Thursday, January 17, 2019

REVIEW: 'The Good Place' - Michael, Janet and the Humans Present Their Case to the Judge in 'Chidi Sees the Time-Knife'

NBC's The Good Place - Episode 3.12 "Chidi Sees the Time-Knife"

Michael arranges an important meeting and Janet makes a reconnection.

In 2018, there were 495 scripted shows airing amongst the linear channels and streaming services. The way people are consuming content now is so different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, there is less necessity to provide ample coverage of each specific episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site is making the move to shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. Premieres and finales may feature longer reviews. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of NBC's The Good Place.

"Chidi Sees the Time-Knife" was written by Christopher Encell & Joe Mande and directed by Jude Weng

Michael's original neighborhood was completely destroyed near the end of the second season. The experiment had run its course and the gang had to fight for survival in various different parts of the afterlife. They have been running around for a full season now. It's a journey that took them back to Earth as well as to the actual Good Place. Of course, they still have a core mission of trying to present a case to the Judge that proves that the system is completely rigged against humanity. There is no way for a human to make it into the Good Place because of the unintended consequences of any given action. Sure, that's also a flimsy argument to the Judge when she sits down to hear Michael's big revelation. However, it's ultimately Jason and Chidi who come up with the argument that actually makes a fair amount of sense. Jason can frequently be distracted by something else and not totally understand what's going on around him. But his latest example from his dance troupe in Florida is actually relevant to the case the humans are making to the Judge. Sure, it's ridiculous that the Judge is obsessed with television but has to go down to Earth in order to fully understand what it means to be human. Of course, television can only show so much. It's ultimately a story to entertain people. Actually living as a human means having to worry about a bunch of things and being forced into quick decisions that one can't examine fully beforehand. It's only through experiencing that herself that the Judge is able to see that the system is broken. But again, no one has a better solution. Shawn continues to insist that it was just a fluke that Michael's neighborhood experiment failed so many times. However, Chidi can argue that it's proof that humans are capable of changing beyond their final point totals at the end of their lives on Earth. In Michael's neighborhood, they were given certain freedoms from existence on Earth that allowed them to grow and change. In the afterlife, Eleanor was able to prove to the Judge that she actually belonged in the Good Place. Everyone has been so focused on how all of this will change the lives of Eleanor, Chidi, Tahani and Jason. And yet, this season has also made them care about how all of this can change other people. The group was trying to help other people on Earth get into the Good Place earlier. They accepted that they were doomed but still wanted to help others. Moreover, the beginning stretch of the season reminds Chidi of what it takes to present a clinical study. He brought the group together on Earth in the first place to see how near-death experiences impact decision-making skills. Simone told him that eventually the experiment would have to be repeated with new subjects to see if the same conclusion was drawn. As such, that's the argument that can be presented here. If the results are still the same when Michael brings four new humans into the neighborhood experiment, then it will prove that some humans are deserving of a second chance in the afterlife.

All of this represents a significant philosophical argument. Michael believed that he finally found a way to convince the Judge that things were broken and could be improved. And yet, he and his friends are still making things up as they go along. They are never able to follow anything through for a long period of time. That's what makes it so fascinating to learn that they will all be overseeing a new neighborhood experiment. This time it will be hosted in the Medium Place. Michael sets up shop in Mindy St. Clair's backyard. This neutral ground will ensure that nothing can exploit the experiment. Of course, that's unlikely to stop Shawn because he wants to torture everyone like he has been doing for the past 500 years. He doesn't want anything to change. The Judge grants him the opportunity to pick the four humans chosen for the new version of the experiment too. Of course, the rules state that they have to be similar enough to the original four subjects. They can't be blatantly bad people who have been proven to resist change no matter what on Earth. Shawn fulfills that end of the arrangement. However, he's also planning for the future. He's concocting the way in which he'll torture Eleanor, Chidi, Tahani and Jason after all of this fails. That too gets into Michael's head at the last second because it will be his face that will forever hurt his friends. He doesn't want them to endure that for all of time. And so, he's terrified when it comes to greeting the first of the new humans. He has been through this experiment hundreds of times. He knows how to welcome the humans to the neighborhood. He knows the script that should be followed. There is even the hope that things will be better here because the other residents are Janet's creations instead of demons from the Bad Place. Sure, that too could grow incredibly complicated because Janet can't control every one of her creations. She's surprised by how different Derek has now become. It's enough to reinvigorate the love triangle between Janet, Jason and Derek. That will be very exciting. It means that everything will continue to delve into chaos in this new version of the neighborhood. But Eleanor still has hope that she and Chidi can finally relax for a bit and just be able to enjoy things as a new couple. That would be very nice indeed.