Hooray! Fall TV is back. This time of year is like Christmastime, each beloved premiere revealing itself like a lovely present.
The Good Place started its sophomore season last night, and it was hella clever. It certainly did bring up a few questions-how is this new format going to be sustained? But I totally and completely trust Mike Schur and CO, because I had the same exact question last year after the premiere, and The Good Place ended up being my favorite new show of last year. The episode kicks off from Michael’s perspective, him telling his team how take two is going to work and getting a verbal warning from Sean. Then we walk through the first day in “paradise” from our main four’s perspective: first Eleanor, then Chidi, Tehani, and Jason.
The fun gets to really amp up now that we know that it’s not just Eleanor and Jason who are meant to be in the bad place-Tehani and Chidi are being tortured too. Some of the best parts of the episode were watching them get needled in the very specific ways we now know they are being tortured for. Michael gives Chidi a choice between two women to be soul mates, even though Michael very well knows that Chidi can barely decide what pair of shoes he wants to wear for the day. Tehani suffers through cargo pants and tight living quarters as Michael tries to sabotage her image.
Jason’s a bit more of a wild card. He doesn’t carry around nearly as much shame as Eleanor, Chidi, and Tehani do, so he’s 100 percent the most difficult to torture. That being said, he has a tendency to get lonely-which is why the disappointment is so crushing when he realizes that the silent monk that was meant to be his spiritual soulmate ended up having nothing in common with him. He almost immediately gravitates towards Janet, even though neither of them remember being married in the previous bad place. Jason is a prankster from Jacksonville, Florida, and Janet is an multipurpose robot-but I’m starting to think that these two are the only actual soulmates in the entire show.
One of the things that surprised me was “Real Eleanor” seems to be primed for a bigger role than expected in season 2. The premiere spent quite a bit of time on her dismay that she couldn’t get in touch with her new character-Denise, the owner of the best pizza shop in the neighborhood- as much as she could with Real Eleanor. She tells Michael that in her old part, she got to “break Chidi’s heart like a million times,” but Denise has no motivation. After spending the whole episode trying to get Chidi’s attention and how frustrated she looked when Chidi ignored her for his almost-soulmate Angelique, it almost makes me wonder if Real Eleanor/Denise has real feelings for Chidi.
Because Eleanor is no slouch, the note she wrote to herself before their memories were erased actually worked, and she finds Chidi and starts conspiring with him. One of my favorite moments of the episode is when Chidi realizes that the note is written on an advanced philosophy book. He tells Eleanor that they were either deep into their study, or she just took a random page out of one of his books. Eleanor tells him that the latter seems more like her, even though we know that the former is true.
Because of this, everything falls apart quickly, and the group acts in ways Michael didn’t predict- Jason breaks his vow of silence almost immediately, Tehani gets drunk instead of Eleanor, and Eleanor and Chidi start trusting each other way faster than they were supposed to. Michael erases their memory again, and the episode ends with Michael welcoming Eleanor back into his office for a third go around.
Where is this all going? We know Michael’s end game is maximum torture, but these people are too compatible for it to happen. We also know that Michael doesn’t get any extra chances if this torture doesn’t take. This good place can’t continue to get reset every time Michael makes a misstep. Will it take the group an entire season to figure out where they are again? I hope that this season finds its footing as quickly as the first one did, and even though there are few questions, I’m having a good feeling.
Some parting thoughts:
-When will Tehani get the love she deserves?
-Will this season have more flashbacks like last season?
-This Eleanor didn’t seem totally reset to where we saw her at the beginning of the first season. Did some of Chidi’s teachings stick?