The Good Place veers away from any catastrophic events this week. Although there is a really funny “burning bush” gag part way through. In episode two, Eleanor zeroes in on Tahani Al-Jamil as the obvious suspect for slipping that note under her door.
Chidi is doing his level best to get his soulmate as deserving as the rest of the denizens of this manufactured nirvana. Sadly Eleanor clearly does not belong here, as the note said, and she knows it.
Shellstrop may indeed realize that she is one bad apple in this barrel, but this does not stop her arguing ethics with Chidi and bad talking Tahini. She is convinced that the tall and beautiful girl with the cut-glass accent is hiding something.
As her soulmate comes close to giving up, Michael makes a move to divert the former ethics professor with a worthwhile hobby. Nothing Michael suggests seems to fit and both men are disappointed.
Chidi is crushed to learn that Michael hated the book he was writing when he died. While the “head” of The Good Place attempts to find something for Chidi to do Janet goes through a number of changes in personality.
Eleanor gets a flowery bush from Tahani as a housewarming gift. She immediately begins attacking her neighbor verbally and the plant starts to die.
Later, she goes to Tahani’s house with her own gift; a basket of pears. Al-Jamil explains that pears are bad luck to her soulmate; Jianyu, and throws them in the bin. Jianyu meditates as the two women talk.
After Tahani leaves the room, Eleanor steals her diary hoping to find that her neighbor is not so perfect after all. When she returns home the small bush catches fire. Chidi is horrified.
(The bush reacts to Eleanor’s anger and distrust of Tahini. It is a sort of Al-Jamil barometer, or mood-bush.)
As the show progresses, Michael gives up on Chidi and Eleanor talks her soulmate into continuing his book. Michael agrees with his decision to keep writing but insists that Chidi throw his first effort away.
Eleanor goes to see Tahani and finds her crying. It seems that Jianyu will not talk to her at all. This continued vow of silence is driving her to distraction and Eleanor comforts her.
After this the two women bond and Eleanor improves herself by showing not just compassion but recognizing someone else’s pain. Returning home, the burned bush has been rejuvenated. It is now a leafy, tall plant with lots of flowers.
Chidi congratulates Eleanor on her progress. Earlier he also convinced his soulmate that her guilt manifested the note slipped under her door.
The next day Tahani suggests to Michael that he take Eleanor on as an assistant. She agrees to help him figure out why all these strange things are happening in the village.
Later at home another note is slipped under her door. This asks for a meeting at the town square. She turns up and finds Jianyu. He wrote the first note because he knows Eleanor does not belong in The Good Place.
Neither does he.
Jianyu tells Eleanor that he is freaking out “Homie” and that he needs her help. It looks like The Good Place may be “good” but it is far from “perfect” as two people are there who do not belong.
Thus far the show is funny. Bell does a great job vacillating between “wannabe” good and bad. Danson is spot on as the bumbling newbie who designed the place as is Carden as his temporary assistant.
Jameel a Jamil is delightful and Manny Jacinto just killed it in this episode. Harper is sheer perfection as the somewhat reluctant ethics coach for Bell’s character.
(On a sidenote: Congratulations of the property department for coming up with a scone that looked very close to the real thing and not some strange American triangular bit of pastry. Well done.)
The Good Place is excellent fun and it will be interesting to see how long it will take for more “mistakes” to turn up.
The series airs Mondays on NBC.