the good place, s03e09: janet(s)

ICYMI: s3e1 s3e2 s3e3 s3e4 s3e5 s3e6 s3e7 s3e8

Season 3 reading list:
Nicomachean Ethics - Aristotle
The Republic - Plato
- Writings about Socrates (he didn't write anything himself)
Apology - Plato
Laws - Plato
Phaedo - Plato
Death: The Art of Living - Todd May
- Articles by Pamela Hieronymi (who was an early consultant for the show)
Beyond Good and Evil - Friedrich Nietzsche
Basic Writings of Friedrich Nietzsche
-Meditationes de prima philosophia (Meditations on First Philosophy) - RenĂ© Descartes
Leonine Edition - St. Thomas Aquinas
The Most Good You Can Do - Peter Singer
- An Essay Concerning Human Understanding - John Locke
- Is Personal Identity What Matters? - Derek Parfit
- Themes, Arguments, and Ideas - David Hume

You can watch the episode here; everything in this post is from The Good Place.

For actor names, see episode 1 recap. Spoilers spoilers spooooooooooooileerrrssssss

Sorry for the delay on this one; we had some rabbit drama over the last couple days (he's doing just fine now).

If you will recall, at the end of the last episode, Janet pulled the Soul Squad into her void (killing the humans, womp womp).

Janet: "There may have been some side effects for the humans."

Michael and Janet stand with their backs to the camera, looking at four more Janets standing across from them. They're in a totally white space with no shadows or discernible edges.
That's right: in pulling them into the void, Janet inadvertently turned all the humans into Janets. This episode is a true testament to D'Arcy Carden's acting abilities. She was given quite a character-work challenge and she did perfectly (unsurprising, considering that she is perfect).

Having died but not gone to either the Good or Bad Place, the gang are now interdimensional fugitives (Janet: "so that's neat!"). They have to hide out in Janet's void while actual Janet and Michael try to sweet-talk the Head Accountant into revealing the flaw (or demonic influence) of the points system.


Janet and Michael stand next to a tall, lanky white guy with glasses in a sea of cubicles that stretches on and on and on.
the accounting office
In the Accounting Office, we meet a Neutral Janet (our Janet: "sort of the black sheep of the Janet world, or blank sheep, I guess. Ooh, I can throw shade now! That's cool!"). Neutral Janet ends all of her flatly-delivered lines with "end of conversation." I know our Janet is special and can do all kinds of non-Janet-y things, but for real it must suck to be a Neutral Janet. At least Bad Janets get to have fun.

Having humans in her void is making Janet sort of malfunction; she has a long burp that turns into "Believe" by Cher, her "molecular essence is fragmenting" (and giving her a wicked headache), cracks are forming in her skin and supernatural light is leaking out.

The Head Accountant agrees to see them and is a pretty cheerful fellow (holding an "EXISTENCE'S BEST BOSS" mug) named Neil (Stephen Merchant). Hey, even afterlife accountants use bad accounting puns! Good to know. Neil also agrees to give our Janet and Michael a tour of the office to show them how the points system is infallible.

Neil shows our Janet and Michael a large computer (again, all of the afterlife technology looks like it's from 1982) that has a live feed of every action of every human on Earth (Neil: "For instance, a couple in Osaka, Japan, just decided to have a destination wedding. Negative 1,200 points. Oh, uh, it's a destination theme wedding. Negative 4,300. The theme's Lord of the Rings. They're basically doomed").

As they're watching the feed, UNDEFINED ACTION flashes up on the screen, which means that someone on Earth just did something nobody else had ever done before. In this case, "Richard Moore of Sugarland, Texas, hollowed out an eggplant and filled it with hot sauce and nickels." Turns out it's a weird sex thing ("99% of all new human behaviors are weird sex things"). Poor Matt (Brad Morris) is in charge of determining point values for weird sex things and his request for immediate suicide has been denied (not sure how I feel about this joke? In general I am not a fan of suicide jokes).

Once the appropriate departments have determined a score for the new action, it's double checked by THREE BILLION other accountants and is only approved if there's unanimous agreement. Batches of human biographies are sent to either the Good or Bad Place by gigantic pneumatic tubes (again, WHAT YEAR IS IT IN THE AFTERLIFE). Neil believes that the system is tamper-proof.

Michael asks to see Doug Forcett's file. Doug's at 520,000 points, which would be great if he weren't 68, but since he is, it's terrible. (AGAIN I SAY DOUG'S MOTIVATIONS WERE COMPROMISED BY HIS HALLUCINATION AND THEREFORE HIS POINTS ARE NEGATIVELY AFFECTED. Come on, Michael, you've gotta see the logic here.)

