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The Good Place - Derek - Review: "Don't You Derek"

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Welcome back to another review of The Good Place. This week’s aptly titled episode continues the series’ trend of resolving the cliffhanger from the previous episode only to drop another bomb by the time the episode is over. It also does a great job at showing just how much Janet and Michael have grown as well as teasing viewers with a new love triangle and the continued will they won’t they of another couple. So without further ado, let's breakdown this episode in all of its glory.

This episode chronicles the seven-hour relationship of Janet and Derek. In this very short time frame, we see them pronounce their love, move in together, fight over Jason, and their eventual breakup that culminates in Derek’s “death.” As this was Janet’s first time making someone, Derek didn’t exactly turn out right as evidenced by inability to stop saying Jason and follow simple grammatical structure and rules. But even if Derek turned out perfect, he still would have done very little in helping Janet get over Jason. As Eleanor points out, she gave Janet some bad advice in telling her to find a rebound guy. Jason wasn’t some fling or one night stand; he was a person that Janet did and still does love. That sort of heartbreak can’t be cured by quick fixes or magical remedies or poorly created rebound boyfriends. It takes time to get over someone. I know I’ve talked about Michael becoming more human, but so is Janet. She says it best when she’s yelling at Derek about her confusion over her feelings, despite her knowing everything. Janet may know all the information the world has to offer, but human emotions and feelings are new territory. After so many reboots, Janet has not only gained the ability to lie and create “people,” but she’s also gained some humanity. I really love watching D’Arcy Carden struggle with Janet’s confusion and feelings. She is usually relegated to the comedic relief of the hour, which she does superbly, but Carden is more than a one trick pony, proving she can bring emotion to a non-robotic entity.

So my doubts about Michael faking his goodness have mostly been dispelled. While he did have ulterior motives in arranging an outing for Tahini and on the edge of town, he had more pressing matters to deal with: namely, Janet creating Derek. So while Michael could have tried to handle the problem on his own, he went to Eleanor and Chidi for advice. Granted, Michael still thought killing someone to fix your own problems was morally ethical, but he is making progress. He could have gone ahead with killing Derek and not letting anyone know what was going on, but instead, he decided to try to find a solution that didn’t involve straightforward murder. The conundrum Michael, and by default Eleanor and Chidi, found themselves in was tough. Obviously, Derek had to go, but if Derek went away, then Janet may start malfunctioning again over her heartbreak about Tahini and Jason being together. So Michael and Eleanor then came up with the idea to break up Tahini and Jason to make Janet happy and get her to get rid of Derek on her own. As Chidi put it, they couldn’t just break up Tahini and Jason to get Janet to get rid of Derek; they had to have the intention of sparing Tahini and Jason from future harm and if Derek was gone as a byproduct, then so be it. This episode was really a turning point for Michael because when it came down to it, he couldn’t tell Tahini and Jason the truth about Jason being married to Janet. Even though it probably would have been fun for the demon in Michael to break the news, he just couldn’t figure a way to tell Tahini and Jason while still being ethical. However, the real breakthrough moment was his heart to heart with Eleanor, with them discussing their struggles to become better people. It was a plain and simple conversation between Michael and Eleanor. He had no ulterior motives with this conversation; he just wanted to know how Eleanor deals with everything and why she doesn’t give up even though it’s hard.

Meanwhile, Tahini and Jason were enjoying their getaway outing on the edge of town, playing Jason’s version of croquet and drinking champagne when Jason out of the blue pops the question. So while they don’t end up get married, they came pretty darn close. If not for the interruption, they would probably be in the middle of their honeymoon right now. While we’ve only seen this happen twice, it sort of seems like Jason jumps the gun when it comes to marriage. He proposed to Janet after her being rebooted and then to Tahini after only a few weeks of dating. I’m not sure if he’s proposed to his other “soul mates” in the various iterations, but I think there’s a good chance he has. As we’ve seen with the repetition of Eleanor and Chidi’s romance and Chidi’s continued assistance in teaching Eleanor ethics, the core foursome keep making similar choices throughout the various iterations because while the scenarios may change, they are still fundamentally the same people. Chidi is still the guy who can’t make a decision and offers to help Eleanor even though it causes him anxiety. Eleanor is still the girl who starts out selfish but over time tries to become a better person. Tahini is still obsessed with status and namedropping her famous “friends.” And Jason is still the dumb DJ from Florida who seems to only know what’s going on half of the time. So the various iterations raise an interesting point of can we make our own decisions or are some things bound to happen? I mean, Tahini and Jason getting together may have been a “fluke,” as Eleanor called it, but do they still act and react the same way as they would in any sort of relationship? That is just one of many philosophical questions I wonder about after watching the series.

So as we find out this episode, Eleanor has not only told Chidi about their repeated romance during the reboots, but she also spends a lot of time watching the tape from Mindy’s house. She spends most of this episode trying to figure out the ethics of whether or not to tell Chidi. She’s trying to become a better person, and while lying isn’t technically the same as keeping a secret, she’s not sure what to do. A lot of her uncertainty has to do with her still struggling with her feelings for Chidi. Whereas in season one, Eleanor came to her own conclusion about her feelings for him, this season she has a tape of herself and Chidi professing their love, and she’s not sure how to handle that. In the tape, it’s evident that Eleanor and Chidi loved each other, but in iteration 802, Eleanor doesn’t know how she feels. The closest example I could think of is a person having amnesia and discovering they were in love with someone and trying to figure out how they feel. The person obviously can’t remember their past experiences and love, but there is evidence that it once existed. That’s how I think Eleanor is feeling. She’s overwhelmed by her developing feelings for Chidi and is trying to figure out if she really does love him or not. It only makes things more confusing when Chidi admits he doesn’t have any romantic feelings for her. We know Chidi has a difficult time making up his mind, but right now, and while he does care for her, it’s only as a friend. On top of everything, finding out the guy you felt something for repeatedly doesn’t feel the same way has go t to hurt. What’s really interesting is that Eleanor describes Tahini and Jason’s romance as a fluke and tells Michael to reboot them, but Eleanor knows firsthand that may not be the case as seen with her repeated romance with Chidi. I think it’s more of a denial about these intense feelings and her confusion about everything that’s going on.

And then we have that cliffhanger ending of Shawn sitting in Michael’s office, presumably going over the files of the 800 iterations. As you’ll recall, Shawn still believes Michael is on his second attempt, not his 802nd attempt, and gave Michael one more chance to get that version right. So Shawn being in Michael’s office raises a few questions, firstly being who told Shawn? We’ve seen Vicky threaten Michael several times about telling Shawn, but I’m not sure she is the culprit. I think Vicky has been making empty threats to get her way because if she ratted Michael out, then she would no longer be in charge of torturing our core foursome. Of course, Vicky could have made a deal behind Michael’s back with Shawn to be able to keep running the neighborhood in engage for turning Michael in. What I’m really looking forward to is seeing if and how Michael will get out of this situation. Lying to Shawn about the number of reboots is bad enough, but if Shawn finds out that Michael has teamed up with the core foursome and is taking ethics lessons, then Michael will definitely be burned on a thousand suns. I’m also curious how Chidi’s ethic lessons will play into the mix, as lying is morally wrong, but if Michael tells Shawn the truth he and the core foursome are screwed.

So hit the comments below to let me know what you think? Are you sad to see Derek go? Are you Team Janet or Team Tahini? Do you ship Eleanor/Chidi? Who told Shawn what Michael’s been up to?

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