The Good Place Season 3, Episode 5 (“Jeremy Bearimy”)

NBC

Oct 18, 2018 Web Exclusive
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"Michael. They've seen through the door into the afterlife. They heard how it works. It's over.

The Good Place has restarted again. This time, it's nothing as dramatic as restarting the Hell-Disguised-As-Heaven experiment or sending the human protagonists back down to Earth after reversing their deaths. Instead, it's a change that's subtler yet far more profound: The humans, on Earth, know they were once in hell. Their motivation to get into The Good Place is therefore corrupted, and they can never get into The Good Place. Michael and Janet's mission has unilaterally failed.

Where does The Good Place go from here? This plot point, in theory, negates a major premise of the show: Mediocre-to-bad people try to become good enough to make it into The Good Place. At the same time, with the previous four episodes' forced rush towards the humans seeing the door into the afterlife, the writers had to do something to rescue the third season from its way-too-accelerated plotline.

What they've come up with is deeply moving, an absolutely beautiful salvo from what was tending towards becoming an untenable season. It takes some time to get there: After the afterlife protagonists Janet (D'Arcy Carden) and Michael (Ted Danson) finally admit their real reason for being down on Earth and uniting the humans, each of the four goes about their own ways of working through what they've learned. (Kristen Bell's Eleanor, as always, realizes that Michael isn't who he's pretending to be, in this case an FBI agent protecting the humans from grave danger: "I used to work at a place that was raided by the FBI pretty frequently.")

Tahani (Jameela Jamil) and Jason (Manny Jacinto) remain buds even though they now both know Michael has engineered their meeting. Although they both know they're irrefutably going to hell, Tahani still tries to become a good person by unburdening herself of all her money. This takes the shape of, among other endeavors, Tahani donating a huge sum to the Sydney Opera house (Jason: "We'd like to buy one opera, please!"), Tahani and Jason handing out free money to random folks walking on the street (including a panhandler almost certainly played by The Good Place writer and executive producer Megan Amram), and Tahani trying to give all her money-a whopping GBP 131 million-to Jason. The episode's funniest jokes almost entirely come in these moments, from Jason; at the bank where Tahani attempts to give half her fortune to Jason, they're "technically supposed to shut down the bank if anyone from Florida even walks in."

Eleanor, Jason's trash near-equivalent, pretty much instantly reverts back to her shittiest tendencies. As she's pretending it's her birthday for free drinks at a bar, she finds a wallet on the ground. Her journey to return it is full of twists and turns that, naturally, frustrate her to the point where she almost gives up. However, upon successfully returning the wallet to its rightful owner, who thanks Eleanor profusely since he keeps a drawing from his daughter there as a good luck charm (Eleanor later refers to this moment as helping "a dork and his very untalented daughter"), she tears up. The little voice in her head is back.

It's this newly inspired Eleanor who eventually rescues Chidi (William Jackson Harper) from his full-on breakdown. Notoriously indecisive throughout The Good Place, Chidi full-on leans into his cynical, negative side after learning of his fate. "This broke me!" he exclaims upon learning of the "Tuesdays, and also July, and sometimes never" portion of Jeremy Bearimy, Michael's visual for representing that several times can occur concurrently in the afterlife. And it truly, deeply breaks him: An encounter with a sprinkler is enough to transform Chidi from a sweater-and-buttondown-wearing academic into a shirtless dead man walking. Literally: Chidi enters a grocery store shirtless and leaves with $880 of candy (mostly Peeps).

The next we see of Chidi's candy is during a lecture for his philosophy class, during which he outlines The Good Place's entire moral stance. When a student asks Chidi, whose current priority is the 50-lb candy chili he's brewed (later: "Why do I always have a stomachache?"), what will be on the next exam, he answers by explaining virtue ethics, consequentialism, and deontology.

As each one is visually matched to a human's action-Tahani's anonymous opera donation is virtue ethics, Tahani and Jason's free money is consequentialism, and Eleanor's returning of the lost wallet is deontology-it almost seems like Chidi has climbed out of his insane existential crisis. Of course, he hasn't; he follows this explanation with, "All three of those theories are hot stinkin' cat dookie," and the only good philosophy is "nihilism: The world is empty, there is no point to anything, and you're just gonna die, so do whatever." After the class clears out, Eleanor appears behind a sea of fleeing students. She tells Chidi she has a plan.

Eleanor manages to round up the four humans and track down Michael and Janet. How she begins is in itself pretty moving: "The four of us...the six of us, really, are doomed." It's incredibly heartwarming to see Michael and Janet formally grouped in with the humans after a series arc in which the two have gradually became more and more human. This line alone is massive for The Good Place, and yet it pales in comparison to what Eleanor's plan means for the show: "We can try to do good," begins Eleanor. "Me trying just a little bit put some good out into the world." In other words, all they have left to do is try...to help other people, people they care about, get into The Good Place.

Between this new plan and Chidi's crisis lecture, The Good Place manages to state its entire moral stance in about five minutes of plot. Several schools of philosophy exist, but no matter their intricacies, the whole point is that people should do their best. Eleanor, Chidi, Tahani, and Jason are now incapable of going to heaven, but the mere fact that they know how getting into heaven works is more knowledge than the entire rest of humanity has. All of the philosophies that Chidi mentions would suggest that the humans take their knowledge and use it to make the world a better place. Eleanor's plan transforms this notion into concrete, realistic action that will make the remainder of The Good Place-well, at least until some sort of major plot twist inevitably comes around to alter the show's entire basis-an incredibly wholesome, meaningful, poignant watch.

"Jeremy Bearimy" is a miraculous, crucial episode in The Good Place's existence. On a plot level, it's an absolute masterpiece. Michael and Janet are finally on fully equal ground with the humans. Everyone has accepted their fates. Getting into The Good Place is no longer a concern, so bending the plot around that goal is no longer an issue. In reorienting the show's narrative, the writers get to state the show's philosophy as clearly as they ever have, in ways that are completely natural and logical for the characters and story. Sure, the episode is a bit lighter on jokes as a result, but it's worth it. Janet was wrong: It's far from over. (www.nbc.com/the-good-place)

Author rating: 9.5/10

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Sourav
October 19th 2018
5:33am

This season episode 3 is superb