Ever since its jaw-dropping season one finale, The Good Place has excelled at subverting audience expectations. The show offers up multiple, world-shattering twists per season, then reinvents itself in the aftermath.
Season three, currently unfolding, has been no exception. The members of Team Cockroach have been sent back to Earth in a last-ditch effort to earn them enough points to make it into The Good Place, only to have the plan fall apart when the humans discover Michael and Janet’s portal to the afterlife. The infraction condemns them all to an eternity in the Bad Place.
Even though they’re doomed, Eleanor, Chidi, Tahani and Jason rebrand themselves as the “Soul Squad” and decide to spend their remaining time on Earth saving their loved ones from a similar fate.
[Ed. note: the rest of this post contains spoilers for the most recent episode of The Good Place]
The first of these missions sends Jason, his new wife Tahani and Michael to Jacksonville to save someone from Jason’s past. In this storyline, we are treated to another surprising twist: Jason’s former dance squadmate/rival Donkey Doug is actually his Donkey Dad.
Donkey Doug is a character that has been referenced multiple times throughout the series, though don’t confuse him with Doug Forcett, the Canadian stoner who came the closest to correctly guessing how the afterlife works, and Doug Shellstrop, Eleanor’s Arizona dirtbag father. Amusingly, this week’s revelation means that Eleanor and Jason have a potential Batman v. Superman “Martha” bond on their hands.
In “Chapter 32: The Ballad of Donkey Doug,” we discover a variety of fun tidbits about Jason’s father: he invented a dodgeball/horseshoes hybrid that got a lot of people killed; he and Jason bonded over blinding pilots with laser pointers; and he’s banned from Disney World for biting Buzz Lightyear. (However, in his defense, he mistook Buzz for someone else.) These are just the newest layers in the onion that is Donkey Doug.
Donkey Doug is first mentioned in “Chapter 5: Category 55 Emergency Doomsday Crisis.” As Chidi explains Utilitarian ethics to Eleanor and Jason, the latter offers up the following anecdote:
Chidi: If all that matters is the sum total of “goodness,” then you can justify any number of bad actions, like torturing one innocent person to save a hundred, or preemptive war …
Jason: Oh, dip, I get it. It’s like, I knew this girl Sheila. She was a black market alligator dealer with a pierced jawbone.
Chidi: Um, okay, what?
Jason: Sheila was gonna get married to my boy, Donkey Doug, and make him move to Sarasota. It would’ve broken up my whole break dancing crew and Donkey Doug was our best pop-and-locker. So I hid a bunch of stolen boogie boards in Sheila’s garage and called the cops. I framed one innocent gator dealer to save a 60-person dance crew.
Chidi: Shockingly, that is a relevant example of the Utilitarian dilemma. Well done.
Framing Sheila caused a rift between Jason and Donkey Doug, which we hear about in “Chapter 16: Dance Dance Resolution.” In that episode, a desperate Michael reaches out to Jason for advice after Vicky stages a coup and seizes control of Neighborhood 12358W. Jason convinces Michael to find a new dance crew:
Jason: You’re saying a lot of words right now, and I only know some of them, like “rat” and “Jason,” but, I know a little wisdom I can give you.
Michael: I know everything that happened in your life, and it was all stupid, so I highly doubt that.
Jason: I was a member of a 60-person dance crew in Jacksonville. We were called “Dance Dance Resolution: We Resolve to Dance.” One day, Donkey Doug and I got into a fight because I’d framed his girlfriend for boogie board theft. So he started a new dance crew called “Hashtag Doug Life” and immediately challenged us to a dance-off. He said, “Meet us inside the abandoned orange juice factory at midnight.” That night, as the clock struck 12, me and my crew came together with a determination we had never shown before … and slashed all their tires. It was dope. The end. By Jason Mendoza.
We catch a brief on-screen glimpse of the elder Mendoza in the season three premiere, “Chapter 27: Everything is Bonzer!” After Michael saves Jason from suffocating inside the Swanson safe, Jason finds a flyer for the 6th annual Swamp Stomp Dance Competition. He gives a passionate speech to the 59 other members of Dance Dance Resolution about working hard to win the competition, which prompts Donkey Doug to quit.
This moment is noteworthy for two reasons: (1) It’s clear that Jason and Donkey Doug reconciled after he framed Sheila and slashed his dad’s tires, since Donkey Doug is back on the team, and (2) while quitting, Donkey Doug tells Jason, “You know you’re my boy, but this sounds like a lot of work,” which, in hindsight is a fun Easter egg now that we know Jason is literally his boy.
Ultimately, even though he has already quit the team, Dance Dance Resolution is disqualified from the Swamp Stomp Dance Competition in part because Donkey Doug attempted to carjack the MC on his way in.
It feels like “The Ballad of Donkey Doug” may have given us our last glimpse of Jason’s dad, whose final act is distracting the cops in order to save Jason from being arrested. But on a show known for its shocking twists and turns, it’s possible that Donkey Doug may rise again.
Joel Murphy is the creator of HoboTrashcan.com. He loves pugs, hates Jimmy Fallon and has an irrational fear of robots. Follow him on Twitter @FreeMisterClark.