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Recap / The Good Place S3E05 "The Ballad of Donkey Doug"

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"Dang, nice pull, son! [to Tahani] How about you and me go check out my Jacuzzi and put stuff in each other?"

"I'm sorry. The man you call Donkey Doug is your father? [...] The Donkey Doug with whom you tried to blind airline pilots with laser pointers?"

The newly christened Soul Squad goes their separate ways to begin to help people. Jason, Tahani (who broke up with Larry Hemsworth), and Michael go to Jacksonville to try to save Jason's father, Donkey Doug. Chidi, Eleanor, and Janet stay in Australia, where Chidi tries to figure out how he's going to break up with Simone.

Janet knows everything about human nature and also computer programming, so she offers to create a virtual reality simulator where Chidi can practice different breakup scenarios. Eventually, Chidi figures out an approach based on the top ten of these scenarios, but when he gets to a cafe to do the breakup in real life, it all goes wrong: they're at the wrong table and the waiter keeps interrupting them. Finally he just blurts out that he wants to break up with her. Later, they have a (slightly) more mature conversation and agree to go their separate ways, with Simone continuing the research study.


In Florida, the trio's plan is to talk Donkey Doug into getting his electrician's license. But when the gang meets him, he has other ideas: he and Pillboi intend to get rich by selling a body spray/energy drink combination. Tahani and Michael are almost willing to go along with this, but then it turns out that they plan to get their stock by robbing a body spray factory and an energy drink factory (and also a bottle factory). Jason decides that his father is a lost cause and they should focus on saving Pillboi instead.

Tahani visits Pillboi at the nursing home where he works and tells him that they don't need him at the factory. Jason goes in his place and tries to talk Donkey Doug out of including Pillboi in anymore schemes; when the police show up, Donkey Doug offers to distract them while Jason runs out the back. Afterward, the gang all meet up with Pillboi again. They tell him a ridiculous story about being astronaut spies from NASA who need him to be an undercover agent at his nursing home. This means that it's crucial that he be as nice as possible to everyone and also that he doesn't do anything illegal.


In the end, everybody meets up in Budapest, where they plan to try to reconcile Tahani with her sister. When Eleanor laments that she'll never get any closure with her own family as both her parents are dead, Janet and Michael reveal that Eleanor's mother is actually still alive. Eleanor declares that she won't be helping save Kamilah, as she has to go murder her mother instead.

Tropes in this episode include:

