The writers take The Good Place Season 2 Episode 9 in a completely different direction than the cliffhanger at the end of the last episode pointed, with a fantastic payoff.
After half a season of wondering whether or not Michael sympathizes with the humans, his intentions seem clear now: the humans are his friends, and he wants to help them.
Eleanor asks Chidi, Tahani, and Jason to take a leap of faith with her in believing Michael, while Michael takes his own leap in hoping that the humans will unravel some of his clues.
Notably, however, the humans' leap requires more trust than Michael's. If Eleanor is wrong in trusting Michael, the humans will be sent to the real Bad Place. If Michael's clues aren't clear enough for the humans to discover, they'll be sent to the Bad Place, but Michael will still be in Shawn's good graces.
The humans could avoid the real Bad Place by trying Chidi's plan or even escaping to Mindy's house after unraveling some of Michael's clues, but they choose trust and loyalty in a situation that could potentially end horribly.
Eleanor: Kierkegaard, baby! Leap of faith.
Michael: It’s better translated as a “leap into faith.”
Chidi: You remembered! [Michael and Chidi fistbump]
Michael saves the humans but remains unscathed himself. As far as Shawn knows, this is The Good Place 2.0 and Vicky helped the humans escape. Nothing about Michael's plan puts him at risk, unlike the humans' plan.
He does not expose himself at all in saving them, which still leaves the possibility for him to choose himself over the humans when it comes down to the wire.
When he discovers the humans at the end of the episode, he is overcome with joy and the concern he was harboring for them. He seems genuine and even remembers the correct translation of Kierkegaard from Chidi's lessons.
For now, it seems that Michael supports the humans and wants to protect them. I'm inclined to believe him.
A cringe-worthy moment from the episode came as the four humans discuss their game plan. Tahani wants to try to get a train to Mindy St. Claire's house. When Jason tries to weigh in, she shuts him down, calling out his "limited intellectual processing capacity."
Jason: I vote we...
Tahani: No, sorry, and no offense Jason, but the stakes here are too high to let someone with your limited intellectual processing capacity weigh in.
No one would argue Jason is the sharpest knife in the drawer, but Tahani snapping at him and demeaning his intelligence in front of their friends is particularly cruel, even for her.
This sort of behavior reaffirms that Tahani's growth in the afterlife will be a long process. For someone who, by the end of the episode, believes she may be on her way to a spot in the real Good Place, she still seems far too focused on herself to deserve it by the purported Good Place standards.
While this episode didn't make me laugh out loud quite as much as other recent installments, it was still a solid episode with some great laughs.
"Leap into Faith" gives us the gift of magnet-drunk Janet, who steals every scene she's in, from trying to pronounce "magnets" to asking to braid people's hair.
We also get more of Bad Janet, who is equally hilarious with her apathy towards everything and everyone around her. D'Arcy Carden shows that she's just as good as playing the polar opposite of her character as she is at playing Good Janet.
By the end of the episode, the humans believe they may have the opportunity to go to the real Good Place. After Tahani mentions it with glee, the camera cuts to Michael for a second.
Guys, let’s just take a moment here. They’re gone, which means that we won and might actually get a chance to go to the real Good Place.Tahani
Michael acknowledges Tahani with a quick, tight-lipped smile, but his eyes reveal sadness immediately after. Either Tahani is wrong about the group having a shot at getting to the Good Place, or she's right, and Michael realizes he's going to have to separate from them soon.
Either way, the moment is intensely human, much like when he stopped by Eleanor's house to chat in a previous episode.
The fleeting shot is more meaningful than his verbal expressions of concern for the humans when he discovers they're safe, because we know he is an impeccable liar; he never had any issue putting on a show in the prior versions of the Good Place.
The moment provides the most compelling evidence of the episode that Michael is indeed on the humans' side. Whether he's worried about disappointing them or leaving them, he cares about them.
What did you think of this episode? Is there still a chance Michael isn't on the same side as the humans?
Leave your thoughts in the comments below, and watch The Good Place online here!
Danica Leninsky is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.