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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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Walker

Walker Series Finale Review – See You Sometime (413)

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Walker Series Finale Review See You Sometime Season 4 Episode 13

Walker concluded its four-season run on Wednesday, June 26, on The CW—but while many elements lent themselves to a series finale, overall, it was evident that the creative forces weren’t anticipating that this would be their final season (despite all the upheaval and uncertainty at the network as of late). 

For one thing, the final scene of the episode sparked widespread confusion amongst audiences, as it was a rather strange ending to introduce a brand-new character without any additional information, though, according to Jared Padalecki (Cordell) via TVLine, James Van Der Beek (a legend and OG The WB star) is a good personal friend who was going to “stir up” trouble as a cult-leader neighbor renting out the next door Davidson property. And, quite frankly, I’m kind of bummed that we won’t ever get to see that. 

There was so much more story left to tell when it came to the Walker’s—and for once, they were all finding their footing and the pieces were beginning to fall into place, leaving much to be desired from another season. Heck, I’d even settle for a few more episodes to wrap it all up. 

What about a time jump that allowed us to see Cassie in her new role as Lieutenant while also seeing her move on and finally find that happiness with Trey? The chemistry between them has been evident for awhile, even if the series took a bit of a detour to give her a romance with Detective Luna (Justin Johnson Cortez), who, quite frankly, was killed off the show too early. 

We know Cassie will be all right—she’s a resilient badass who can handle anything life throws her way, but it’s unfortunate we won’t be able to see the come-up after suffering such a major loss. 

During the battle for the promotion, it was Cassie versus Trey, which could’ve lent to some really great moments between the two finally coming to terms with their feelings for each other. It made sense that the role went to Cassie, as she showed that even in the darkest of days, she’s still a leader and a good ranger, but Trey absolutely deserves his moment down the line as he’s proven himself since joining the team. 

I assumed Cordell took all of his recent experiences and folded them into the decision to resign, especially considering how much being a ranger took from him, but I guess a leave of absence makes more sense if they thought the series would continue on. If it were up to me, he’d turn over his badge (or become a consultant) while going all-in with Geri on the Side Step 2.0. 

His most recent near-death experience was eye-opening, however, in the sense that he needed to be a more present father. His kids may be grown, with both of them flying the coop and heading off to college, but it’s never too late, and this may be one of their last opportunities for a solid family vacation. 

Again, it’s unfortunate that we won’t get to see the second phase of their life, with Cordell finally accepting his relationship with Geri and taking the next step by letting go of Emily and choosing to propose. Heck, we didn’t even get to see the proposal, which is upsetting in and of itself. There’s so much we got cheated out of—it would’ve made more sense for this to be a 2-hour finale so we could get all these last-minute touches. 

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Geri was always more invested in the relationship than Cordell, simply because he was still trying to figure out how to move on without disrespecting his late wife, but I’m glad he’s finally arrived at a place where there’s no more guilt. 

We didn’t even get any context as to what Liam’s role with the governor would be, or why the secret agents just arrived at his home mere moments after that mysterious phone call. Liam started the series as a go-getter lawyer before losing his way, and his ambition, for the next few seasons, but it’s nice to see him finding his place again. I just wish we could stick around to see it unfold. 

The only storyline that really seemed to get the closure it deserved was Bonham and Abeline’s. They know that their son is going to be alright, she has her business, and they are finally on the same page about making the most of their retirement—with the wind in their sails… and hair. Seeing them embrace this time together—so well deserved, might I add, after sacrificing so much for their family over the years—was worth it. 

What did you think of the finale? Did you feel cheated in the same way I did? Why didn’t we get more from Larry and his wife?

Do you agree with Padalecki when he says The new CW is just looking for the easy way out with “really easy, cheap content that they could fill up time with“? Because it sure seems like he’s right on the money when it comes to canceling all of our favorite shows without a second thought. 

I guess all good things must come to an end, and as we grieve Walker, we must also underscore that it might be one of the last remaining shows on The CW to ever represent what The CW meant to so many people, right along with the faces, like Padalecki’s, who have made the network a household name for so many years. 

Share your thoughts about the Walker series finale, titled “See You Sometime,” below!

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Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin

Pretty Little Liars: Summer School Season Finale Review – Final Exam (208)

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Pretty Little Liars: Summer School Season Finale Review - Final Exam (208)

Pretty Little Liars: Summer School concluded its sophomore run with a gripping finale—tensions were at an all time high, regardless if you like the outcome—that unmasked Bloody Rose and Archie Waters… kind of. 

