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The Good Place Review – An Imperfect Paradise (4×12)

THE GOOD PLACE -- "Patty" Episode 412 -- Pictured: (l-r) D'Arcy Carden as Janet, Kristen Bell as Eleanor, William Jackson Harper as Chidi, Ted Danson as Michael, Manny Jacinto as Jason, Jameela Jamil as Tahani -- (Photo by: Colleen Hayes/NBC)

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We finally make it to the Good Place and it is everything that’s been promised. Unfortunately, everything that’s been promised isn’t necessarily everything one would hope.

Nor was this episode “Patty” exactly what I had hoped, so let’s start at the beginning.

The front half of this season is too slow. I mentioned in my review for “Help is Other People” that the show seemed to be treading some water the first half of the season, and now with “Patty” under our belt, I’ve even more reason to feel this way.

This show needed another episode dedicated to discovering the Good Place. Some of what happened in “Patty” is what I referred to in my review for “You’ve Changed, Man,” when I discussed the potential pitfalls of the humans coming up with their new afterlife plan too quickly. That episode avoided those pitfalls by having the crew take the length of the episode to debate and discuss the best plan moving forward.

“Patty” does not avoid those pitfalls. It barely raises its problem before offering the solution, and therefore greatly undercuts the drama.

The problem is that the Good Place isn’t quite all it’s cracked up to be, as the residents there lose their passion and joy and lead meaningless lives. Turns out that everlasting perfection tends to get boring, resulting in brains becoming mush and hopes and dreams becoming empty.

Good ol’ Eleanor Shellstrop comes up with a solution, though; let people leave. For good. Let them walk out a door and let their existence in the universe end, AKA permadeath. The idea behind this solution is that an ending will give the residents’ afterlives meaning again, and being allowed to leave once they feel they’ve accomplished everything will give them peace.

Let me be clear here – the solution to the Good Place is perfect for this series. I absolutely love it. It makes me sad and happy all at the same time. It’s a commentary on life and on stories, and is a culmination of the series’ messages and ethos.

But damn, if it isn’t a quick turnaround.

Due to the fast pace of this episode, the story has to plow through the set up of the problem. Hypatia of Alexandria, AKA Patty, ends up mostly telling the characters what the problem is instead of letting them, and us, naturally find it.

If there had been an extra episode dedicated to the Good Place, we could have not only seen more of Eleanor, Chidi, Tahani, and Jason’s fantasies come true, but started to piece together that something isn’t quite right on our own.

Jason would have been the perfect vehicle for this as well. His impulsiveness makes him the perfect candidate to encounter the Good Place’s soul draining euphoria, as he would have burned through each of his fantasies quickly, leaving him the first to feel the emptiness of eternal heaven.

The episode tries to do this with Jason, but his entire journey happens off screen, and by the time he returns we already know what the problem is so his journey is inconsequential.

Imagine if the reveal at the end of season one happened three episode into the show. There would be too little time for the characters and audience to build up their own interpretations of the environment before the reveal. This is what I feel happened in “Patty.” We barely spend any time in the Good Place, and don’t get to discover for ourselves what it is about before we’re told what it is about.

I wish the experiment at the start of season four would have ended an episode sooner. That time could have been used to journey around the Good Place with our characters, giving them time to settle into their paradise only to feel something was off and for us to discover that with them.

As for Eleanor’s solution; it comes too quickly. There is no build up to her revelation and no input from any other character. I also feel this solution maybe should have come from Michael.

Michael has grown so much and learned all about what it means to be human, it would have been a very touching moment had he been the one to recall his lessons from Eleanor and realize what the people of the Good Place need.

Despite my gripes, the problem of the Good Place and the solution provided are excellent.

Providing the lifeless eternals an avenue for what is essentially true death is a haunting and beautiful sentiment. I wish there was more time spent with the rumination of this concept, because it really hits the themes of the show out of the park.

The Good Place has a plot about characters in the afterlife trying to avoid eternal damnation to achieve eternal bliss, but it’s always been about the connections the characters make with each other during this journey.

Based on the The Good Place’s philosophy, being a person is about making these connections and trying to be a better person today than you were yesterday. If you have eternal tomorrows, though, what drives you to improve? What drives you to do anything?

“Patty” posits that the gift of time is only a gift if there is a limited amount of it (even if that limit is decided by you). What you do with your time is only valuable if there is only so much time you have to fill. It makes what you choose to fill it with important.

