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Recap / The Good Place S 4 E 04 "Tinker, Tailor, Demon, Spy"

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Eleanor, Michael, Tahani, Jason and Janet play a game with Brent, Simone, John and Chidi, where their Pictionary drawings come to life. Chidi makes a very bad drawing of a horse, which then comes to life as a nightmarish monstrosity that runs amok through the neighborhood.

Later, Eleanor suggests the Soul Squad do an all night brainstorm on good person provoking activities, but Michael wants to have a non-productive slumber party instead.

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Suddenly, one of the demons, Glenn, arrives, claiming that he's defecting from the Bad Place. He tells Eleanor that Michael is being impersonated by Vicky in a Michael-suit. The gang separate and interrogate Michael and Glenn, trying to figure out if Glenn is telling the truth. Michael insists that he hasn't been replaced, but he won't remove his suit, as he's worried that the humans would be horrified by his true form as a gigantic fire squid and never see him in the same way again. Janet takes out a device she claims is a lie detector, but when she uses it on Glenn, he explodes into goo. Michael alleviates everyone's concerns when he explains that this didn't kill Glenn, as his body will reform itself eventually. To prove to everyone that he's the real Michael, Michael offers to blow himself up with the goo gun. Before he can do that, Jason then restrains Janet with a pair of handcuffs Mindy used on Derek, revealing her to be a Bad Janet who has replaced the Squad's Janet when they returned Chris back to the Bad Place. He figured this out when "Janet" didn't reply with her usual "not a girl" phrase while speaking with him. Bad Janet explains that Shawn rebooted her multiple times to upgrade her so that she could be able to convincingly act helpful without exploding in on herself. Knowing what they have to do, Jason and Michael set off to rescue Good Janet from The Bad Place.

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Tropes in this episode include:

