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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 Independence

Walker Independence Review – The Calm Before the Storm (110)

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Walker Independence Recap Season 1 Episode 10 All In

Abby Walker went from hating Tom Davidson and trying to get revenge on him to falling into bed with him all in the span of 10 episodes. 

It’s definitely a change of attitude for Abby, but the realization that Tom isn’t her husband’s murderer allowed her to see the Sheriff in a new light. 

And it didn’t help that they were “riding out the storm” together and boozin’ it up for much of the evening, which likely impaired their judgment just a smidge. But the truth is, they simply acted on sexual tension and chemistry that has always been there. Previously, Abby pushed it down because of her belief that he was responsible for killing her husband, but when that turned out not to be the case, she was a little more open to the possibility, seeing Tom as a man who wants to do the right thing and help people out. 

Of course, this will prove to be quite complicated for Abby considering all of her friendships in town were built on the premise that they will all help her avenge her husband’s death and take down Tom. Kate, Hoyt, Gus, and Calian have all distanced themselves from Abby after she informed them that she may have misjudged Tom, feeling a bit slighted for putting all their trust in her, and when they find out that she’s now sleeping with the enemy, it will likely drive an even bigger wedge between them. 

Kate’s reaction is proof of that—she was shocked and disappointed as she thought she knew Abby and felt betrayed finding her in Tom’s bed.

Though, I can’t figure out why Kate walked into Tom’s bedroom so freely in the first place. I know that they work together at Hagan’s, but wouldn’t she at least knock? They aren’t that comfortable with each other. 

There’s also the fact that neither Abby nor Tom are being completely honest with each other. Abby has hidden her true identity from him, so he’s, as far as we know, completely oblivious to the fact that she’s Liam Collins’ wife. If he was a good detective, he’d pick up on all the very obvious clues she’s been dropping, including her interest in finding Shane Davidson, the alleged murderer, but I don’t think Tom wants to face the truth just yet. He might know deep down, but he’s in denial.

As for Tom, he’s not being forthcoming about the fact that he’s holding his brother captive. Shane is definitely the wild card of the family, and likely the person responsible for Liam’s death, but Tom is also dangerous in his own right. He keeps his cards close to his chest. Unfortunately, in the final moments of the episode, Tom realized that Shane escaped, proving that he’s likely going to pose a threat to the town of Independence. I guess Tom has to go on the hunt for his sibling after all. 

A storm is always such a catalyst for change. The dust blew in a ton of it, with new relationships and business deals forming left and right. 

While Abby and Tom were enjoying each other’s company, the rest of the bunch hunkered down at the Side Step teaching the owner, Randall, quite a lesson. Randall was getting a little “too comfortable,” according to Kate and Hoyt, so they devised a poker game plan that would put the reins of ownership into Lucia’s hands. Randall thought he caught Kate and Hoyt cheating, so he let his guard down, but little did he know, it was all part of the plan for Lucia to come out victorious—taking the money, her ranch, and the Side Step with her. 

If Walker fans ever wondered how the Walker family came to own the Side Step, well, this is how it all started. Once Lucia became the new owner, she hired Hoyt to take on all the responsibilities. They, of course, celebrated the big win with a little romantic rendezvous—and while I wasn’t a fan of their coupling in the past, this is putting them on a new path that I can totally ship. I can’t remember if Hoyt owned the Side Step on the sister show, and in his death, it was transferred to the Walker family, or if it was always theirs.

Technically, this Hoyt is not a Walker, so for it to become a Walker establishment, it needs to end up under Abby’s ownership… which makes me wonder if Hoyt and Abby are endgame. After all, before she had any romantic feelings for Tom, she had plenty of chemistry with Hoyt. 

It was nice to see Lucia take charge for a change. Being a boss looks good on her, and I hope this is the start of the series really investing in her character in the same way they have for the others. She has always given off a “better than you” vibe around Hoyt, but she proved that she’s learned from the very best when it comes to hustling and taking what’s hers.   

