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Recap / The Good Place S2E12 "Somewhere Else"

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"The real question, Eleanor? What do we owe to each other?"
Michael
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While the humans plus Janet make their last confessions to one another, including Chidi kissing Eleanor, Michael tries to argue with the Judge that the current system of judging people into the Good and Bad places is unfair — his experiment proved that humans can change even after death. Gen is seemingly unconvinced, believing that the humans' improvement was spurred purely for their desire for a reward at the end (in this case, getting into the Good Place), and she and Michael attempt to hammer out a solution, eventually posing two options: either the humans go to the Bad Place, or spend an unknown amount of time in personal Medium Places apart from each other as Michael works their case. Eleanor protests that neither idea sounds appealing, and Michael has a third idea — what if the humans were just given the "right push"? Gen is intrigued, and snaps her fingers before Eleanor can ask what is going on.

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Eleanor is alive again, back on Earth, and has been saved from her death by a mysterious figure. Shaken to the core, she realizes that she's been wasting her life being a terrible person and strives to be a better one. She proceeds to quit her shady job and gets a new one at an environmental organization, and generally acts kinder to her coworkers and the people around her, including coming clean to her roommate about the "Dress Bitch" fiasco. However, this newfound resolve to improve herself eventually crumbles, and after six months, she's reverted back to her trashy ways.

Distraught, Michael subtly intervenes by posing as a friendly bartender. He listens to Eleanor's stories and points out that she's expecting a reward for being a good person. He asks her to consider "what we owe to each other". This question spurs her to read about philosophy, eventually stumbling upon a three-hour online lecture by Chidi on the topic of why people do good things. Eleanor then flies to Sydney and asks to speak with him.

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Tropes:

