[Warning: The following contains spoilers for Thursday's episode of The Good Place, "Help Is Other People." Read at your own risk!]
Thursday's episode of The Good Placehinged on a literal, dangling-off-a-cliff cliffhanger -- but it ended somewhere even more stressful. "Help Is Other People" jumped ahead to the last day of the year-long experiment, which started to fall apart when Simone (Kirby Howell-Baptiste) went full Eleanor (Kristen Bell), revealing her suspicion that she and the other humans were being tested somehow. She didn't know exactly what was up, but she knew Eleanor and Michael (Ted Danson) were behind it.
As the humans closed in on the truth, Michael made a Hail Mary attempt to earn them some extra points before their time ran out: He staged a magic show gone wrong and intentionally opened up a sinkhole right where Brent (Ben Koldyke) was standing. (Who among us hasn't thought about it?) Michael and Eleanor left Chidi (William Jackson Harper), Simone, and John (Brandon Scott Jones) alone with Brent in the hopes that they'd come together to save him. John and Simone were not having it. (John: "Giant holes are bad and we should go!")
The group fractured in a disagreement over ethics: Chidi believed in saving Brent from that sinkhole no matter what, even if Brent wouldn't do the same for him, but Simone believed they'd given Brent enough chances to change already, and she wanted to get out of the neighborhood before the countdown clock hit zero. And so Chidi and Simone broke up in what John called "the most boring breakup [he'd] ever seen," John and Simone left for an unknown location, and Chidi fell into the sinkhole after trying to save Brent on his own.
With just 10 minutes to go in the experiment, Eleanor and Michael went old school. They rescued the guys and took them to Michael's office, where Chidi echoed Eleanor's game-changing Season 1 finale epiphany: "This is the Bad Place." He's not exactly right, but he's got the spirit. He also got a nice cackle from both Michael and Eleanor, who hammed it up as they pretended Chidi was onto them. Finally, Michael's evil laugh is being used for good.
The callback to Michael's demonic laugh was fun, but what really made this episode feel like vintage The Good Place was its anything-could-happen spirit. This season has felt at times like it was spinning its wheels, especially with the four humans at the center of the experiment. Technically, skipping ahead to the end of that experiment should have short-changed them even more, but it actually gave them more to do; it allowed them to take action that pushed the plot forward instead of treating them like pawns. Simone, John, and even Brent have never been more interesting this season than they were here, as they finally had the debates that pushed our four characters to grow in the first place.
Will that be enough to save all of humanity? No pressure. Michael and Eleanor's goal was to push Brent to accept that he's not a good person, which is the first step to actually becoming one. We don't know if they succeeded. Brent resisted admitting that he's less than perfect, but it seemed like something was sinking in. As the episode ended, he turned to Chidi: "Look, Chidi, whatever happens next I need to say this to you. I am so, so sorr -- " And then the clock ran out and he and Chidi were frozen in time.
Keep Janet's (D'Arcy Carden) margarita pitcher handy; it's going to be a long week.
Best lines of the night:
Brent: "Man, crazy twist, huh? It's like something out of a Chip Driver novel."
Michael: "I only got halfway through writing 'The Purple Train to Groovy City,' I just ran out of creative juice!"
Janet: "Yesterday everybody ate a lollipop that let them talk to birds!"
Jason (Manny Jacinto): "Hi Simone. Jason Mendoza, Jacksonville, Florida. Go Jags, obviously. Um, what else about me? I was born in a swimming pool..."
Chidi on whether Brent would save him: "Maybe, if Elle Macpherson were nearby and he wanted to impress her, or if he thought that I was a prince he could ransom. That's not the point. He is a person in a hole. I have a duty to help him get out. What he would do is irrelevant."
Michael: "Oh, boffo!"
The Good Place airs Thursdays at 9/8c on NBC.