The Good Place has been on the air for less than a week and we're already three episodes deep. Time flies when you're living in eternal bliss, I guess. Three episodes is enough time to know the rules of the titular Good Place and really get a sense of the tone of the show.
It's shaping into a strong ensemble comedy whose world promises to get much richer as it expands. Chapter 3 picks up with Eleanor (Kristen Bell) reeling from the anonymous note slipped under her door telling her she doesn't belong in the Good Place. She's so distracted that she can barely pay attention to Chidi's (William Jackson Harper) boring moral philosophy lesson. She's convinced that Tahani (Jameela Jamil), her beautiful, kind, perfect neighbor, is out to get her, because Tahani is also not the good person she presents herself as. The plant Tahani gave her starts to wilt, and Chidi says it's because the plant represents their relationship and Eleanor's feelings toward and treatment of Tahani will manifest on the plant.
Eleanor's ability to affect the Good Place is still starting to reveal itself. It seems sort of like she's a bad line of code that causes a bug in the Good Place's operating system. I wonder what she would have to do to totally destroy the Good Place? We know that lying about picking up garbage will cause garbage to rain from the sky and also that people can't die in the Good Place (because they're already dead), so we'll see what the cause-and-effect will be when Eleanor royally forks up and does something truly awful. Skipping forward in the episode, it'll be interesting to see if Jianyu (Manny Jacinto) is having similar symptoms and he doesn't speak as a way to prevent any chaos like flying shrimp from happening, or if the glitch he causes manifests differently. It's probably what's causing Tahani's feeling of dis-ease.
Anyway, Eleanor sets out to uncover Tahani's deep, dark secrets that prove she's actually terrible, and comes up short in conversation. Tahani seems to be, at worst, a little condescending and prone to lording her wonderfulness over people, but she's mostly a genuinely wonderful person. So Eleanor steals her diary -- which, in my favorite joke of the episode, has a forward written by Malala Yousafzai and Kylie Minogue -- to really get the dirt.
Finding nothing, she returns the diary, and catches Tahani crying because her soulmate Jianyu won't break his vow of silence and talk to her. Eleanor comforts her, which counts as a good deed, and the plant, which burst into flames when Eleanor stole the diary, comes back to life even more lush than before.
But -- twist! -- it wasn't the Good Place manifesting the notes, it was Jianyu, who also doesn't belong there and is in the Good Place by mistake, and he's freaking out, homie!
I wonder what horrible things Jianyu did on Earth. So far, we haven't seen anyone's flashbacks but Eleanor's, but The Good Place creator Mike Schur says that other people's flashbacks are coming as we get to know them better, so we'll probably find out that Jianyu was a burglar (or something much funnier) next week.
The episode's MVP is Janet (D'Arcy Carden), Michael's right-hand woman (angel? I don't know. We may not ever know exactly what Michael [Ted Danson] is yet), who isn't calibrated to behaving like a human yet and keeps overcorrecting. Carden is a veteran of the Upright Citizens Brigade, and the comic timing she perfected at the theater is on full display here. With her sunny-dispositioned lunacy, she's quickly establishing herself as the show's breakout star. And I hope she keeps telling us who else is in the Bad Place. Christopher Columbus and all deceased Portland Trail Blazers are not surprising (tough break, Dražen Petrović), and I'm looking forward to some truly unexpected names.
What did you think? Let's talk about it.