The Good Place: Mindy St Claire, Michael’s Gambit – Forked Over (Review)


 The Good Place - Season 1

The Good Place doubled up the last two episodes of season one for a surprising, to some, ending to Bad Eleanor’s adventures. “Mindy St. Claire” and “Michael’s Gambit” revealed that, The Good Place was not.

Those of us who had suspicions from the start, the “good” people, seemed far too good. Tahani, who turns out to have done all her good deeds to impress her parents and throw some shade at her perfect sister and Chidi, who made everyone in his life miserable because he could not make up his mind.

Then there was the Jason/Jianyu dilemma. While there was the issue of Good Eleanor being in the bad place, there is never any mention of the silent monk, with the maturity of a seven year old, being in the same place.

Of course the big reveal, that this has always been The Bad Place but in experimental form, was surprising. Michael tells the four that they were chosen specifically to torture one another. They are, he informs the small group, the only real denizens of the “neighborhood.”

Everyone else belongs to the “Bad Place” team. (One highpoint of the double episode finale was Bad Eleanor – a member of that team named Vicki – being cheated out of her big moment. “I rehearsed back there for three hours!” Just brilliant.)

The build up to the big reveal, where Eleanor guesses they have been in the Bad Place all along, included the brief escape of Jason, Janet and Eleanor to The Medium Place. It was amusing and meeting Mindy St. Claire gave the audience a chance to see  just how much went into the real selection process of going up, or going down.

St. Claire’s getting coked out of her head and starting to do something good for the world, only to die before she could accomplish it, put her in a different place. Her sister carrying on her plan moved the cocaine addicted lawyer up a few more notches.

Not good enough for The Good Place yet not bad enough for the alternative, the lawyer gets her own place. (And rather interestingly, still craves that nasty old cocaine. “No seriously. Do you have any?”)

This was a splendid weaving of truth, that Michael really was a new architect, and that the place he developed as The Bad Place disguised at the The Good Place. Older viewers, or folks that are fans of the old black and white Rod Serling classic anthology series The Twilight Zone may remember the segment dealing with heaven and hell.

The Twilight Zone episode was titled “A Nice Place to Visit” and starred the beloved character actor Sebastian Cabot (the English actor voiced Bagheera in The Jungle Book). In the episode, a bank robber is shot dead and wakes in what he believes to be heaven. By the end of the episode, Rocky learns that he is, in fact, in “the other place.” 

The Good Place may well be a nod to the The Twilight Zone episode. The big difference here is that Eleanor actually works it out. Rocky finds out by accident. Plus, Eleanor has, through the ministrations of Chidi and Tahani, become a better person. Albeit a dead one.

In fact, as Eleanor herself points out, they all became better people. They also, she tells Michael, became a team. It is this last bit of information that gives the architect an epiphany of sorts.

He proposes that the plan be redone, with the same four occupants, but that they should all be separated. Eleanor, writes herself a note and pops it into Janet’s mouth.

Later, when her memory has been wiped, Janet arrives and hands the piece of paper. She finds “Eleanor, find Chidi,” written down. “What the fork is a chidi,” she asks. Followed by her realization that she cannot say the “f” word.

She and the other three have been “forked over” by Michael and his cronies.

If there is a season two, it would involve Eleanor finding Chidi, presumably, but this really does feel like a one shot deal here. Funny as the show was and as clever as the ending is, it would be hard for the other’s to make a connection.

After all, no one else wrote anything down before having their memories wiped. Without a hint from their recent past how could they track one another down?

The Good Place was cracking good fun and show creator Michael Schur came up with a winner. This one will be missed.

CAST:

Guest starring Marc Evan Jackson as Shawn and Maribeth Monroe as Mindy St. Claire

Author: Mike's Film Talk

Former Actor, Former Writer, Former Journalist, USAF Veteran, http://MikesFilmTalk.com Former Member Nevada Film Critics Society

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