The Best Lines From The Good Place S03E07: ‘A Fractured Inheritance’

I wouldn’t be surprised if there are a lot of fans of The Good Place that aren’t too enthused about the direction the show has taken in its third season. After so many time jumps and so many reality-bending twists, it seems to have settled into a much slower pace, choosing to focus on its characters and their relationships rather than moving the story forward at the breakneck pace that we’ve become accustomed to. The thing is, I believe the show has merely replaced one set of stakes for another.

Season 2 of The Good Place was all about breaking down the conventions of this universe’s versions of heaven and hell. It was about Michael joining forces with the study group to upend the unfair, arbitrary points system and save humanity. Season 3 reveals pretty quickly that this is a fruitless, pointless endeavor, and instead tasks the characters with living the best, most virtuous lives they can not so they can find salvation, but rather to save others. This season has sacrificed our characters and their chance at eternal happiness, but as for the rest of humanity, that’s still on the table. In that sense, nothing about the show has changed, other than maybe the pace, as the characters are currently bound to their own mortality.

Of course, with a show like The Good Place, that could change at any moment – and it likely will when you least expect it – but for now, and for the last couple of episodes, it’s meant that Eleanor, Michael and the gang are on a string of personal tasks to help set their friends and family on the right path. Last week, it was about Chidi breaking things off with his girlfriend so she wouldn’t risk being burdened with his knowledge of the afterlife, as well as about Jason helping his father. This week, we move on to Eleanor and Tahani, who share the theme of being burdened by an unreconciled relationship with a family member who they feel has somehow wronged them and set them down the path that eventually led to eternal doom.

Some might consider this to be The Good Place slowing down or losing focus, but I really like this new direction. At the core of the show is four (six including the two eternal beings) who are irreparably broken. For the first two seasons of the show, we’ve seen their attempts to fix themselves fail time and time again. Season three posits that they’re irreparable, yet aims to get to the bottom of what broke them and to try and improve things for all of them. As we saw last week, with Chidi it’s about making decisions. With Jason, about not enabling criminal behaviour, I guess. And this week, Eleanor and Tahani have to let go their preconceptions about the mother and the sister (respectively) that they feel wronged them.

Like I said last week, it’s like a really funny version of Quantum Leap or The Littlest Hobo and that’s really charming. This doesn’t feel like the show is treading water, but instead setting up all the characters for what’s to come next. And, you know, like I say every week, it still manages to be hilarious even if it feels like it could be moving a little faster, which is the central aim of any comedy, even one that’s previously astounded us by its rapid plot movement. Maybe in hindsight it feels a little faster, especially in these episodes that don’t really move the plot forward too much, so it’s important to remind ourselves that it’s still one of the funniest shows on television.

In this episode, “A Fractured Inheritance”, we follow Tahani in Germany as she attends her sister’s art exhibit with Chidi, Jason and Janet in an effort to stand up to her sister, only to realize that the one thing they can bond over is the damage inflicted on both of them by their parents. Tahani learns to let go of her insecurities and just love Kamillah for who she is; her sister.

Meanwhile, back in the States, Eleanor and Michael travel to Nevada to confront Eleanor’s mother Donna, now going under the pseudonym Dianna Tremaine (which Eleanor posits was the name she always planned to use to fake her own death). Donna is living with her new husband Dave (the incomparable Andy Daly in another perfect casting choice) and his daughter Patricia. She’s trying to be a good wife and stepmom and is even running for Patricia’s PTA, but Eleanor insists that she’s planning some sort of grift. But she comes short of proving it. The closest she gets is finding a stash of stolen cash Donna has squirreled away, but even that is only a contingency fund in case she needs to escape. Eleanor helps Donna realize that she’s becoming basic, but that’s okay, because she’s turned her life around. Now Eleanor has to find a way to come to terms with the fact that the one person that could have set her on the right path in her original life was never willing to do so when she was raising her. She resents the fact that her mom found herself only after she abandoned Eleanor, and she sees her own shortcomings in Donna’s happiness. Which is where the reveal in the episode’s tag comes in; Michael informs her that once and only once did she ever admit to anyone her true feelings, in that one version of the Neighbourhood where she and Chidi fall deeply in love, setting up new tension that we all knew was coming for the next stage of the season.

But before we get to that, “A Fractured Inheritance” is a slower but important episode of The Good Place which aims to fix one of the central shortcomings of two of its main characters. And as usual, it’s also hilarious, so it gets 8.5 self-appointed father figures out of 10.


