When we talk about the development of The Good Place, there’s a natural tendency to praise the epic con job creator Michael Schur spun in the first season, the binary-flipping twist that rendered the show’s very title a grinning lie. But when I mark the evolution of The Good Place from “very good TV sitcom” into “one of my favorite things on TV,” I always point to season 2’s “Dance Dance Resolution,” the episode where an increasingly tense Michael reboots his torturous neighborhood several hundred times. It was a genuinely cosmic expansion of the show’s possibilities, suggesting via infinite repetition that the all-too-human characters were developing mythic new dimensions — that they were somehow fated to be together, trapped in a situation comedy of morals and philosophy.
The third episode of Good Place‘s third season, “The Snowplow,” is a kind of sibling to “Dance Dance Resolution,” though it’s also an inversion. Here again, time passes at an unexpectedly quick pace — a couple “Three Months Later” montages and a “Six Months Later” kicker rendering this as a yearling journey in 23 minutes between commercials, and a final promise that hints at further time jumps. But the message is a sharp retort to Michael’s actions in “Dance Dance Resolution” — and, maybe, a clever reconsideration of this whole season so far. Here on Earth, you can’t just keep on resetting things. Humans have to live their lives, no matter the consequences.
Michael and Janet arrive on Earth, fleeing from the Judge’s judgment. There’s no turning back for them now: Their entire existence depends on the souls of their four human friends, and the possibility that they can earn enough moral dollars to get themselves into the Good Place. So the former demon and former omniscient superbeing set up a command center nearby Chidi’s office, in a journalism department that’s as empty as most journalism departments this millennium. They also set up cameras inside Chidi’s office, allowing them regular surveillance of their favorite people.
The months pass. Chidi teaches his charges about Socrates and Aristotle. Funding comes in from the neuroscience department, and Simone brings some free cupcakes. Eleanor realizes she has to get a job. (Australia doesn’t just pay you to exist, y’know, it’s not Sweden, sigh, why can’t we all live in Sweden?) Michael worries that a job will lead Eleanor to miss class and slow down her progress. He declares a new mission: He and Janet shall become the Snowplow, clearing the route for the foursome to live better lives. Janet uses her pre-escape infinite knowledge to find Eleanor a winning lotto ticket. “I won eighteen thousand dollars!” says Eleanor. “Better luck next time!” grieves Tahani.
More money, more problems, more snowplowing. Lonely Jason seeks a pal to watch his beloved Jacksonville Jaguars. The games are on at weird hours here in Australia; it’s almost like they’re in a different zone of time. Or, to use the scientific term, “A different clock land.” Tahani offers to watch football with Jason. After all, she once dated a professional football player and even set him up with his current wife, Gisele. Bundchen. Also, she’s mad horny.
Michael wants to parent un-trap this couple. He worries their hooking up could spoil the group’s harmony. Janet agrees; she is still in love with Jason, after all. So they find Tahani a good companion: Larry Hemsworth, fourth and least of the Hemsworths, monstrously ugly and shrimpy when compared specifically to Thor. Larry’s a stone fox, of course, 6’4” with a perfect Aussie face. But he’s just right for Tahani; they both live in the shadow of more famous siblings. Jason doesn’t mind; he received a mysterious invitation to join the Sydney chapter of the Jacksonville Jaguars fan club and watched his home team annihilate the Texans.
Knowing very little about professional football, I used my investigative powers of Googling “Jaguars Vs. Texans.” After spending multiple milliseconds scrolling through untold kilabytes of information, it is my professional conclusion that the game Jason was watching actually occurred on December 17, 2017, when the Jacksonville Jaguars defeated the Kansas City Texans by 45-7. Just kidding, the Texans aren’t from Kansas City, they’re from the other Kansas City, in Delaware. But but but seriously, if we’re tracking the Earth timeline established since season 2’s finale, that means this episode was roughly taking the characters from mid-2017 through mid-2018 — very close to the “present day.” I have no clue if this matters. And yet, given that the Judge seems to think that Michael and Janet have inadvertently created lots of wild, Brexit-causing problems on Earth, I wonder if we’re being nudged to start viewing these characters in the context of the hysterical history happening around them. Perhaps the message is as simple as: “This has been a great era to spend every day in an academic study in Sydney.”
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