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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)



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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Tracker Season 1 Episode 2 Review – Missoula



Tracker Season 1 Episode 2 Review - Missoula

Justin Hartley’s new CBS series Tracker is one of the most promising this season. 

He was fantastic on the ensemble series This Is Us, but he’s swiftly proving that he’s worthy of being a leading man—not just a pretty face, but one that delivers the action and stands on his own. 

Hartley’s Colter Shaw takes on some of the most dangerous cases as he fills a void inside by helping to find people who have gone missing or who have been taken. 

The second episode of the series dived headfirst into a cult situation, taking our hero to Montana. Though it would be understandable if Colter turned right around and ran the other way at the first sign of danger—no reward money is worth messing with a manipulative cult leader who isn’t above violence and murder—he rushed in without hesitation. 

Not only does Colter see a resemblance in Seth and his own father, who was also manipulative in his own right, but he actually cares about the missing people who come across his desk; he’s not doing it just for the check, he wants to help people who need a little bit of a push. 

Colter immediately clocked that there was something much more going on than just a missing person when he was ambushed by a security team that threatened to shoot him when they saw him breaking into Rebecca’s house. 

Soon after, he learned of her connection to Positive Light, a place that preys on people looking for guidance, support, and whose pain they can exploit, trading in secrets that can be used as blackmail for allegiance. It’s a classic cult operation from head to toe, but unfortunately, those who are in too deep are usually too blind to see the truth—unless it’s shoved in their faces. And even then, depending on how far they are in their “practice of self-actualization” they might not be convinced. 

Thankfully, Colter seemed to make a slight breakthrough with Jackson, whose parents reported him missing after his strange relationship with Rebecca led to a series of uncharacteristic life choices like quitting his job, abandoning his family, and draining his bank account. 

Jackson wanted someone to believe in him and help him believe in himself, which is why Seth and Rebecca were able to get to him, but he was also self-aware, so when Colter began questioning the cult’s “mean” tactics, he knew something was off even if he wasn’t ready to turn away fully. 

The strangest part was that while Positive Light presented as your typical cult, there was no negative press about it—not even any forums or threads of people complaining. And every trail of lawsuits went cold. However, Bobby discovered that the cult may have covered up the murder of their former accountant, which was the string that Colter was able to pull on to help unravel everything. 

Tracker Season 1 Episode 2 Review - Missoula

Tracker Season 1 Episode 2 Review – Missoula

After getting a confirmation from David Grassley’s wife, Jana, who told Velma and Teddi (who appear to be Colter’s handlers for lack of a better word) that Seth showed her the dashcam footage from her husband’s hit and run in order to scare her into silence.

Knowing that there was evidence to bring the place down, Colter found his in via a Positive Light member who was following him (rather badly, might I add). Once inside of Seth’s instructional office, he was able to pull up David’s file, along with Rebecca’s, before proving to Jackson that he was being lied to and told what he needed to hear so that he would remain obedient, especially since his role in the cult was so critical as the new accountant. 

But as we say, anyone who tried to leave or expose what was going on, would immediately be taken out. 

It seems as though Seth should’ve listened to Rebecca about not letting Colter get too close to Jackson, though he was so convinced they had the latter wrapped around their finger. 

Thankfully, Colter knows how to fight—and he was able to stave off Rebecca and Seth until the police got there and shut the whole operation down once and for all. 

The eerie thing is that Seth did have a way of reading people accurately; through his Google search, he dug up enough intel on Colter to figure out that he was in pain because of his past with his father, a pain that he still carried with him till this day.

And while Colter isn’t easily shaken, you could tell he was a little triggered that someone was able to pick up on his past, even if he wasn’t willing to admit it.

Colter’s backstory has a lot of impact on his present (even if people are more resilient than you imagine, eventually the cracks do begin to show), not only his choice of career path but there’s still no closure as to what happened to his father. His brother, who seems to have pushed his father to his death, keeps reaching out asking Colter to hear him out, but his mother, told him to ignore his sibling, so it’s clear she’s also hiding something. Not to mention the beginning of the episode where she called her son because someone broke into his father’s office. There’s still a lot to unpack here, which only adds to the intrigue of the series. But even without Colter’s complicated backstory, Hartley is easy on the eyes (and has a huge fanbase already thanks to his NBC drama), his acting is believable, and at its core, it’s a procedural, so watching him solve cases is clearly something that has the potential to pull in a huge audience.

What did you think of the episode? Are you enjoying the series so far?

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Ghosts Season 3 Premiere Review – [SPOILER] Got Sucked Off



Ghosts Season 3 Premiere Review - The Owl

Ghosts returned after a lengthy hiatus and immediately tackled the burning question of which ghost got “sucked off.”

As you’ll remember, in the final moments of season 2, Jay and Sam saw a white light emitting from the house, indicating that one of the ghosts crossed over. 

Of course, it could’ve just been “one of the basement ghosts,” but the sitcom solidified that it was going to be one of the core ghosts—and after a brief head count, it was revealed that Flower passed on. 

Flower’s “death,” so to speak, had repercussions for the whole house as they’ve all grown rather close over the decades, but it was especially hard on Thor, who developed a romantic relationship with Flower. One might say, the love and care he showed her is what helped her move on, but there’s really nothing anyone can say to help ease Thor’s grief after losing his girlfriend and not getting a chance at saying goodbye. 

Jay, who made it very clear that he still can’t see the ghosts but has a connection with them, tried to comfort Thor with the possibility of reincarnation, but that came back around to bite him rather quickly. He’s truly at a disadvantage since he doesn’t fully grasp the personality of each ghost, so he has to be very careful with what he says. 

