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Recap / The Good Place S2E11 "The Burrito"

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"Hi. I'm the judge. That's a burrito."

"Why can't one part of the calculation of our eternal fate be easy?"
Eleanor
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Eleanor, Chidi, Tahani, and Jason convince the immortal, all-knowing Judge - a cheerful TV addict named Gen - that they are worthy of being in the Good Place. Intrigued by the foursome, Gen decides to test them to see if they truly have improved. Team Cockroach agrees that if one of them fails her test, then they all go to the Bad Place.

Jason is shown a video game set where he must play against his favorite team, the Jacksonville Jaguars. He immediately sits down to play, disregarding Gen's instructions. Only later when she comes back to check on him does he realize that the test was supposed to measure his immaturity and impulse control, and that he was never supposed to play against his team.

Tahani must walk down towards the end of a hallway where every room is filled with her servants, help, and celebrity friends talking about their true opinions of her. She manages to ignore every single door except one — when she sees the door marked with her parents' names, her resolve crumbles and she enters the room. Even in death, her parents keep expressing their disapproval of her and their favoritism towards Kamilah. Tahani realizes she was never going to be enough for them, and leaves the room.

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Eleanor is told that she and Chidi pass the test and can go to the Good Place, no strings attached, and now have to decide whether or not to leave Jason and Tahani behind. Puzzled over what to do, Chidi suggests abandoning their friends and ethics and achieving happiness together. Eleanor realizes that he's not the real Chidi, decides against going to the Good Place, and passes.

Chidi takes an hour and a half to pick a hat. This means that all of them save Eleanor failed their tests, so they're going to the Bad Place.

While all this is going on, Shawn leads Michael to his torture chamber — since "The Eternal Shriek" would be far too public for the coverup Shawn is attempting, Michael will instead be trapped in an empty room with no other forms of entertainment other than an endless stack of New Yorker magazines. He orders Bad Janet to unleash one of her signature farts, but then Bad Janet throws him against the wall and reveals herself to be Good Janet in disguise. Michael and Janet make a break for it and wind up in the Judge's chambers just as Gen is about to send off the team.

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Tropes:

  • And I Must Scream: Bad Janet traps Good Janet in a marble, and you can see Good Janet screaming. Subverted as Good Janet was pretending to be Bad Janet.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Played for laughs when Tahani explains what she's been up to.
    Tahani: I died dressed as someone from the service industry. I shagged a Floridean. I even ate a Cheeto.
    (Her parents Gasp! dramatically)
  • Bait-and-Switch: Tahani is surprised that Stephen Hawking and Quevenzhane Wallis are in the same room talking about her. At first, it seems her surprise is due to the fact that they are two famous people in separate fields and would have no reason to interact... till she remarks "They must have made up"
  • Big Damn Heroes: The episode ends with the heroes being told that they failed and will be sent to the Bad Place....only for Michael to show up to save them at the last second.
  • Character Development: Though three of them fall to their Fatal Flaw, their progress on their tests indicate that the characters did somewhat grow as people after their death.
    • Jason realizes that he would never score a goal against his own team. (He also takes the time to meditate, Jianyu-style.)
    • Tahani powers through the desire to hear her friends and servants talk about her, but barely hesitates before entering the room marked with her parents' names. Despite this, she realizes that she will never be enough for them (even in death) and leaves the room.
    • Chidi manages to pick a hat. It takes him eighty-two minutes, but still.
    • Eleanor passes her test by refusing to abandon her friends despite getting the chance to and by realizing the Chidi she was with was a fake, showing she'd learned how to be less self-centered, and proves her development twice over by staying with them even after learning all of them failed.
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: Instead of having Michael retired, which would have been too public and led to inquiries about why, Shawn decides to imprison him for all eternity in an unmarked room, with nothing to entertain himself but a perpetually replenishing pile of The New Yorker magazines. To top it off, he asks Bad Janet to fart, which would linger for millions of years.
  • Did You Just Flip Off Cthulhu?: The Judge might act like a dorky, TV-obsessed aunt, but she's still an all-powerful and all-knowing being, and she didn't really take kindly to Jason telling her to shut up and leave.
  • Fatal Flaw: What ultimately the heroes must overcome to earn their way into the Good Place.
    • Jason's immaturity and inability to listen to the people around him. His insistence on interrupting an omniscient judge in order to play Madden is the ultimate demonstration to Gen that he hasn't matured substantially during his journey.
    • Tahani's Freudian Excuse and issues with her parents' approval. While she overcame her obsession with her reputation, she couldn't resist confronting her parents for their utter disinterest for her. If she had simply moved on without a word, she would have finally been her own person.
    • Chidi's indecisiveness.
      Gen: You took eighty-two minutes to pick a hat!
    • Eleanor's selfishness and her reliance on Chidi. Her refusal to abandon her friends on her own merit, not just because Chidi told her what the right decision was, and recognizing that the Chidi she was with was a fake, definitively proved her Character Development.
  • Get It Over With: After being interrogated and mocked by Shawn, Michael tells Shawn to just retire him already.
  • I Am Not Spock: In-Universe. The Judge is reluctant to start on Bloodline because she can't see Kyle Chandler as anyone other than his iconic role in Friday Night Lights.
  • I Did What I Had to Do: Michael's excuse to Shawn why he helped the humans.
  • Impersonating the Evil Twin: Or Evil Knockoff, in this case. The Bad Janet at Shawn's side the entire episode was actually the Good Place Janet, who pretended to be a Bad Janet in order to bust Michael out of his imprisonment.
  • Insubstantial Ingredients: Gen spices her burrito not with hot sauce, but with envy. It really gives it a kick.
  • Lying to Protect Your Feelings: As the Judge is about to mention that the only person who passed was Eleanor, Eleanor quickly cuts in and lies that she failed so the others wouldn't take their own failures too badly.
  • Neck Lift: Janet does it to Shawn before throwing him against the wall.
  • Noodle Incident: We never find out what happened between Stephen Hawking and Quevenzhane Wallis, that caused them to fall out.
  • Out-of-Character Alert: Eleanor is clued in to the fact that she was in a Secret Test of Character by the fact that Chidi would never ask her to abandon ethics and leave their friends behind.
  • Prisoner's Dilemma: Eleanor thinks their Secret Test of Character would take this form but it doesn't.
  • Right Behind Me: Brutally subverted. Tahani walks in on her parents insulting her behind her back. When they realize she's there, they show absolutely no embarrassment that she heard them.
    "Oh, hello, Tahani. We were just discussing how you're a huge disappointment, compared to your sister."
  • Secret Test of Character:
    • The foursome immediately discuss this trope, first suspecting the burrito on the judge's table to be the test, then wondering if the burrito is the judge. Ultimately though, the only one who goes through this is Eleanor, as everyone else was informed that they were going through a test.
    • Subverted when Jason has to play Madden NFL against his beloved Jaguars, a very difficult ordeal for him, which, he belatedly realizes, is his actual test. Judge Gen then reminds him that this was not a secret; it was all clearly explained to him at the beginning.
  • The Snack Is More Interesting: The judge takes more interest in her burrito than the fate of the four humans.
  • Stern Old Judge: Discussed and subverted; Tahani mentions that all judges are extremely serious people in long robes and wigs. While Gen does have the attire, she's about the furthest possible from the stereotypical personality.
  • Take That!: Michael's only entertainment in his prison is a neverending stack of New Yorker magazines, because both he and Shawn know he'll never get around to reading them. But they'll just keep coming.
  • Time Abyss: The reason the judge's name is Gen? It's short for Hydrogen, because it was the only thing in the universe around when she came into existence.
  • The Unfavorite: While she'd always somehow known she was this before, Tahani's meeting with her parents makes her realize that even in death, they will forever put her as a distant second to her sister no matter what she does.
  • Unnaturally Looping Location: The judge's doors are actually built like this; Eleanor and fake Chidi go through the ones on one side only to wind up on the doors on the other side of the hall. Lampshaded and justified, as the Judge is a powerful being who probably sees in more dimensions than in our standard three.
    Gen: Trippy, right?
  • What Would X Do?: As part of considering the moral quandary they're in, Eleanor brings up philosophies she and Chidi have covered, as well as "What would Superman do", and "What would Rihanna do".
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