William Jackson Harper
Photo: Justin Lubin (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 “Everything Is Bonzer!”


“Everything Is Bonzer!”

Following the lead of Michael’s office decor (and the title of last season’s premiere), the first episode of the third season also declares that everything is great—just with an Australian slang term. [Erik Adams]


Chidi speaks French

When Eleanor and Chidi meet in the pilot episode, Chidi explains he’s Senegalese, leading to Eleanor complimenting him on his excellent English. “I’m actually speaking French,” Chidi replies. “This place just translates whatever you say into a language the other person can understand.” And though he does continue on to say that his work took him to Australia, there’s still the implication he’d at least speak in accented English, since his first language is French. “Everything Is Bonzer!” puts a lampshade on that: Chidi attended American schools, so he speaks English like an American. [Caitlin PenzeyMoog]


Screenshot: Netflix


The chipper St. John’s faculty member with terrible taste in boots and a streak of bad luck: Prior to the accident that earned him YouTube fame as “Leg Press Whizzer,” Henry was hospitalized for an aneurysm in “The Eternal Shriek” (his survival of which finally gives Chidi the nerve to tell Henry the truth about his hideous boots) and his doppelgänger was pulped by “The Trolley Problem.” One of the boots survived, naturally. [Erik Adams]

“This is why everyone hates moral philosophy professors”

A running joke from “The Eternal Shriek” and “The Trolley Problem,” which Chidi himself repeats in order to preserve his Bad Place cover in “Rhonda, Diana, Jake, And Trent.” So embedded in the vocabulary for the show, it’s showing up in promos. [Erik Adams]


The cocoons

Shawn’s favorite punishment first appeared as his “defense” against human emotion, back when he was posing as The Judge in “Michael’s Gambit.” On The Good Place: The Podcast, visual effects supervisor David Niednagel says that his department was considering “an armadillo kind of thing” prior to landing on the cocoon’s slimy green look. [Erik Adams]

Donkey Doug

Previously referred to as Dance Dance Resolution’s best pop-and-locker. Also: Doug is a name that comes up on the show a lot, from Eleanor’s dad to the Canadian burn-out who got as close as anyone’s going to get to figuring out what happens after we die. [Erik Adams]


582 Questions

International Sophisticate pivots to video, and The Good Place riffs on Vogue’s affected 73 Questions video series with 582 Questions for Tahani Al-Jamil. 582 Questions captures the faux-candidness of the Vogue series, with Tahani bringing in flowers and parading around her spotless, impeccably furnished home. [Caitlin PenzeyMoog]

“I am incapable of eating”

A throwaway line about Janets being unable to eat created the bridge between seasons one and two: Before the first reboot, Eleanor hides her “Find Chidi” note in Janet’s mouth, knowing she won’t swallow it. In “Everything Is Bonzer!”, it just gives Janet a good excuse to keep watching the ticker tapes and not hang out with The Judge. [Erik Adams]


Visual gags

We Crumb From A Land Down Under

The cart where Chidi has his muffin meltdown has a Men At Work influence and Megan Amram’s fingerprints all over it. [Erik Adams]


Chocolate Book by Tay Zonday 

Photo: Justin Lubin (NBC)


Following the incident at We Crumb From A Land Down Under, Chidi is willing to seek guidance from any source—even if that source is the vocalist behind the viral hit “Chocolate Rain.” (For those seeking guidance in the real world—particularly if you’ve gone viral, like Tay Zonday or Henry—The A.V. Club suggests Zonday’s totally real, not at all made up podcast Chocolate Pains.)

Brumby Hall directory

Screenshot: NBC


Via Vulture’s Kathryn VanArendonk, take a second look at the directory for Simone’s department at St. John’s, a divine tapestry of Toast Of London-style nouns-as-surnames, rhyming nonsense, a shoutout to Parks And Rec’s favorite small forward, and the type of random key-punching that led to Eleanor’s last name being “Shellstrop.” [Erik Adams]

Tahani’s address book

Post-near-death experience, Tahani rids her phone of her famous friends and acquiantances: Taika Waititi, Tilda Swinton, “The Queen” (Elizabeth, presumably), and The Rock in addition to The Edge’s public and private lines.


Celebrity blurbs for Get Out Of The Spotlight

Screenshot: NBC

Tahani’s book has driven Malcolm Gladwell to practice 10,000 hours of giving up writing. Says a typically terse Cormac McCarthy: “Ditto.” [Erik Adams]


Swanson Safe Company

What was once a Parks And Recreation Easter egg may be a direct link to Pawnee, Indiana: Jason almost suffocates in a Swanson Safe Company safe, leading to The Good Place: The Podcast’s advertisement for Swanson Safe Company, read by Nick Offerman in a peeved voice that may or may not belong to Ron Swanson. [Erik Adams]

La Cantina De Los Cielos

But don’t focus too hard on the Swanson Safe, or you’ll miss the name of the restaurant Jason and Pill Boy were going to rob: The Cantina of Heaven. [Erik Adams]



What We Owe To Each Other

The question posed by Chidi’s lecture and the title of a previous Good Place episode, it’s also a book by moral philosopher T.M. Scanlon that was on Chidi’s syllabus back in The Bad Place. [Erik Adams]


“Right Here Waiting,” Richard Marx

Shawn requests something “deeply terrible” to inspire the search for the humans, and he gets it: Richard Marx’s constipated 1989 slow dance “Right Here Waiting.” [Erik Adams]


Stealing Home

Seizing on The Judge’s newfound crush on Mark Harmon and “the private thoughts of more than 7 million caucasian women,” Janet recommends this 1988 coming-of-age drama in which Harmon plays a has-been ballplayer reminiscing about his youth and unrequited love for the late Katie Chandler (Jodie Foster). [Erik Adams]




You can’t introduce an MRI machine to a show where one of the characters gets drunk (or the Janet equivalent of drunk) on magnets and not expect those two things to collide.. [Erik Adams]

Bearded bulletin board guy


From The A.V. Club’s Good Place correspondent, Dennis Perkins: “I don’t know what it means, but this drawing is too prominent to not be something. Maybe just an in-joke, though.”