PLL: Summer School Season 2 Episode 8 had a handful of bombshell reveals—and as it turns out, we owe Christian, Johnny, and, especially, Jen, a huge apology for ever doubting their motivations. 

I say especially when it comes to Jen because up until the scene where Noa calls her to ask how to hotwire a car, I was convinced she was somehow involved with the Bloody Rose mess. There was even that scene where Jen suggested maybe Christian or Johnny can’t be trusted, which felt like she was trying to get the scent off of her and divert attention to someone else, but it turns out, she was simply trying to help Noa and the liars pinpoint the murderer. The writers wanted her to be a red herring, and we all fell for it. There’s obviously still qualities about her that are concerning, but maybe we all misjudged her just a wee bit?

It didn’t take long for Tabby and Imogen to turn against Christian and Johnny either—part of Bloody Rose’s plan—as Tabby found the mask of Davie in Christian’s drawer while Imogen saw a bunch of dead bodies and assumed Johnny was the culprit. She literally locked him in the freezer (where I was sure he’d perish), but I’m so glad they showed us how he got out of there… otherwise, it would have been another PLL mom’s basement mystery keeping me up at night. 

Bloody Rose ended up being—SPOILER ALERT—Mrs. Langsberry, Chip’s vengeful mother,  which doesn’t come as much of a surprise, honestly, considering she was unhinged for much of the season, casting blame at Imogen and Tabitha for soiling her son’s good name. When they confronted her earlier in the morning and assumed she could be crossed off the suspect’s list because she had fresh flowers—BR’s calling card—it was simply a way of getting them off her trail. 

It’s actually hilarious to think that Chip’s mother thought she was avenging her son’s death by brutally murdering, torturing and tormenting people all over town, but I guess it explains why Chip was so messed up in the first place. His home life couldn’t have been healthy if that’s how she’s rationalizing her grief. 

Bloody Rose didn’t act alone, however, as her accomplice was none other than Wes, who ended up being the whole mastermind behind everything. He bonded with Mrs. Langsberry following Chip’s death and saw this as his perfect opportunity to get revenge—because it’s so hard for a white guy nowadays—but also to make the ideal horror movie that actually involves murdering someone in real-time. His subject was none other than final girl Tabitha because, well, she’s always been the one to stand up to him and put him in his place. We always knew something was off about Wes, but Christians seemed to pick up on all the red flags this season immediately. 

Pretty Little Liars: Summer School Season Finale Review - Final Exam (208)

Pretty Little Liars: Summer School Season Finale Review – Final Exam (208)

Tabitha proved that she’s not only a lover of the horror genre, she’s also quite a fighter. When she was surrounded by Wes’ proxies in masks with no obvious exit out of Pastor Malachi’s church, she jumped through a window to escape, before singlehandedly taking on all the proxies and then Wes himself. Tabitha reimagined what it means to be a Final Girl in a truly empowering way; as did the rest of her friends who fought tooth and nail to get to her. 

When Tabitha came face-to-face with Wes, holding a pitchfork, nonetheless, he assured her that she didn’t have the guts to end it, but before he could even finish his sentence, she proved him wrong. 

Wes was an obvious villain choice, much like Mrs. Langsberry, but it was also a lame choice as they could’ve done so much more with his character. He was a main suspect in season one, and they figured we wouldn’t consider him again, so they planted him as the big bad, but it just felt like a cheap shot.

It was also pretty lame and unbelievable that Wes somehow survived being stabbed with the pitchfork (and then punched by Imogen during that very rude jump scare)—I was surprised when Dr. Sullivan said he was in prison alongside Mrs. Langsberry. I guess you really can never get rid of the devil. 

And, as we’ve seen, prisons don’t actually keep the monsters locked up for good. They always find a way of sneaking out… like Archie Waters did. 

While everyone was led to believe that Archie was killed in a prison riot, he quietly snuck out and waited in the shadows before claiming his next victim—someone he’s been keeping an eye on for quite some time. Dr. Sullivan, who was tormented by Archie, and who, in her last moments begged to find out if he was the one who killed her son Sebastian, was brutally murdered in the final moments, though it was kind of hard to feel bad considering we saw her real side—the one that sold her book on childhood trauma and called the liars “narcissists.” I guess some might say she had it coming this whole time for being a shady lady. 

