The Jaguars are struggling and nobody can seem to work out why. It wasn’t long ago that they were legitimately in the hunt for the Super Bowl, and now they can’t even beat the Bills. This got me pondering the whole situation and then it occurred to me — this is The Good Place’s fault.
Advance warning: There are going to be a lot of spoilers for the show here. If you haven’t caught up on Season 3 then please, by all means find another piece of fine content here on SBNation.com.
Okay, so for the first two seasons of The Good Place the Jaguars were a running joke. Jason would always profess his love for the team, and invariably Michael would remind him that they sucked. The problem was that the show started right around the time the Jags were starting to get good.
So Season 3 starts and now they’re making references to the Jaguars being good — except in the real world they’re bad again. Obviously the show was shot a while ago, so they were current to the time, but as its airing we’re hearing how the Jaguars are good when they’re really bad, just as we heard about them being bad when they were good.
Oh, but we’re going waaaaaay deeper than that, folks.
The conceit of the show has always been about the conflict of the conceptual afterlife with moral relativism. The characters believed they were in the good place, when really they were in the bad place. Now they’re working to change the rules that govern the afterlife by helping others, even if it’s ultimately self-sacrificial because they can’t get into the good place if they wanted to at this point.
Just as the good place was really the bad place, the Jaguars will always be opposed of how the show presents them. Except for one thing ...
Everything hinges on Jason.
When Jason was in the bad place he was constantly reminded that the Jaguars were terrible. This was part of his torment. However, in reality the Jaguars were good — but Jason had no way to know it.
When Jason was returned to the earth the Jaguars got better, but as he became a better person the team began to struggle again. The real pivot came on October 25, when Jason’s specific episode The Ballad of Donkey Doug aired.
In the episode Jason was trying to help his dad and best friend become better people, and while he wasn’t able to save his dad he did convince his best friend, Pillboy to better himself.
When the show aired the Jaguars were 3-4 — middle of the pack. Since the episode aired they’re 0-4.
Here’s why this is all significant.
Of all the main characters in the show it’s Jason who is the least self aware, and aware in general of what’s happening to him. He is drifting along, doing what is asked of him, but his change cannot be defined as self-motivated.
Considering Immanuel Kant is the basis for the moral structure of The Good Place we are led to believe that because Jason is not actively working in a moral way his actions are not being rewarded. We already know that there is great risk to the material world by having the “Soul Squad” return from death to affect change, but I posit that because of this Jason is having a negative effect specifically on the thing he loves most in the world — the Jacksonville Jaguars.
When Jason has the realization that being good for the sake of society then his actions will be their own reward, but it will also have a net impact on the material world. Namely: The Jaguars will become good again.
And that friends, is why the Jaguars are struggling this season. Entirely because The Good Place says they’re good, and Jason Mendoza is yet to have his moral epiphany.