I love this concept so much it hurts, and it makes me super salty that we didn’t get more time to explore this idea with these characters.

Take away “Employee of the Bearimy” and add in another episode of the characters in the Good Place so the plot here has time to thicken and build some tension. Let the humans personally begin to feel the lackluster bliss of the Good Place and have Michael’s tenure as the head honcho of the Good Place force him to reflect on his time becoming human.

Maybe we even could have been given enough time with one of the Good Place residents to develop an attachment to them, and experience the elation they feel when Eleanor announces the ability to leave.

As it stands, though, I feel “Patty” is a great concept slightly muddled by some imperfect execution.

There is one episode left, and just as I said about “Mondays, Am I Right?” it’s hard to completely judge “Patty” without knowing what is coming next, since the ending of this episode’s storyline feels very finite.

“Mondays, Am I Right?” gets a minor bump upwards in my viewing due to this episode. The team’s success at creating a system that will push more people into the Good Place provides some good tension for this episode, since soon, due to their new system, more people will end up in the Good Place and suffer the same soul sucking paradise that’s been plaguing the Good Place for centuries.

Anyway, salt aside, there is a lot to love in “Patty.” The Good Place feels fully realized and milkshakes are made of stardust. Tahani talks about caviar on Jello-O shots and Chidi has never been more excited than he is meeting Patty.

Beautiful touches such as the squad walking arm and arm into their perfect party together and Jason realizing that he’d rather be with his friends than go-karting with animals are examples of what has made the series sing over the past four years. The story of these characters is here, and it coalesces nicely with the plot of the episode.

As time passes I know I will look back at this episode and be happier with what it provides instead of being disappointed in what I feel was left on the table. The story here is excellent; it’s just a bit too quick.

For now, though, I wish their time this season was a bit better spent.

Other Musings:

  • Janet slips up and says she was born.
  • I thought Michael’s anxiety over being in the Good Place was going to be his focus in the episode. This would have been a GREAT storyline if there was an extra episode here.
  • Michael’s line about never signing his name before pulled at my heartstrings for some reason. I wish there was more time for moments like these.
  • Michael’s robe is ridiculous and classic Good Place visual comedy.
  • Love that they rebuild the neighborhood. Gave me some Lost vibes, as the most important time in their lives was the time they spent together, so their paradise is a return to their original afterlives.

NEW MUSIC CUE ALERT – I believe we finally have a new major music cue for when Eleanor reminds Michael that he is in charge of the Good Place and can make a door that allows residents to move on. This is my favorite moment of the episode and a reminder at how essential music is to make your moments land. This cue almost saves the moment from not having enough build up. Almost.


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Dynasty

Dynasty Back-to-Back Episode Review – Affairs of State and Affairs of the Heart (4×20 and 4×21)

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Dynasty Review Affairs of State and Affairs of the Heart Season 4 Episode 21

Ahead of the season finale, Dynasty delivered a supersized penultimate episode. 

The back-to-back episodes raised the stakes, changed the game, and then flipped the narrative on its head. 

Nothing was the same, and no one is coming out unscathed.

The most heartbreaking turn of events was the expected but unnecessary demise of Liam and Fallon.

Things between them were pretty bad this season when Fallon prioritized her career (and quite literally everything else) over her relationship with Liam, but the damage wasn’t irreversible. 

It’s not the kind of stuff you want to see from newlyweds that are still supposed to be waist-deep in their honeymoon phase, but this is a primetime soap, so drama is par for the course. 

Liam instituted a break, but not the Friends version of a break; all he really wanted was some time and space to figure things out. 

Eventually, he did while talking it out in the Truth Tent. 

Liam realized that he wasn’t just upset that Fallon was investing so much time in her career. He was projecting and taking his frustrations about himself out on her. In reality, he felt less than and inferior to his boss babe wife. 

This was the very definition of “it’s not you, it’s me.”

Of course, Liam’s behavior up until now wasn’t excusable as he made Fallon feel guilty for being such a go-getter, but it made sense.

Marriage comes with its fair share of gray areas, but communication and over-communication are the keys to working it all out. 

Sadly, Fallon broke the cardinal rule when she let her inhibitions go and slept with Colin. 

Yes, I know she was being manipulated by Eva, but that doesn’t excuse Fallon’s behavior. 

Regardless of how sad and lonely she was feeling about the possibility of Liam wanting a divorce (which was a lie planted by Eva), she knew better than to cheat. 

She’s a grown woman who can clearly understand the consequences of her actions. 

