After last week’s Jason-centric episode of The Good Place, “A Fractured Inheritance” focuses in on Eleanor and Tahani as they both try to mend the troubles of their respective pasts.
This recap of The Good Place Season 3, Episode 6, “A Fractured Inheritance”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
Every week I sit down to watch The Good Place thinking, “This is it. This is the week when the streak is broken.” But each week (to date) I’m left feeling relieved. Compared to last week’s fairly silly episode (“The Ballad of Donkey Doug”) we get something that has a more emotional core, as we get to poke at the wounds of Eleanor and Tahani’s family life.
The sting at the end of last week’s episode told us that Eleanor’s mother, Donna (Leslie Grossman), wasn’t actually dead. It turns out that she had actually faked her own death after drunkenly winning an auction for a date with Gene Simmons – bidding $29,800 more than her nearest rival. Reeling from this news, Eleanor heads off to catch up with her long-lost mother, with Michael in tow. The two of them are going to try and save Donna so that maybe she can find her way to The Good Place.
It turns out that Donna has actually managed to create a nice suburban life for herself. Despite Eleanor’s initial incredulity, it turns out that her mother is just genuinely happy and there isn’t some grift running in the background; she really does love Dave (Andrew Daly) and Patricia (Stella Edwards). There’s a heartbreaking scene between Michael and Eleanor when she finally reveals why she’s so desperate to believe her mom is just running a scam – she’s devastated that Donna is finally the mom she always wanted and giving Patricia the life that she always wanted. It’s superbly played and shows again why this is such a good show.
Elsewhere Tahani is trying to make amends with her sister Kamilah (Rebecca Hazelwood) at the opening of her new art installation; where Kamilah cooks omelettes for people. It’s absurd but it’s also wonderful. Janet, Jason and Chidi are somewhat sidelined this week, but it was nice to see Chidi paired with Tahani – the two of them don’t often get much time to play off each other.
Tahani’s own revelations about the source of her troubled relationship with her sister are really well-realised. They provide a reasonably high laugh count while at the same time giving us a real insight into her past, and it goes a long way to making her character make sense. It’s rare for a sitcom to have this level of character development and consistency to its storytelling, no matter how absurd that story might be.
I’ve mentioned this before, but The Good Place is one of those rare sitcoms that can survive without rapid-fire chuckles and instead relies on having characters we care about. This week perfectly proves this. Sure there are some brilliantly funny moments (Tahani’s stories about Ben Affleck and Matt Damon and Michael scolding Eleanor spring to mind) but at its heart, “A Fractured Inheritance” is built out of the emotional revelations of Eleanor and Tahani.
Oli has been writing for Ready Steady Cut since November 2017. He has a PhD in Computer Science and he writes articles about TV, film and, very occasionally, science.