The winter premiere of The Good Place (NBC, Thursdays, 8:30/7:30C) begins with a truly intriguing event: Michael’s boss, Sean, applauds his efforts and gives him a promotion!
Somehow, Michael (Ted Danson) has managed to keep his 800-plus reboots of the fake Good Place from Sean (Marc Evan Jackson) and Sean is convinced that reboot number two is a complete success. He gives Michael a huge promotion (to design and run an infinite number of fake Good Places) – and orders to shut down this fake Good Place and send the human quartet to the real Bad Place where they will be dissected and studied to learn how to apply Michael’s theories to all newcomers.
Michael suggests a party to celebrate his success and promotion before actually destroying the fake Good Place. Eleanor (Kristen Bell), Chidi (William Jackson Harper), Jason (Manny Jacinto) and Tehani (Jameela Jamil) are apprised of this and begin to think Michael has betrayed them (again).
The biggest joy of The Good Place is the way it brings philosophy and whimsy together in a series about undeserving people who fight to better themselves after they’ve died. Leap Into Faith (which correctly translates Kierkegaard) deals with… wait for it… faith!
After several episodes (and over reboots of the fake Good Place), Michael has come to identify with his human subjects – even trying to learn how to become a better person. When the others suggest informing Sean of what’s really happened and hoping for a better deal, Eleanor takes a leap of faith and insists that Michael hasn’t sold them out.
Meanwhile, Vickie (Tiya Sircar) feels that something isn’t adding up, but Michael plays off her desire to get her own promotion – effectively keeping her silent.
Written by Christopher Encell and directed by Linda Mendoza, Leap Into Faith gives everyone in the cast some juicy moments (watching D’Arcy Carden play drunk Janet and Evil Janet is worth watching the ep all by herself) – and gives The Bad Place credit for inventing the comedy roast (makes sense if you think about it…).
Watching Danson perform Michael’s evolution is also a joy – as a demon, he finds himself experience human-like emotions and Danson shows both his surprise and awkwardness at that.
Bell is also terrific – especially when she realizes that Michael has found a way to tell the group that he’s not really betraying them (though the other three have some major doubts).
The Good Place continues to be the most intelligent and genuinely witty of all network comedy shows – and one of the best television comedies on any platform.
Final Grade: A+