Plus, she was simply guided by assumptions rather than waiting for Liam to explain himself. Does she think so low of him that she thought he’d seek a divorce without even talking to her about it?

But most importantly, Fallon’s biggest mistake was allowing too many people into her relationship. She’s trusting, which is nice, but too many people had a hand in this demise that shouldn’t have even been involved.

Had it not been for Fallon’s deception, she and Liam would’ve found a way back to each other and likely stronger than ever. 

Of course, Liam is also at fault because he allowed Eva into his life as well by being so friendly and kind.

Eva just jumped in and took advantage of it all.

Dynasty Review You Vicious, Miserable Liar Season 4 Episode 20

Dynasty — “You Vicious, Miserable Liar” — Image Number: DYN420a_0002 — Pictured: Rafael de la Fuente as Sammy Jo Jones — Photo: Wilford Harewood/The CW — © 2021 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Fallon and Liam’s crumbling marriage played exactly into Eva’s hand. Fallon confided in her, and she sold the supportive employee and act friend all too well while being a meddling menace in real life. 

Sometimes the biggest villains look the sweetest. 

Eva set her sights on Liam, and there was no stopping her. I wonder if she purposefully took the job with Fallon because she wanted Liam, or if she decided to pursue him after she got the gig. 

You would think someone as obsessive would be sloppy, but her approach was pretty strategic and impressive. 

Sadly, that delusional book will be her undoing. I just hope Fallon figures it out before Eva does any real damage since she’s a serious threat to Liam. 

Liam might be hurting after what happened with Fallon, but I don’t think he’d just jump into bed with Eva as he considers her a friend.

And if he rejects her, I could see Eva snapping. 

The biggest surprise with this storyline (aside from my disappointment in Fallon’s actions) is that Eva and Colin weren’t working together. Wouldn’t that have made so much sense?

Eva would’ve pursued Liam, while Colin could’ve taken over the company. I guess, in the end, Eva didn’t need anyone. 

While those two weren’t in cahoots, Alexis and Brady surely are. I’m not sure what the connection between them is but considering Brady showed up shortly after Dom told Alexis about him, it’s not a surprising twist. 

Though I was rooting for Brady to be a good guy, I realize there’s no fun in that! 

Whenever a woman gets any bit of success, there’s always someone ready to bring her down and take it from her. 

You would’ve hoped that Alexis would’ve learned her lesson by now as she’s already alienated most of her children. 

Colby is losing it, which doesn’t bode well for any of his space race plans. 

It’s unclear why he stopped taking his neurotoxicity medication, but it’s also a nice loop back to that storyline and a reminder that Adam Carrington was once a really dangerous man despite taming his ways and finding the light or whatever. 

The writings of a mad man on the walls could either be a stroke of genius or something genuinely concerning. 

Only time will tell. 

Adam may not be poisoning people or stuffing their faces into the fire, but he’s not that innocent either. 

He stole research from Dr. Larson, a former colleague, to inform his own drug anti-aging drug trial, which he fast-tracked in hopes of making millions and starting his own dynasty. 

It’s strange that I find myself rooting for Adam in the Adam versus Amanda saga because it’s clear that Adam is in the wrong, but he’s turned into such a likable villain. 

Amanda is hard to stomach, even if she is helping a man take back the research he’s entitled to. 

Shouldn’t Amanda just be above all of this?

Adam was ruthless in his pursuit by calling in every “IOU” card. 

Cristal and Sammy both came through for him, reluctantly. 

You can say whatever you want about Adam, but at least he’s had both of their backs. He was there for Cristal during her brain tumor scare, and he helped Sammy eliminate Leo after he was hurting his business. 

The Carrington family may be a lot of things, but they rarely turn their back on family. 

Sammy learned just how much he mattered to the family when Cristal and Blake sold him out to the media to divert the negative attention away from Blake’s campaign. 

While Sammy was hurt by their actions, Blake reminded him that it’s how the family treats each other.

However, Cristal really came through this episode and managed to right the wrongs and deliver on promises. 

She convinced Blake to hold his campaign gala at the hotel as his support would restore La Mirage’s image. 

And when Blake decided to pull out of the Senator race and disappoint Culhane, she found a way to play to Blake’s desire for more power in order to convince him to stay on the ticket. 

Cristal is proving that she’s a real one, and it’s nice to see her finally get a strong storyline of her own. 

