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Recap / The Good Place S2E09 "Best Self"

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"The real Bad Place was the friends we made along the way?"

"All I've ever really wanted was to know what it feels like to be human, and now we're going to do the most human thing of all: attempt something futile with a ton of unearned confidence and fail spectacularly!"
Michael
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After hoodwinking Shawn into thinking that they'd escaped to Mindy St. Clair's house, the gang prepares to depart to the real Good Place. Michael summons a grandiose balloon to take them there, but it will only accept passengers who are the best versions of themselves. Eleanor, Jason, and Tahani are accepted, but Chidi fails because he's hung up on the previous versions of him, who could be 'better'. Having talked him out of it, the gang tries again, only this time Eleanor is rejected. As they break out into arguments, Michael admits that he doesn't actually know how to get to the Good Place.

Now faced with Shawn's impending discovery and eternal torture, the gang decide to enjoy one last night in the neighborhood. Michael is given an 'honorary human' box full of trinkets. Tahani and Jason quietly break up, while Eleanor admits to Chidi that she has feelings for him. Then Tahani, taking inspiration from Eleanor mocking her constantly "[wanting] to speak to your manager", has an idea — what if they appeal their case to the eternal Judge (the manager, in this metaphor). Deciding that they have nothing to lose anyway, the team decides to try it.

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Tropes:

  • 420, Blaze It: Jason suggests that their best selves might've been the 69th or the 420th. Eleanor high-fives him for it.
  • Book-Ends: The first act of the episode has the four humans discussing their ideal Good Places, while in the last act they wonder what personal Bad Places are in store for them when they're out of escape options.
  • Bottle Episode: Has only the six regular cast members, and takes place almost entirely on the town square set.
  • Breather Episode: Compared to the frantic plot-driven episodes around it, "Best Self" is a much quieter episode focused on character interaction.
  • Disappointed in You: When Michael finally admits he's been lying and has no idea how to get to the real Good Place he expects everyone will be angry but instead Eleanor tells him she's just disappointed in him. Michael points out how everyone knows that's worse than someone being mad at you.
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  • "Eureka!" Moment: While Eleanor drunkenly imitates how Tahani would solve her problems by demanding to speak to the manager, it gave Tahani the idea of appealing to the Judge who manages both the Good and Bad Place.
  • Faux Horrific: When the group discuss what the Bad Place would be like, Jason imagines a Skrillex concert where the bass beat never drops, while Tahani imagines being in the Swiss Alps in autumn.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: When Michael receives a message from Shawn, on the screen that pops up there's a folder labelled "Song Lyrics (Private)" which he briefly mentioned in Season 1.
  • Horrible Camping Trip: Eleanor imagines that the Bad Place for her would involve a lot of camping.
  • LOL, 69: Jason suggests that their best selves might've been the 69th or the 420th. Eleanor high-fives him for it.
  • Nothing Is the Same Anymore: At the end of the episode, the neighborhood that's been the main setting for the whole show dismantles into nothing and is completely gone.
  • Only the Worthy May Pass: The balloon to the Good Place comes with a scale that determines whether one is the best version of themselves and let them in. Everyone gets a green light except for Chidi, who is conflicted over whether his present self is his best self. Eleanor talks him down and he gets approved... but now Eleanor doesn't because "Chidi got in my head" and now she has doubts.
  • Readings Are Off the Scale: When Eleanor needles a smug Janet about not being honest about her lingering feelings for Jason, she goads her into stepping on the scale that determines whether one is their best self. It shorts while flashing patterns of red and green.
  • Self-Inflicted Hell: When the group talk about what the Bad Place would be for them, Chidi says that, since he's made himself miserable in everything he's ever done, there would be a wide variety of possible versions for him.
  • Take That!:
    • Eleanor says of course the Good Place will take them in, as "what kind of messed up place would turn away refugees?"
    • A Dr. Oz dieting book is considered reading material for suckers.
  • Unaccustomed as I Am to Public Speaking...: Subverted. At the party, when people are giving toasts, Janet says "Because of the way we were conceived of and created, Janets do not typically give speeches"...and then she stops talking.
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