The Good Place S02E07 Recap: 'Derek'

For a show that's so unique and bizarre, the most redeeming quality of The Good Place is probably how familiar it feels. Which is particularly impressive when you consider it's only been around for about 20 episodes. With every new episode, I get genuinely excited to revisit the hijnks that Michael, Eleanor and the gang are sure to get themselves into. Even more impressive when you consider the fact that the show often explores deep philosophical issues. The quick work it's been able to do with its characters plays a big factor in that, and that continued in tonight's midseason finale, "Derek", as the crisis with Janet continued to manifest itself.

Last week, Michael tried to get to the bottom of why Janet was glitching and causing problems in the neighbourhood, and figured out that she was lying due to lingering feelings from when she was married to Jason in an earlier reboot. Michael didn't know what to do to fix her, so he referred her to Eleanor, who made things worse by suggesting that she find a rebound boyfriend, which led Janet to create Derek (Jason Mantzoukas), a veritably broken being whom she has a terrible relationship with that threatens to expose Michael and the gang and what they're doing.

So most of "Derek" is spent with Michael, Chidi, and Eleanor running around, trying to figure out what to do about the episode's titular character, all while checking in on his and Janet's messed up, fast-burning relationship. They ponder the philosophical possibility of murdering Derek, a being who probably shouldn't exist and threatens their livelihoods, but settle instead on only tangentially killing him by revealing to Jason and Tahani (who have erstwhile decided to get married) what the deal with Janet is. Eventually, Eleanor takes back her bad advice, convinces Janet to get rid of Derek and offers her a shoulder to lean and cry on should she ever need it. Even Michael winds up cutting in on the conversational fun, proving that everyone in the group is starting to advance. Eleanor even reveals what's on the Cannonball Run 2 tape (a confession of love between her and Chidi from a previous timeline visit to the Medium place), but Chidi does not reciprocate Eleanor's love, leading to an awkward, unresolved exchange.

Most things seem to be going good for the gang, that is until Michael returns to his office only to find Shawn rifling through his files and informing him that they need to talk. Who knows if Shawn knows about what Michael is up to, but we'll have to wait until the new year to find out.

In the meantime, "Derek" is another great, thoroughly hilarious episode of The Good Place. Maybe not necessary as good as some other recent episodes, but another strong showing nonetheless, chalk full of the same ratio of jokes and unique presentation that have cause us to fall in love in the first place. And if that's not enough, it also introduces the incomparable Jason Mantzous to this world, and as one of the only people to have been in all three Michael Schur-creaed sitcoms, he very quickly winds up fitting in, even with a very different character from the ones he's previously played.

"Derek" gets 9 bad news bears out of 10.

Notes & Quotes:

  • The way Jason Mantzoukas introduces himself evolves throughout the episode, but he ends up with "Derek Hoffstettler, PI", and that's amazing.
  • At one point, Derek holds up a sign that reads "Help I can’t stop saying Jason!"
  • Eleanor's ideal person is Stone Cold Steve Austin's head on Tahani's body (or vice versa).
  • Jason went to Lynyrd Skynyrd high school, which of course is just a bunch of tugboats tied together in a junk yard.
  • Janet/Derek: "We are so in sync we’re finishing each other’s" "Derek!"
  • Michael: "The best news is that none of this is suspicious."
  • Eleanor: "But you can never watch it, this copy’s mine. Ugh oh, I guess I’m still a little selfish. Help I need another ethics lesson quick!"
  • Michael/Chidi: "So Chidi, just want to double check. How do ethical philosophers feel about murder?" "It’s frowned upon." "Okay, what id the reason you want to murder someone is to make your life easier. That’s okay, right?"
  • Derek: Goodbob! I hope we same place again very now."
  • Michael/Chidi: "Has anyone told you what a drag you are?" "Everyone. Constantly."
  • Jason: "The beach is where all the best stuff happens, like swimsuit issues, and Saving Private Ryan, and jersey shore, and crabs."
  • Michael, reading Jason and Tahani's wedding invite: "The ceremony will be private but we think it would be totally dope if you biznatches came and got turnt up with us afterwards."
  • Tahani describes Jason as "A swamp dweller who once asked me if the president’s on Mount Rushmore have butts on the other side."
  • Eleanor/Jason: "I hate to be the bearer of bad news..." "I think you mean Bad News Bear."
  • Chidi: "I’ve never been that certain about anything. I once tried to rent socks."