The Best Lines from this week’s episode of The Good Place:

  • Tahani Namedrops: Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, both in the same breath.
  • I get that they cast Andy Daly as an architect for the jokes with Michael, but it seems wrong that they’ve broken his string of appearances in sitcoms as a doctor.
  • Easily the best visual gag of this episode is how Eleanor has a plate with a stack of American cheese on it at the PTA meeting. Also how the school is named the “MGM Grand Luxury Resort and Casino Elementary School.”
  • Michael: “I’d already told you that you died and that I had tortured you for centuries and that you’re doomed to be tortured again. I just didn’t to be like a bummer.”
  • Donna: “Yay! You found me!”
  • Donna: “You haven’t even introduced me to this sexy stretched out Alex Trebek.”
  • Donna: “His napkins are made out of like shirt material.”
  • Donna: “This is as real as the nails under my acrylic nails.”
  • Jason: “Those aren’t dumb shapes, that’s a pair of boobs, and then two extra side boobs. They symbolize that boobs come in all shapes and sizes and distances apart.”
  • Michael/Dave: “Well, let’s just say that… lived… in the same… neighbourhood.” “What a fun way to say a normal thing.”
  • Michael: “Check out what Dave gave me, plans for a Subaru dealership slash burlesque club he’s designing in Reno. Man, Nevada’s a mess.”
  • Eleanor: “When the time comes, she will rip this guy off and disappear like Keyser Soze. Right after he admitted to groping all of those people.”
  • Eleanor to Michael: “First things first, do you have a penis?”
  • Kamillah: “All your fears are now mine.”
  • Chidi: “She’s amazing! All of my fears are hers now.”
  • Also Chidi: “All my fears are mine again!”
  • Dave: “Auditorium? More like audi-bore-ium.”
  • Dave/Michael: “Your mother is a very confident and selfish lover.” “Yikes.” “No, no, no, that’s perfect for me. I don’t know what I want.”
  • Eleanor after it’s revealed she wrote on “Bofa Deeznutz” on the PTA vote: “Don’t look at me like that, you’re not my real dad.”
  • Donna: “I’m gonna need to get a calculator, and maybe a globe? I don’t really understand this job.”
  • Tahani/Chidi: “These paintings. They’re us.” “You’re the boobs? Sorry, once Jason said it that’s all I could see.”
  • Donna/Eleanor: “I don’t love it so much. I am not basic. Ya basic.” “No, mom, YA basic.”
  • Donna: “After one glass [of Chardonnay] I get sleepy, so I usually switch to water so I can drive home. Like a nerd!”
  • Michael, forgetting the bathrooms on his architectural design: “Just a little oversight, I certainly use the bathroom just like anyone else. I love to sit on the the thing and, you know, shoot one out.”

 

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The Best Lines from The Good Place S03E06: ‘The Ballad of Donkey Doug’

 

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.”

 

The Best Lines From The Good Place S03E05: “Jeremy Bearimy”

Probably the best thing about this week’s premise-altering episode of The Good Place (other than Chidi’s newly-revealed abs) has to be the fact that, prior to blowing up the plot for the umpteenth time, the show seems to make an earnest attempt to do the thing that most other sitcoms would do to slow things down. At the end of last week’s episode, our study group catches Michael and Janet opening the portal to the afterlife. Eventually, Michael is forced to reveal all to the group, as he’s done many a time in the past, but first comes an ill-fated lie, rebranding himself as Special Agent Rick Justice of the FBI’s paranormal activity squad, tasked which chasing demons ghouls and attempting to convince the four that they’re somehow part of it.

Eleanor et al instantly see through it. On any other show, they might not have. But on The Good Place, it’s totally in line with their characters to deny it, even though, a moment later, Michael is forced to give them the truth and they instantly believe it. A big fat important part about Michael’s character is that he’s bad at lying. Even the best, most finely-tuned lie, like the original Neighourhood, is going to get turned on its head, because no matter how hard he tries, it’s never convincing enough. Making up a terrible, amazing alias on the spot isn’t going to trick these four, whether they remember his previous lies or not. And yet, when he explains the truth – that they’ve died and spent hundreds of years in hell, and that the afterline’s timeline looks like the English cursive representation of the name “Jeremy Bearimy”, which also happens to be this week’s episode title – there is no objection.

This is a perfect encapsulation of The Good Place’s earnestness, and why the format works so well. The characters are consistent and have incredible chemistry with one another, no matter what crazy situation the writers inevitably place them in. What really puts it over the top, however, is the quality of the writing and what the writers choose to do with those situations, and those finely tuned characters. It’s kind of shocking how such a critical episode chooses not to be plot-driven, but instead make a point about the show’s philosophical and ethical questions. Especially since it chooses to do so without reverting back to the often-used contrivance of the show of having Chidi serve as the group’s professor.