Walker Independence Recap Season 1 Episode 10 All In

Walker Independence — “All In” — Image Number: WID110a_0067r — Pictured: Matt Barr as Hoyt Rawlins — Photo: Anna Kooris/The CW — © 2023 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Nathaniel Hagan was passing through town and reconnected with Kate, who initially felt betrayed by his decision to sell the hotel to the Davidsons. She didn’t get to the bottom of what motivated the decision, and honestly, they have an interesting relationship, which I’m struggling to figure out. He’s either her father or a father figure. I also don’t really understand the moment between him and Olivia, the woman passing through town who hunkered down with Tom and Abby. Will we see more of her?

Gus managed to avoid the dust storm by assisting Calian on his journey to find his sister, Nascha. It was a heartbreaking storyline as Calian spent years feeling guilty about what happened to Nascha, letting that one moment define him, thinking he wasn’t worthy of happiness, and putting so much effort into finding her, all while she was not only surviving by thriving. She may have been taken from her home, but she was taken in by parents who shielded her from the horrors of her past, and she built a beautiful life for herself with a good husband and a loving daughter. 

Unfortunately, Nascha barely had any memory of her past—nor did she have any interest in revisiting it. The only thing she did truly remember was Calian. While her disappearance affected his whole existence, she was barely phased, and it really seemed as though the Nascha he knew died the moment she was taken. 

However, it was also incredible that after all these years he did find his sister and got the closure he so desperately needed to move on. They may not have the relationship he’s always envisioned, but he will be able to stay in touch and have her in his life. And now, he can forgive himself. Through healing, the second half of his life can begin. 

Upon returning to his people, Calian was informed that they chose a leader who would “fight back” against the railroad, which is everything Taza was against. He wanted Calian to take over so that he could leverage his connection with the people of Independence to prevent a war.

It seems that the railroad is going to introduce a lot of issues for Independence’s finest. How will they all band together to come out victorious and preserve what they’ve built?

And what will Abby and Tom’s hookup mean moving forward?

What did you think of the episode?

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Walker

Walker Review – Blinded by the Light (310)

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Walker Recap Season 3 Episode 10 Blinded By the Light

Walker Season 3 Episode 10 lasered in on Grey Flag–a storyline that’s been brewing for quite some time. 

The installment picked up the day after Cordell Walker received the package of energy drinks with a cryptic note addressed to the “war hero.” He immediately looped in Julia to help him solve the case, and I did not except for their team-up to become so Scooby-Doo

It didn’t take much for Julia to persuade Walker not to turn in the crate with the drinks over to the Rangers, suggesting that it’s entirely possible that there’s still a mole on the inside like Fenton. 

Walker has Ranger in his blood, so I didn’t expect him to take the bait. It felt wildly out of character. However, when Captain James brought him, Cassie, and Trey in on a Saturday and proceeded to chew them out about sifting through classified documents, Cordell realized that there might not be a benefit to looping in the Cap just yet. 

Personally, I think this is a huge mistake. And I said Cordell took the bait purposefully because I think it’s all part of Julia’s master plan. I think she’s been recruited by and is working for Grey Flag, which would explain why she has all this information about them and the organization’s “regrouping and restrategizing.” I hate to think that an investigative reporter got burned, but the timing of her arrival in Cordell’s life is just too suspect and convenient. 

She gave just enough to get Cordell to turn to her and open up to her, but she’s allowing him to feel like he’s taking the lead on everything. It’s definitely a tactic. 

Think about it—she’s the closest that anyone has ever been able to get to him. They’ve built up a friendship and trust based on shared trauma, so she’s the perfect Trojan horse for whoever is behind Grey Flag and setting his/her sights on Cordell as the next target.

The possibility that Julia is just a good friend trying to help Cordell—and hoping to get a good story out of it—remains a possibility. I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt until I no longer can.

She made him realize that whoever is targeting him must be someone he was once close to as they’ve been able to tap into a personal memory. Cordell hated the idea that one of his military buddies, who he referred to as “brothers,” could be behind everything, but it made sense as they were the only ones who were in on the inside joke involving the energy drinks.

A quick search revealed that two of the remaining three were killed—one in a car accident and another after he suffered a heart attack.

That left Tommy Adams, who Cordell eventually agreed fit the Grey Flag profile to a T, as the lone wolf.

