[Warning: The following contains spoilers for Thursday's episode of The Good Place, "The Funeral to End All Funerals." Read at your own risk!]
It's funny how a year flies by in Jeremy Bearimy time. The experiment to determine the fate of humanity ended in the final seconds of last week's episode, and here we are already, recovering from the aftermath of the Judge's (Maya Rudolph) verdict. Trust The Good Place to deliver an answer that only leads to more questions.
As much as I'd love to keep you on the edge of your seats with a painfully slow countdown to The Results of the Experiment, the results are just the beginning, so let's begin there: Team Cockroach won. Technically. Simone (Kirby Howell-Baptiste), Chidi (William Jackson Harper), and John (Brandon Scott Jones) all became better people in the afterlife than they were on Earth. Brent (Ben Koldyke), who got 1 percent worse, almost brought down the whole class (classic Brent), but even his potential to improve skyrocketed at the last minute. Speaking with TV Guide, Mike Schur was adamant that the writers "were not interested in telling a redemption story" with Brent, but he also conceded that he "wouldn't say anyone is irredeemable," which is Michael's (Ted Danson) point with the Judge: What the point total can't measure is who Brent could have been tomorrow.
Michael's argument also hinges on the still-living humans our humans helped on Earth. After Team Cockroach intervened, Tahani's (Jameela Jamil) mom started a scholarship in her name that sent hundreds of women to college, Eleanor's (Kristen Bell) mom started doing homework with her stepdaughter every night, and Jason's ( Manny Jacinto) friend Pillboi dedicated himself to caring for the elderly. Their turnarounds might be a little abrupt -- The Good Place is usually aware of how hard it is to make change stick on Earth -- but the shortcut is in support of a bigger point: "People improve when they get external love and support. How can we hold it against them when they don't?" And it's fitting that the fate of humanity comes down to the time our humans thought they were beyond saving but decided to do something good with their lives anyway.
But there's a catch: Although the Judge is convinced the point system is flawed, she's decided the simplest solution is just to wipe out all of humanity and start from scratch. Everybody's canceled. That includes everybody in the afterlife. The Good Place committee, useless as ever, responds to the imminent destruction of humankind by worrying about being too stern in their letter. (I'm glad this show doesn't hit us over the head with the point of the committee -- niceness is a far cry from real kindness -- but I'm also curious if that message will play a bigger role moving forward.)
Anyway, never send a Good Place committee to do Janet's (D'Arcy Carden) job. Just when the Judge is about to press a button that can delete everyone -- she keeps it in her purse, along with the "thing that ends all the wars" and Justified Season 2 -- Janet goes rogue, blinking the button out of the Judge's hands and into her void. Bad Janet, who read Michael's manifesto and started a group text with all the other Janets, blinks it into her void, and suddenly there are dozens of Janets playing "keep away" with the button. They just have to keep the Judge distracted long enough for our humans to come up with a whole new afterlife system.
Obviously, Eleanor is gunning for Michael to bring Chidi back to help, memories and all. Designing an ethical afterlife? This is what he's been training for. Michael counters that our boy is definitely going to panic, but he's also their best option. Time to "take the most indecisive man ever born, stuff him full of over 800 different versions of himself, and then tell him he has like 45 minutes to save humanity."
Best lines of the night:
JANET: "Your friends didn't say things about you so much as they graffitied a Red Lobster about you."
JASON: "Yeah, in Jacksonville that's the first stage of grief."
JUDGE, petitioning for an Ally McBeal reboot: "Everything else is getting rebooted. Get a young hottie in there, you know, like a Zendaya type. Is it Zendaya or Zen-dai-ya?"
SHAWN (Marc Evan Jackson): "Zendaya. Or, I don't --"
JASON, on his mom: "Yeah, she died when I was pretty young. I lost her to the big C. That's what we called the crocodile that lived behind my house. Ah, I'm just playing, it was cancer! Watch me do a handstand!"
MICHAEL: "So that's six people. That's the number of friends in Friends. Are you going to sit there and say that every single friend belongs in hell? I mean maybe Ross and Rachel, and Monica and Joey, and definitely Chandler. But Phoebe??"
ELEANOR: "There is literally only one person here who is smart enough and thoughtful enough to save humanity."
JASON, stepping in front of Chidi: "Fine. I'll do it."
The Good Place airs Thursdays at 9/8c on NBC.