  • Almost Kiss: In the simulation, Eleanor very nearly makes out with Simone until Chidi stops her.
    Eleanor: Come on! It was just getting good!
  • Bait-and-Switch: At first it seems as if Jason hailed a regular-sized cab at the airport, but then a monster truck cab comes roaring in, crushing the normal cab beneath its wheels.
  • Break His Heart to Save Him: Both Tahani and Chidi dump their respective significant others, and Tahani even comments, "If you love someone, set them free." Chidi in particular realizes he has to break up with Simone, because he doesn't trust himself not to slip up and reveal the afterlife system to her—thus dooming her as well. (Though in Tahani's case, the fact that she'd totally forgotten about Larry and married Jason probably also had something to do with it.)
  • Breaking Bad News Gently: Chidi runs through various scenarios to try and find a way to break up with Simone without hurting her feelings.
  • The Cameo: German comedian-musician Flula Borg cameos as Helmut the waiter.
  • Call-Back: The same music that played during the montage of Michael's numerous failed Good Place reboots plays during the montage of Chidi's numerous humorously failed attempts to find the right way to break things off with Simone.
  • Cliffhanger Copout: The previous episode ended with Tahani running into Larry Hemsworth after having married Jason. This episode skips over the whole affair entirely except for a Freeze-Frame Bonus shot about their breakup on the back of a celebrity magazine.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • Eleanor once again uses Janet's knowledge of literally everything in the universe to get the dirt on old boyfriends and former classmates.
    • The "every business in Australia is named after Finding Nemo" gag from the last episode makes a return, as Chidi and Simone meet up in the French Pressing Nemo Cafe.
    • Michael's failed attempt at acting like Rick Justice, FBI Agent, is referenced a few times:
      • In one of the failed simulations, Chidi tries pretending he's a secret agent named Rick Justice.
      • Michael tricks Pillboi by saying that he's a spy and that Pillboi is part of a secret mission, just as Michael tried to do when the group saw the door to the Afterlife. This time, however, he's successful.
    • Eleanor grimaces when she hears the jazz music used to transition into Janet's simulation, alluding to her noted hatred of the genre.
    • In the first season, Jason says he was "an amateur body spray inventor" as one of his former occupations. Here, Donkey Doug and Pillboi are the ones trying to make a new body spray.
  • Epic Fail: One of Chidi's solutions to try and break things off with Simone in the simulation was to propose to her. Janet even says that she's just going to reboot this one herself.
  • Exact Words: Chidi asks the waiter to "give us a second." He waits exactly one second before bothering them again. Chidi also tries this in a simulation, telling Simone he's dying—in the sense that we're all dying from the moment we're born.
  • Failure Montage: Chidi runs through many failed break-up scenarios in attempt to find a way to break the news to Simone without hurting her significantly.
  • Get-Rich-Quick Scheme: Donkey Doug's entire life has consisted of a succession of juvenile schemes that gets him quick cash. The one that he and Pillboi propose in this episode is a body-spray/energy-drink combination.
  • Girl-on-Girl Is Hot: Not to Chidi. He acts quickly to prevent Elenor from planting a wet one on a virtual copy of his girlfriend.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Donkey Doug gives himself up to the cops so that Jason can get away.
    Donkey Doug: It's what my dad did for me and his dad for him, and some day, you'll do this exact thing for your son.
    Jason: I mean, I hope not, but... thanks!
  • Like Father, Like Son: Jason's father is a dumb petty crook like his son (used to be), only much more stupid and questionable.
  • Must State If You're a Cop: Donkey Doug believes that not only must cops say they're cops, but that they're not allowed to take notice of anything they saw before they said they were cops. He even tries to pull this on cops who announce that they're cops while flashing their lights and sirens.
    Cop: [over bullhorn] Jacksonville PD! Come out with your hands up!
    Donkey Doug: Are you guys cops? You have to say if you're cops!
    Cop: ... Yes, this is the police.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Just like the previous episode, one of the background characters is named in the credits as Jolivia Oowton-Nohn.
  • Noodle Incident: Tahani's breakup with Larry Hemsworth happens offscreen; we only see a magazine cover saying it's over.
  • Precious Puppies: In one failed simulation, Chidi attempts to soften the blow of the breakup by presenting Simone with an adorable puppy named Martin.
  • Pseudo Crisis: The previous episode ended with Larry Hemsworth putting Tahani in an awkward position when he expects them to start their new life in Britain. This episode glosses over that, showing Tahani broke up with Larry offscreen.
  • Reality Ensues: After Chidi had a very messy meltdown in front of his students, the university naturally fires him.
  • The Reveal:
    • Donkey Doug, who's appeared/been mentioned a few times and was initially assumed to be just a fellow dance crew member, is Jason's father.
    • Eleanor's mother is actually still alive and faked her own death.
  • Thought They Knew Already: Why Jason never revealed Donkey Doug was his father until now
  • Rewatch Bonus: Jason's previous mentions/onscreen interactions with Donkey Doug, for example in Episode 1 of this season, become more humorous after the reveal that the two are son and father respectively.
  • Rhetorical Question Blunder: Eleanor asks Chidi if he wants her to break up with Simone for him, like they're in middle school. His immediate reaction is "yes, please!"
  • The Rule of First Adopters: Eleanor's immediate reaction when presented with Janet's virtual reality software is to try to use it to have sex with her celebrity crushes. Janet can't understand why this is the human reaction to all new technology, but she later has to argue unconvincingly that the "Jason in a sauna and an old-timey strongman onesie" scenario Eleanor is about to find herself in is just a glitch.
  • Saying Sound Effects Out Loud: Janet says "bing" whenever she's called over, since without her powers she can no longer just make the sound.
  • Secret Handshake: Jason and Pillboi have an incredibly complicated one, including a pair of abbreviated trust falls and a cheer for the Jacksonville Jaguars, which they do with tears in their eyes before Jason leaves at the end of the episode.
  • Ship Tease: Eleanor (who's bi) and Simone's interactions in Janet's simulation, which is supposed to be very accurate in terms of how characters will react, very much implies that Simone wouldn't be opposed to getting together with Eleanor. Eleanor's annoyed when Chidi takes the simulation earpieces away from her before she can kiss Simone.
  • Ship Sinking: Chidi breaks up with Simone, not wanting to drag her into the debacle the Soul Squad has gotten into.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Stealth Hi/Bye: Janet clearly wants to do her usual sudden appearing/disappearing quirk she's used to doing in the afterlife, but she isn't very good at it in real life. So she's reduced to asking people not to look at her as she leaves the room.
  • Snowball Lie: Chidi's avoided talking with Simone for so long she assumed he had laryngitis, and he started taking antibiotics instead of correcting her.
  • Take That!:
    • Many jabs are made at Jacksonville, Florida, as not being a very bright or well-functioning place.
    • Elon Musk is another celebrity friend Tahani name-drops, except this time she's clearly put off by him and calls him a "weird creep."
      Tahani: Why was I friends with him?
  • Threesome Subtext: In addition to the already existent Chidi/Eleanor subtext and Chidi/Simone relationship, Eleanor is revealed to be attracted to Simone and it's implied that Simone wouldn't be adverse to a relationship with her as well.
  • Verbal Backspace: Pillboi is about to leave his shift and has to come up with a cover story.
    Pillboi: Yo, I gotta take off because I have to do a robbery. I mean... I'm sick.
  • Wham Line:
    • The identity of Jason's father.
      Tahani: Why are you trying to save your father? I've heard you mention your friend Pillboi many times, but you've not mentioned your father once.
      Jason: What do you mean? I talk about Donkey Doug all the time.
    • At the end of the episode, Eleanor expresses disappointment that she can't save her deceased parents...
      Janet: So the thing is, one of your parents is not technically actually dead.
  • Xtreme Kool Letterz: Jason, Tahani, and Michael take a monster truck cab from the "SUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUP CABZ" company.


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