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The Good Place

The Good Place – Chidi Sees the Time-Knife(3×11)

The Good Place/ NBC

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The Good Place is a show that centered around characters after they had already died. The premise immediately removed what is normally the highest of stakes in any story – death. This could have been a problem as there could have possibly been little tension to the story, but the series created dire stakes in the threat of Eleanor being found out and sent to the Bad Place.

The first season finale took those stakes away by showing us the worst has already happened to our characters, and from that point forward it has been a series about characters who are immediately in a state of crisis at (almost) all times. While the threat of the Bad Place loomed over our characters, the actual stakes of the show became much more emotionally tied to our protagonists. By the end of season two, Eleanor, Chidi, Tahani, and Jason didn’t just fear being sent to the Bad Place, they feared being separated from each other. Recall at the end of season one how Jason continually celebrated that he got to avoid the Bad Place while two of his friends had to go, and how at the end of season two he willingly agreed to be sent to be eternally tortured if even one of his friends couldn’t go to the Good Place with him.

Now we are nearing the end of season three, and while the largest threat ever is looming – the eternal judgment and fate of all people – the closest stakes affecting our characters remain tied to emotion and relationships.

Michael is paralyzed by the fear that if he fails with his experiment his friends will believe that he betrayed them. Threats of retirement, marblization, and eternal torture weren’t as powerful as Shawn’s legitimately horrifying notion that he will torture the Soul Squad with someone that they believe is Michael.

The concept of emotional stakes versus physical ones lines up perfectly with this series considering Michael’s initial torture plan was to emotionally torture his victims instead of physically torturing them. Now he is truly learning how valid and effective this form of torture can be.

The ability to learn has also been a major aspect of this series, with our characters learning just by living life. They learn from mistakes, other people, teachers, friends, and inane Jason stories. Even Shawn, the torture master, has learned from Michael. He is now utilizing emotional torture (and also took his idea for bees with penises). Judge Gen also allows herself to learn. She encourages research and keeps her mind open to new ideas by going to Earth. Janet’s entire arc has been about learning more about humans. Derek has learned more every time he was rebooted by Mindy. And they have all put their new knowledge into practice, such as Gen creating a new neighborhood experiment and Janet creating more realistic people.

And of course, the humans have learned how to be better, and with their time on Earth, how to make other people better. Now they will be in the new neighborhood putting what they’ve learned to good use to try to save humanity.

Honestly, saving humanity is a pretty generic, bland stake. So many stories involve saving humanity. That’s why it is so important to keep those emotional stakes at the forefront, like Michael at the end of this episode. I am interested in seeing where the neighborhood experiment goes, but I’m invested in Michael and his crippling fear of letting his friends down.

Outside of those lengthy evaluations, a lot of pieces fell into place this episode. An endgame for the season finally presents itself. We got to see the Interdimensional Hole of Pancakes, which was super trippy as Jason so obliviously pointed out. There was the return of Derek and the Medium Place, giving us the perfect site for the new neighborhood. And of course we see the return of what seems to be a similar version of the original “Good Place.” This was a heavy exposition episode, but I felt it threaded its themes of learning and emotional stakes well throughout. I’m excited about the finale and curious where the set up for next season will go.

Amongst all of its characterization, heavy plotting, and ethical bends, The Good Place never forgets to be a comedy. The humor has its charm back since returning to the afterlife, and each side character (Judge Gen, Mindy, Derek) continues to stand out. The creative ways the writers torture people, such as Shakespeare being tortured by hearing the plot of the Entourage movie, are always a hoot. And William Jackson Harper is so good at being traumatized. He is so expressive and can make such simple phrases, like “time-knife” seem like biblical omens.

How will the new experiment fare? What will the results be? Will Eleanor have to take Michael’s place as “the architect” if he can’t get himself together? I’m looking forward to learning what happens next.

Other musings:

  • Was that Trevor screaming through the blackness in the opening scene?
  • iHop was probably the trippiest place we have seen thus far.
  • I believe Jason’s inane stories have a 100% success rate in inspiring someone into positive action.
  • I really wanted to see what happened to Tahani if she touched her “scarf.”
  • The bureaucracy continues. Judge Gen could make iHop anything, and she chose a conference room.
  • Chidi saw the time-knife and didn’t like it.
  • I really like that they learned from Simone about repeating the experiment. Maybe she’ll be one of the people brought to the new neighborhood?

This episode was a bit dark in places. I know the show is about people who died but it was always fun, with torture devices having funny names or implications. Not only did Judge Gen depressingly find out that the world is both “hot and crowded and cold and lonely,” but Shawn’s idea to torture the humans with a Michael suit is legitimately threatening.

Season 3 has won me back at this point, and I can’t wait to see the last episode of the season!