They were able to track down Tommy without so much as lifting a finger—through one of Julia’s sources (it’s shady, okay!)—and instead of waiting for backup, Julia decided to just walk on over to the abandoned house and start asking questions. It was either incredibly bold of her or she knew that Tommy wasn’t a threat because she actually knows who is behind Grey Flag.

Walker Recap Season 3 Episode 10 Blinded By the Light

Walker — “Blinded By the Light” — Image Number: WLK310b_0252r — Pictured (L-R): Ashley Reyes as Cassie Perez and Jared Padalecki as Cordell Walker — Photo: Rebecca Brenneman/The CW — © 2023 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Either way, Tommy was a dead end as he informed Cordell that he sent the package as a warning. He’s been laying low because someone is coming for everyone in their unit, which makes Tommy and Cordell the last living members and the next targets. 

Of course, this doesn’t bring us any closer to solving the mystery, but it is an intriguing development that definitely piqued my interest. 

Why is this personal? And what does Grey Flag still want from Cordell?

After everything, it seemed as though he finally decided to come clean to Captain James and Cassie following Trey’s DPS hearing, but they got sidetracked by the verdict. While everyone was convinced they were going to let Trey off with a slap on the wrist, the unanimous decision was to relieve him of his duties as a Ranger. 

And honestly, it was bizarre. I understand why Captain James was upset because he felt disrespected after vouching for Trey, but his anger was more pointed at Cassie and Walker, his friends, for lying to him. But Trey’s “insubordinate” situations were so minor. The first time, he followed orders from his superior in the field, while the second time, he left desk duty to help put a stop to an ATM heist that was getting out of control. Surely, that was more important than paperwork. 

The truth is, it felt completely blown out of proportion, and it didn’t feel in character for Captain James to turn his back on Trey and inform him that he was on his own. Why didn’t he fight for Trey? Why didn’t he pull some strings? 

Cordell and Cassie have done way worse—those two never follow orders, and it’s never been an issue. 

I’m truly disappointed with this turn of events, especially since Trey gave up his career at the high school for this. Is he trying to leave the show? What’s going on?

To be fair, Captain James seemed equally as shocked, and I’m wondering if maybe the decision has something to do with the possibility of there being a mole on the inside who wants Trey out so that Cordell has fewer allies. 

Which reminds me—Julia also tried to drive a wedge between Cordell and James by instilling a bit of doubt in the Ranger, and that didn’t sit well with me. Cordell even called her out on it, so I’m hoping he’s being super cautious and not overly trusting. 

Cordell’s been dealing with so much, he hasn’t really had time to pay attention to his family, especially Bonham and Abeline. 

Bonham called a family meeting so that they could all get on the same page, but he was stood up by both of his sons. Cordell didn’t show up because of his pressing matters with work, while Liam decided to skip so that he could flesh out the horse charity a bit more before talking to his father. I get where Liam is coming from as he seems very passionate about starting this business with Stella but has only gotten pushback from Bonham. It’s not really encouraging to hear that your father has zero faith in you or your ability to take over the family business. 

Liam also suggested that he and Stella team up as partners officially—on paper. It’s a big step for Stella, so I hope she’s not getting in over her head. 

Abeline and Bonham had a few disagreements as she was upset after finding out that Bonham asked Walker and his family to move out of the farmhouse. She’s such a family-oriented person, so I don’t know why he thought it was a good idea. 

And elsewhere, Cassie and Kevin had a really great first date where they got to know each other on a deeper level. All of that went out the window the very next day when he overstepped the boundaries she put in place to keep her personal and professional life separate, and while his intentions were in the right place, it was all the proof she needed to know that she cannot date someone she also has to work with. Some might say Cassie overreacted and ran from a good thing, but it’s definitely problematic to have your boyfriend, who wields a lot of power in his position at the mayor’s office, fixing your problems for you. Kevin either needs to respect Cassie’s request, or they really can’t be involved romantically. 

What did you think of the episode? Do you think Trey will get reinstated? 

Who do you think is behind Grey Flag? And should we trust Julia?

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How I Met Your Father

How I Met Your Father Season 2 Premiere Review – A Legendary Cameo

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How I Met Your Father Season 2 Premiere Episode 1 Recap Cool and Chill

How I Met Your Father is back at it for season 2—and the drama picks up right where the first season left off with Sophie (Hilary Duff) dealing with her relationship drama.

