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Recap / The Good Place S 4 E 06 "A Chip Driver Mystery"

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"So what's the story? Another one of your attempts to prove that humans are good and worthy of respect and not big fat sacks of dookie?"
Bad Janet

Michael goes into Janet's void, where the Bad Janet who was sent to sabotage the experiment has been imprisoned. He tells her a recent story that happened in the neighborhood. Bad Janet only rolls her eyes at him and farts in his face, but Michael won't let that deter him.

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Brent had written a novel titled A Chip Driver Mystery. It's badly written, full of cliches and characters that are clearly unflattering caricatures of the other humans. Brent believes that he's created a masterpiece, but everyone else disagrees, Simone in particular. Eleanor and Michael are especially concerned as they're finally making some progress with Brent and don't want to do anything that could potentially set him back.

Meanwhile, Chidi and Jason dance and are discovered by John, who is shocked to find that "Jianyu" is not who he says he is. Despite wanting to gossip about this, John vows that he won't say anything to implicate Jason as not belonging in "the Good Place".

Brent tries to put on a book signing for his novel, demanding that everyone give him the compliments he believes he deserves. Tahani and Simone finally have enough and call Brent out on his attitude, with Tahani calling his book a racist and sexist mess. Brent throws a tantrum and calls Simone a "bench" and shoves Chidi, who punches him in response. The Soul Squad is disappointed that things got this bad, but refuse to give up and get back to work.

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Bad Janet asks what the point of this story is, arguing that it only proves that humans are sinful. Michael retorts that even so, what matters is that humans continue to work to be a little better tomorrow than they were yesterday. He then hands her a copy of his and Good Janet's manifesto to read and sets her free, telling her that she has the choice to become more than her station in existence, especially since she's more advanced than her other sisters. Bad Janet looks on with a contemplative expression as she exits Janet's void with the manifesto in tow.


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This episode includes examples of:

  • Backhanded Apology: Michael convinces Brent to give the others a public apology, and he apologizes for them feeling insulted. When they decline his insincere apologies, Brent immediately gets defensive and demands they give him the "complos" he thinks he deserves.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Chidi is usually a very Nice Guy and often a Non-Action Guy. However, when Brent insults Simone and shoves him, he punches Brent's lights out.
  • Brick Joke:
    • Before Michael begins telling his story, Bad Janet rips out a loud, long fart. At the end of the episode, Michael is spraying Lysol to get rid of the smell.
    • Brent was charging $65 each for his new book, only for Michael to point out that they don't use money in the afterlife. Later, when Michael gives Bad Janet a copy of the manifesto he and Janet wrote, Bad Janet asks if it's Brent's book, only for Michael to say he couldn't afford a copy.
  • British Stuffiness: Again referenced by Tahani.
    Tahani: Perhaps I can convince Simone to handle this the British way. Smile bravely, bury your feelings, and allow a steady drizzle to slowly wash away your sadness over 50 years.
  • The Butler Did It: In Brent's novel, the murderer turns out to be Chip's valet Luis.
  • Call-Back:
    • Bad Janet's farts lingering were mentioned back in Season 2.
    • Michael gives Bad Janet the updated manifesto that he and Janet had been writing, which was first seen in "Jeremy Bearimy".
  • Cannot Keep a Secret: John is conflicted about learning some "hot gossip" that "Jianyu" doesn't belong but works to keep his mouth shut for Chidi's sake. He does better than he would have before he died.
  • Can't Take Criticism: Brent just cannot deal with being told that his book sucks. He throws a hissy fit and comes to blows with Chidi of all people.
  • Character Development:
    • Michael in Season 2 revealed that he callously made a Bad Janet break down and implode in on herself to demonstrate to Shawn why he needed to steal a Good Janet to convincingly sell the illusion. Here, he admits that he doesn't want to keep this Bad Janet locked up indefinitely because it's cruel, even though being locked in the void is kinder than being locked up in Mindy's house, considering the weird sex toys and its inhabitants. He doesn't want to turn her in to the Judge either because Gen would most definitely condemn a Bad Janet and ensure she got some punishment or even a death sentence. Against all logic, Michael lets her go back to the Bad Place with a copy of the manifesto, trusting her with her destiny.
    • Even Bad Janet gets some growth, in part thanks to all of her reboots. She's definitely become more self-aware and at least is willing to listen to Michael rather than endlessly fart in his face. One thing to note is that she now has freedom and the choice of returning to a Bad Boss like Shawn or not.
    • After raging at Simone, Brent listens when Michael suggests gently that maybe he should try to earn something on his own merit and not with cheat codes. He slowly takes pride in playing a golf game without any help.
    • John makes an effort to not give into his gossip-spreading tendencies when he finds out Jason's "secret".
    • The episode begins with Jason trying to encourage Chidi to be more spontaneous. Later, in a very unChidi-like fashion, Chidi reacts to Brent shoving him by punching him.
  • Chekhov's Boomerang: Michael and Janet's manifesto. Michael gives an updated copy to Bad Janet to do whatever she wants with it, to read or burn. Bad Janet takes it while mocking the idea of reading a book when she leaves.
  • Cliché Storm: In-Universe with Brent's novel, which takes several cliches from detective and military thriller works.
  • Comically Missing the Point: After Simone asks if Brent's book is "three and a half books in one," as noted below, Brent enthusiastically tells her that yes, it is.
  • Contagious Heroism: Michael decides to set Bad Janet free instead of marbleizing her or keeping her imprisoned in Janet's void, even giving her a copy of his manifesto with the hopes that she (and by extension anyone else she comes across) might change for the better too.
  • Critical Research Failure: In-universe. It's pointed out that someone can't be a private eye, an NFL quarterback, and President of the United States all at the same time. Even two of those at a time is stretching it.
  • Damned by Faint Praise: When Brent demands that Simone find something to compliment his novel on, she comes up with "just writing a book is in itself an amazing accomplishment."
  • Do Androids Dream?: Michael acknowledges that Bad Janet hasn't been in control of her life. She's been rebooted and used by Shawn, and now is locked up to keep the fake neighborhood safe. He doesn't even know if she has desires beyond wanting to troll him. But they won't find out unless she gets the opportunity.
  • Dramatic Irony: Simone is entirely correct when she says that white men like Brent are always given a free pass to be jerks while women of color are expected to pander to them. As Eleanor frets, though, Simone's very-right stance causes her to probably lose some morality points.
  • Everyone Has Standards: John would love to spill the beans about Jianyu being Jason Mendoza because it's a juicy scandal. But even he doesn't want to condemn someone to hell because of a cosmic misunderstanding.
  • Everything Is Racist: Brent has convinced himself that Simone's criticism of his book comes from a place of anti-white racism, somehow.
  • Framing Device: Michael tells Bad Janet the events of the past week, which make up the main content of the episode.
  • Great Detective: Parodied beyond measure. Chip Driver, the hero of Brent's novel, along with being quarterback of the Chicago Bears and "the world's strongest President". He's so good, he solves the mystery ten pages in.
  • Hard Truth Aesop: Sometimes being the better person and compromising just isn't enough to get through to a jerkass or a bully, especially when it comes at the expense of you and everyone else.