  • Ambiguous Situation: It's unclear if Glenn came to the neighborhood because he truly had a change of heart or because he was sent by the Bad Place to create discord with the Soul Squad and get Michael out of the picture. Bad Janet calls him a traitor, but she hasn't exactly been in contact with Shawn.
  • Art Initiates Life: The gang play Magic Pictionary, in which their drawings come to life. Unfortunately, when your drawing skills are as bad under pressure as Chidi's, this has horrific results.
  • Ascended Fridge Horror: Tahani is the first to realize that if Bad Janet has replaced Good Janet, then Good Janet is being tortured in the Bad Place.
  • The Art of Bra Removal: Janet says that only a demon can remove their own human suit, "like a very complicated bra."
  • Bait-and-Switch: The gang spends most of the episode trying to figure out if Michael is an impostor. He's not, but Janet is.
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  • Borrowed Catchphrase: At the end of the episode, when Michael refers to Janet as a girl, Jason steps in with the obligatory "Not a girl", Janet herself being unavailable.
  • The Bus Came Back: Derek appears for a brief cameo, now fully rebooted again and willing to put his feud with Jason aside.
  • Book-Ends: The ending of episode 3 had a mysterious figure, who turned out to be Glenn, drive a hand car from The Bad Place. This episode’s ending has Jason and Michael drive a hand car into The Bad Place
  • Call-Back:
    • Glenn informs the team of Shawn's call to Michael about the Michael suit, which was way back in the third season finale.
    • We see Eleanor having one of the drinks her mother made in a previous episode, which she was incredibly enthusiastic about.
    • Eleanor, like Tahani before her, enthuses about nachos.
    • Eleanor again refers to the humans as "cockroaches."
  • Character Development:
    • Jason seems to have grown a lot in this episode, asking relevant interrogation questions to Michael and Glenn (for the most part), figuring out that a Bad Janet was currently impersonating the Janet they knew, and bravely deciding to go to the Bad Place to rescue his not-a-girl-girlfriend.
    • Also, oddly enough, Bad Janet. Michael had to use an actual Good Janet for his fake neighborhood because, initially, a Bad Janet couldn't pretend to be good without literally blowing up. But thanks to being rebooted multiple times, one Bad Janet has become much craftier and manipulative, and has given a fairly convincing performance as Good Janet.
    • If Glenn is telling the truth, he's started to question the entire purpose of the Bad Place just as Michael did.
    • Michael gets one for not marbleizing Bad Janet after determining she's an impostor and getting all the information they need from her. Before he'd be quite callous to the Bad Janets, marbleizing one that our Janet needed to impersonate.
  • Chekhov's Gag:
    • Janet's "not a girl/not a robot" catchphrase. This Janet not saying it clues in Jason that she's an impostor.
    • Derek's sexy magnetic handcuffs get used to catch Bad Janet.
  • Chekhov's Boomerang: A Janet's ability to impersonate other Janets. This time, the Bad Place uses it to sabotage the new experiment.
  • Conditioned to Accept Horror: Bad Janet is remarkably calm when saying that Shawn rebooted her 40 million times —and rebooting is painful for the Janet in question—to modify her so that she can successfully impersonate Good Janet.
  • Didn't See That Coming: Bad Janet really underestimated Jason's love for Good Janet and vowing to become less impulsive for her.
  • Dick Dastardly Stops to Cheat: The Bad Place was already in hot water for sending in Chris and humans that the Soul Squad knew. Sending in a Bad Janet means they've been caught cheating again and sabotaging the experiment, when everyone was already having trouble helping the new humans reform.
  • Entertainingly Wrong: If Glenn really did switch over to the good side, and was actually trying to help the humans, his conclusions was valid, but was missing a few key facts.
  • "Eureka!" Moment: Jason claims he figured out Janet wasn't the real Janet when she didn't say "not a girl" like she usually does when someone calls her a girl.
  • Forgotten Phlebotinum: Justified; Michael in the original fake neighborhood had a cube that changed color depending on who told lies. Since he already knew what was going on in the neighborhood due to constant surveillance, he could pretend it worked. It's not used in this episode, in part because the wrong Janet provides it, they're in a new neighborhood, and he is the one being interrogated.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Michael is prepared to... well, liquidate himself when he's convinced that the gang is not going to trust him in order to ensure that the experiment goes smoothly. Thankfully, Jason exposes Janet as the real impostor just in time.
  • Hourglass Plot: Of "Most Improved Player". In that, Eleanor had to answer questions honestly about herself at the risk of getting sent back to the Bad Place due to being an impostor, with Michael as her judge. Here, Eleanor is judging Michael to find out if he's an impostor.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Quite accidentally, the Bad Janet that took the main Janet's place has been exposed to more of Brent's harassment than Good Janet has. And as she was sent in to sabotage the experiment, she has suffered more because (less advanced) Bad Janets literally melt when trying to be helpful. She unleashes a stream of insults the minute that Jason busts her, almost looking relieved that she can be herself.
