[Warning: The following contains spoilers for Thursday's episode of The Good Place, "Employee of the Bearimy." Read at your own risk!]
The final season of The Good Place has already been a whirlwind for Jason Mendoza (Manny Jacinto). Everyone's favorite pre-successful Florida DJ got dumped by Janet (D'Arcy Carden) only to outsmart all of his friends, and a bunch of scheming demons, when he realized she was actually Bad Janet in disguise. In Thursday's episode, Jason and Michael (Ted Danson) ventured into the lions' den when they infiltrated the Bad Place to bring our Janet home.
It was a long-overdue victory for Jason, who finally got to play the romantic hero — and look very suave in the process. His reunion with Janet was the episode's sweetest moment: Shawn (Marc Evan Jackson) tried to torture her with the sight of her boyfriend, thinking Jason was really demon Glenn (Josh Siegal) in disguise, but Janet sensed the truth. Series creator Mike Schur told TV Guide that it wasn't just those magnetized handcuffs that made her trust Jason so easily.
"Even when she's got those handcuffs on her that make her kind of drunk, she's smart enough to know that this might be a trick or it might really be a Jason suit," Schur explained. "But the way he talks to her and the fact that he ends his sentence very pointedly by saying 'girl,' and then she whispers, 'Not a girl,' the implication is she pretty quickly [figures out it's really Jason.]"
The interaction was crafted as a testament to the way the characters understand each other. "Jason has a line earlier in the episode where he says, 'I'm scared. What if all this time apart has changed me and Janet's relationship? What if that special connection is gone?'" Schur said. "So what we're trying to indicate is that it's not, that even through the fog of her captivity and even despite the fact that there's no reasonable way that she would immediately believe that that is him, she just somehow knows."
The all-knowing Janet might seem like a strange match for Jason, who isn't always the brightest bulb (Schur said a joke was cut from an upcoming episode about how Jason "thinks that fog is dead clouds"), but Schur pointed out that Jason makes as much sense for Janet as any human would: "Compared to Janet all humans are the same amount of intelligent. To Janet there's no difference between Jason and, like, Stephen Hawking. It's a rounding error if you're Janet and you know everything in the universe."
"The other side of that coin is that Jason doesn't treat Janet the way everybody else treated Janet, at least in the old days," Schur continued. "He treated her like a person. Instead of just asking her for things he hugged her and wanted to know how she was feeling and asked her about herself and thought she was interesting and cool."
Jason and Janet first bonded during one of the rare stretches of time when she didn't know everything, as she gradually recovered from being rebooted in Season 1. It was an interaction Schur said shaped Janet as she evolved. "We like to think of it as, for about 43 seconds they were roughly the same amount of intelligent, and in that 43 seconds they had a nice conversation," Schur laughed. "They just had a sort of bonding moment that was different from all of the other interactions she had ever had with people. And at a certain point we were like, 'Well, that's kind of what love is in some weird way, right?' You have an interaction with someone and it feels different than all of your interactions with all other people, and it changes you."
The showrunner also praised Jacinto and Carden for finding the sweetness in their characters' dynamic. "They're so lovely with each other," he said. "It just makes me smile to think about the two of them hanging out."
Of course, Jason and Janet's relationship did have to get past one last hurdle as they escaped the Bad Place: Blake Bortles. When Jason assumed Bad Janet had been lying about the Jacksonville Jaguars cutting the QB, Janet had to let him down. And just as Jason was celebrating the Jags' new quarterback, Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles, Janet got more bad news: "Oh no, Nick Foles just broke his clavicle."
It was a perfect, hilarious letdown at the end of the episode, and the National Football League unintentionally handed it to Schur on a platter. They had already wrapped filming on the show when Foles was injured in September, but, Schur explained, "We knew given the brutality of the NFL that we were very likely going to have to try to be light on our feet and deal with some stuff that happened over the course of the season." And since the episode ended with a wide shot that didn't show the characters' mouths, the line was easy to add in post-production.
It's just the latest in a long line of real-world frustrations The Good Place has turned into comedy. "I was sad for Nick Foles — I don't know Nick Foles, but I was sad that he got injured, like I'm always sad for anyone who gets injured. But I was like, 'Oh, this will make our show funny,'" Schur laughed. "I hope he fully recovers and has a long and happy career. He's fine. He's won a Super Bowl, he's fine. But it was kind of an amazing thing that our show made an enormous bet in Season 1 that Jacksonville Jaguars quarterbacks would be an interesting subject of discussion, and it's kind of crazy when a bet like that pays off."
The Good Place airs Thursdays at 9/8c on NBC.