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Recap / The Good Place S3E08 "Don't Let the Good Life Pass You By"

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"My name is Michael Scoop. This is my photographer, Janet Scoop. She's my sister. We're the Scoops."

"See, if I make him happy, I get the points. That's how the system works, remember?"
Doug
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The Soul Squad has made it to Calgary, Canada. Michael and Janet pose as reporters and visit Doug Forcett, the one human in existence to most closely accurately figure out how the afterlife works (92% accurate, in fact; by contrast, most of the world's major religions got about 5 to 10% of it right) while he tripped out on magic mushrooms as a teenager, as Michael believes that the life Doug lives will be the perfect blueprint of how to inspire others to live a morally good life. However, it turns out that Doug's miraculously accurate vision of how the afterlife works has ruined his earthly life, turning him into an isolated hermit who makes his living off the land and has dedicated his whole life to making others happy to the detriment of his own well-being. He subsists solely on lentils, radishes and recycled water, lets a preteen boy bully him into doing his chores for him, volunteers himself as a test subject for cosmetics so they won't be tested on animals, has a minor meltdown when he accidentally calls Michael "Mark" and becomes utterly distraught when he steps on a snail, giving it a full-fledged funeral when he's unable to save its life. Even Janet describes Doug as a miserable wreck, a "happiness pump" who doles out good deeds to maximize others' joy at the cost of his own, and the way he lives is no way to live at all. Before Doug leaves to walk all the way to Edmonton to donate to a snail charity, Michael suggests that Doug relax once in a while, reasoning that he probably has enough points by now, but Doug refuses, as he's terrified of doing anything that could potentially ruin his chances of getting into the Good Place.

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Meanwhile, the four humans are waiting in a bar. Chidi and Jason play "Jacksonville-style" pool while Eleanor seeks advice from Tahani for what to do about the things she discovered about her and Chidi's relationship during their time in the afterlife. However, the demons arrive in the bar, and Janet instigates a fight, with the group defeating the demons and sending them to the Judge's realm. They subdue Shawn and interrogate him. He isn't fazed, gloating that he expects to see not just the Soul Squad humans in the Bad Place, but also their friends and family members and even Doug. After they dispose of Shawn, Michael begins to wonder if the problem with the points system goes deeper than he originally suspected, and he intends to speak to the accountant in charge while the humans wait at Doug's house. However, more demons arrive, so Janet takes the four humans to her void instead, killing them on Earth.

