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October 18, 2018 at 09:10 PM EDT

Was this a good episode of The Good Place? Reply hazy, ask again the moment nothing never occurs. “Jeremy Bearimy” looks like a pivot episode, transforming the narrative mission of season 3 by trashbin-tossing Michael’s Big Plan, conclusively reuniting the central six characters into a do-gooding Soul Squad. Some of the chess moves feel a bit awkward. There’s one very big, very theme-y speech that could mark a worrisome tipping point for what The Good Place has been trying to accomplish, a shift from “concepts of moral philosophy performed by characters with a rich inner life” into “concepts of moral philosophy explained via voiceover and explanatory clip show.” There are many, many belly laughs in “Jeremy Bearimy” and the second time I watched the episode I wound up crying twice, so this is A Very Good TV Show slash also we live in emotional times. But a few core aspects of this episode left me cold and seemed to offer a too-easy perspective on usually complicated characters.

We begin cliffhanging off last week’s conclusion, with the once-and-never-again study group discovering Michael and Janet strolling through a heavenly door. Worse, they heard everything their heavenly helpers were just talking about: Good Place, Afterlife Points, the whole moral economy of the world beyond this one. Just hearing this information has probably doomed them. Their motivation to be good has been corrupted. Their point score is frozen. And everyone recognizes Michael. Jason knows him as Zack Pizzazz, Chidi recalls a librarian with a convincing accent, Tahani knew him as Gordon Indigo. Stumbling for an explanation, Michael lands on a new alias: Special Agent Rick Justice, FBI agent partner of Lisa “Frenchy” Fouquoi, precise surname spelling¯_(ツ)_/¯.

Eleanor doesn’t buy it. She worked at a place raided by the FBI all the time. And she’s always been able to spot a con, especially one of Michael’s cons. So Michael and Janet tell them everything: Their deaths, their 802 reboots, the great plan to save their souls. It requires a whole night’s exposition. The humans get a little hung up on the chronology. If they were dead almost three hundred years, how were they able to resurrect back into present-day Earth?

“Because of Jeremy Bearimy,” says Michael, writing that rhyming name on a whiteboard in cursive English. Those words are actually a graph, kind of, an exact geo-chronographic description of how time flows in the afterlife. The dot over the “i” represents Tuesdays, and July, and never. It’s precisely like the Terminator movies.

The tenth-dimensional curlicue logic breaks Chidi’s mind. He walks off wandering through campus, quoting Nietzsche’s 1882 LP “God is Dead” to drug dealers, shopping shirtless in a supermarket, handing his car keys over to a stupefied checkout clerk. Eleanor’s breakdown is less mental but quite moral. She decides to live her life the way she used to, setting off for the closest bar and demanding a birthday margarita for a day that badly isn’t her birthday. She tells the bartender her rules for living, a philosophy you could call “rational individualism” if rational individualism wasn’t too dumb to count as philosophy. The bartender cocks an eye at the idea that she only wants to do things her way. Heck, if everyone did that, society would break down! “In America,” Eleanor declares, “Everyone does what they want, society did break down, it’s terrible, and it’s GREAT!

Tahani and Jason have a different reaction to their prophesied eternal doom. Tahani hires Jason as a bodyguard, just like her friend Kevin Costner in that movie where he played a postman. “I have always been held captive by my desire for attention,” Tahani says. That has changed now. “I just want to be virtuous for virtue’s sake.” Learning about her eerie fate offers her a weird, divesting clarity. She gives a big donation to the Sydney Opera House but demands that she remain anonymous. (Minor moral fact check here: As Curb Your Enthusiasm proved in a plotline involving Ted Danson himself, anonymous donors are arguably even more egotistical than regular donors, knowing full well that gossip about their anonymity will make their donation seem more heroic.)

Jason has a more straightforward idea for Tahani: Why not just give money to strangers? They run around the streets of Australia performing random acts of spirituality, just like everyone in Leftovers season 3. (Jason gives money to a street musician with a violin, noting that she can buy “a bigger chin guitar.”) Figuring that she’s a middleman who can be cut, Tahani goes to her bank and asks them to hand her fortune over to Jason. Unfortunately, the bank manager simply can’t allow that, explaining: “We’re technically supposed to shut down the bank if anyone from Florida even walks in.”

NEXT: Chidi rejects all meaning and value

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3
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run date
09/19/16
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