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Coffee Table News

TV Shows to Binge During Your Self-Quarantine and Social Distancing

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TV Shows to watch While Working from Home Coronavirus

In case you haven’t been keeping up with global news, coronavirus, COVID-19, is forcing everyone to practice the 2020 version of”conscious uncoupling” known as “social distancing.”

Many cities/states are on lockdown with bars, restaurants, and other establishments closing their doors to keep the outbreak from spreading even more than it has.

If you’ve found yourself self-quarantined at home on the couch to prevent the spread of germs, you’ll likely be looking for things to keep yourself occupied.

Many shows have shuttered production with daytime and late-night talk shows going sans audiences or completely dark for the remainder of the month.

And this means it’s the perfect time to binge-watch those shows you’ve been putting off.

Here are some shows to watch during your self-quarantine.

 

Scandal

What the world needs now is a fixer who could tell us all how to get out of this mess. Since that’s not possible, we have the next best thing in Olivia Pope, DC’s fixer and right-hand to the President, who is also in a torrid love affair with him. It’s political, dramatic, and sexy as hell to this day.

 

Timeless

Don’t you wish we could all travel back to a time before the coronavirus? Same. Maybe if we had a time machine like Lucy, Wyatt, and Rufus, we totally could. But alas, we’ll have to settle for watching their journey through key historical moments as they attempt to stop Rittenhouse from destroying the world.

 

 

Locke & Key

Think Harry Potter meets Narnia. Netflix’s new fantasy thriller finds a family moving into a mansion following their father’s death where they learn that it’s filled with secret keys that open up portals to other dimensions. You never know where you’ll end up, but it’ll make you forget you’re curled up on your couch amidst a toilet-paper shortage.

 

Mr. Robot

Elliot works as a cybersecurity engineer by day and doubles as a vigilante hacker by night. When he’s recruited by a mysterious underground organization, he’s forced to do things that make him question his personal beliefs, his morals, and most importantly, what’s real and what isn’t.

Financial burdens (like the fact that you spent all your money stocking up on canned goods and paper towels) plague three suburban moms who are tired of always playing “catch up.” They decide to take matters into their own hands and rob a grocery store. Soon, they find themselves trying to navigate a world of crime that has absolutely no rules. As they try to survive, their actions will keep you on the edge of your seat.

Stranger Things

You’ve already heard of Stranger Things, and if you haven’t seen it yet, it’s high time you do. The series takes place in 1980s Indiana and follows a group of young friends who become privy to supernatural happening within the government.

Grey’s Anatomy

There’s no better time than during a quarantine to watch all 16 seasons of Grey’s Anatomy. Honestly, when else are you going to have the time? All you need to know is that it’s a medical drama, there’s a doctor named McDreamy, and Shonda Rhimes is the boss babe behind it.

 

The Good Place 

The Good Place is a stroke of comedic genius mixed with some of the most insightful and wholesome storytelling of our generation. It’s also the only series that had the perfect series finale (fight me, but after coronavirus cause there’s a no-touching ban). Eleanor Shellstrop is shocked to find herself in the Good Place following her death and immediately realizes she’s there by mistake. No one is prepared for her hilarious afterlife antics as she hides from architect Michael and her new friends while trying to become a better version of herself.

Don’t be deterred by the plot — a young Latina woman learns she’s pregnant after she’s accidentally artificially inseminated. The series weaves together the best parts of a telenovela while adding heart, feshed-out characters, strong female leads, irresistible love interests, and family at the forefront of every storyline.

 

Love is Blind

In the reality TV vein, Netflix delivered the world’s newest obsession. It’s a social experiment that many claim prepared our generation for dating throughout “social distancing.” Love is Blind forces a handful of contestants to meet people while isolated in pods. Once they find their “soulmate,” they propose to them without meeting face-to-face and a few weeks later, walk down the aisle.

 

YOU

If you’re not familiar with Joe Goldberg, you’re missing out. YOU is a suspenseful thriller that digs into the mind of an obsessed serial killer and follows his romantic relationships.

 

Game of Thrones

Similarly to Greys Anatomy, when else are you going to find the time to watch all of Game of Thrones? This is the perfect time to dig into a pop culture phenomenon so you know what “winter is coming” means the next time someone mentions it.

 

The Marvelous Ms. Maisel

If there’s anyone that can cheer you up and put a smile on your face, it’s Ms. Maisel. Set in the late 1950s, Miriam aka “Midge” breaks the rules and pursues a career in stand-up comedy. While it’s unheard of for women of her class to pursue a career, it’s even more unheard of a woman succeeding in such an industry. But leave it to Midge to prove everyone wrong and do it with flair and style!

Binge. Enjoy. And wash your hands!