When the construction worker ran into a problem at the barn, which Jay is planning to turn into his dream restaurant, it initially seemed like an easy fix—that is until Thor decided that the owl occupying the space must be Flower as they both bonded over owls initially. “Flowl” as they called the bird, became a hot topic in the household, as Jay wanted her removed, while Thor threatened to burn the barn to the ground if they touched his girl.

When “Flowl” began causing problems for the business, Sam and Jay figured it was time to help Thor deal with his grief, and honestly, Jay’s speech about Flower being a free spirit who wouldn’t want to live out her days in a cage was very touching and fitting to who she was as a person.

But Jay also learned the hard way that meddling comes with a price, and letting an owl into freedom means there’s a chance it will come back and claw your eye out. The poor guy suffered so many injuries trying to navigate this tricky situation with the ghosts. 

While all of this was happening, Pete felt bad that the basement ghosts were mad at him, so he invited them all upstairs, which made the whole space feel all too cramped. They stuck around for Flower’s memorial (and it was surprisingly wholesome as they reflected on Flower being one of the only people who was friendly to them), which paid tribute to the loving and non-judgemental woman that she was, but the moment it was over, Cholera Ghost Nancy enacted a plan to get everyone back downstairs once again. 

The house feels so empty without Flower, and while I get the decision behind choosing one of the main 8 for impact, there was never a clear reason why it was her time to move on. I wish there would be a bit more focus behind it (unless the lack of is indicating that she isn’t actually gone). As I mentioned previously, it could be because of the love she experienced with Thor (finally opening herself up to a person after the loss of her former boyfriend that she grieved for so long), but he couldn’t recall saying anything pivotal to her, so it remains unclear.

I will remind you all of one of the golden TV rules—if you don’t see a body, don’t believe the murder happened. In this case, we didn’t see Flower get “sucked off,” so there’s always a slight chance she’s still around, napping somewhere, or lost on the property, which wouldn’t be surprising in the slightest. I was fully expecting her to waltz in during the memorial, quite honestly. If Flower really is gone—and it’s a bummer because she was one of the only ghosts in a relationship and one that had major character development last season— it’s a huge loss, but with Ghosts, anything is possible, so maybe they’ll be able to summon her in the future to get some closure. 

What did you think of the Ghosts Season 3 premiere episode? Are you bummed that Flower was “killed off”?

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Not Dead Yet

Not Dead Yet Recap Season 2 Episode 2 – Not a Valentine Yet



Not Dead Yet Recap Season 2 Episode 2 - Not a Valentine Yet

There’s nothing like Valentine’s Day to remind you of your single status, and nothing more offputting when meeting a potential new suitor than seeing his dead mother who is eager to third wheel the first date. 

And that was exactly Nell’s predicament on Not Dead Yet Season 2 Episode 2, an episode that embraced Valentine’s Day even if it was crushing for many of its leading ladies. 

I’ll be the first to say that I’m so glad ABC renewed this series. From the getgo, I felt that Gina Rodriguez effortlessly fit into the role, but the second season just feels so natural for everyone—it’s like they’ve really embraced their characters and have a clear path ahead. 

Nell’s visions of dead people are still as problematic to living her life as they were in season 1, and when she meets a hot new guy (who is not dead this time!) who offers to share a love muffin with her, she’s ecstatic that she doesn’t have a deceased person interrupting at every moment. That is until Dennis sends her another obit and the dead person is not only a senator but the mother of said hot man. 

On one hand, she was helpful because she encouraged Nell to get out of her comfort zone and go on a date with her son, Andres, but on the other hand, Nell quickly learned that it was a manipulation tactic as she wanted to use Nell to finally tell her son that he’s a terrible artist. 

The woman wasn’t wrong—the painting’s eyes were so off—but it was an unfair ask considering it would make things particularly awkward for Nell. Though she initially refused, the senator made a compelling point that this was her only shot at helping her son with the truth, since she never worked up the nerve to tell him when she was alive. 

And maybe, she suggested, this was the purpose behind seeing dead people—she could help them get the closure they needed to “pass on.”

Nell eventually delivered it straight to Andres, but the man already knew that his art was no good, and he was only doing it because his mother invested so much in this career that he didn’t want to let her down. The moral of the story is that you should always say what’s in your heart, even if you think it might hurt the other person because the outcome might be better than you ever imagined. 

Andres, however, realized that his grief was much more intense than he initially believed, which ruined any potential romantic moments, yet Nell, who has dealt with plenty of baggage of her own, was understanding and willing to wait around for the right moment. 

The important thing is that she put herself out there and said “yes” when she wanted to say “no” because it was the safer choice. That alone means it was a successful Valentine’s Day. And she had plenty of friends to fall back on, including Sam, who was a little unhinged when her husband’s flights were canceled and he didn’t make it back for their romantic dinner. She was under the impression that their marriage was doomed due to a “seven-year curse,” when in reality, the only thing the “curse” was doing was making her spiral out of control.

Nell’s wedding gift Crockpot came in handy as they all enjoyed some fondue—and found out that Tina from the office is quite a freak. But honestly, sometimes Vday with your besties is far better than any romantic date! 

Nell might be the main character—and we’ll always root for her—but there’s another storyline that’s taking priority and heating up quickly and unexpectedly; the rendezvous between Lexi and Edward. 

On paper, these two make zero sense, but in reality, the chemistry is undeniable, and they both seem to bring out a better side in the other. Edward gets more confidence around Lexi, while she softens up around him, but for now, no one knows about their hookups in the storage closet—though I’m willing to bet Nell will soon realize that he’s hanging around her work way more than he needs to be. 

What did you think of the episode? 

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