  • Her Codename Was Mary Sue: The protagonist of Brent's book, Chip Driver, is a truly massive Gary Stu who never faces any true conflict, has all the best jobs and titles, is a seductive ladies' man, and is very clearly a Wish Fulfillment stand-in for Brent himself.
  • Honor Before Reason:
    • Logically, Michael ought to turn in Bad Janet to the Judge. Even if it compromises the experiment and has the Judge reset it, it would mean Shawn would get his Karma Houdini Warranty and the Bad Place would definitely no longer interfere. He releases Bad Janet instead and tells her she is free to make her own decisions.
  • Hope Spot: Brent seems to be slowly becoming a better person, only to regress when Simone criticizes his work.
  • Jerkass Has a Point:
    • Michael agrees with Bad Janet that not everyone wants to become a better person, whether or not they are human, a divine being, or a Janet. She's the epitome of bad so she ought to know.
    • More so like "woman at the Rage Breaking Point in dealing with a racist and a sexist" has a point. While Simone is Brutally Honest and a Troll toward Brent, she tells Eleanor that it's ridiculous that women of color are always asked to be the better person towards mediocre white men who act like they own the world. Eleanor is forced to concede that she has a point even if Simone is unknowingly risking her soul's fate.
  • Never My Fault: Brent has a problem with admitting his faults. He can't admit what it is he's being asked to apologize for and keeps making excuses when his golf game doesn't go flawlessly.
  • OOC Is Serious Business: We have never seen Chidi get violent, not even in what we saw of the previous reboots or when he got furious at Michael for torturing him during ethics lessons. That he punches Brent out after getting shoved by him shows why you should Beware the Nice Ones.
  • Overly Long Gag: Bad Janet gives an incredibly long fart to end the Cold Open. At the beginning of the first act, she hasn't finished yet.
  • Rage Quit: Referenced and defied when Jason talks about how much Brent has improved, pointing out that when Brent lost at cards to Simone, "instead of flipping over the table and storming off, he just stormed off."
  • "Ray of Hope" Ending: Framing device in the void notwithstanding, the episode ends on a pretty bleak note - the group dynamic among the humans has been fractured, all four of them are reverting to their worst habits from when they were alive, and the team has no idea how to handle the fallout. Then we see them having a brainstorming session as they try to pick themselves back up. This leads Michael to the most important lesson he's known: more important than their status as "good" or "bad", the reason to believe in humans is their ability to try to be better than they were before.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Tahani and Simone unload one on Brent, calling him out for being such a self-centered, delusional and downright awful person in between telling him how utterly terrible his book is.
  • Shaped Like Itself: Brent's book describes "Scarlet Pakistan" as having eyes which are as brown as the brownest crayon.
  • Shout-Out:
    • "Scarlet Pakistan" is also described as having "legs like Jessica Rabbit from that one movie."
    • Brent offhandedly calls Eleanor, Simone and Tahani "Charlie's Angels".
  • Take That!:
    • Bad Janet lists the reasons why the entire human species belongs in the Bad Place - humans are warmongers, killers, moms with expensive yoga pants who don't vaccinate their children, and "vindictive nerds at Apple" who keep changing the shape of the chargers.
    • Brent continues to demonstrate all the worst traits of a quintessential person in his demographic. Bad Janet quips that the reason why his generation is called the "baby boomers" is because if anything that they don't like happens, boom—they turn into squealing babies.
    • The back of Brent's book has him posing with a fighter jet. While the in universe justification given is that he probably really likes Top Gun, it also feels like a jab at authors like Tom Clancy who was best known for writing military thrillers.
    • Bad Janet describes "Bad to the Bone" as "a terrible song by a terrible artist that [humans] love so much, they keep putting it in terrible movie trailers."
  • Time Skip: Six months have gone by between "Employee of the Bearimy" and this episode. In that time, Bad Janet has been locked away in Good Janet's void, and Michael has been visiting periodically in an attempt to rehabilitate her. Meanwhile, the four humans have settled into a steady group dynamic.
  • Too Many Halves: Brent claims that his book is "half spy novel, half murder mystery, half submarine adventure, half erotic memoir, half political thriller, half golf tutorial, and half commentary on society." Yes, that's seven halves. Simone snarkily asks, "So it's three and a half books in one?"
  • Troll: Simone pretends that she thinks Brent went to Rutgers instead of Princeton just to get a reaction out of him.
  • Vanity Project: Brent's book was deliberately made to be one giant ego stroke for him both in its production and publication. It is very poorly written, the protagonist is an impossibly perfect Author Avatar version of himself and every other character is based off of an incredibly skewed version of his neighbors. After he writes it, he gives it to the other characters just so that they could say how great it is, only to cancel the book-signing when they point out how not great it is and by extension how not great he is. It also says something that Bad Janet wanted a copy after learning about it.
  • Whole Episode Flashback: This is a story told by Michael to Bad Janet, who is imprisoned in Janet's void.
  • Write Who You Know: In-Universe, several characters in Brent's book are transparent versions of the other people in the neighborhood. The Love Interest, "Scarlet Pakistan", is modeled after Tahani, and the nerdy Dirty Coward sidekick is based on Chidi.

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