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The Good Place - Rhonda, Diana, Jake, and Trent - Review: "Morally Particular" + POLL

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After an uneventful episode last week, “Rhonda, Diana, Jake, and Trent” wastes no time in getting right back to the action and it doesn’t disappoint. This episode follows the gang as they head to the real Bad Place, and it’s the audience’s first real look at what that place is actually like. While we’ve spent the majority of our time watching our characters in the fake Good Place, that doesn’t really give the audience a feel for what the real Bad Place is like. The neighborhood Michael created was a new way of torturing humans, so we haven’t really seen how most of the real Bad Place functions. We’ve seen glimpses from Michael’s memories and met several demons, but this is the first time we see it in all its glory. And I have to say I was impressed. Obviously it’s hard to make a series about torturing people comedic, but The Good Place is no ordinary series. The real Bad Place was everything I hoped: funny and crass and offensive without crossing the line. I definitely wouldn’t mind spending more time there in the future.

While I found the real Bad Place entertaining, the same cannot be said for the gang. As they gang make their way to the real Bad Place, the plan is starting to sound even more insane. As Michael reiterates the only way to get to judge, who exists in neutral zone – a separate space from both the Good Place and Bad Place – is through a portal in the center of the Bad Place Headquarters. If that weren’t difficult enough, the only way through the portal is with pins, only given to senior management. So with the disguised core foursome supposedly lying low in Hall of Low-Grade Crappiness, Michael is off to get four more pins. Apparently everyone in the fake Good Place was sent back to their previous departments and since no one ever comes to this particular hall in the Museum of Human Misery, the chances of the gang being recognized are very slim. But instead of getting a chance to kick back and relax, the core foursome is put on high alert when it turns out a party is being thrown there. You know what they say: Ain’t no party like a Bad Place party because a Bad Place party don’t stop. So doing whatever they can to fly under the radar, the core foursome decide to split up and mingle amongst the demons. Chidi, of course, has a difficult time lying about who he is as philosophically lying isn’t permissible for any reason. He brings up that lying could potentially affect their chances of getting into the real Good Place when they appear before the judge because apparently even lying to demons isn’t a reasonable exception. I was right there with Eleanor when she was telling him to get over it on the train. It’s like you are going to the literal Bad Place, and you won’t even consider lying for even a second, even if it could save your life afterlife. While Chidi is the moral compass of the show, I’m starting to get annoyed by his unwavering ethics. For me, it has become one of his more annoying qualities. I can deal with his inability to make decisions and other personality quirks, but his steadfast beliefs are getting on my last nerve. Have you ever just wanted to ring a television character by the neck and knock some sense into them? Well, that’s what I want to do with Chidi. I’m actually not sure why none of the other humans have done that?

So when Chidi is mistaken by Chet, played by Kristen Bell’s real-life husband Dax Shephard, as a demon named Trent, things get a lot more complicated. Chet then invites more demons over to talk with “Trent” and “Jake,” which is problematic in and of itself, but then another demon asks “Trent” how to perfectly torture another human. So naturally Chidi goes to Eleanor for advice and she tells him for the umpteenth time to lie. After Chidi again reminds Eleanor lies have consequences, Eleanor posits what if lying is ethical in this particular situation, what if certain actions aren’t universally good or bad. We then learn Eleanor read on her own about ethics as she lists a philosophy theory they didn’t study: moral particular, which states there are no fixed rules that work in every situation. It really does speak volumes about Eleanor’s feelings for Chidi that she read ahead. She has these feelings for this guy that she doesn’t quite understand, so she was looking for a way to connect with him, even though that way involved studying ethics. In the past two episodes, we’ve seen that Eleanor is really the only one who can get through to Chidi time and time again. Even though Chidi is familiar with moral particularism, it took Eleanor framing the conversation to get him to realize that it may be permissible to lie in the Bad Place. I also really loved that Eleanor mentioned that Chidi following such rigid ethics was what got him the Bad Place in the first place. As we learned from Michael in “Best Self,” Chidi fell for Eleanor during a particular reboot due to the simple act of anticipating his needs. I’m not sure if Eleanor repeatedly talking Chidi off the philosophical ledge counts, but she definitely understands what to say to cut through the constant grinding in his mind. If that doesn’t get Chidi to fall for Eleanor, I’m not sure what else will. As a side note, it was absolutely hilarious watching Chidi suggest the demons torture the human by giving the individual books to read was hilarious. Even when Chidi is pretending to be a demon, he’s still himself.