She’s no longer Blake’s shiny accessory — she’s the brains behind. the operation. Blake’s motivations for running may be vain as all he really wants is the land for his airport, but Cristal wants to power to evoke real change, and she wants Culhane to also have that ability. 

The two of them are doing it for charity and community. Culhane’s storyline is also a nice circle-back to his father’s death. The writers are embracing some continuity, and it makes the storylines that much stronger. 

And then there’s Kirby. No one pays really notices her, but she’s the one that actually yields all the power. 

Thanks to Anders’s burn book, she has the power to destroy the whole dynasty!

While it was noble of Culhane to suggest that they destroy it to keep her in check, I’m glad Kirby had copies stashed in her drawers. 

Even if she never uses it, she’d be stupid to destroy that kind of leverage. Anders loved Blake beyond words and still wrote down all those secrets as collateral. 

Kirby’s made some pretty stupid decisions but this wasn’t one of them. 

And my guess is that the copies will come in handy one day when Blake finally crosses her. 

Other Carrington Musings

  • The scenes with the medium were pretty pointless but hilarious, nonetheless. Sammy is a scene-stealer, and it’s all because of his great chemistry with Fallon. 
  • Sammy and Kirby bring such a lightheartedness to the series — her quirky comments and his telenovela acting at the hospital were some of the best parts of the episodes. 
  • Seeing Liam cry made me really sad. He was so hurt and broken. 
  • Colby’s self-funded space mission is going to bankrupt him! 
  • The question isn’t whether Beto will sabotage Blake’s campaign, it’s how. 
  • Who would have thought we’d ever see Blake in plaid!
  • I’m just waiting to see Blake and Fallon get revenge on those who wronged them; it’s going to be delicious. 

What did you think of the two episodes — Dynasty Season 4 Episode 20 “You Vicious, Miserable Liar” and Dynasty Season 4 Episode 21 “Affairs of State, Affairs of the Heart.”


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Big Brother

Big Brother Recap: Two Jokers and a King (23×35)

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Big Brother Preseason

Azah, Derek, and Xavier. The final three that not everyone saw coming. One of them will walk away with $750,000.

But before we get there, we have to do an annual tradition: the recap filler episode.

This is the episode where the final three reflect on their time on the house, and we see them eating a very staged dinner, saying very scripted things about things that have happened in the season. This would transition into showing montages of these specific moments. However, I was kind of excited for this one, because this season was full of fantastic people, with outstanding personalities that made this season so memorable.

Before all of that started, the finalists reacted to Kyland’s controversial exit, and Xavier was commended for keeping his cool while Kyland went on and on about Xavier’s nephew. It was incredibly admirable that Xavier stayed strong and calm, despite the fact that he was about to punch Kyland in the face. It’s a move that is going to bite him in the butt after the game is over, and according to Ky, he doesn’t regret saying those things.

Kyland’s gone, so it’s way more important for the final three to celebrate! While they dined on steak and potatoes, they talked about some of the people who left the show early. The biggest topic being the farmer himself, Frenchie. We basically got the whole rundown of Frenchie’s Funhouse, where he made the super Slaughterhouse alliance, destroyed the Slaughterhouse, tried to recreate the Slaughterhouse six more times, and targeted basically everyone in the house. Oh yeah, and it was only week one. It was great to reflect on him, because he was the craziest player that the game has ever seen, and it was fun to reflect on his crazy two weeks in the house.

We got to see the cast’s failed attempts at cooking, with the nightmare scenario being Hannah putting beans on rice.

There was a segment of everyone playing jump scares on each other, where people jumped behind couches, from behind walls, or sneaking up to others and scaring them. They showed each scare twice: once in real time, and once in slow motion.

With this regular episode also showed two regular staples: Diary Room exclusives. Diary Room sessions give the viewers the chance to know the contestants thoughts during the game, but there’s so much that they have to give us for the sake of fitting everything into an hour, so this gives us some of the leftovers! There’s always a montage of crying, because let’s be real, if you don’t cry in the Diary Room, you haven’t played Big Brother! The second montage is always when the players come into the room to ask the people behind the cameras for food, clothes, or any other amenities that they might want. Like every year, there’s usually an infestation of ants somewhere in the house, and the most popular request was for ant spray or bug spray.

The final three also reflected on the Cookout, and the impact that it had on the season. We got to see a segment of the famous alliance talk about how their life experiences being a person of color has fueled their fire to come to the game and make a change. It further solidified that this alliance has worked so hard to get this message out, and put an end to all of the stereotypes and norms that this game has seen in its 23 seasons.