  • Actor Allusion: At one point, Michael shows up in Eleanor's second chance life as a friendly bartender.
  • Back from the Dead: Invoked. Michael convinces Gen to put the humans back in their lives by changing their deaths to near-death experiences, hoping that it will be enough to Scare 'Em Straight.
  • Badass Fingersnap: Gen sends the humans back to their lives this way.
  • The Bartender: The guise Michael assumes on Earth when he attempts to steer Eleanor back to the straight and narrow. Complete with performing Obsessive-Compulsive Barkeeping.
  • Being Good Sucks: Eleanor quits her sketchy job and genuinely attempts to be a good person, but she regresses after six months because she doesn't get anything from it besides an unjust lawsuit and getting kicked out of her apartment.
    Eleanor: You know, the thing is... the problem really with being a do-gooder?
    Michael: What's that?
    Eleanor: No one cares.
  • The Big Damn Kiss: Chidi goes and plants a dizzying one on Eleanor. "Hot diggity dog!" indeed.
  • Book-Ends:
    • This season begins and ends with Michael quietly and confidently saying "Okay. Here we go."
    • It also begins and ends with Eleanor finding Chidi, with references to "What We Owe to Each Other" each time (in the premiere, Eleanor wrote the note on a page torn out from Chidi's book What We Owe to Each Other, and in the finale, Michael references What We Owe to Each Other as a way of indirectly referencing Chidi when indirectly guiding Eleanor to Chidi).
  • Brick Joke: Just after quitting her job, Eleanor is invited to a baby shower. Later on, when she fires up her Google search, it's possible to see an search entry on "how to get out of someone's baby shower".
  • Call-Back: Michael tells Eleanor that the real question is "What do we owe to each other?" This spurs her to learn about contractualism from a lecture Chidi gives online. This parallels the previous season finale, where Eleanor snuck a note from "What We Owe to Each Other" telling her future self to find Chidi.
    • A few episodes back, Chidi mentioned wishing that he and Eleanor met when she knocked on his door asking for help with a philosophy problem. Lo and behold, one reset later...
  • Cliffhanger: The season ends with Eleanor going to Chidi's university seeking out his help to be a good person, and everyone else back on Earth.
  • Continuity Nod: To numerous aspects of past episodes.
    • We finally get to see the truck that killed Eleanor, and it does indeed have an ad for Erectile Dysfunction medication on the side, just as Michael described all the way back in episode one.
      • Meanwhile, in the background, Frank Sinatra's "My Way" can be heard playing in the store.
    • Betsy invites Eleanor to her friend's baby shower, which calls to mind Vicky's description of Eleanor's Bad Place (where she had to plan an endless baby shower for a woman she didn't know).
    • Eleanor confesses to her roommate the truth behind the "Dress Bitch" fiasco, despite her other friend discouraging her from saying anything.
    • After Eleanor gives up on being good, she can be seen reading an issue of "Celebrity Baby Plastic Surgery Disasters" and at another point has a drink from Andy's Coffee Shop.
    • While Eleanor is on her way back to becoming her old self, she had a brief moment where she could either return to work at the environmental activist group or go see a horrible cover band. She had a similar choice previously in her life, when she could either keep her promise to care for a friend's dog or go see a Rihanna concert.
    • Eleanor complains that she should get a reward like a tiara or a sash for being a good person. She sort of got both in the season premiere for being the neighborhood's supposed best person.
    • Chidi once told Eleanor that he wished they met in a "normal" setting, like "at a philosophy conference, or after one of my philosophy lectures, or you came knocking on my office door asking for help with philosophy." She does the latter in the last few minutes of the finale.
    • Eleanor again mangles Chidi's surname with the name of an American female celebrity.
  • Curse Cut Short: Eleanor, still in the dark about what Michael and Gen plan to do with them, says "Will someone please explain to me what the fu-" before Gen snaps her finger and the screen cuts to white.
  • "Eureka!" Moment: Michael argues with the judge on how "they might still be good people if they just got... a push in the right direction." This presses him to suggest the "do-over."
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus:
    • Just before Eleanor is about to be hit by the line of shopping carts, across the street behind her is a truck advertising Tahani's sister Kamilah.
    • Among the Google searches seen are "What is Kylie's snapchat" and "What does Despacito mean".
    • In the scenes where Michael and Janet are following the cast's progress, Tahani's ticker is noticeably not moving at all.
  • Friendship Moment: Tahani and Eleanor have a heartfelt moment on a couch where Tahani admits that a large part of her progress was because she and Eleanor had become 'mates'.
    Tahani: That's British for 'friends'.
  • The Ghost: Invoked, as whoever saved Eleanor from getting hit by the shopping carts disappeared between two cars before she could see who it was.
  • Informed Attribute: From what we see of it, the "crappy apartment" that Eleanor complains about having to live in after one of her friends kicked her out doesn't look meaningfully different from the one she shared with said friend.
  • Jerk-to-Nice-Guy Plot: Invoked. Michael hopes he can induce this by having Eleanor survive the crash that killed her. This makes her realizes that she's a bad person, and she strives to improve herself—until she regresses. Her conversation with Michael then spurs her to seek Chidi out for help as she did while in the fake Good Place, suggesting that this attempt might hold more water.
  • Jerkass Realization: Eleanor realizes that she's a god-awful person after a Near-Death Experience.
  • Kirk Summation: Michael gives a good one pleading with Gen.
    Michael: If I'm right, the system by which we judge humans, the very method that we use to deem them good or bad, is so fundamentally wrong and unreasonable that hundreds of millions of people have been wrongly condemned to an eternity of torture.
  • Last-Second Word Swap: "Do you wanna chew on my ass... ortment of brownies?"
  • Loophole Abuse: Michael subtly intervenes in Eleanor's life as a bartender giving some vague, general advice.
  • Near-Death Experience: Invoked; Eleanor's death is changed from her actually dying to her getting saved at the last minute. This experience shook her to the core and helped her realize that she was a bad person, spurring her desire to change. The same thing happened to the other humans as well.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Eleanor lightly bumps into a stranger's car and leaves her name and phone number on the windshield in order to make amends. This ends with the owner suing her for whiplash, despite not even being in the car.
  • Redemption Failure: Michael's attempt to Scare 'Em Straight works on Eleanor... for about six months. Now slapped with a lawsuit and kicked out of her apartment for trying to do the right thing, she reverts back to her cynical jerkass ways.
  • Sarcasm Failure: Played with. Eleanor tells her old friends that she's trying to be a vegetarian now. They mock her by asking if it's because animals get crammed into tiny little cages and other abusive means simply for humans to eat them. She responds that is exactly why.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Shut Up, Kirk!: Gen's response to Michael's heartfelt plea is for her to spout her suspicion that only reason the main four changed was for "moral desert" — they just wanted to get into the Good Place, not from a genuine desire to be good.
  • Strange Minds Think Alike: Both Michael and Eleanor react to Chidi kissing Eleanor with "Hot diggity dog!"
  • Take a Third Option: At first, Michael points out two options — eternal damnation in the Bad Place, or the foursome being stuck in personal Medium Places for god-knows-how-long. When Eleanor points out that those are both terrible, a third option comes to him — putting them back on Earth and seeing if they can redeem themselves enough to genuinely earn a spot in the Good Place.
  • Tempting Fate: Jason doesn't know what he'll do if one more insane thing happens... cue Love Confession from Janet.
  • Trash of the Titans: Eleanor's room is a total mess. When her Jerkass Realization sinks in, she gets to cleaning it up.
  • Wants a Prize for Basic Decency: Discussed. As Gen points out in response to Michael's plea regarding the humans' ability to change, a person can't just be good out of the expectation of receiving a reward.

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