The Good Place S02E03 Recap: 'Dance Dance Resolution'

With one perfectly timed evil laugh at the end of its first season, The Good Place turned its concept on its head, and went from being a charming and fairly unique sitcom to something with much greater potential. It even managed to follow that up with a season premiere last week that maintained the momentum and got our heads swirling with ideas of what this show was truly capable of. None of that, however, could prepare us for what the show had in store for us this week with "Dance Dance Resolution", an episode of television that will surely factor among the best that 2017 in television has to offer, and one that once again turns the show's concept upside down.

After last week's premiere, it seemed fairly evident that The Good Place would settle into some kind of formula for a chunk of its second season. Michael had blown through his second attempt to create a Bad Place built on psychological torture, instead of the usual kind, one where the torture remains corporeal. I figured that the season would mostly consist of Michael blowing through attempt after attempt, before giving us yet another twist at some point down the line. But I underestimated the show and its writing staff. I forgot that this show is set in the afterlife, where pretty much anything is possible.

Instead of settling into a formula, "Dance Dance Resolution" reminds us once again that Michael Schur and his team have brass balls. Michael blows through over a whopping 800 attempts at creating his Bad Place. The show doesn't waste the opportunity, though, giving us a glimpse at what many of those attempts would have looked like, from little details about each verious of the town to the various ways the crew finds out about their reality, or how sometimes Michael would accidentally spill the beans himself. And just like episodes in the show's past, all of this is filled to the brim with some incredible humour, both verbal and visual.

Eleanor and Chidi even venture out to The Medium Place with Janet, where a returning Mindy informs them that this is indeed their sixteenth visit to see her, and that each time, for one reason or another, they wind up going back. Many of those times, Eleanor and Chidi have wound up falling for one another and having sex, which Mindy has very selfishly recorded for herself. Armed with the information from their previous visits that Mindy has collected, they head back to confront Michael.

All the while, we've been getting a glimpse into what it's been like for Michael. He's tired, but resolute, as he can't admit to Shawn that he's failed. But his fellow Bad Place torturers, led by a disgruntled Vicky, wind up walking out on the job, unhappy with Michael's performance and seeking demands. Vicky is so bold as to try and blackmail Michael into letting her do her own version of the Bad Place, since Michael has failed so many times.

After a talk with a confused Jason, Michael comes to the conclusion that his only option is to team up with the people he's tortured, propositioning them just as they confront him with the information that they once again have figured out his game, claiming they have all the power, not him.

A show with any sensible levels of expectation would have probably seen this be the concept of the third or fourth season. It would have been very easy for Michael Schur to blow a full season, if not longer, on what failed attempts on Michael's part would have looked like. Instead, Schur follows the advice echoed to him by Greg Daniels that he's been mentioning on podcasts and other appearance, advice dictating that you always have to put forth the best show possible. A Good Place where a full season is that which was just described is an average show looking to extend its lifespan. A Good Place where we blow through 800 attempts in one episode before moving on to the next thing is next level. Especially considering how packed with jokes it is. This is a show concerned with being great instead of simply being on TV, and while that may not translate into great ratings in a lot of cases, I'm glad that's not something that matters to the people creating it.

We're at a point where we couldn't even begin to predict where this show is going next, but it's so good that it has our minds spinning. "Dance Dance Resolution" is a perfect episode of The Good Place and therefore gets 10 cups of hot ocean milk with dead animal croutons out of 10.

Notes & Quotes:

  • The episode even goes so far as to debunk the "Michael is in the Bad Place" theory by suggesting that Eleanor tried to convince him of that as one of her Medium Place plans.
  • Surprisingly light on Tahani this week, but she has a couple of great moments, including being one of the alternate soulmates for Eleanor in one of Michael's attempts.
  • Nice to see the show using as much VFX dollars as possible, between that lava rock dude and the mean giraffes.
  • Among the best alternative restaurant names: "You Do The Hokey Gnocchi And You Get Yourself Some Food", "Biscotti Pippin" and "Knish From A Rose"
  • "It’s like my mom always said: If a cop handcuffs you to a bike rack there’s always something you can gnaw through." "Your mom always said that?"
  • "I can't go! I'm too young to die. And too old to eat off the kids' menu. What a stupid age I am!"
  • "That was a real trip for biscuits, now we're all wet, daddy-o!"
  • "Attempt #109: I've closed and locked the door and... we're ready to go."
  • "If I'm gone who will take care of my birds!?"
  • "Yesterday she told me that she was Taylor swift’s best friend, but Taylor swift wasn’t her best friend."
  • Michael to Vicki on why she should stay the course: "You might even land the Jared from subway account."
  • "Sometimes you go back because you walk in on me masturbating and sometimes I walk in on you while I’m masturbating."
  • "I’ve only ever said I love you to two men in my entire life. Stone Cold Steve Austin and a guy in a dark club who I mistook for Stone Cold Steve Austin."
  • Michael to Jason: "I know everything that happened in your life and it was all stupid, so I highly doubt that."