The Good Place is only four episodes into it’s first season, and the story keeps building into a brilliant journey of self-love and becoming a better human. The latest episode, in particular, showcases the repercussions of hiding, and revealing, your true self.
We’ve seen how every time Eleanor (played by Kristen Bell) acts like her true self when she was alive – a selfish, and callous chick who flat-out refused to take a turn as designated driver – her neighborhood in Heaven/The Good Place crumbles into a nightmarish mess. And even though her soulmate Chidi has been teaching her how to become a better person, she’s far from worthy of her spot in the pleasant afterlife.
The life of Jason Mendoza
However, in episode three, her neighbor/frenemy Tahani’s soulmate Jianyu, revealed that he’s not actually a Buddhist monk who took a vow of silence. At the start of episode four, he tells Eleanor that his name is actually Jason Mendoza, and he spent his time on Earth as a drug dealer/aspiring EDM DJ in Florida. Yeah… that’s not great.
But upon learning she’s no longer alone as an outsider in The Good Place, Eleanor is visibly happier with her current situation. She now has a project she actually wants to do, which is coaching Jason on how to pretend he belongs. While the real Eleanor might not be overly generous or warm, she has it together enough to at least fake a smile and pretend to be good. Jason does not. The only way he can keep from blowing his cover is to keep silent. And that lasts for about five minutes.
Once he opens up to Eleanor, and shows her his “Budhole” aka his teenage boy room with video games, posters, and turn tables, he realizes that hiding his true self is exhausting, and not at all worth the trouble. So he becomes the not-so-silent monk in front of Tahani, and Eleanor spins it as “Jianyu” gaining more confidence and thus is more comfortable with speaking.
Chidi agrees to coach both of them into becoming better people, but Jason constantly comes close to blowing their cover, by attempting (and failing) to breakdance in the living room, and then wanting to reveal that his favorite food on Earth was actually jalapeño poppers, and not the tofu he is served at the restaurant opening hosted by Tahani.
All the feels
Even though it’s hard to relate to an aspiring EDM DJ who sold fake drugs to teenagers, I felt Jason’s pain this entire episode. Being in The Good Place wouldn’t be much fun if I couldn’t be my true self. Faking a persona to fit in with a certain group of people gets old, boring, and beyond stressful. On the flipside, settling for “just being yourself” isn’t a good thing if you’re a terrible person. We should always strive to be a better version of our true selves.
And despite the fact that Eleanor ruined the restaurant opening by creating a sinkhole in an attempt to prevent Jason from revealing his true identity, she made a friend who understands her struggle. Discovering Jason’s secret made her feel less alone, and more determined to adapt to her surroundings without having to fake it for all eternity. She becomes a big sister figure to Jason, and gets him to attend her ethics class taught by Chidi.
Because even though they might have landed in The Good Place by mistake, they deserve a chance to prove themselves. They want to become better people, so shouldn’t they get the opportunity to try? We all want to be better, but it’s nice when we are accepted – flaws and all – by our tribe as we strive to become the people we want to be.