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Recap / The Good Place S3E10 "The Book of Dougs"

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"The Bad Place isn't tampering with points. They don't have to."

"There are so many unintended consequences to well-intentioned actions. It feels like a game you can't win!"

The group have finally got to the threshold of the Good Place, but they still have a way to go as Michael makes his case to the higher ups.

  • Angry Fist-Shake: Gwendolyn tries to do it to Michael and the humans for lying to her, but she can't get the hang of making a fist.
  • Bavarian Fire Drill: Michael poses as an accountant, has Janet become Neutral Janet, and says the four humans won a contest. This fools Gwendolyn the mailroom lady.
  • Brick Joke:
    • Chidi dresses up as a sexy mailman for Eleanor.
    • The Doorman smells frogs when he enters The Good Place.
  • Call-Back:
    • Michael learns that the problem with the system is the Running Gag Chidi has been obsessing over; the unintended consequences of supporting unethical systems like blueberry farms that use unpaid labor.
    • Likewise, he learns to his displeasure what he told Shawn and Val back in "Michael & Janet" - Good Place people really are stupid and trusting.
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  • Celestial Bureaucracy: In keeping with everything else we've seen of the afterlife so far, the Good Place turns out to be full of Obstructive Bureaucrats who tangle themselves up in memos and meetings about how they plan to address the issue Michael has raised.
  • Character Development: This episode really illustrates how far the main cast has come from who they were in their journey.
    • Michael is the strongest advocate for the humans and utterly distraught over how many are being sent to suffer unfairly.
    • Eleanor is emotionally vulnerable to Chidi and completely owns it. Now she's actually worried about the consequences and found someone she cares about deeply.
    • Chidi has no hesitation to act anymore, and even reassures Eleanor by suggesting they ignore the consequences.
    • Jason actually reflects on his previous actions as wrong and considers the consequences they have for someone else and discusses with Tahani how to make amends.
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    • Tahani is truly selfless in her efforts to help Jason and Janet reconcile, with no ulterior motives of recognition on her part.
    • Janet is deeply emotional throughout the episode and finally breaks down crying over a genuine emotional connection to all her friends.
  • Continuity Nod: Eleanor finds the smell of puke reassuring, just as way back in the second episode, she associated people puking on rollercoasters with joy.
  • Easy Road to Hell: Michael realizes that this is what's happened because whoever came up with the system never took into account how Earth's populace could become so interconnected thanks to technology. Thus, even the smallest acts have massive consequences that never existed before the advent of mass telecommunications or global commerce.
  • Easily Forgiven: Gwendoline is outraged at Michael lying to her, but she still cheerfully waves goodbye to everyone once they leave.
  • Eureka Moment: Tahani tells Michael that every time she tries to help Janet and Jason, things only get worse. This gives Michael the idea to check the records and realize why the system is forked up—because the system adheres to a strict Black and White Morality code in an age of Grey and Gray Morality. For example, a modern person loses points for giving his grandma roses... because the cellphone he ordered them on was made in a sweatshop and the roses themselves were grown with a toxic pesticide - said person isn't intentionally doing anything wrong but dealing with the nuances of modern life isn't something the system has adjusted to.
  • Evil Counterpart: Obviously inverted with the Good Place Staff in comparison to the Bad Place one, but most prominently with the fact that unlike the latter, who regularly breaks the rules in order to take shortcuts for their problems, the Good Place will not defy the rules no matter how urgent the situation is.
  • Good Is Dumb: Gwendolyn, the Good Place employee at the mailroom, gives specific instructions to Michael about how to make a phone call to the Council while explaining that doing so would be against the rules and that the call would be untraceable.
  • Hope Spot: The Soul Squad actually ends up in The Good Place... in the mailroom. And will not be allowed in because of the rigid rules that the bureaucrats have. Eleanor is devastated and panicking, and then they have to leave to talk with Gen.
  • Hourglass Plot: Normally Chidi is the anxious one and Eleanor has to calm him down or cheer him up. Here the roles are reversed; Eleanor is panicking with how close they are to the Good Place but unable to access it, and Chidi is the one trying to calm her down.
  • Lawful Stupid: The Good Place bureaucrats never break the rules because it's the right thing to do—they're super polite about it though. Their obsession with sticking to the rules makes them this trope, especially since the problem they're discussing is incredibly urgent.
  • Locked in a Room: None of the humans can leave the confined space of the mail room. Eleanor starts to freak out because she's annoyed that their final destination is behind a locked door.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: The Good Place committee claims that the legal process of forming a team to investigate the issue with the points system will take over 400 years, plus an additional thousand to do a background check on the members since they deem it unethical to take shortcuts with the process, much to Michael's annoyance.
  • Precision F-Strike: Muted because of the Good Place swear filter, but Chidi tells Eleanor to "pop that bench".
  • Properly Paranoid: Not that it helped him in the first timeline, what with him being in the Bad Place in seasons one and two, but it turns out Chidi had a point when he was considering ethical ramifications of food choices like almond milk and blueberry muffins.
  • The Reveal: The Bad Place wasn't actually tampering with the points turns out that there are external factors that can render good deeds invalid for points, such as ordering roses (grown using toxic pesticides) with a cell phone made in a sweatshop.
  • Right for the Wrong Reasons: It turns out Michael's suspicions of the point system being flawed were correct. But it's not because of the Bad Place "hacking" it, but because the system is horribly out of date for the factors of the modern world.
  • Sequel Hook: The episode ends with the gang leaving the Good Place to parlay with Gen at the Interdimensional Hole of Pancakes, the most dangerous place in the universe.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: The Soul Squad lost their chance to earn their way to the Good Place, died in this season, and stand right outside a door to it. Eleanor as she puts it wants off this ride.
  • Shout-Out: The way Janet blows up the mail chute at the start is strongly reminiscent of the way Piper blows up stuff, with a very similar hand gesture from Janet to stick in the reference.
  • Stiff Upper Lip: Tahani is horrified when she starts crying and lampshades this trope:
    Tahani: I'm British, I never cry!
  • Strongly Worded Letter: Referenced. After a frustrating meeting with the Good Place Council, Michael describes them as "if the Titanic were sinking, they'd be writing a strongly worded letter to the iceberg!"
  • Take That!: Jason complains about how the Good Place has to take them in as "what kind of messed-up place would turn away refugees?"
  • Tastes Like Purple: The air in the Good Place smells like whatever makes one happiest.
    • For Eleanor, it smells like the water park she used to go as a kid, specifically “chlorine, sun tan lotion, Band-Aids, and a thick cloud of teen hormones.” Later on, it changes to the barf-filled pool.
    • For Chidi, it's absolute moral truth. Or warm pretzels; the two have similar smells.
    • For Jason, it's Blake Bortles winning the Super Bowl and thanking him as his best friend. Also, weed.
    • For Tahani, it's the closing of the curtain between first class and economy in a plane.
    • For the Doorman/Jeff, it's frogs.
  • The Un-Reveal: We never actually see the full Good Place. The entire episode takes place within a mail room, and the main entrance is trillions of miles away. Also, the windows are opaque, so no one can see outside.

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