But Tabitha’s desire to leave the Waters family in the past might be wishful thinking considering the actual bogeyman is still out there likely gearing up to strike again. 

Thankfully, at least for now, they all have a bit of a break, passing their Keystone exam (finally) and embracing their Final Girl Energy, knowing that they can survive anything that life throws their way.

And maybe come next season, Johnny will get over the fact that Imogen almost killed him and they’ll get another shot at love together. One could only hope as they made a cute couple and it was one of the more promising developments in her life. 

As for Kelly, she also survived Bloody Rose’s attempt at drowning her and made amends with the liars, while, hopefully, putting all the culty church stuff in the past. 

I was a bit surprised that neither Ash nor Greg appeared in the finale, which makes me wonder how much we can still trust them. Wouldn’t they be around in some capacity to check in on their girls after what they went through? 

What did you think of PLL: Summer School and the finale? Did you like how the ending was set up? Did you think the killers were too obvious? Do you think the masked liars from Tabitha’s movie tease might be season 3’s villains? Maybe it’s someone impersonating them to torment them?

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Walker

Walker Review – Let’s Go, Let’s Go (411)

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Walker Review Let's Go Let's Go Season 4 Episode 11

Walker and his team suffered a major blow during their hunt for the Jackal on Walker Season 4 Episode 11. 

If I’m this frustrated with a case, I know that they are over with how this serial killer keeps outsmarting and evading them. It’s taken so much from them in terms of sanity, time, and even loved ones, as we saw James spiral back into old habits that once again put his home life with Kelly in the crossfire, and Walker’s hallucinatory dream showed that one of his biggest regrets in life was not being there for his family enough; for the big and small moments. 

As the Jackal pumped up Walker with drugs, the hallucination began like a dream as Cordell finally had his wife back. In reality, Cordell was living through a nightmarish situation before being buried alive. 

I’m typically not a fan of hallucination/dream episodes, but this one was interesting as it examined Cordell’s life and motivations through the lens of his funeral. It was his subconscious bubbling to the surface, but it was showing him how his absence made others feel. The message was loud and strong, though he wasn’t entirely open to receiving it, even when Emily urged him to let it go and get back to reality.

The drugs pumped into his system were so strong that if it wasn’t for Cordell’s team tracking him down, he would’ve suffered the same fate so many of Jackal’s victims have over the years. I guess it’s slightly reassuring to know that they have no idea of what’s going on in their final moments of life, but it still doesn’t make the situation any better, especially knowing that Jackal almost killed two rangers as they were on his tail. 

While they got to Cordell just in time, David Luna didn’t have the same amount of luck—and it was honestly the most heartbreaking development in this season-long case. 

When I say the Jackal took loved ones, I also mean physically, as it seems Luna succumbed to his injuries and died in Cassie’s arms, which we know is going to absolutely destroy her as she was just coming around to admitting that she loved him.

I’m hoping that maybe there’s a reality where Luna still has a pulse and is spared, but it’s not looking good for him. Their pursuit of the Jackal meant that he was getting sloppy and needed to tie up loose ends, which included Luna as he took his eye off the prize. 

I knew it wasn’t going to bode well for him when he made that overly long phone call to Cassie, which was super sappy, and she hesitated to say the “L” word, something we know she’ll come to regret if he doesn’t make it. 

They could’ve saved that conversation for another time so that neither of them lost focus and allowed themselves to be ambushed by the Jackal. And if I’m being realistic, I don’t think this is a one-man show. One man wouldn’t be able to take out David Luna all while moving Cordell and burying him in a shallow grave. I think there’s a team working here, which is how they’ve been able to stay ahead of the police. 

Either way, the desire to stop and capture the Jackal is only growing stronger now that he’s targeted two of the Rangers’ own men. And maybe it’s time to bring in backup because this isn’t something they can handle on their own. 

As for Cassie, I hope she hasn’t lost the love of her life in such a senseless way—she deserves a shred of happiness. 

And with only two episodes on the horizon, I hope this case helps Cordell reframe what’s really important in life, and that includes slowing down and appreciating all the love he’s surrounded by, including his new romance with Geri. Maybe it’s time he stop running by leaving the rangers behind? 

What did you think of the episode? Do you think Luna’s really dead?

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