And then we have Michael who should have completely quelled any fans who continued to doubt his loyalty. Having been on the trusting Michael bandwagon for a few episodes, I was completely blown away by his selflessness this episode. It really did exceed my expectations of what he was capable of. It was one thing to help the core foursome evade endless torture in the real Bad Place, but it’s on a whole other level when he finally solves the trolley problem, as he puts it. When Michael initially separates from the gang, he presents Shawn with some extradition papers to reportedly get the core foursome back from Mindy St. Claire’s house. With Shawn being a demon and all, he decides to forgo proper channels, having already sent an illegal black ops team to Mindy’s. Of course, when the core foursome isn’t in the Medium Place and Michael quickly runs off, Shawn puts two and two together about who’s been helping the humans this entire time. So while Shawn is busy tasking the demons to discreetly find Michael, the reformed demon is already on his way to the party with several stolen demons’ jackets in tow. But before the gang can slip out unnoticed, the new exhibit immortalizing the residents of the fake Good Place is unveiled. Demons may be evil, but they’re not stupid. As the gang reaches the portal, with the demons not far behind, the group realizes there are only four pins – not enough for everyone. And then in a heartbreaking declaration, Michael tells Eleanor he’s finally solved the trolley problem from earlier in the season. In his most altruistic act to date, Michael gives Eleanor the pin, pushes her through the portal and tells her to look after the others. Cue all the feels as Michael is left alone to face whatever his fate may be. It really is amazing how far Michael has come in such a short time. He went from being a demon completely devoid of morals to ultimately sacrificing himself, in a sense, to save his friends. At the beginning of the season, I never would have imagined that Michael was capable of something like this.

One of the main themes the series repeatedly explores is can people really change. Is the core foursome capable of becoming better people than they were on earth? Can Janet evolve past her original programming and develop actual feelings? Is Michael able to be anything more than a demon? This theme will definitely be tested in the next episode, as the synopsis for “The Burrito” states that Eleanor, Chid, Tahini, and Jason have to consider how much they have or have not improved, which likely means the core foursome will plead their case to the judge. How that will unfold and whether their fate will be decided by next episode, I’m not sure. The series could take the somewhat predictable route of our core foursome getting into the real Good Place and explore how these characters adjust during season three, which definitely presents the opportunity for comedy. If this were any other sitcom, I’d assume the show would go the predictable route, but this isn’t any other show. With such a flawlessly executed high-concept series full of twists and turns, I can’t say with certainty what happens next for the core foursome. And then we have Michael, who is left to deal with consequences of his recent actions. My first thought was that Michael would most likely be retired after being caught by Shawn, but it’s hard to see the show moving forward without Ted Danson or Michael. While Michael will probably spend the next episode being interrogated by Shawn, using the real Bad Place’s equivalent of CIA-approved torture methods, that sort of storyline can’t last forever. There are a few directions I could see the show going. One is that Michael is imprisoned for the time being, with the core foursome risking everything to break him out of whatever hellish torture scenario he’d be stuck in. Another theory is that Shawn somehow manages to brainwash or recondition Michael into reverting back to the demon he was before. Michael would then somehow “escape” and reunite with the core foursome but instead of helping them, he would be actively working against them. This option also allows for the core foursome to try to “save” Michael is a sense, by reminding him of how he’s changed. That could be an interesting arc of Michael struggling with who he is and where his loyalties lie. Personally, I think this would be a more interesting take, but I have faith in the writers.

Some stray thoughts:
- Jason has definitely gotten stupider, but as the series gets more serious, he is the much-needed comic relief.
- Of course the Bad Place has nine different hot dog torture departments because eight wouldn’t be enough.
- The scene where the black ops team finds Mindy and Derek having or attempting to have sex was hilarious. I would definitely watch a web series of escapades, or sexcapades if you will.
- We can just add Good Janet pretending to be Bad Janet to the list of roles D’Arcy Carden expertly plays.

So hit the comments below to let me know what you thought. What were your thoughts on the real Bad Place? Has Chidi started getting on anyone else’s nerves? Did Michael’s sacrifice surprise you? What will happen next? What happens next?

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