Instead, faced with a life meaningless existence, expecting thereafter an eternity of suffering, the group is left to their own devices, as everyone chooses to take a completely different path. Michael and Janet are writing a manifesto of their experience (and based on how much the episode focuses on this you have to imagine something will come of it, like maybe the manifesto getting leaked to the public and breaking the entire system). Tahani decides to give away all of her money while Jason, in her tow, aims her towards giving it to the people he perceives might need it the most. Eleanor says she’s going to play by her own rules, as she did before her original death, but finds that she’s suddenly bound by the rules of society she was previously keen on ignoring. And Chidi, faced with irrefutable yet irreconcilable proof that his life is a lie and his lifelong struggle with indecisiveness was ultimately pointless, is merely broken. He strips down, spends hundreds of dollars on groceries, makes a disgusting chili and has an episode in front of his classroom.

And yet, while he’s having his breakdown, he winds up summing up exactly what everyone in the group is doing. Tahani’s actions are proof of virtue ethics, as she chooses to be a good person regardless of the consequences as she donates anonymously (but not the way another Ted Danson character did on Curb Your Enthusiasm). Jason chooses consequentialism, steering her virtue towards those who need it the most. Eleanor sticks with deontology, a.k.a. the actions themselves and the rules of society. Chidi simply disregards all of these options and opts to go with nihilism, since nothing matters and actions are inconsequential.

The truth winds up being somewhere in the middle, as Eleanor winds up rallying the group with a plan to do good and help people because trying is better than not trying. However, before they can get started on their new path, Larry Hemsworth shows up, unaware of what’s transpired. I kind of hope they never address his appearance and everyone just assumes Tahani dumped poor Larry offscreen.

All of this makes “Jeremy Bearimy” one of the best episodes of The Good Place and of TV this year, good enough for 9.5 wings and atria out of 10.


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The Best Lines from The Good Place S03E05:

  • Tahani Namedrops: James Cameron, “The Bodyguard’s” Kevin Costner.
  • Michael Aliases: Special Agent Rick Justice, FBI, and for Janet, Lisa “double nickname” Fuquois, AKA “Frenchie”, AKA “Janet”.
  • Seriously though, damn Chidi. And I’m not talking about his shirt that reads “Who What Where When Wine”.
  • Eleanor winds up at a bar called “Drinking Nemo.”
  • Tahani: “What’s The Good Place and, what are afterlife points and, who has the most and is it me?
  • Michael: “But you’re forgetting one crucial piece of information… right?”
  • Michael: “I could kill them all right now, it would be easy. Their bodies are very poorly made. They’re mostly goo and juice. You just take the juice out and then they’re dead.”
  • Janet/Michael: “So sorry for eternally dooming you.” “That’s our bad.”
  • Michael explaining the dot above the I to Chidi: “How do I explain this concisely… this is Tuesdays. And also July. And sometimes it’s never.”
  • Tahani: “I need you to act as my bodyguard, like my friend Kevin Costner in that movie where he was a bodyguard, ‘The Bodyguard’.”
  • Jason: “In Jacksonville, I got a flu virus named after me because I kissed a bat on a dare.”
  • Drug Dealer to Chidi: “I was just trying to sell you some drugs and you made it weird.”
  • Eleanor: “Rule number two, no more Spider-Man movies. There are way too many Spider-Man movies, so many dorky little twerpy Spider-Men.”
  • Eleanor: “In America everybody does whatever they want, society did break down, it’s terrible and it’s great. You only look out for number one, scream at whoever disagrees with you, there are no bees because they all died, and if you need surgery you just beg for money on the internet.”
  • Tahani: “Hello madam, are you poor?”
  • Jason: “I could have gone to a real doctor instead of pretending I was a big dog so I could go to the vet.”
  • Banker: “We’re technically supposed to shut down the bank if anyone from Florida even walks in.”
  • Jason: “If it’s any easier you can just put it on a GameStop gift card.”
  • Man/Eleanor: “Are you alright?” “No, YOU shut up.”
  • Chidi: “Imma eat all this chili, and/or die trying.”
  • Chidi: “And now I’m gonna eat my marshmallow candi chili in silence and you all can jump up into your own butts.”
  • Michael: “I know it’s Thursday but I’d really like to visit a LensCrafters.”

 

The Best Lines From The Good Place S03E04: ‘The Snowplow’

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.”

The Best Lines From The Good Place S03E03: “The Brainy Bunch”

 

Having spent the first two episodes of its third season setting up its latest delightfully convoluted conceit, The Good Place‘s latest episode, “The Brainy Bunch” felt like something akin to a proof of concept. There probably wasn’t anything you could label as a big twist (although there were certainly some interesting plot developments) and it felt as if the show was trying to show us how this idea of the group continuing their efforts to better themselves in a new setting could work over the long haul. Of course, anyone’s who has watched The Good Place from the beginning knows that nothing it does is meant to last for a long time. This is a show that is constantly on its heels, constantly evolving, growing, bettering itself the same way it tasks its characters to do in the story. We can probably be reassured that anything set up in any given episode probably won’t apply for very long, and that’s a big part of the beauty of the show.