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Tropes

  • Action Girl: Janetnote  takes up an impressive fighting role when the demons are about to take them back to the Bad Place, and delivers some pretty awesome ass-whooping on them all. Eleanor and Tahani, to their credit, also manage to get a few good hits in.
  • An Aesop: While it is important to do good things for people (especially when your judgment day depends on it), that doesn't mean you should devote your entire life to it and allow yourself to be taken advantage of because of it. You should also enjoy your time on earth in a moral yet satisfying manner.
  • All for Nothing: Doug is so determined to get enough points to get into The Good Place that it has essentially ruined his life, being taken advantage of by everyone and living like a hermit in the woods refusing to do anything fun out of fear it could potentially be what sends him to The Bad Place. Despite all these sacrifices though, Shawn reveals that Doug is going to go to The Bad Place anyway.
  • Amazon Chaser: Eleanor shows her approval when watching Janet put up a good fight against the demons.
    Eleanor: Is it just or me, or is Janet a straight-up hottie right now?
    Chidi: How are you this close to being dragged to hell and still horny?
    Eleanor: I dunno...
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Michael's eulogy for the snail Doug kills:
    Michael: Martin taught us about life, about love, and about the limits of Scotch tape.
  • Artistic License – Geography: Calgary is depicted as a rural, backwoods town. It's actually a fairly large metropolitan city, of just over a million people.
  • Badass Boast: Courtesy of Tahani when she faces Chris: "Twelve years of fencing, en garde!" Cue her knocking him out with a pool cue.
  • Bar Brawl: A big fight ensues between Shawn and his demons and the Soul Squad at the Canadian bar the humans have been waiting at, although Janet does most of the fighting.
  • Big Damn Heroes:
    • Janet almost single-handedly saves the group from being sent in the Bad Place with her hand-to-hand combat and powers (once they come back).
    • Tahani manages to stop Chidi from being sent to the Bad Place thanks to a well-placed pool cue and fencing skills.
    • Jason saves Janet from being marbleized thanks to throwing some pool balls into the demons' faces.
  • Being Good Sucks: Taken to sad extremes with Doug Forcett, whose fear of going to the Bad Place has driven him to do whatever it takes to live a morally perfect life no matter how miserable it makes him.
  • Bond One-Liner: Jason says two related to Jacksonville-style pool after he clonks demons with pool balls.
  • Bratty Half-Pint: Doug's neighbor Raymond is a young bully and one of the many people in Doug's life to take advantage of his extreme generosity, knowing full well he'll never fight back. Even Doug, who nearly has a breakdown after calling Michael "Mark" by accident, doesn't shy away from calling him a "sociopath."
  • The Bus Came Back: The episode brings back a number of the recurring demon characters, including Bambadjan, Chris, and Bad Janet, after many episodes of absence.
  • Calvinball: Jason teaches Chidi how to play Jacksonville Special Rules Pool. There are no rules and you make up the scoring as you go.
  • Casual Danger Dialogue: After Tahani wields a pool cue like a sword and knocks out Chris, she cheerily says doing that in a fencing competition would be a three-tenths deduction.
  • Cerebus Retcon: Doug Forcett's portrait is hung in the offices of several afterlife bureaucrats due to him being the one person in existence to most closely accurately guess the true nature of the afterlife, with the joke being that he achieved this while high on magic mushrooms and his picture was a funny recurring joke we'd see in the background. Here, we see the consequences his vision has had on his life and they are not pretty.
  • Character Development: The normally uptight Chidi loosens up and plays some Jacksonville pool with Jason. Meanwhile, Eleanor and Tahani have a serious conversation about if she should confess her feelings to Chidi.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Everyone in the Bar Brawl fights extremely dirty. Knocking people out with pool cues, throwing pool balls at people's heads, ganging up on people so it's three-on-one, throat-punching, the use of magic portals and shoving people through... everything quickly becomes fair game.
    • During the fight with the demons, Tahani grabs a pool cue and says she's got twelve years of fencing experience, wielding it like a sword. Instead of a choreographed fencing fight, Tahani brains him with the cue and knocks him out.
  • Comically Missing the Point: When Michael shares with the group that they should find evidence regarding the allegedly sabotaged point system, Jason objects... stating evidence isn't a good thing but something that should be destroyed to avoid jail.
  • Continuity Lockout: The main plot revolves around Doug Forcett, a character who was mentioned once, in passing, in the very first episode. There's no explanation here for new viewers, so if you weren't paying attention right from the start, this episode is going to have you completely baffled.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Some of the demons the group combats are taken down pretty quickly, such as Chris and Vicky.
  • Curb Stomp Cushion: A few demons, despite getting their butts kicked, put up an impressive fight against Janet.
  • Dramatic Irony: Eleanor knocks out Vicky in one punch. If only she knew that in the first reboot, Vicky tortured her by posing as the "real" Eleanor Shellstrop.
  • Dying Declaration of Love: Thinking they may die within the next 30 seconds, Eleanor finally manages to tell Chidi that they fell in love in one of the afterlife reboots and that she might be falling in love with him in this timeline too... unfortunately they get interrupted by the ongoing fight before Chidi can respond. The two do survive, though technically not for much longer as Janet takes them to her void at the end of the episode and informs them that this will officially kill them on Earth.
  • Extreme Doormat: In trying to live the morally perfect life, Doug Forcett has become a "happiness pump" who is so dedicated to doing good things to the detriment of his own well-being, including letting a bratty child push him around and never doing anything even in self-defense.
  • Friend to All Living Things: Doug Forcett tries to be one, getting distraught after stepping on a snail and doing everything he can to "save" it, followed by holding a funeral after it dies. He also takes in every stray dog - and wolf - he finds, even when they attack him repeatedly.