Michael wants to know, if not Doug, who exactly is getting into the Good Place. Whoops, turns out nobody has for the last 521 years. (Michael: "Not Jonas Salk, not Harriet Tubman, not one single Golden Girl?") My personal theory this season was that there was no Good Place at all, so I'm somewhat pleased that I wasn't that far off.

Neil's ready to be done with the tour (there's cake for Marisol's birthday (she's turning 39 million (again))), but Michael's lightly freaking out. It makes no sense to him that there have been zero Good Place residents in half a millennium. (Michael: "The Bad Place has hacked your system!") Neil's offended and gives us our next chapter: "Go to the Good Place and take it up with the Committee." Another day, another mysterious afterlife organization.

Since there's no one else, Janet says that Michael's the one who has to fix everything that's gone wrong with the points system and afterlife accounting and whatnot. (Side note: ughhhhhhhh come on the only one who can fix the afterlife is the older white guy? Ughhhhhhhhhhhhh. Also, why is the Head of Accounting a white guy? Do white supremacy and patriarchy extend into the afterlife? I mean, at least the Judge is a mixed-race woman, but there have been precious few white dudes on this show and most of them are in positions of power.)

Janet also says that Eleanor's crumbling identity is more or less going to make her explode so she needs to be marble-ized. (Michael: "Hey Matt (weird sex stuff guy), do you have a paperclip?" Matt, with a tortured expression: "What are you going to use it for?")


Chidi-Janet, unsurprisingly, is kind of freaking out about being in the void of a white lady (Eleanor-Janet and Tahani-Janet: "Not a lady"), whereas Jason-Janet seems to be doing just fine ("Let's all say white people things! Billy Joel. I found it on Etsy. There was nowhere to park! Did you refill the Brita?!"). Tahani-Janet is pretty into the void ("This time, it's like the xanax took me"), and Eleanor-Janet produces a puppy to try and calm Chidi-Janet down (actual Janet does not appreciate this, though she delivers her warning about the potential collapse of her void and possible destruction of the universe in a cute talking-to-a-puppy voice as she plays with the puppy's ears).

Eleanor-Janet tries to get Chidi-Janet to talk to her about how they were "soulmates, off and on, for 300 years," but Chidi-Janet says that while all of that may have happened to a Chidi, it wasn't actually him. This prompts a discussion of the classical philosophical question of the self. Yes!! We're getting another philosophy lesson, friends, and I love it. Eleanor-Janet is not on board with Chidi's argument that the Chidi from the afterlife-that-didn't-happen-kind-of-maybe is not him ("Counterpoint: that's the dumbest thing you've ever said and you do NOT deserve a puppy. I'm un-blooping your puppy!").

Two Janets, one dressed as Eleanor and one dressed as Chidi, stand in the foreground of the image. Chidi-Janet is holding a black puppy. There are fourteen other puppies scattered around the void. In the background, a Janet dressed as Tahani sits on a turquoise couch and a Janet dressed as Jason is slumped over the armrest of a turquoise chair.
there is apparently a learning curve to being a Janet
Tahani-Janet and Jason-Janet aren't seeing a whole lot of action so far; they've mainly been milling around in the background while Chidi-Janet and Eleanor-Janet have their argument about the definition of the self. Eleanor-Janet seriously doesn't get why Chidi-Janet doesn't want to know anything about the afterlife-that-maybe-never-happened-kind-of and it's pissing her off ("You're not even a little bit curious what it was like to hit this? (gestures to her Janet body) I don't mean this this (Janet body), although, frankly, I would also hit this this").

Ahhhhhh, yes, sweet sweet philosophy lesson: let's check out what Chidi-Janet has to say about "Conceptions of the Self."
"Let's start with John Locke, who believed that personal identity was based on having a continued consciousness, essentially, memory. Memories are linked in a chain that together form a single self. If I can't remember what happened, because it happened to a Chidi from another timeline, it's not a unified me." 
(Jason-Janet: "Just because you don't remember doing something doesn't mean you didn't do it. I have no idea how it happened, but there is definitely a tattoo on my butt that says 'Jasom.'") 
"That brings us to Derek Parfit. Parfit said even if I have memories from an earlier time, that doesn't necessarily mean it was me. After all, if my brain was cut in two and each half was put into a different person, which one is me? All I know is that other Chidi doesn't exist anymore, and this one does, so this must be the real Chidi."
(Eleanor-Janet: "All I know is that you're just barfing Wikipedia all over everyone to avoid talking about your feelings.") 
"...Let's talk about David Hume.
"In essence, Hume thought that we don't truly have a self, we're just a bundle of our ever-changing impressions." 
I learn so much from this show, it's amazing.

Anyway, Chidi-Janet still maintains that what happened in that plane of maybe-existence doesn't have anything to do with him.

