Among the qualities which help make The Good Place one of the best shows on TV is its impeccable timing. In this age of Peak TV, it’s no longer enough to simply be really funny (but disjointed in terms of plot) or offer mind-bending twists that feel unearned. The Good Place doesn’t have this problem because it’s checks every box. It’s funny on the speed of a show like 30 Rock, it’s twisty akin to a LOST, and it’s well-structured and has weight to it like any number of prestige dramas, despite being a network sitcom.
Pace and timing has a lot to do with making all of this work. I’ve talked a lot in the past about how creator Michael Schur and his troupe of writers have no problem blowing through plot that would be drawn out over multiple seasons, but it’s not simply enough to be fast-pased and forward thinking, because you run the risk of giving your audience a bad case of fear of missing out. The Good Place works because even though you want more of the stuff they leave behind, the path forward manages to be even more compelling.
“The Snowplow” is the latest example of why the show is so good at all of this, as is blows up the premise once again, even though we’re only four episodes into this third season and the new normal of the show after Michael resets the timeline and puts Chidi, Eleanor, Jason and Tahani back in their old lives, as if they never died and spent thousands of years being psychologically tortured by his former, overzealous demon self. Last week, we saw Michael and Janet dispense of Trevor and his attempts to set Michael’s plan ablaze, but in the process they burned their bridge with The Judge, forcing them to go on the run down on earth, devoid of their powers. But they’re still laser-focused on their goal of making sure their four friends tally enough points to make it to the Good Place, so they spend the next year holed up in the abandoned journalism department of the university where Chidi is conducting his study on the rest of the group, spying on them and occasionally interfering in order to put out fired and set them back on track. Unfortunately, their interference backfires when Tahani gets engaged to Larry Hemsworth and vows to leave Australia for London. Michael and Janet try to interfere again at the engagement party, but none of it works and it only helps usher Eleanor down her usual path of destructiveness.
This is where I start to annoyingly sing the show’s praises again, because what follows is kind of beautifully tragic. While Michael panics, thinking the group can’t achieve what they need to unless they stay together in Australia, the gang of four vows to reunite at least once a year at one of their respective homes, signalling that all hope isn’t necessarily lost. Unfortunately Michael isn’t around to see this. Flustered, he devises a Hail Mary plan to break into The Judge’s chambers and reset the timeline, much like he did when the gang first found out they were in The Bad Place (and the hundreds of times they found out thereafter). Unfortunately, they see him open the portal, leaving us with a cliffhanger where the group might suddenly become aware of their sinister situation.
Of course, we’ll have to wait and see how this plays out, if Michael manages to reset the timeline, if everyone goes up to try and help them or if he somehow fools them, but knowing what this show is capable of and what it’s done in the past, it’s likely to be something good and something crazy, turning everything we know about the show on its head once again. And here I thought we were in for an episode of yearly group meet-ups.
Like I said, the twists alone aren’t enough, the show is brilliant on all fronts. Janet spends the episode using the ubiquitous knowledge she still has before she left the afterlife, Michael comes up with yet another persona (Nathaniel Cookswell, caterer to the stars), there’s a debate about Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. The Rock, we were introduced to Superboard, and the show even pays off a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it gag from last week’s episode featuring an Australian version of AUS Weekly (not to be confused with TMZed) revealing a fake, worthless Hemsworth brother, who immediately pays dividends in this episode as a self-loathing baby surgeon who barely even has an eight-pack.
This is a show that’s been firing on all cylinders since late in its first season, and I see no sign of that stopping. “The Snowplow” gets 9 lesser known Hemsworth brothers out of 10.
All The Best Lines from “The Snowplow:”
- Tahani Namedrops: Giselle Buncheon and, without actually naming him, Tom Brady.
- The Judge: “I have never been this angry in my life. Which is the age of the universe.”
- Michael/Judge: “Sorry Judge I think you’re breaking up.” “That’s impossible, it’s a magical key you dick.”
- Janet: “Not a great star, Eleanor farted and then she blamed it on her chair.”
- Chidi reading Trevor’s email (which is really from Michael): “I’m sad to inform you that I’m too ugly and stupid to be part of the study and I’m going home to my mommy.”
- Jason: “Your chair smells bad.”
- Eleanor: “I try to avoid pointless group activities. You know like office Christmas parties or jury duty.”
- Eleanor: “Well I’m really good at marketing and I can usually tell how long to microwave food without looking at the box. I would say those are my two main skills.”
- Janet: “Also that bathroom key that you lost nine months ago slid under the register. And the woman who you think is your aunt is actually your mom.”
- Tahani after Eleanor wins $18,000: “Better luck next time. Yes, sorry, from context I see that’s actually a large sum of money.”
- Jason: “Everything here is in a… I don’t know how to describe it, like a different zone of time? No, that sounds stupid. A different clockland!”
- Jason: “If you want to watch with me you have to learn my Jaguars cheer. It goes, ‘let’s go Jags! Kick their ass! Yeah!’ Do you think you can learn that by the weekend?”
- Larry Hemsworth: “Stupid Larry stop talking about rocks!”
- On the Superboard’s news: “Koala exhibit at zoo overrun by extra koalas who just climbed in and won’t leave.”
- Larry/Chidi: “Still can’t believe she wants to marry me, a dumb old pediatric surgeon who barely has an eight pack.” “Do you not know what you look like?”
- Eleanor: “Is that why you came out? To scold me about the metric system?”
- Eleanor: “We hate The Rock because he went Hollywood and Stone Cold keeps it real. So The Rock’s fans are the real jabronis.”
- Eleanor: “I’m not really an I’m sorry type girl. I’m more of a it’s your fault your car got keyed in the movie theater parking lot because you wouldn’t stop talking through John Wick type girl.”
- Jason: “We should meet up in Jacksonville. My house is right on the water. It didn’t used to be but the whole city is a swamp and it’s sinking into the ocean.”