By the end of the 20-minute installment, she’s “burned through three guys in 48 hours”–her words–which means that this season will see no shortage of romantic woes. 

On the bright side, after dealing with the fallout from her short-lived romance with Jesse (Chris Lowell), her split with Drew (Josh Peck) and his terrible spray tan, and her brief rekindled romance with Ian (Daniel Augustin), who returned from Australia hoping to shoot his shot only to find Sophie’s love life to be a mess, she made the mature decision to work on herself and figure out why she ran away from love the moment it presented itself. 

It’s so easy to throw yourself into another relationship that you think will make you happy, especially if it’s with the one that got away, but take real courage to take a step back and really reassess your situation. I know that’s deep for a sitcom comedy, but it’s what aids in character growth—and right now, Sophie needs it. 

Jesse was right when he said she was complicated, but isn’t that what makes life exciting? 

Of course, the biggest shocker of the episode was a “legen… wait for it… dary!” surprise cameo from How I Met Your Mother actor Neil Patrick Harris, who played the iconic Barney Stinson. The flash-forward was teased by 2050 adult Sophie (played by Kim Cattrall) who was telling her son about hitting “rock bottom.” In the scene, she’s trying to get ahold of her mom because she thinks she might be “dating her dad,” (she has yet to find out the identity of her father), which seems to refer to her upcoming romance with John Corbett’s character. This show just loves its Sex and the City alums. Also, Corbett once played Duff’s teacher in Raise Your Voice—and she addressed the fact that they are now locking lips for the series in a pretty comical interview

How I Met Your Father Season 2 Premiere Episode 1 Recap Cool and Chill

Credit: Hulu

Anyway, as adult Sophie recalls the traumatizing moment, in the scene, her valid mini-freak out about her potential new suitor, ends with her rear-ending a vehicle belonging to none other than Barney… at least, we think it’s Barney based on his mannerisms and attire. As he emerges from the car, he buttons up his jacket, raises his arms, and declares, “Dude.”

However, it has not been announced who Harris is set to play in the show, so we’ll have to stay tuned to see if he reprises his beloved character or if he’ll be tackling a brand-new one. But what is very clear is that his return definitely makes us all more excited about what’s to come from the rest of the season.

If you’re the kind of person who mostly focuses on TV dramas, it might take a moment to shift gears into the cheesy and often times over-acted sitcom comedy with a pretty cringe-y laugh track, but the cast goes above and beyond to ground it as best as they can and offer some sincerity through the shenanigans. 

Then again, the best moments arise when you kind of give into the ridiculous nature of the series and go with the flow. 

The long-running joke about Ellen’s (Tien Tran) sequin satchel carried the episode (how did she make that?!), Sid’s (Sure Sharma) attempt and giving Hannah (Ashley Reyes) a great wedding party provided us with some true breakout moments, and you can always count on Valentina (Francia Raisa) and Charlie’s (Tom Ainsley’s) sexual chemistry to steal the show. 

And who knew that seeing a group of New Yorkers do the electric slide at a dive bar would be that enjoyable? Sid really was onto something.

Jesse and Sophie skirted around their awkwardness as best they could, but eventually, the latter revealed that she was upset because she saw him kissing his ex Meredith after she came back to his apartment to declare her love for him. It was heartbreaking to see these two just accept the breakup rather than fight for something that they obviously both want. I know we can’t make it easy because the chase is what will give us material for future episodes and seasons to come, but it was one of those moments where you just want to shake the character and ask them “what’s wrong with you?!”

Sophie confided in Ian that she actually loved Jesse, while Jesse informed Sid that he didn’t think Sophie’s feelings for him were real, which is why he was going to try to give things with Meredith (Leighton Meester) another shot. Some people deserve second chances, but I’m firm in my stance that if someone walked out of your life, you should probably shut that door and keep it closed. There’s no reason to pry it open or even leave it ajar. Once they go on tour—if they go on tour—they’ll likely see that there was a reason they ended things. 

However, if the decision to give it another shot means we get to keep Meester around for a little longer, I’m not complaining. 

It really is the star power that keeps this show afloat–and I’m not mad about it. 

What did you think of the HIMYF Season 2 premiere?

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