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TV Reviews

Tweets and Memes About The Good Place Series Finale That Will Hit You in The Feels

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The Good Place Series finale best tweets

The series finale of The Good Place will go down in history as a finale that got the closest to perfect.

There was incredible character development, poignant moments, organic callbacks to past seasons, and most importantly, closure on its own terms.

Related: 10 Best Lessons The Good Place Taught Us

With all that working for them, it was enough to get Twitter all types of misty-eyed.

See the tweets and memes about the bittersweet series finale that will hit you right in the feels!

Be sure to read our series finale review right here!

https://twitter.com/adoresbell/status/1223397899196825600?s=20

https://twitter.com/witchnoru/status/1223117357926608906?s=20

https://twitter.com/XS_mmr/status/1223278675002609670?s=20

https://twitter.com/adoresbell/status/1223756460825436162?s=20

https://twitter.com/chidi_anagonye_/status/1224009046157676549?s=20

https://twitter.com/BabyYoga5/status/1223862592893935616?s=20

https://twitter.com/Porkcow002/status/1223680161977114624?s=20


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TV Reviews

The Good Place Review – Moving On (4×13)

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The Good Place Whenever You're Ready Review

The Good Place has completed its journey and is ready to go.

No crazy twist. No insane change of status quo. No dressing.

“Whenever You’re Ready” is the final chapter of The Good Place, and evokes the power and emotion that it does precisely because it doesn’t go wild.

The episode focuses in on each character, providing us a glimpse at what was important to them in their lives and what is important to them in their afterlife. From a narrative perspective, this approach allows the show to dive into the characters one last time to give us a perspective on what’s important to them and allows us to feel – just as they feel – when and why they are ready to leave the Good Place.

Jason has his time with Janet, completes the perfect game of Madden with his dad cheering him on, and throws a final party with his dance crew and EDM before heading off.

Tahani creates a positive relationship with her parents and her sister, then throws one final gathering of which she personally created every aspect of, including the furniture and food. A wonderful moment, as instead of tasking others with her every party need, she finally assumes the role of all those smaller jobs she at one point considered below her. Afterwards, Tahani finds a new calling in her afterlife and decides to become an architect.

Chidi witnesses his mother share her love with Eleanor and Eleanor’s mother treat her like a daughter. Yet he decides to stay a little while longer to allow Eleanor all the time with him that she needed.

Each of these stories is told from the focused character’s perspective, instead of as a unit. What gives the episode its sense of cohesion is that all these characters cross paths with each other through choice – Jason brings his friends to his party, Tahani meets up for a final gathering, and Chidi intertwines himself with Eleanor. The episode never feels disjointed despite having a distinct vignette structure.

However, alongside providing us perspective on these characters, this approach also provides perspective on what our lives are like (according to The Good Place). Asides from the dressing of these events being incredible (such as playing Madden on the jumbotron in a football stadium or walking through magic doors to go to Athens), each of these moments are small.

Tahani plays croquet with her family. Chidi walks around his old neighborhood. Jason tries to make Janet dinner.

These are the moments that make our own lives worth living. The connections and reflections we create are what we hold on to, and the ability to experience these moments is a gift. These simple moments are what allow each of these characters to move on from their lives because these are the moments that give them a sense of completeness.

These are the moments that Michael has been aching to experience his entire demon life.

Michael and Eleanor are the last two members of the squad remaining in The Good Place (Janet, of course, is still with them, but she will not be crossing through the doorway at any point, or so it seems). I am thrilled that these two are left together.

Michael and Eleanor are the reasons that everything on The Good Place happened. Eleanor and Chidi may have been the couple, but Eleanor and Michael were the team. Michael obviously started the series with his experiment, and Eleanor pushed it forward by constantly figuring it out.

The two are cut from the same cloth and Michael started his journey to the light side because of his ability to relate to Eleanor. Narratively, these two needed to be our ushers out of the story.

In a beautiful role reversal, Eleanor requests to Judge Gen that Michael be allowed to go to Earth to live out the rest of his life as a human, just as he had pleaded to Gen way back in Season 2’s “Somewhere Else.” Eleanor knows that Michael needs to experience human life to feel that he is complete, as he’s lost his way in the afterlife after running out of problems to solve.

Michael’s desire to be human has been present throughout the series, and the way he laughs at dropping a microwave dinner that is too hot reminds us how lucky we are to just be alive. Life is so full of stupid moments that not only do we take for granted, but ignore or actively get annoyed by.

This can’t be helped, and there are plenty of legitimately annoying occurrences in the world (why do people leave DVD’s in the DVD player?????), but it’s nice to be reminded to take a moment to appreciate those moments because by experiencing these moments, we are alive.

And being alive is special.

Outside of taking a stark stance on how to conduct ourselves as human, The Good Place’s biggest statement is that being alive is special, and being human is special. The series solidifies this point of view in its final episodes by making the claim that death is precisely what makes it special.

