Editor’s note: this article contains spoilers for NBC’s The Good Place.
Welcome to…the Interdimensional Hole of Pancakes (Don’t touch anything)! And no, they don’t serve pancakes. I thought this episode was one of the best transition episodes of the season. It had the right amount of hilarity and build to push the season into its last plot arc.
Michael calls on Judge Gen to discuss his findings in the IHOP. I thought the location itself was hilarious and the set was spot on. The first room they stepped into was this teal-aquamarine blob with floating ovals which represented the IHOP’s tenth dimension. I thought this was a fun design because it looked exactly how I’d imagine an interdimensional pit stop. As Michael presents his findings to the Judge, the set shifts again to make the gang’s surroundings look like an actual “IHOP.” I thought this was also a very nice touch.
For this specific episode, nothing extraordinary happened– it was mainly just gearing up to the next episode. Michael tries to convince the Judge that the point system hasn’t kept up with the complex nature of human society, but the Judge doesn’t buy it. Then, Michael tries to convince her to go to Earth and test out the point system. Jason supplements Michael’s plea with a surprisingly accurate metaphor. The metaphor involves his friend Big Noodle and drives Michael’s point home: you really can’t understand a person’s situation, until you experience it for yourself. The metaphor is enough to convince the Judge to make her trip.
— The Good Place is taking it sleazy (@nbcthegoodplace) January 19, 2019
When the Judge returns, she realizes that Michael is telling the truth and the two try to find a way to solution: create a new “Good Place” and run the experiment again. Their solution was one of my favorite parts of this episode. Throughout the season (and the entire show), the writers have constantly planted call-backs to previous events, specifically call-backs which enrich the present situation of the plot.
In the case of this episode, Michael’s solution was one which Simone (remember her? She was the neuroscientist and Chidi’s ex-girlfriend from the first few episodes of the season) brought up all the way back in episode three: find a new group of subjects and run the experiment again. I love how this solution called back Simone’s idea because it shows how well structured the show is and how none of the ideas or jokes are taken for granted– everything is meaningful in the long-run.
The Judge loves this idea and brings Shawn (Michael’s former boss and current enemy) to discuss it. Shawn begrudgingly agrees but he’s hellbent on sabotaging the experiment. The Judge chooses the Middle Place (Mindy St. Clair’s home) to be the area of the experiment and Michael immediately sets up shop.
— The Good Place is taking it sleazy (@nbcthegoodplace) January 22, 2019
Along the way, Jason and Janet confess their feelings for each other and decide to do the ‘boyfriend-girlfriend’ thing (though Janet is neither a girl nor a boy). However, Derek, Janet’s rebound boyfriend whom she created in season two, lives in the middle place with Mindy. Turns out, Mindy rebooted Derek millions of times and now he’s more advanced (or, basically on par with Jason). It’s clear that Derek still loves Janet so I think I smell a love triangle? Or at least a jealousy triangle, since Jason is also jealous of Derek’s abilities.
This is the second to last episode of the third season and it has definitely raised the bar for next season. In terms of finishing up this season, the stakes are very high. After Shawn threatens to sabotage the experiment (just before it’s due to start), Michael gets a panic attack, creating a cliffhanger for the next episode to resolve. I wonder if the next episode will be about resolving Michael’s panic or getting on with the experiment. Either way, the panic attack signifies that Michael really has come a long way from the scheming villain he was at the beginning of season one. He actually cares about the humans’ wellbeing and is reluctant to begin this mode of torture.
Will Michael’s struggles be resolved? Find out on the final episode, Pandemonium, on Thursday Jan. 24 at 9/8c on NBC.
Congratulations to The Good Place actor, Ted Danson, for winning the Critic’s Choice Award for Best Actor in Television.