A review of tonight’s The Good Place coming up just as soon as you fetch my dizzy couch…
“Derek” is the final Good Place of 2017, thanks to NBC’s Thursday football commitments. Yet just like last year’s final pre-break episode, it’s not designed as an apocalyptic cliffhanger designed to make the wait for January more agonizing. Well, it’s going to be agonizing because the show is on such a creative hot streak, but even with the cliffhanger of Shaun in Michael’s office, “Derek” felt less like a mid-season finale than just another episode of what’s been a great year for the show. Which is as it should be, even for an intensely serialized comedy like this one.
We can spend some time speculating on exactly what Shaun knows about Michael’s deceptions, and whether that means we’re in for another hit of the reset button in a season that’s literally had hundreds of them, but I’d much rather talk about the delight that was “Derek,” and the way that the wild idea of Janet creating her own boyfriend out of thin air wound up having real emotional impact not only for her, but for the show’s two human quasi-couples.
Though the four idiots have no memories of the events of season one, or any of the other reboots, by the end of “Derek” they’ve all been brought up to speed on the key romantic points: that Jason and Janet were married(*), and that Eleanor and Chidi have gotten together in multiple reboots. But knowing something and feeling it aren’t the same, so Jason only has eyes for his special lady with the award-winning legs, while the legendarily indecisive Chidi is more struck by the idea that he could so easily say “I love you” to anyone than he is by actual emotions about Eleanor herself. It’s an interesting choice, and gives the show more runway to work with on the latter pairing, since we know from Mindy St. Clair that Eleanor and Chidi really are soulmates somehow, and will inevitably find their way to each other. Pairing Jason with Tahani, at least for now, could be about putting Tahani into a new love triangle with Janet, or it could be a sincere idea of its own — another opposites-attract duo with a side effect of Janet having to struggle with emotions she was never designed to have.
(*)Albeit not on a beach, even though Version 802 Jason says that all the best things happen on beaches, like swimsuit issues, Jersey Shore, the opening of Saving Private Ryan, and crabs.