The continued and consistently touted brilliance of The Good Place tends to center around its uncanny ability to evolve into something new and different without ever losing sight of the tangled roots of the relationships between all of its main characters. In other words, while the semi-annual changes in the show’s format and plot will garner headlines and critical praise, the actual thing that keeps the show at an unmatched level of quality among network sitcoms is that creator Michael Schur and his writers never lose sight of the fact that, no matter how much you change the plot, you can’t change the dynamics between Eleanor, Chidi, Jason and Tahani (not to mention Michael and Janet as the all-knowing beings that they are).
“The key was Eleanor and Chidi’s connection,” Michael declares to Janet at one point in the two-episode, third season premiere, “Everything is Bonzer!”, as they monitor the progress of their four subjects, resurrected on earth in an experiment to see whether or not people are capable of bettering themselves and earning a spot in The Good Place. That rings so true, not only with regards to where the show finds itself plot-wise, but also about the show and its spirit as a whole. From Michael revealing himself as an evil demon, to the way season two blew through over 800 reboots in the span of a couple of episodes, to Michael deciding to be good and help his gang of four, to the ultimate reboot that we find ourselves in now, I love every single twist The Good Place has given us. But those twists don’t work if it isn’t for character development and the chemistry between said characters.
The show has no problem displaying this, because it’s forced Chidi and Eleanor, and of course many of the other characters, to meet each other and learn about each other over and over again. Sometimes, characters evolve and turn into something completely different, like the aforementioned Michael, or Janet changing and becoming more human, or characters like Vicki revealing their true colours. And the show is portending to go through the same motions, as the conceit of this third season is that Michael has reset the four’s lives, saved them from death and, through their near-death experiences, put them on a path to betterment, in hopes of proving to the judge that their system of determining who’s good and who’s bad is flawed. But Michael’s gambit, just like all his others, is flawed, and in the premiere, he finds himself interfering with their lives more than the Judge would probably want him to. And, of course, Michael still has Shawn and his fellow demons chasing after him, as any change to the system would likely mean less people for them to torture.
“Everything is Bonzer” mostly recounts the year that our four heroes have spent living the lives that had previously ended around the same time, recounting to one another how their near-death experiences initially set them on a path to betterment, only to find themselves some months later back in their old habits. Michael surmises, as mentioned, that they need each other in order for the plan to work, so using a slew of increasingly hilarious pseudonyms, he nudges them together under Chidi’s tutelage and the pretense of a study about them and their experiences over the past year.
So, there you have the premise for season 3. Roughly similar to what we’ve seen before, Chidi is teaching everyone else about philosophy and how to be better. But there are wrinkles. As we see at the end of the hour-long episode, Adam Scott’s Trevor makes a return, posing as another survivor of a near-death experience, likely at Shawn’s behest. Michael and Janet are still watching from afar, with Judge Gen lurking over their shoulders. As it’s always been on this show, things will likely blow up long before we have a change to get used to them. And that’s a big part of what makes it special.
That being said, if I’m being honest, part of wishes that this two-episode premiere was somehow merged with last season’s finale. I wasn’t a huge fan of where the show left us last year. We spent most of the finale following Eleanor’s new life, and it really felt as if it was missing the rest of the crew. The premiere basically recapped what Eleanor was doing and gave us the other three stories. Ending the season with everyone being saved and picking up with the four full stories post-resurrection would have felt a little less clunky. But I suppose that’s a nitpick, because I still really enjoyed this premiere.
And another big reason for that is because the show is still hilarious, so without further adieu, let’s get to the jokes and gags!
“Everything is Bonzer” picks up right with The Good Place left off in season 2, and it’s just as smart, poignant, meaningful and hilarious as it’s ever been, so it gets 9 crystals that prevent erectile dysfunction out of 10.
Here are all the best lines from the season premiere of The Good Place!
- Tahani Namedrops: Prince William, Bono, The Edge, Nicole Kidman, the Dalai Lama, and through book quotes that both suggest they’ll stop writing because of how brilliant Tahani is, Malcolm Gladwell and Cormac McCarthy.
- Michael uses three pseudonyms in this episode and they’re all perfect: Charles Brainman, a professor Chidi has never heard of, mogul Gordon Indigo, and of course, Zach Pizzazz, international talent scout. That last one is especially zoncatronic.
- There’s also a muffin stand called “We Crumb from the Land Down Under”, continuing the show’s tradition of amazingly-named restaurants.
- Michael/The Doorman: “So, how long does this trip take. Hope I don’t get a middle seat!” “Wow, I haven’t heard a joke in 8000 years. And I still haven’t.”
- Michael: “I saw this place that was at once a Pizza Hut and a Taco Bell. I mean, the mind reels!”
- Michael: “I put a coin in a thing and I got a gumball. And then someone came up to me and said, ‘hot enough for ya!?’ And you know what I said? I said, ‘Tell me about it!'”
- Eleanor: “Eat my farts, Benedict Cumberbatch.”
- Police officer to Jason: “Do you think my name is the letter K?”
- The Doorman: “It’s only 4:30. My shift doesn’t end until nine billion.”
- Eleanor on why she’s an Arizona Trashbag: “Our biggest exports are racist sheriffs and HPV.”
- Eleanor: “I had no choice, I was in his driveway taking pictures when he walked out, so I said, ‘Hey Mr. Crowe, I’m from the gas compayny. I loved you in Gladiator.'”
- Janet: “I’ve been running simulations on what their kids will look like. One of them is hot enough to be on The Bachelor AND smart enough to never go on The Bachelor!”
- Janet: “If you keep disobeying mommy something bad is going to happen.”
- Jason: “We are going to eat, breathe and vape dance!”
- MC: “Would the owner of a 1998 Toyota Tercel with golden pythons painted on both sides, license plate GOTMILF please see an usher? Your car has exploded.”
- Jason: “I know it sounds crazy, but I’m starting to think there’s more to life than amateur street dancing competitions.”
- Jason: “Clausterphobic? Who would ever be scared of Santa Claus? Oh! The Jewish!”