  • Leeroy Jenkins: Before anyone can prepare a plan to tell the Judge about the Bad Place cheating and negotiate for Janet's release, Jason goes to rescue Janet. In an odd case of Crazy Enough to Work, Michael and a goo-vat Glenn accompany him, trusting that this idea is so stupid that they can pull it off.
  • Let's Get Dangerous!: Jason normally responds to everything with enthusiasm or chill acceptance, often due to being too oblivious to fully get what's going on. But when he finds out the Bad Place has kidnapped his not-a-girlfriend and is holding her hostage? He gets dead-serious and says that Shawn is a bully... and the only way to deal with a bully is to go to wherever they are (in this case, literal Hell), and punch them in the face. Everyone is duly impressed. Then he forgets his Badass Boast, and Michael takes him aside.
  • Literary Allusion Title: To John le Carré's Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and from there ultimately to the children's rhyme that begins "Tinker, tailor, soldier, sailor...".
  • Name That Unfolds Like Lotus Blossom: A much less poetic version though. Apparently "Glenn" is only an alias, and his real name begins with "Snakes Pour Forth From His Anus".
  • Near-Villain Victory: Michael was seconds away from liquifying himself, which would have cost the humans a close friend and left them alone running the experiment with Bad Janet free to continue sabotaging them, which would have left the experiment more likely to fail than ever.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: If Glenn's plan was to sabotage the experiment, then it backfires by exposing that Good Janet was kidnapped.
  • "No. Just... No" Reaction: Simone's response to Brent attempt to call Chidi his "brotha" with an affected African American accent despite Chidi not being American.
  • Noodle Implements: The "sex toys" in Derek's room. One seems to consist of multiple egg beaters.
  • Not Helping Your Case: Michael tries to justify his lie to Eleanor by saying it was to cover for his previous two lies. Eleanor is not impressed.
  • Orphean Rescue: Jason prepares to return to the Bad Place to rescue Janet.
  • "Pop!" Goes the Human: Instead of detecting if Glenn is telling the truth, Janet's lie detector makes him explode into blue goo. Fortunately, demons simply regenerate after exploding, although it takes a few months.
  • The Reveal: Though we don't get to see it, Michael finally gives a description of what his true form looks like — he's a gigantic fire squid. He seems to be ashamed of it, if only because if the humans see it he fears they won't be able to look at him the same way.
    • It turns out that Janet is actually stuck in the Bad Place, while a Bad Janet has been impersonating her.
  • Shout-Out: Jason references The Devil Wears Prada.
  • A Sinister Clue: According to the podcast, Bad Janet pretending to be Good Janet folds her hands together in the wrong direction.
  • Snowball Lie: Michael has apparently found himself in this situation.
    "That lie was only to cover my two earlier lies. That's gotta be okay, right?"
  • Spanner in the Works: If this is Glenn being a real defector, then he undoes one of the Bad Place's more sinister machinations by accident. Bad Janet seems to think he is one, calling him a traitor.
  • Spotting the Thread: Jason realized Bad Janet isn't Janet when he calls her a girl and she doesn't reply "Not a girl".
  • Stating the Simple Solution: Michael could take off his suit and prove it's him, except he's worried his true form may traumatize the humans. Also it's huge and will definitely be witnessed by the humans that are part of experiment. Besides, it would only work for verification if Vicky does have her own suit on under the Michael suit, and the humans only have Glenn's word for that.
  • Take That!: As Michael explains the life cycle of a demon, the phase just before full-grown demon is social media CEO.
  • Taught by Experience: Just as Good Janet learned to pretend to be bad, Bad Janet learned to pretend to be good. Or at least she was reprogrammed to not implode and melt when told to be good.
  • Tentacled Terror: Michael expects the humans to find his giant squid form disgusting and terrifying.
  • Terrible Artist: Chidi claims to be a good enough artist, but can't work very well under pressure. His bad drawing of one of Simone's childhood horses is made that much more horrifying once it comes to life.
  • This Is Gonna Suck: Michael says it just before trying to explode himself.
  • Tranquil Fury: Jason slips into this when he realizes Janet's been kidnapped and replaced.
  • Wham Episode: It wasn't Michael who was kidnapped and replaced with a demon on the train, it was Janet, which is why everything she had been suggesting to the group thus far had been pulverizing things! And what's worse... the real Janet is in the Bad Place!
  • What Have I Done: Chidi feels guilty after his bad drawing of a horse comes to life and spends the rest of his night trying to improve his horse-drawing skills.
  • Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: Apparently Janet hasn't been destroyed after her marbleization, which means there's a chance for Jason to still save her.
  • You Are Worth Hell: Literally in this case; Jason goes to the Bad Place to rescue Janet because he loves her.
  • You Cannot Grasp the True Form: Michael doesn't want to show his true form because the others will never look at him the same again. Judging from his description, that would be a huge understatement.

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