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The Good Place - The Burrito - Review: "Back to Basics"

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“The Burrito” was another great episode that perfectly managed to balance the comedy and drama of the situation the gang finds themselves in. The core foursome spends the episode in the Judge’s chambers, and hilarity ensues from the moment they arrive. From trying to get the Judge to hear their case to the actual tests themselves, there are heartfelt moments that make viewers proud, at least those moments made me proud, of how far our characters have come since the pilot. We also get to see Michael in all his glory, whether it be from channeling his inner Eleanor to explaining where he came up with ideas from his faked torture reports and ending the episode with a splashy entrance. This episode does a great job setting up the season finale. So without further ado, let’s dive in.

So the core foursome arrive in the Judge’s chambers and learn Michael isn’t coming. It’s a bittersweet moment for them as they have finally reached their destination – something that was literally impossible to achieve – but now they’re on their own, moving forward without one of their teammates. Of course, they’ll only be able to move forward on their journey if they can actually find the Judge, because instead of a finding a being dressed in long black robes and a white wig, there’s only a burrito. This leads to several moments of hilarity, specifically from Jason, as the main quartet try to figure out what the burrito means: Is it some sort of test? What are they supposed to do with the burrito? Or, in the craziest of questions, what if the burrito is the Judge? I’m not sure who came up with this idea in the writer’s room, but hats off to you. So as the core foursome Chidi is spiraling, the “all-knowing” Judge pops up behind them, which would have been a good thing, except the Judge can’t hear their case. The main quartet just showed up without paperwork or an advocate, so she, unfortunately, has to deny their petition. So it looks our anti-heroes will be sent back to the Bad Place, but after an impassioned plea from our favorite humans, she decides to take their case. It’s not like she’s super bored because she hasn’t had a case in 30 years, and taking their case allows her to put off whether or not she would watch Bloodline. Oh wait. So the Judge agrees to give each of them a test to see how much progress they’ve made, and if they pass they get to go to the Good Place. If they fail, well let’s not think about that. While Eleanor wants the group to be tested together – after all, they wouldn’t have made it this far without each other – she has to settle for them being graded together, which is the brightest idea considering Jason is on their team, but she still gets points for selflessness.

Some of the tests are pretty straightforward: Jason has to play a football video game against the Jaguars as their rivals, the Titans; and Tahini must walk through the red door at the end of the hallway, but on her way everyone she ever knew will be discussing what they truly think about her. However, Eleanor and “Chidi” don’t actually have to take a test because they’ve already made it to the Good Place. The only caveat is that their friends have failed, so they might want to rethink the whole grade them together thing. On the one hand, it sucks that Tahini and Jason failed. On the other, should Eleanor and “Chidi” really suffer the same fate because of them? At least that’s what “Chidi” suggests, arguing that their friends are going to the Bad Place and them choosing to go with them won’t help anyone. “Chidi” says he and Eleanor should just forget about the ethics and after everything that’s happened; they deserve to be together and happy for once. So if any viewers out there hadn’t picked up on if Eleanor and “Chidi’s” decision was really a test, this should have been a dead giveaway. The Chidi viewers and Eleanor have come to know would never argue to forget about ethics or be happy while his friends were being punished; that’s just not how the guy operates. He may get on my nerves with his indecision, but he’s always thinking about the moral thing to do. So while Eleanor may have passed the test, the rest of the main quartet did not. Despite showing improvements with impulse control, Jason never once asked if he could not play. Even though Tahini skipped a lot of rooms the Judge thought would entice her, she couldn’t resist confronting her parents, despite her acceptance that she was never going to be enough for them. The real Chidi’s test was to choose a hat, failing because it took him 82 minutes to choose a hat. And even though Eleanor really passed, she lied to the others and said she pushed an old lady down to grab some shrimp. But with them being graded together, things were definitely looking grim for our anti-heroes, if not for a last minute reprieve from Michael.

After sacrificing himself in “Rhonda, Diana, Jake, and Trent,” we pick up with Michael being lectured by Shawn and “Bad Janet,” which is definitely preferable at this point than the endless torture I expected. Shawn doesn’t understand how Michael could betray his own kind, especially after Shawn taught Michael how to turn a human inside out, but then again how could he? As Michael explains, Shawn never really cared about him, but the four human are his friends. So when it comes down to deciding between your boss and your friends, it’s not really a choice, is it? Shawn also wants to know why Michael rebooted the humans over 800 times and faked the torture reports. As Michael explains, he didn’t plan on it; he just kept rebooting the humans after every failed scenario. He wanted to prove that humans could be made to torture each other for eternity, but they somehow managed to help each other and become better people, believing this is evidence that core foursome belong in the Good Place and the Judge will feel the same way. So after a rather short interrogation – something I thought would take much longer and involve actual torture – Shawn doles out Michael’s punishment, and it’s not retirement. Apparently, retirement would draw too much attention about what exactly Michael did, so the plan is for Michael to be tortured like a human since he now loves them so much. Michael will remain in an unmarked room for the rest of eternity with a giant stack of unread New Yorker magazines, or he would if not for Good Janet, who has secretly been pretending to be Bad Janet this entire time. As much as I can predict plot points on other shows, The Good Place always manages to surprise me, and it did just that with the Good Janet twist. With Shawn out of commission, we end the episode with Michael and Janet arriving at the Judge’s chambers just as the core foursome is about to be sent to the Bad Place.

So where do we go from here? The synopsis for the next episode states Michael makes a plea, so I’m assuming Michael will try to somehow convince the Judge to not send his friends to the Bad Place. One of the things the Judge first mentioned when the core foursome arrived was that they needed an advocate to plead their case. I’m not sure what the qualifications of an advocate are, but it seems like maybe Michael could fill that role. I’m wondering if having an advocate present would be enough for the Judge to reconsider. As the Judge said, the portal doors will remain closed until she’s made her ruling, so at the very least, Michael has delayed the core foursome’s sentencing by a couple of minutes. Is his arrival enough to turn the tides? I’m not sure, but I wouldn’t give up hope just yet. It’s a longshot, but so was getting to the Judge in the first place. The gang has been through so much and come so far, so for them just to end up in the real Bad Place would be a disservice to fans. My predictions from last episode were completely wrong, so I’m not sure what direction the show is planning on going for next season. Besides the gang being sent to the Good Place for real and watching them adjust to life, with all the hilarious shenanigans that ensue, I only have one other wild, most likely implausible idea. My insane theory, which I’m 90 percent sure won’t happen, is that the gang and Michael somehow get a second shot at getting into the Good Place by reliving their life as humans. So instead of dying when they were supposed to, they somehow get sent back to that moment and have to turn their lives around to have a shot at the Good Place next time they die. Crazy? Yes, but this is a show that flipped the script on viewers’ reality, so what do I know?

Some stray thoughts:
- I thought Maya Rudolph did a great job as Judge Gen. I definitely wouldn’t mind seeing more of her in future episodes.
- I also love that Gen is short for hydrogen because it was the only element in existence when she was born.
- My favorite part of the episode was the pop culture references, which included the Judge trying to decide whether or not to watch Bloodlines because she couldn’t see Kyle Chandler as anyone but Coach Taylor and when Michael told Shawn he based most of his torture reports off Stephen King novels and Pretty Little Liars. They were such unexpected but amazing lines.

So hit the comments to let me know your thoughts. What were your thoughts on the Judge? Were you surprised on Eleanor passed? What was your favorite part of the episode? What will happen in the season finale?

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