To give them one final push to the end of the game, they were treated to video messages from home. Derek’s mom, Xavier’s parents and younger brother, and Azah’s parents sent a video to them congratulating them and wishing them luck as they enter this final stage of the game.

Part one of the HOH competition will play out on Sunday, with Wednesday’s finale soon approaching!


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Big Brother

Big Brother Recap: Eviction Night #13 (23×34)

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Big Brother Preseason

Four became three tonight, as one more person was sent out the door, paving the way for the final three players to begin the battle for the final HOH competitions.

Tonight’s episode picked up where last night left off: the fallout of Xavier winning the Power of Veto, and trying to convince Derek to use his sole eviction vote to take a shot at Kyland. Derek has been conflicted about his personal relationship with Kyland as an excuse to not take him out, when Xavier and Azah will guarantee Derek a spot in the final two. It’s gotten to the point that Xavier has been thinking about using the Veto on Azah, because he knows that Azah would vote out Kyland.

There was also a lot more delusion than normal with Derek. He’s been thinking that he’s dragged Azah to the end, and “did more behind the scenes than any of us know about.” Does Derek know that we see everything he does on the live feeds? He’s been the one that’s been dragged through the game. He got into a fight with Azah about who’s done more in the game, and compared to Derek, Azah has done significantly more than Derek. She’s actually WON competitions. He’s been saying some very degrading things as well about Azah (as well as all of the women), which has been brutally awful to see both on the feeds, and on the edited episodes.

The jury continued to grow, and we watched Tiffany and Hannah join the jury house. Tiffany revealed the plot of The Cookout, exposing that she was behind it all, and the duo master plan that she set in tact. The jury absolutely loved her plan, even saying that they would’ve voted for her to win. It’s time for the campaign for Tiffany to win America’s Favorite Player!

Hannah arrived and showed the details of her quick eviction with how Azah’s gameplay wasn’t the way it really should’ve gone. Sarah Beth criticized Azah’s HOH reign too, saying that not taking the shot at Xavier or Kyland was not helpful to her overall game.

Julie then began the final Veto Meeting, where Xavier decided NOT to use the Veto, meaning Kyland and Azah had to pitch to Derek to keep them in the house.

Azah said she wanted to work to build the personal relationship with Derek, while Kyland said that he stayed committed to his deals, and hoped Derek did the same.

Derek then stood up, said that he needs to put game over personal feelings, and voted out Kyland with the sole eviction vote. Kyland was clearly upset and blindsided as he left the house. Before he left, he started trying to ask Xavier why he was voted out, and Xavier said that it’s the game.

Then the unthinkable happened. Kyland brought Xavier’s nephew into the conversation. Xavier has been looking out for his nephew and caring for him since his brother died. Kyland said that because of this, his nephew will grow up without a role model, and he’ll grow up learning to step away from challenges, and he won’t live up to his namesake (Xavier’s nephew is named after Kobe Bryant). Xavier looked like he was ready to sock Kyland in the face, telling him to stop talking about his nephew, but Kyland wouldn’t stop talking. It got to the point that Julie had to yell at Kyland to get out of the house before things got messy. Kyland tried to find other excuses to leave, but he wouldn’t, until Xavier merely said “Walk,” and Kyland left for the last time.

Julie did not discuss what happened during his exit, just asked him general questions about the game, that as per usual, he didn’t really answer well at all. Before signing off, Kyland exclaimed that he wants to play again, and wants to come back for a future season. I think after that exit, I highly doubt Kyland will step foot in that house again.

Now I have seen every episode of this show. I’ve seen all the fights, all the crazy blindsides, all the controversial people and moments that have gone in and out of those doors. But I have seen NOTHING like Kyland’s eviction. It’s one thing to leave the house bitter, or to try and find out why you were blindsided, so you don’t head to the jury bitter, but this was on a completely different level. Never have I seen someone bringing in a family member to try and destroy someone’s character in the game. That was absolutely disgraceful by Kyland, and I hope he never plays this game again. I’m sure he’ll regret saying that later on, but he’s got a lot of explaining to do once he’s out of the game. It’s completely unnecessary, and he better own up to it.

Back to the final three: Derek, Azah, and Xavier. One of them is walking away as the winner in next Wednesday’s finale. Over the next several days, they will do the first two parts of the final HOH competition, with those being shown to us over the coming days. We’re almost done. Stay tuned!


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