Fans of NBC's The Good Place will rejoice in the hilarious, jam-packed season two premiere.
Eleanor, Chidi, Tahani, and Jason, whose memories were wiped in the season one finale, re-experience most of last season's biggest twists over the course of The Good Place Season 2 Episode 1, but these are not the same characters we met in the pilot.
If we learned one thing from this episode, it's that Michael can erase their memories, but he can't erase their character growth.
The hour-long episode, "Everything is Great!", shows several perspectives on the same events, culminating in the moment when Michael, Eleanor, Chidi, Tahani, and Jason come together.
Each act follows a different character's "arrival" to the supposed Good Place, showing their initial meeting with Michael, their first day, and the welcome party in the evening.
The episode parallels the pilot, showing Eleanor's arrival at the Good Place. In the pilot, Eleanor was curious about her new home, asking Michael many questions.
Although she is still somewhat self-absorbed, the Eleanor of season two possesses a heightened awareness of the people and world around her. Pilot Eleanor has questions about the Good Place. The Good Place Season 2 Eleanor questions the place itself.
People are like nature's apps.Eleanor
Before Michael erased her memory, Eleanor left a note in Janet's mouth reading, "ELEANOR- FIND CHIDI." Because of this note, Eleanor has a purpose in the afterlife.
At Michael's insistence, his demon colleagues, moonlighting in roles as Eleanor's neighbors, try to convince her to drink alcohol at the welcome party.
With no memory of her actual arrival at the so-called Good Place, Eleanor's behavior should align with her behavior on Earth.
Unlike her previous self, who loved to drink so much that she always managed to get out of being the designated driver, this Eleanor refuses because she is focused on her mission and because she must give a speech.
Can you imagine getting drunk before giving a big speech? Getting kicked out of your niece's christening and then, only later, once you've sobered up, realizing you don't even have a niece? It's like, who was that kid?Eleanor
Just as she is about to give into temptation and do a couple of shots, she hear's Chidi's name and pulls him aside, explaining that something isn't right in the Good Place.
While she can't be bothered to remember most people's names, particularly Janet's (Joey? Janine? Zsa Zsa?), she's perceptive enough to notice that something fishy is happening.
With her curiosity piqued by reading a note she has no memory of writing, she knows something is up when her soulmate announces he's headed to the gym every time she tries to talk to him.
When she's finally reunited with Chidi, Tahani, and Jason all at once, the three soulmates who haven't taken a vow of silence show up with the exact same words: "There you are! I've been worried sick about you!" Eleanor finds the glitch in the matrix, and she cracks the code in less than one day: this is not the Good Place.
There really is an afterlife. I can't wait to have breakfast with Kant, and lunch with Michel Foucault, and then have dinner with Kant again so we can talk about what came up at breakfast!Chidi
Similarly, Chidi maintains much of his season one growth. Michael concocts a devious plan to torture him through forcing him to decide which of two women is his true soulmate.
The ever-indecisive Chidi manages to make a decision with only a bit of hesitation, choosing Angelique over Pevita. He even sticks with his choice later in the episode, suggesting to Angelique that maybe they are supposed to be together, despite Michael telling him earlier that he actually belongs with Pevita.
Tahani seems much the same: she's conceited and condescending, clearly put off by the small size of both her soulmate and their home. Instead of Eleanor, Tahani is the one who gets drunk at the welcome party, interrupting Eleanor's speech with a drunken rant of her own.
At first, it appears that Tahani has regressed from her season one development, but she ultimately arrives at Eleanor's house with an apology and an acknowledgment that cargo pants are indeed comfortable.
Jason, who grew the least in season one, confesses his secret on the first night, something that took him days in the first season. Jason is assigned a soulmate who is supposed to be his best friend, another Buddhist monk who has taken a vow of silence.
The pair provides one of the funniest scenes of the episode, a hilarious montage of them silently eating, riding bikes, and creating art with rocks. Luang creates a beautiful design; Jason spells out "boobs."
Jason hasn't lost his unlikely connection with Janet; she's the first one to whom he confesses that he isn't really Jianyu. Their relationship is still surface level, but then again, Jason is not one to search for deep meaning.
Janet is ultimately the one who brings Jason to his friends. She was rebooted between versions one and two of the Good Place, but her decision to take Jason to Eleanor's house begs the question: does Janet know on some level that the four humans need to be together?
This episode provides our first real glimpse into Michael's character since we only met the real Michael briefly at the end of season one. He's nervous that his experiment will fail and has to give himself a pep talk before he can talk to his boss.
In a twisted sense, Michael has some qualities of an evil Leslie Knope. In the Bad Place, their job is to make humans miserable, but Michael believes the old fashioned way is too easy; he can do it better. He wants to put the time and effort into doing his job as well as possible and proving his boss wrong.
He is ambitious and wants to change things, without always having the buy-in of the somewhat ambivalent townspeople/fellow demons, who aren't completely dissimilar to the people of Pawnee, Indiana in Parks and Recreation.
What remains to be seen is if Michael will develop a soft side for the humans and use his dedication for good.
It's a rare occurrence, like a double rainbow, or someone on the internet saying, "You know what? You've convinced me I was wrong."Michael
As in the first season, the episode is filled with hilarious background jokes, like the names of the neighborhood businesses.
A pizza restaurant is called Hawaii 5-Dough, and they only serve Hawaiian pizza. It's a callback to a first season visit by Trevor from the Bad Place, who comes bearing what Michael claims is the worst type of pizza: Hawaiian.
The joke of only serving Hawaiian pizza in the season two premiere would have been more effective if the writers had let it speak for itself, but instead, Chidi draws attention to it and Angelique comments, "Kinda makes you wonder what kind of pizza they have in the bad place, huh?"
Ultimately, the episode leaves us with the same burning question as the finale: how will these four people find each other now that their memories have been wiped? This time, although there isn't a note hidden in Janet's mouth, we have more confidence that the new and improving Eleanor will guide them to the answer.
What did you think of the premiere? Comment below to weigh in, and if you miss an episode, you can watch The Good Place online here!
Danica Leninsky is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.