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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

The Good Place, annotated: “A Fractured Inheritance”

Illustration for article titled The Good Place, annotated: “A Fractured Inheritance”
Photo: Colleen Hayes (NBC)

In addition to being one of the best shows on TV, The Good Place is a dense knot of running jokes, visual humor, references to dense philosophy tomes, and breadcrumbs for later episodes. In order to help you keep it all straight, The A.V. Club will be annotating the show’s third season. Catch something that we didn’t? Email us at youforkingmissedit@avclub.com.


Read our recap of A Fractured Inheritance

But first, a word from you, the readers

Julie Nelson picked up on some instrumental cues in last week’s episode: “The music played over the top of all Chidi’s break-up attempts is the same as the music over all of Eleanor’s Good Place soulmates.”

Going two episodes back with Bob Shirley: “I got a chuckle out of Chidi’s purchase of a bunch of almond milk during his chili run at the grocery. He really is in ‘fork it’ mode to load up on the very thing he used to think was the reason he wound up in the Bad Place at all.”


Diana Tremaine

Adding insult to injury, Donna Shellstrop faked her death and then assumed an identity that was originally her daughter’s to assume. We first came to know “Diana Tremaine” (and that’s how she spells it, according to NBC) in “Rhonda, Diana, Jake, And Trent,” when Eleanor fell back on her old fake ID to fake her way through cocktail hour at Bad Place HQ.

“I’m an architect”

Michael’s been out of his element for so long now that it’s easy to forget that he shares a profession (so to speak) with Donna’s new fella, Dave (Andy Daly, who in a delightful twist, is playing a genuinely good guy who’s not a doctor). Michael’s oversight with the blueprints for the Subaru dealership/burlesque club in Reno—”Looks like you forgot to include bathrooms”—is a joke based on his unfamiliarity with human anatomy, but read it another way and it sure sounds like something that someone who used to design special places in hell might’ve done.


“Ya basic!”

Like the Mendozas and “Oh dip,” this insult runs in the Shellstrop family. Cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon, and whatnot.


Chidi and Eleanor fell in love—deeply

From Mindy St. Clair’s copy of Cannonball Run II’s lips to Eleanor’s ears: In one of hundreds of reboots spread across hundreds of our Earth years, a selfish ass and a tortured academic truly were soul mates. It’s a revelation that raises so many questions, it could only be a cliffhanger: How will this shape the remainder of the second season? And if Eleanor acts on that information, will it give Janet the courage to tell Jason how she feels? Do you want to listen to a podcast?


Visual gags

Tarantula Springs, Nevada

To date, Arizona and Florida have been neck-and-neck in the race for The Good Place’s title of Bad Place-on-Earth. But Nevada’s hot on their heels in “A Fractured Inheritance”: Michael goes so far as to declare it “a mess.” The name of Donna’s new hometown, shown onscreen at the top of the episode, could also describe one of several Bad Place torture methods. Tarantulas with eight spring-loaded legs, tarantulas spraying forth from an aquifer full of a never-ending supply of tarantulas—the mind reels.


MGM Grand Luxury Resort And Casino Elementary School

And when you see the name of Patricia’s school, you’ll think Michael’s right on the money. The show doubles down on the joke with the school slogan and its questionable tense: “Always Bet On Read.”


Joszef Müvészember and Istvan Müvészi Ember-Baråtja

Look to the credits to learn the names of the two guys gushing over Kamilah in Budapest: Joszef, an “artist man” according to a rough translation from Hungarian, and Istvan, an “artist man friend.”



“A police officer came to my home and told me that my mom had been accidentally trampled to death when she bent down to adjust her toe ring at a Rascal Flatts concert”

The toe ring of modern country hitmakers, the trio of Gary LeVox, Jay DeMarcus, and Joe Don Rooney hail from that noted hotbed of twang—Columbus, Ohio—and once scored a crossover hit with their cover of “Life Is A Highway” from the Cars soundtrack.


“About a month before, your mom had gotten drunk, wandered into a charity auction and bid $30,000 for a date with Gene Simmons.”

At the risk of piling more math on top of the punchline to this joke (“outbidding everyone else by $29,800”): According to recent estimates, it would’ve cost $27,000 less to spend eternity with The Demon.


“You haven’t even introduced me to this stretched-out, sexy Alex Trebek”

Not a comparison that had ever occurred to The A.V. Club, though Ted Danson and Alex Trebek did famously cross paths when the Jeopardy! Host guest starred in the classic eighth-season episode “What Is… Cliff Clavin?”


“Good ol’ Kappa Zeta Jones”

The sorority that the faux-Diana and the real Eleanor pretend to belong to is an award-winning institution, known for turning out respected business leaders, law-enforcement agents, and all that jazz.


“There are plenty of other people I can help. Like my friend Ben Affleck, and his crippling addiction to back tattoos. Or my other friend Matt Damon and his crippling addiction to Ben Affleck.”

Honestly, it didn’t work out too well when Damon was connected at the hip with another actor. The phoenix that’s been spreading its wings on Affleck’s back recently—prompting ex-wife Jennifer Garner to say “I refuse to be the ashes”—might’ve benefited from Tahani’s input, though.


“When the time comes, she will rip this guy off and disappear like Keyser Söze—right after he admitted to groping all those people.”

There’s an admirable quality to this topical burn, which takes a dig at a now-notorious Hollywood creep without explicitly spoiling the ending of the nail-biting thriller that’s now forever tainted by the participation of two now-notorious Hollywood creeps.


“All right Doc McStuffins, let’s get you some fresh air”

Taking a kitchen knife to the back of a floppy dog is probably not a surgical method recommended by toy-box physician Dottie “Doc” McStuffins. But Eleanor wouldn’t know that—when it comes to Disney properties, she’s more of a Frozen gal.


“Chidi is an Igbo word that means ‘god exists’”

It took Reddit a year to catch the double meaning in William Jackson Harper’s character’s name, but Kamilah nails it within a few seconds of meeting him. Truly, she is amazing.


“Who am I? Avril Lavigne?”

The impact of Dave’s reference to his Apple for Hot Topic watchband is deepened by the singer-songwriter going and making things so complicated by trading in her “Sk8er Boi”-era mall-punk persona for a worship-music makeover.



Eleanor’s ballsy pick for the PTA board is having a hell of year, having just smacked goateed Nazi Sebastian Gorka in the face and hanging in there for a big win at the track in Oklahoma City.


Managing editor, The A.V. Club