[Warning: The following contains spoilers for Season 4, Episode 11 of The Good Place, "Mondays, Am I Right?" Read at your own risk!]
Fire up that hot air balloon; Team Cockroach is finally going to the Good Place -- and not just the mailroom this time. The third-to-last episode of The Good Place ended with another afterlife-changing shock for Eleanor (Kristen Bell), Chidi (William Jackson Harper), Jason (Manny Jacinto), and Tahani (Jameela Jamil): They got into the Good Place without even having to take the test. It turns out saving every soul in the universe is worth a few points.
This is, obviously, great news for our four humans and a cool development for the show. They're going to the Good Place! It is the TITULAR ROLE. But Michael (Ted Danson) looks a little sad and aimless getting in the hot air balloon with them -- he says he's only tagging along because he's "recently unemployed" and "might as well do some traveling" -- and that aimlessness is probably going to factor into the next chapter of the story. Michael's big existential crisis in this episode comes from not knowing who he is without a job to do. Is he going to learn how to let go and just be happy? Maybe, but we've basically done that with Chidi already. I'm hoping he finds a new cause, and I'm hoping it's reworking the entire Good Place. The Good Place committee is the worst, and their spineless dedication to compromise is a spot-on takedown of the state of political discourse. If the last two episodes of the show are spent tearing down that mindset, it could be very satisfying.
And there has to be a reason why there wasn't a single Good Place architect involved in the building of a whole new afterlife system. Most of "Mondays, Am I Right?" is spent narrowing down the particulars of how the new afterlife will work, but each human's test is supposed to be a collaboration between architects from both sides. Where is the Good Place while Michael is training demons in the fine art of emotional torture?
Michael is right: Emotional torture can be more of an art form -- and way more painful -- than physical torture. That was the premise of his original neighborhood. But the message only clicks for the Bad Place architects when Vicky (Tiya Sircar) puts it in their terms: "Think of it as flattening the penises of their heart." The demons' dry run with Tahani is the funniest part of this episode: They just can't let go of that chainsaw bear until Vicky shows them how it's done, putting Tahani through a painful party with her family that gives us all a closer look at how this afterlife test is going to work. Michael bristles at watching Vicky make his job obsolete, but he gets over himself and hands her the keys to the kingdom. May we all one day find a job we're as good at as Vicky is at exploiting people's psychological weaknesses.
While Michael and Janet (D'Arcy Carden) are off saving Tahani from the chainsaw bears, Eleanor, Chidi, and Jason are combing through the Bad Place's files to find the first 1,000 humans to take the test -- people so good that they'll sail right through. They get distracted when they realize they can read their own files, making Eleanor insecure because she's done things she thinks Chidi can't forgive and Chidi insecure because he thinks Eleanor is cooler than he is. "You were dealt a pretty tough hand," he tells her. "You essentially had to raise yourself, but you were still more confident and self-possessed at 13 than I ever was." The fact that Chidi can see what's "remarkable" about her is part of what makes them good together, so it's a relief that Jason helps him realize he's worrying about nothing. I love it when Jason Mendoza is the smartest person in the room.
Lines of the night:
Eleanor: "I love you. There is no one else I want to be with. At least not forever; I mean, if Frida Kahlo wants to make out with me in heaven then you and I are going to have a conversation."
Megan (Fran Gillespie): "OK so like, her parents were the chainsaw bear, but instead of chopping off her head they chopped off her self-esteem?"
Jason: "What's going on, dawg? I know you're upset. You have a tell."
Chidi: "I do?"
Jason: "Yeah, you telled Eleanor before that you were upset, and I think you still are."
Janet: "Once on Earth I didn't know something and I had to ask Alexa. I felt dirty."
Vicky: "I am a strong, independent acid snake in the skin suit of a strong, independent woman."
Jason's list of the best people who ever lived: Evel Knievel, the Kool-Aid Man, Mini-Me, DJ Jazzy Jeff, "a genie so we can wish for infinity people," Fat Bastard, The World's Most Interesting Man, Pikachu, Karate Kid, Wendy from Wendy's, Grumpy Cat, and "the GPS lady that tells you where to drive"
One last thought: There is nothing I would have loved to see more than Ted Danson doing the West Side Story dance battle.
The Good Place airs Thursdays at 8:30/7:30c on NBC.