  • From My Own Personal Garden: A non-villainous example with Doug, who grows his own food (radishes mainly).
  • Heaven Seeker: Deconstructed with Doug, whose unwavering dedication to maximizing his point total to make sure he gets into the Good Place has ruined his life, as he'll do whatever it takes to make others happy no matter how painful and miserable it is for him.
  • Heh Heh, You Said "X": Apparently when Chidi introduced the notion of the "happiness pump" during his ethics lessons, Eleanor and Jason started making jokes about it.
  • I Ate WHAT?!: Doug offers Michael and Janet some water. When Michael asks about the aftertaste, Doug explains that, rather than take water away from beavers and fish, he recycles his own urine. Michael, naturally, is disgusted and spits it out.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Chidi lobs a pool ball over the table and lands it in a beer glass without even making the glass wobble, let alone spill or break.
  • Improvised Weapon: Janet makes creative use of a pool rack to fight the demons.
  • It Only Works Once: Jason attempts to ward off the demons using the same Molotov cocktail tactic he used in "Rhonda Diana Jake And Trent"... unfortunately, the demons are prepared for it this time, restraining him and extinguishing the cocktail before he can throw it.
  • Killed Mid-Sentence: Chidi, again.
    Chidi: Wait, did you just say we're gonna di—?! (the humans vanish from Earth)
  • Morning Routine: The episode opens with Doug Forcett's morning routine, showing his rustic lifestyle.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!:
    • When two demons attempt to shove Janet into their makeshift portal to the Bad Place, Janet discovers that partially being in the afterlife restores her powers, allowing her to simply force them off. When Shawn shoves her into the portal entirely, she is able to serve him a much-deserved blow, knocking him out.
    • Shawn insisting on waiting for Michael to arrive just to see the look on his face is what allows Janet to save the group.
    • Shawn's Evil Gloating on how he expects to see the main four's families and even Doug in the Bad Place clues Michael in that something might be inherently wrong with the point system.
  • No Body Left Behind: When the humans die again, they simply disappear from Earth.
  • Off the Grid: Doug lives a simple and rustic lifestyle in a log cabin meant to leave as little environmental impact as possible.
  • Oh, Crap!:
  • Privacy by Distraction: When Jason says something stupid, Michael sends him off to look for a coaster so he can have a moment to recover.
  • Reality Ensues:
    • At the beginning of the episode, Chidi notes that after all the globe-trotting the gang has been doing the last few episodes, he is massively jet-lagged.
    • Janet has all the knowledge in the world, including knowledge related to combat and martial arts, allowing her to fight with surprising skill. However, most of her usual range of powers are sacrificed while she's on Earth, so she hits no harder than a normal human woman of her size and build. As a result, while she's a more skilled fighter than any of the demons, some of them are large or strong enough to largely shrug off her blows, and others can get an advantage by either jumping her from behind or ganging up on her. No matter how skilled or knowledgable a fighter may be, they can be vulnerable to being overwhelmed by a group, as Janet nearly is on several occasions.
    • Similarly, as noted above, the bar brawl scene involves a lot of dirty fighting. Janet is fighting to save her friends, and real-life martial artists and self-defense experts encourage practicality over aesthetics. Meanwhile, the demons (being demons) have no scruples anyway.
  • Shout-Out: The opening scene is a shout out to the opening of Lost's second season premiere, "Man of Science, Man of Faith." A man the audience has never seen before is shown waking up and putting on a song by Mama Cass while preparing for the day via shots of objects in his room.
  • Shown Their Work: The sad portrayal of Doug Forcett embodies a familiar counter-argument against utilitarianism, the Argument from Hypocrisy. When Michael and Janet use the term "happiness pump" to describe Doug, though, they zero in on a more specific source - the term was coined by psychologist Joshua Greene in his book Moral Tribes.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: Not once, but twice!
    • Janet stops Shawn's gloating to start the glorious fight scene.
      Shawn: Oh Michael, when will you ever lear-
      Janet: Screw this! [karate-chops Shawn's trachea] Let's fight!
    • Michael simply has enough of Shawn's gloating and sends him into the Judge's portal.
      Michael: Why let the guy keep saying mean stuff, right?
  • Spit Take: A milder example. After finding out the water he's drinking is Doug's recyled urine, Michael quickly spits it back into his glass, clearly disgusted and disturbed.
  • Sudden Downer Ending: Just as all the demons are defeated and Michael has sent a tied-up Shawn to the Judge, more appear. Janet takes the humans into their void and kills them, against Chidi's protests, as a result.
  • Tempting Fate: When Shawn demands the location of Michael and Janet from Eleanor, she tells him that they are too smart for him and will never be found... and the two of them enter the tavern, discussing Michael's disbelief over drinking piss.
  • Tested on Humans: Doug volunteers to test cosmetics so that they won't be tested on animals, despite the samples burning his face.
  • Titled After the Song: Named for a Mama Cass song which plays over the opening scene.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: Chris once again rips off his shirt unnecessarily, this time as he's attacking the humans.
  • Weaponized Teleportation: Janet throws belligerent demons into portals that Michael strategically opens.
  • Wham Episode: Not quite as extreme as some of the other ones this season, but Shawn mentions that he expects to see everyone, including Doug, in the Bad Place as well, making Michael wonder if there is a Spanner in the Works regarding the points system. Also, Janet takes the group away from Earth to her void when more demons show up, which we have never seen in the series before. This kills the humans.
  • Yes-Man: Michael and Janet learn that Doug became one after discovering the Good Place, doing anything he is asked from other people to make sure that he has enough points to get in, even if it is absolutely unreasonable.

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