Sunday, October 16, 2016

Review: The Good Place "What We Owe To Each Other"

On this week's The Good Place, some good jokes help disguise some pretty hoary old sitcom tropes. In the A-plot, Eleanor wrestles with her conscience as she and Michael hunt for the true cause of their paradise's dysfunction. Meanwhile, Jason enlists the help of Chidi in wooing his soulmate, Tahani.

Eleanor's role as Michael's assistant finally comes into play, but the result is extraordinarily tame. The constant references to Friends here were very appropriate as this felt very much like a plot from that show. Basically, Michael hunts the answers while Eleanor stays close to prevent him from learning that she has the answers. This is all dressed up in talk of lying and social contract, but there is no real danger that Eleanor will crack and reveal her secret. A fun story, but the lack of tension in this storyline is disappointing and I would point to the character of Michael as the reason why.

Michael is a fun character and Danson plays him with such hopeful befuddlement that you can't help but smile at his giant vase full of paper clips or share his excitement over a cheese grater. However, despite apparently “seeing in nine dimensions”, he lacks any dimensions himself. Michael's alien nature has manifested in shocking ways before (we saw him punt a dog into the sun in the pilot), but his do-gooder attitude never really wavers here. Seeing a darker side of Michael would have really lent some stakes to this story, but his lack of common sense makes Eleanor's escape predictable.

In the B-plot, we have the even more hackneyed Roxanne-esque sitcom trope of “friend helps friend get the girl, figures out he's better for the girl”. Chidi and Tahani show some sparks talking about Degas, but, ultimately, Chidi is too honorable or shy to do anything but help Jason. Without exploring Chidi and his motives more, this entire storyline fell flat for me.

There isn't too much to discuss this week, honestly. I found the jokes funny, but the plots were disappointingly tensionless and run-of-the-mill. The one-liners are consistently good and the cast is game for anything, but I'm looking forward to more meat in my story. I doubt Michael will actually leave, but I'm interested in whatever the show throws my way.

Grade: B-

  • She's so pretty, like Nala from The Lion King and she talks so smart like – Nala, from The Lion King.”
  • As Eleanor points out, Ross and Phoebe are an odd-pairing. They seldom had plot-lines together (as far as I remember).
  • Danson attempting to fist pump after discovering a clue was fantastic. He has good line readings, but his physical comedy is just aces. See also: putting on a grey hoodie and toppling over.
  • Oh really? I once posed as a hot prom date for my cousin – both helping him and, later, according to his therapist, not helping him.”
  • The flashbacks were extra useless this week. And The Good Place had been doing so well with them lately!
  • Also wanna give some props to D'arcy Carden as Janet. Whether she is correcting Chidi's definition of a couple or confirming that the tone of a meeting will be "moribund and devstating," her chipper demeanor makes everything work.

Photo Credit: NBC

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