The Good Place - Leap to Faith - Review: "Riddle Me This" + POLL By firstname.lastname@example.org (January 5, 2018, 2:00 am)
During the midseason finale, we left off on this huge cliffhanger of Shawn sitting in Michael’s office. I incorrectly assumed Shawn had discovered the 800 failed iterations and was there to punish Michael. I was so consumed with how Shawn had found out or turned Michael in that I didn’t even consider that Shawn could have been there to congratulate Michael on successfully torturing the core foursome. It’s these sort of twists and turns that keep me on my toes and make for such a deliciously fun series. The Good Place is one of the best series on television right now, and the reason it’s been so successful is it doesn’t play it safe. A second season could have been a repeat of the first, but this show has managed to flip the script several times. Instead of resting on its laurels, it takes real risk and the audience on an engaging ride. So without further ado, let’s dissect “Leap to Faith.”
After learning that Shawn is there to applaud Michael’s efforts, it then becomes a question of whether Michael will remain loyal to his new human friends or revert back to his old self. He could have very easily accepted Shawn’s offer to oversee the expansion of the neighborhood idea and promotion. It wouldn’t have been very hard – if all the demons, including Vicky, kept their mouth shut about the 800 reboots – to get away with the charade and pretend this was still the second attempt. He could have easily swept his temporarily alliance with the core foursome under the rug and pretended it never happened. Michael literally had the opportunity to get everything he ever wanted, but he couldn’t betray his friends. So since he couldn’t exactly come right out and say he was still on their side, Michael left the gang clues in his comedy roast. I’ll admit I didn’t pick up on all the clues, but I did catch enough of them to put together a rough idea of what Michael wanted the core foursome to do. Before his speech though, I couldn’t be entirely sure that Michael was still on their side. I just kept waiting for the other shoe to drop, for Michael to betray the gang; I just couldn’t let go of the idea that he had some sort of ulterior motives or was playing the long game. I know I may sound like a broken record, but I’m finally convinced that Michael is truly on ‘Team Cockroach.’ I’ve been teetering on the edge, not wanting to fully commit, but the final scene where Michael broke down sealed the deal. Besides being an extremely touching moment, we saw firsthand how scared he was about losing his friends and how he wanted to save them. He’s come so far in the past few episodes, and I can now say with 100% certainty he is one of the good guys.
That’s not to say he’s perfect by any means, as evidenced by him framing Vicky. She initially confronts Michael outside his office, upset that he is getting the credit for all her hard work during this version. However, as Michael rightfully points out, if Shawn were to find out about the 802 iterations, they would all go down for this. So he convinces Vicky to keep quiet and if they play their cards right, it could work out for both of them. While a solid premise in theory, the execution doesn’t work out too well for Vicky, as during the party Michael whispers nonsense into Janet’s ear. Naturally, Vicky becomes paranoid and tries to take Janet’s bracelets off. So when the time comes for Shawn to blame someone for the core foursome escaping, Michael can readily point the finger at Vicky. It was a pretty ingenious plan as throwing Vicky under the bus kills two birds with one stone. Michael gets to keep the hundreds of failed reboots a secret and blame someone else for helping the gang “escape” to Mindy St. Clair’s. While I’m not sad to see Vicky go per se, she was one of the only fleshed out supporting characters. None of the other demons have really made an impression, and it was really fun watching her con her way into running the Bad Place. Her theatrics may have been a tad over the top at times, but she was a great character. With Vicky presumably gone, I’m hoping the series will utilize this chance to expand Shawn’s role. His nonchalant portrayal is such an interesting take on a villain, and I definitely wouldn’t object to seeing more of him.
And then we have our humans who are just trying to figure out if they’re screwed or not. When Michael “reveals” to them that they’re really in the Bad Place, our core foursome have to decide what to do. Chidi suggests that they leverage Michael’s 800 failed reboots to get a reduced sentence from Shawn, but Tahini argues Shawn could make a deal with them and then renege on it – after all these are demons they’re dealing with. Instead, Tahini wants to figure out how to get Janet’s bracelets off and have the non-robot call them a train to Mindy St. Clair’s house. Both plans are flawed, but if you’re operating under the assumption Michael has betrayed them, then what choice do you really have? Willingly be taken to the real Bad Place? I think not. Yet, it’s Eleanor who argues they should ignore everything Michael just said and assume he’s still on their side. Why? Well, Michael mentioned the philosopher Kierkegaard, one of whose notable ideas was leap of to faith. It’s interesting that Eleanor, who was vehemently against teaming up Michael in “Team Cockroach,” is the only one to believe in him. Even Chidi, who tries to see the good in everyone and has repeatedly helped Eleanor every time she asked, doubts Michael. Yes, being constantly tortured by the guy isn’t exactly reassuring, even while he’s studying ethics with them, but after Eleanor and Michael’s heart to heart in “Derek,” she sees a different side of him. That was essentially the first time Michael was real and vulnerable with her. It was a plain and simple conversation with any sort of ulterior motive; just two people talking honestly about something. It was a sweet moment that truly showed Michael was capable of change, and Eleanor remembered that.
Of course, after the roast, Eleanor thinks she was wrong about Michael. It’s only after Jason mentions that his favorite football player’s first name isn’t Derek that she starts to put the pieces together. As we learned, Michael left four over 1,200 clues for the gang. The plan included freeing Derek from Janet’s void, having the imp call them a train, driving said train to Mindy’s house without them on it, and hiding underneath the new train so they wouldn’t be detected when Bad Janet scanned the neighborhood. Simple enough, right. It was entertaining to watch the core foursome put the pieces together, but things could have gone wrong if they had missed any more of those clues. Thankfully, the group has Eleanor to rely on. While she wasn’t exactly a team player on earth, she has come through more than once in the afterlife. Besides consistently figuring out they’re in the Bad Place, she is the glue that holds the group together. I honestly doubt the core foursome would have been this successful without her. As Michael pointed out, she was the one variable he didn’t account for. With the group presumably going to the real Good Place, they’re going to need Eleanor more than ever. With Shawn and the demons gone, or at least temporarily gone, they have an actual chance. The group has been working toward this goal for a few episodes, but I still have no idea how they are actually going to get there. I mean, if it were as simple as walking through a door or creating a portal, wouldn’t they have done it already. The argument can be made that the group wasn’t “good” enough or didn’t have enough points until now, but as we’ve been told, only the 1 percent of the 1 percent of the 1 percent go to the Good Place. After studying ethics for several weeks, have they changed enough or amassed enough points to gain entry. With Shawn and the demons looking for them at Mindy St. Clair’s, the group only has a short amount of time before the torturers figure out they’re not in the Medium Place. They need to safely get to the Good Place before it’s too late, but it doesn’t seem like it will be that easy. If it were, it wouldn’t make for very good television.
Some stray thoughts:
- There really is no limit to the different Janets D’Arcy Carden can place. We’ve seen Good Janet and Bad Janet, and this episode we got the return of “drunk” Janet.
- I would totally watch a bottle episode of just Mindy St. Clair and Derek. The trouble those two could get into is endless.
- I’m glad the romantic entanglements were briefly mentioned. It’s nice to know that they’re just being put on the backburner instead of being forgotten.
- I laughed when Jason suggested the gang go to the cops. He’s such a loveable idiot.
So hit the comments to let me know your thoughts. Did you doubt Michael’s loyalty? How much of the plan did you put together? What exactly are they going to get to the real Good Place?