‘the worst possible use of free will’, managed to use a filler episode to rewire the show and bring us back to The Bad Place in a series of flashbacks using ‘Janet’s memory gizmo’.
It has been evident since the beginning of the season that the show has been unable to recreate the same atmosphere felt in previous episodes (in season 1 and 2) whilst trying to abide by the rules on earth, so the use of these flashbacks was a fantastic way to drive the narrative and keep interest.
The episode focused on a number of issues raised across the series’ three seasons including a nice callback in one of the flashbacks to the exact moment Chidi (William Jackson Harper) fell for Eleanor (Kristen Bell) which was mentioned in a previous episode that he fell for her when she anticipated a sneeze and passed him a tissue before he even sneezed.
In a flashback to when the ‘gang’ were given the choice to adopt a pet in The Good Place that will bond to its owner for life. Tahani’s (Jameela Jamil) choice is a centaur ‘whose human half takes on the image of its companion’ which gives her self-obsessed vanity ridden character a taste of her own medicine when the centaur introduces herself as ‘Tahania, goddess of beauty’ and proceeds to belittle Tahani’s choice of clothes.
The main focus is on of Eleanor and Chidi’s strong relationship. Michael allowing Eleanor to revisit scenes from her time in The Good/Bad Place paves the way for a for the pair to rekindle their relationship. Micheal is playing with fire by being upfront with Eleanor about her time during the ‘reboots’ and it could have catastrophic consequences for the gang on earth.
Michael (Ted Danson) has always found Eleanor hard to predict and her reaction to her ‘relationship’ catches him off guard. She accuses him of manufacturing or manipulating the whole thing as part of his experiment. Whatever universe the show is in, at its heart, The Good Place is a show about ethics. Elanor remembers a term she learnt in The Bad Place, ‘determinism’ and begins to explain how ‘determinism is the theory that we have no control over our own actions’ which she finds in a ‘philosophy for dingdongs…for morons’ book in the self-help section.
With Chidi’s indecisiveness, Tahani’s arrogance and celebrity name-dropping, Eleanor’s denial complex and Jason’s naivety, the show has never strayed from its roots and has stayed consistent and true to its characters regardless of where they might be. The episode wrapped with Shawn (Marc Evan Jackson) and others from The Bad Place entering a portal to earth. This adds a further layer to the show and means anything is possible. What will the demons do to Michael? How will they affect the gang on earth and how soon before we’re back in The Bad Place?
Some people have bemoaned this season for not being as exciting or inventive, but the show somehow manages to reinvent itself time and time again. I have no idea what’s coming next. Sitcoms aren’t normally as clever as The Good Place. Creator Mike Schur and his team are clearly having fun experimenting with their characters and the concept of the show allows them to virtually anything. Whatever’s next, I’m forking in!
Contributed by Jazz Cooke
The Good Place Continues Fridays on Netflix