“Whenever You’re Ready” does a phenomenal job of showing us exactly why this is. We visibly see the joy drain from Chidi as he opens a menu in Paris and sees that the meal can be literally whatever he wants.

He’s bored. The perfect nature of his extended life has ceased to mean anything more to him. I can feel him wishing that the menu was set and that what he wants isn’t on it.

The restaurant not having what you want to eat is another very human moment, but it can lead to something exciting – a new dish and a new discovery.

When you have eternity, though, that doesn’t matter. There is nothing more to discover because you will eventually discover it all.

This is why death makes living special.

Unfortunately, in real life, we don’t exactly get to choose when we move on. Instead, we’re forced into making the best we can out of a seemingly random amount of time. We also don’t get to create our perfect experiences to fill that time with. We don’t know what happens when we die.

Michael’s time on Earth wouldn’t be human if he knew how the afterlife worked, so Eleanor’s clarification that the system may be different by the time he returns doubles down on death creating value in life. Michael is glad he doesn’t know what will happen because that makes him more human than anything.

A beautiful message, despite its sadness, and a message befitting of The Good Place at its end.

I cannot say I feel the finale was perfect, however (though obviously I think it is amazing).

Eleanor walked through the final door too quickly. I just needed that camera to follow her a little more slowly. It might be a nitpick but I wish I had more time to fully take in the moment that this is it, this is the final time we will see Eleanor Shellstrop.

I also wish there could have been more of a goodbye between Eleanor and Michael, as they did have such a solid connection.

Outside of those gripes – excellent. So many callbacks for the series, incredible expressions of the show’s themes through both show and character, and many wonderful character moments with our six heroes.

Janet was everyone’s ambassador to the original “Good Place,” so her also leading them to their final moments is excellent. Throughout the series, Janet’s growth into almost human made her relatable and someone to care about, but she always remained tethered to the afterlife with her amazing knowledge and powers.

As far as I can tell, she will remain in the Good Place for many Bearimy’s to come, but her time with the humans and Michael will always remain with her. She gets genuinely choked up when her friends leave, so seeing her in their final moments only emphasizes how human she has become. However, Janet is seemingly left in a narrative limbo – we aren’t given clear evidence of exactly what Janet will be doing in the Good Place moving forward, nor what that means to her, which is a missed character beat I wish they hit.

But Jason waiting for her to return, essentially becoming a monk – great writing. An amazing callback with relevance, as Jason only truly became ready to walk through that door when he finally took time to check his impulses and appreciate the world around him.

The Good Place is an amazing series. I stand by my feelings that we should have had an extra episode in the Good Place to build up towards a stronger revelation regarding the exit door, and I definitely feel Season 3’s Earth saga halted the tempo of the series a bit; but overall, The Good Place may just be an all-timer.

I’ve become a better person by watching this series, and I have a better appreciation of life because of it. The finale pointed out moments from the show and moments from my life and said, “Hey! Remember this? Appreciate it.

I’m guessing I’m not the only person who feels this way after watching this show, and I know I won’t be the last.

The twist at the end of season one is what truly hooked me into this show and will forever be its most famous moment, and that twist blasted open the doors to the complexity of humanity and existence.

The show never repeated a move like that, and it didn’t need to. The strength of the story, messages, and characters, as well as the hilarious writing, is what makes it an all-time great series.

“Whenever You’re Ready” is a fantastic end to a fantastic series. The Good Place leaves our screens now, but the ideals it pushed forward will continue to have meaning in our everyday lives, and I’m grateful for the laughs and lessons.

Goodbye, Good Place. Take it sleazy.

Other Musings:

  • Another aspect of the Good Place that encourages residents to feel complete is that everyone there is kind to one another. This is another subtle narrative parallel to the messages that being good and trying to be good brings value to other’s lives.
  • Loved John’s cameo. Wish we could have seen Brent make it to the Good Place to prove that even someone like him could improve. It felt as though he had regressed a bit since his final revelation with Chidi in “Help is Other People,” though I suppose that’s likely from his memory wipe?
  • Michael replaced Doug Forcett’s photo with Eleanor, Chidi, Tahani, and Jason.
  • The narrative memory of this show is great. Eleanor telling Mindy that she knows she cares for people because Mindy once said, “I’m rooting for you guys” is great continuity and a fantastic character detail that deepens Mindy.
  • When The Good Place announced it was ending after four seasons a lot of people were bummed out, but no good story lasts forever! Four seasons is perfect for this show. It allowed the series to essentially follow a typical three-act structure that makes it feel complete, with season two, three, and four acting as the three main parts with season one as a prologue. Thank you for ending with season four!

And that’s the end of The Good Place.


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