The Good Place - Everything Is Great! (Season Premiere) - Review + POLL By Doug Greer (September 21, 2017, 4:00 am)

Hey Everyone! I don’t know about you all but the wait for The Good Place to return for season 2 has made 2017 drag so I am beyond ecstatic that our favorite, quirky, twisty comedy is back. Let’s dive in!

Quick Recap: At the end of season 1, our core four realized that they actually are in The Bad Place, so Michael restarts everything, but not before Eleanor is able to give Janet a note that says “Eleanor, find Chidi.” As we find out throughout this episode, the core four’s new lives now look like this:

*Eleanor - She has a new soulmate who goes to the gym every time she tries to confess that she doesn’t belong in The Good Place.
*Chidi - Michael assigns him two soulmates, one who is perfect for him and one who isn’t, and makes him choose. Although choosing is Chidi’s nightmare, he forces himself to choose the one who is perfect for him, but before he can, Michael bursts in announcing that he made a mistake and Chidi’s soulmate is actually the one who isn’t perfect for him. This creates a forbidden love storyline for Chidi, which is bound to make The Good Place painful for him.
*Tahani - She gets paired with a very short guy and her “dream house” is a tiny, one story cottage she barely fits into and her soulmate is a huge fan of her sister.
*Jason - He is given the same buddhist monk storyline from season 1, only this time his soulmate is a man who is also a silent buddhist monk.

Once Eleanor is acclimated with the new town, Michael tells her that because her good point total was the highest, she has to give a one hour speech at the welcome party, where he instructs everyone else to get her drunk so that they can recreate the same shrimp chaos that they had last season and make Eleanor think that she is going to get caught. Instead, Tahani is the one who gets drunk and sets a fire in the house. Meanwhile, Eleanor and Chidi go back to her house, followed by Michael, Jason, Tahani and all their respective soulmates. Eleanor realizes that there is no way that this is The Good Place because of how ridiculous and disingenuous everything is and that everyone was actively trying to get her drunk. She tells Michael about the note and he takes it from her and restarts everything. The episode then ends with Michael lying to Shawn about how well things are going and the entire town skeptical of Michael’s plan and leadership abilities.

This was a solid premiere. I thought the best part of the episode was that, for the first time, we got to see everything going on behind the scenes with Michael and his crew of “actors.” Whether it was the town meeting before the core four arrive, Original Eleanor/Denise trying to find her character, or everyone in the town trying to get Eleanor drunk, these scenes were fantastic. I think the knowledge that all of this was probably also going on during season 1, we just didn’t notice because we weren’t looking for it, also added to the fun. The real star of these scenes was, of course, Michael. Last season, I really liked watching him break down because his perfect town was in chaos. It was funny, sweet and sad because he was such an endearing, weird character. This time around, however, his breakdown is still hilarious, but mostly terrifying because now that we know he’s evil and he will stop at nothing to make his experiment work. This opens up a ton of potential storyline options for the season as we see him rampage behind the scenes, try and hide his failed experiment from Shawn, and maintain his leadership over the Bad Place actors helping him.

I also really liked the choice to have Michael restart everything for the second time. Coming into this episode, I was expecting season 2 to be all about Eleanor piecing everything together using her note, but, per usual, the writers have completely swerved and I’m loving it. With both the restart and skepticism in Michael’s leadership, there’s a ton of potential for Eleanor to start seeing cracks in "The Good Place" as Michael becomes sloppier in his storylines and manipulation as well as more unhinged as a person. To me, this is more interesting then Eleanor knowing something is weird off the bat. This slow burn will allow The Good Place to do what it does best: write compelling twists and fool our heroes into thinking nothing is wrong until they (hopefully) figure everything out and conquer The Bad Place. That being said, there is the potential to over use the “restart button” storytelling tactic, which I hope the writers don’t do as that will get frustrating very quickly, but for now, I’m excited to see how they tell the story of Eleanor realizing what’s going on without the crutch of her friends and the note she scribbled to herself.

I think the main thing I didn’t like about the episode is that I didn’t find it particularly funny. Usually premiere episodes have to cover a lot of exposition and this one is definitely no exception, but I still felt like the comedy wasn’t at the level it needed to be. The Good Place had hit such a stride last season not only telling compelling stories with jaw-dropping twists, but also making me laugh so hard that I cried, so I was disappointed that I didn’t laugh as much in the premiere. I still laughed and thought that this episode was strong from a story telling standpoint, I just wish there had been more one liners.

So now where do we go from here? After the finale last year, I was excited to see how Eleanor was going to use the note to her advantage, but then the writers quickly showed me that that’s too easy. It seems like season 2 will be all about Michael trying to maintain control and Eleanor slowly figuring out what is going on, but your guess is as good as mine. The writers have proven they know what they’re doing and I trust them. Where would you like to see The Good Place go this season? Let me know in the comments!

Overall Grade:
B+. A solid season premiere that made a lot of great storyline choices, but didn’t deliver as much on the laughs.

Favorite Quotes:
Michael: The work you did as an environmental activist was just extraordinary.
Eleanor: Uh, well… It’s the environment… I mean, I love mushrooms. I can honestly say that.

Eleanor: Can you imagine getting drunk before giving a big speech? Getting kicked out of your niece’s christening and then only later, once you’ve sobered up, realize you don’t even have a niece, it’s like who was that kid?

Chidi: Alright, this is from a book called, “What We Owe to Each Other” I used to teach when I was a professor of ethics and moral philosophy
Eleanor: Alright, brag much?

Michael: Torture on 3. 1, 2, 3, Torture!

And of course, Tahani’s drunk speech

That’s it from me! Let me know what you thought of the season 2 premiere!