After The Good Place shook up its premise yet again in last week’s incredible episode, it seems like the show has, for now, chosen to settle in with this new direction they’ve decided to take. With the Study Group coming to terms with their own doomed existence (after they accidentally find out about the afterlife, thus disqualifying them from accumulating any more Good Place/Bad Place points), they’ve decided to dedicate what remains of their lives to helping others find their way onto the right path and get into the Good Place. In other words, they’re being good people only for the sake of being good people. In this week’s episode, “The Ballad of Donkey Doug”, they choose to start close to home, in an episode that sees the group split in two.
Covering the episode’s title in the A-plot is Michael, Tahani and Jason, who travel to Jacksonville to help Jason’s father, who, in another twist, turns out to be Jason’s friend and the man who often sends Jason down the wrong path, Donkey Doug. They want to convince him to finish his electrician’s degree, but Donkey Doug is more concerned with his new business venture, a body spray/energy drink two-in-one combo (three-in-one if you get the 24 hour lemon musk extreme, which also serves a lubricant). Jason and his cohorts eventually agree to listen to Doug’s idea and even help him, but unfortunately getting it off the ground involves robbing up to three factories. Jason eventually realizes that his father is a lost cause, so he shifts his attention to their friend Pillboi, who is already on a decent path working at an old folks’ home. They convince him to keep working there and stay away from Donkey Doug (as part of a secret NASA conspiracy, but whatever) before they move on to reconciling Tahani and her sister’s relationship at the end of the episode.
As for group B (Chidi, Eleanor and Janet), they’re tasked with finding a way for Chidi to break up with his girlfriend Simone, since he can’t risk her finding out what he and the others know, keeping in mind that Chidi’s moral code prevents him from lying. In order to practice, Janet builds a simulation machine using her knowledge of everything, in which Chidi goes through attempt after attempt of trying to break up with Simone in the perfect way without letting it slip that he knows about the afterlife. Despite all their attempts (and even one by Eleanor) the actual breakup goes pretty badly (Chidi hilariously yells “Ya dumped!” at Simone), but he later smooths things out with her.
Along with the twist at the end, revealing that Eleanor’s mother faked her death, it seems like this is what we’re in for for the next little while, at least until the show decides to shake things up again. And I can’t say that I’m disappointed. At this point, I’m all in with whatever Michael Schur decides to do with this show. He’s proven to be infallible with the premise of this show, and I’m not going to bother speculating where it could go next, because who could have predicted that the show about four people seemingly going to heaven would take so many twists and turns on its way to being this weird, hilarious version of Quantum Leap or The Littlest Hobo or whatever other show about strangers helping new people each week. And I’m sure we’ll be saying the same thing about wherever the show winds up going in a few episodes. Still, it’s interesting to see the show blow through so much plot. I’ve seen takes that suggest how last week’s episode could have been a perfect series finale for any other show, and yet The Good Place continues to chug along, as funny and relevant as ever.
I’m not sure if “The Ballad of Donkey Doug” had any moral or philosophical purpose, as previous episodes have had, but it was still as funny and compelling as ever, and so it gets 8 secret astronaut spies out of 10.
The Best Lines from this week’s episode of The Good Place:
- Tahani Namedrops: Sting and Elon Musk.
- Visual Gags: Jacksonville’s airport is dedicated to Randy “Macho Man” Savage, and Chidi dumps Simone at the “French Pressing Nemo Cafe”.
- My favourite gag from his week’s episode has to be Tahani’s incredulity towards the fact that the infamous Donkey Doug is Jason’s father, but also great is the variety of Chidi’s attempts to break up with Simone, ranging from the one where he offers her a puppy, to the one where he just randomly proposes, to the one where Eleanor takes over Simone’s projection. Also great: Michael hardly being able to contain himself when he finds out his taxi is a monster truck.
- Sad to see Kirby Howell-Baptiste (Simone) likely gone from the show, but considering the year she’s had (also appearing on Killing Eve, Barry and Love, among others) I doubt we’ll be missing her for very long.
- Eleanor: “I thought she was intimidating. That’s why I shoved her into that creek.”
- Janet: “Bing! I usually appear out of thin air and there would be a pleasant ‘bing’ sound but I don’t have my powers, so I’m doing my own bings now. Bing!”
- Tahani/Jason: “The Donkey Doug who got banned from Disney World for biting Buzz Lightyear?” “In his defense, he thought it was someone else.” “Who!?”
- Jason: “He created a sport that was a cross between dodgeball and horseshoes and everybody died.”
- Donkey Doug: “How about you and I go check out my jacuzzi and put stuff in each other?”
- Simone: “Who’s Janet and why are you screaming her name into the sky?”
- Donkey Doug: “Me and Pillboi have been cooking up something special and this time it’s not fake meth.”
- Pillboi: “Sharks, how much do you spend on energy drinks and body spray in one week? Three hundred? Ten hundred?”
- Donkey Doug: “I’ll finally be able to pay to have my calf implants moved back up from my feet.”
- Jason: “Double Trouble sounds amazing. We should big fast, the other sharks are gonna want in.”
- Chidi: “No you don’t understand, I don’t technically love you. In the same way. Because of circumstances.”
- Tahani: “There’s an awful lot of dog hair on the furniture but I’ve not seen a dog.”
- Tahani: “Reach for the stars, as I said to my good friend Elon Musk. And then he shot his car into space. What a weird creep, why was I friends with him?”
- Michael/Donkey Doug: “It’s not like he’s robbing a bank.” “Yeah, it’s a factory.”
- Jason/Michael: “I have an idea but I need your help. Will you guys help me?” “I mean, yeah, that’s why we’re here, Jason.”
- Chidi: “Ya dumped!”
- Pillboi: “I gotta take off cause I gotta go do a robbery. I mean, I’m sick.”
- Eleanor: “Can I use the simulator? There’s a very specific Lenny Kravitz concert I wanna be front row at.”