And yet, if one is to review the show on a weekly basis, it has to be pointed out that “The Brainy Bunch” feels like more of a letter move than you would expect from a show with all the accolades I gave it. Not much of consequence really happens, and yet the episode is still extraordinarily funny, and the plot developments at the end of the episode signal that the next round of change is probably around the corner.

The episode follows the efforts of the group to bond, while their newest member, the evil demon Trevor (Adam Scott), tries to undermine them and break them up. He not-so-subtly starts to annoy Eleanor and tries to push her away from Chidi and he tries to have Tahani and Jason hook up, which will certainly be problematic for the group’s dynamics. Michael and Janet arrive to thwart his efforts, but Michael, while convinced that the group’s magnetic attraction cannot be stopped, is not his usual self, incapable of lying and coming up with any decent comebacks, and Janet is having trouble adjusting to life on earth without her powers. In the end, Trevor’s meddling has mixed results. Tahani and Jason didn’t hook up, but there is clearly something budding between then (again). Eleanor almost quits the study but Chidi, as he is wont to do, stops her and brings her back.

More intriguingly, however, the Judge catches up with the efforts of our three eternal beings. She flicks Trevor out of the picture (literally) and informs Michael and Janet that while the experiment can continue unimpeded, they will have to be returned to The Bad Place. Luckily, all the stuff that Janet couldn’t materialize on earth suddenly appears and they’re able to escape back to earth with the one and only key that the Doorman lets them take.

All that tells me that more change is around the corner. Michael and Janet can’t be running around on earth without their abilities for too long, at least not without eventually revealing themselves and their intentions to the group, which further changes the group dynamics and moves the story forward. In that sense, the episode feels like it might be doing a little more table setting than you would want from this show. And yet, it’s still incredibly impressive that these four characters have such good chemistry and such an interesting dynamic even though, technically they have no knowledge of their prior interactions and are meeting each other for the first time yet again. The show doesn’t miss a beat and doesn’t repeat itself in the slightest in spite of this.

And, like I said, it’s still incredibly funny! Tasking myself to write down my favourite lines from a show like this has been a daunting task, but it’s worth it, because on top of being super original and really good, it never forgets that it’s a comedy, which is something that a lot of the higher quality shows in the half-hour format have trouble with.

So “The Brainy Bunch” feels somewhat transitional, but still really funny and compelling, and for that, it gets 9 devastating Dick Tracy burns out of 10.


Notes & Quotes:

  • Tahani Namedrops: I only caught two this week, Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively.
  • The “Cowboy Skyscraper Buffet” Mount Rushmore has replaced its presidential faces with David Hasselhoff, Paris Hilton, Judge Judy and Hulk Hogan.
  • Stuff that happened because Michael and Janet went to earth: Brexit, The Greatest Showman’s success, the Jacksonville Jaguars are good now, Byron Allen owns The Weather Channel.
  • Eleanor: “It’s so nice to hear someone say ‘Eleanor, you’re the reason this is all happening’ who isn’t a judge in small claims court.”
  • Trevor: “Eleanor, do I have the right number for you? Because you haven’t responded to any of the dank memes I’ve sent.”
  • Jason, holding a spider: “Mrs. Teacher, for my turn is there any way to get, like, extra radiation?”
  • Trevor: “Dick Tracy called, he said you’re a buttface and he’s been plowing your mom.”
  • Michael: “Well Dick Tracy called me too, first, and he said he was about to call you and say a lie about me that was actually true about you instead.”
  • Trevor: “What did you think, we were just going to sit around in the Bad Place blowing beefers while you’re down here boning us in the meathole?”
  • Michael: “First of all, I’m currently formulating a better comeback to your Dick Tracy burn and it’s gonna devastate you.”
  • Michael: “Dick Tracy called you back on his watch phone and said you better watch out.”
  • Jason: “Optimus, Bumblebee, Jazz, Megatron. That’s what you can each call me, now we need nicknames for you guys.”
  • Michael: “Every part of my body is either too dry or too wet.”
  • Chidi: “We could be colleagues, associates is pushing it. And by even having this conversation you’re becoming my confidant.”
  • Michael: “It’s me, the librarian. From the library. I’ve been in every situation. Because I’m a librarian.”
  • Trevor: “I like putting my hands on the toilets so everything I touch gets a little bit of poop on it.”
  • Jason: “Crazy story, after you got out of the cap I forgot where I lived, but I looked across the street and there was a motel. And behind that there was a dumpster. I slept in a dumpster!”
  • Jason: “You’re the fanciest person I know. Next to my friend Ronnie who drives a limo. He’s in limos all the time. What a life!”
  • Michael/Trevor: “Hey, Dick Tracy called. He said that I was right about Eleanor and Chidi having an unbreakable bond.” “I don’t think you understand how that joke works.”

The Best Lines from The Good Place S03E01&02: “Everything is

 

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!”