Meanwhile, Jason-Janet has conjured up a broken hot tub, a Pillboi, and two 40s (Pillboi: "I was just chillin', being nothing, and all of a sudden, I was!"). Actual Janet is PISSED. Possible destruction of the universe and whatnot.

Jason-Janet goes to talk to Chidi-Janet to tell him to just f'ing tell Eleanor-Janet that he doesn't like her already. Chidi-Janet's still in existential-crisis-so-I-don't-have-time-or-space-for-feelings mode (but then, when ISN'T he in that mode), but, hey, turns out that isn't Jason-Janet after all; it's Eleanor-Janet wearing Jason-Janet's tracksuit. (Jason-Janet in Eleanor-Janet's clothes: "Hi Chidi! I'm Eleanor. I'm Arizona shrimp horny!") Eleanor-Janet starts having her own existential crisis because she's chasing a guy who's not into her and making herself vulnerable.

But, uh, unlike every form of Chidi, it's not normal for any version of Eleanor to have an existential crisis, and Eleanor-Janet starts turning into a bunch of Eleanor-not-Janet bodies, men and women and kids of all ages, races, and sizes. Cracks start forming all over the void, and the tasteful living room actual Janet blooped into existence for the humans starts breaking apart. Actual Janet shows up and demands that Eleanor-many-bodies do something very Eleanor-y ("Laugh at someone who falls down, or show up to an event underdressed and get mad at everyone else somehow").

Elsewhere in the void, Tahani-Janet and Jason-Janet are wandering, apparently the wrong way (big signs keep popping up, pointing in the opposite direction, that say things like "Lost? Head this way!"). A giant help screen pops up in front of them (Tahani-Janet: "This screen can literally show us anything that has ever happened." Jason-Janet: "Cartoons! TV! Play cartoons for Jason!"). At Jason's name, well, a lot happens.

A Janet dressed as Tahani stands with her back towards the camera. In front of her, there's a screen that has "Jason" written on it in loopy letters, and there are a bunch of heart-shaped pictures of Jason's face.

'NSync plays and photos from their wedding appear (with a helpful arrow pointing to when it happened on the Jeremy Bearimy timeline). Tahani-Janet is surprised, but Jason-Janet thinks that the help screen must've been a wedding present ("It's all starting to make sense now").

Back in the crumbling epicenter of the potential end of the universe, Chidi-Janet is trying to get Eleanor-many-bodies to remember who she is to stop the building blocks of existence from fracturing into nothing. (Chidi-Janet: "Your favorite meal is shrimp scampi. You listed your emergency contact as Britney Spears as a long-shot way of meeting her, and your favorite movie is that clip of John Travolta saying Adele Dazeem. You make fun of me a lot. You once called me a human snooze button.") He starts listing more genuine compliment-type things (barf) and finally, wha-bam:

A Janet wearing glasses kisses another Janet
Eleanor kisses a Janet wearing glasses

Chidi kisses Eleanor
That's right, all you Cheleanor fans, it's really happening. (For the rest of us, there's always Jason and Janet.)

Regular Eleanor: "Did you mean everything you said or did you just say it because the world was ending?"

Regular Chidi: "I really want to play this cool, but I'm afraid that I'm going to ruin it if I try to be sexy. I already ruined it. Saying the word sexy is not sexy."

They kiss again.


Janet doesn't need to be marble-ized! Eleanor returning to herself averted the crisis/end of the universe, but the humans changing from Janets back into themselves upsets Janet's stomach and she barfs them all out, right there in the Accounting Office. Red lights start flashing and a threatening beeping siren booms over the interdimensional intercom. Neil comes over and in a very friendly way tells them he hit the alarm but on the bright side, there's cake.

Coming around kind of slowly, Michael decides to take action and smacks the cake out of Neil's hand. The Soul Squad runs into the room with the pneumatic tubes (Chekhov's pneumatic tubes, my friends), and Michael locks the door and snatches up the book of Dougs (where Doug Forcett's file is).

Michael: "Now, I'm going to need one of you to volunteer to do something outrageously insane that will either make you cease to exist or be really fun."

Jason: "That's most of the things I tried!"

Jason gets sucked up the pneumatic tube that goes to the Good Place. One by one, the rest of the Squad goes up the tube (not sure how Michael gets in because you have to hit a button that is some distance away from the tubes to make them work, but hey, let's not think about that detail I guess), and they scramble out of a mailbox.

Eleanor: "Where are we?"

Michael: "We're in the Good Place."

Eleanor: "No offense to you, but you have told us a lot of lies in the last 300 years, so seriously, where the fork are we?"

That's right, friends: they're in the forking Good Place. To be continued!