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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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Big Brother

Big Brother All-Stars Review: The Sixth Eviction (22×19)

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Big Brother All-Stars Episode 19 Review

A former winner and a BB legend face their Housemates, and one of them will be evicted from the Big Brother house and become the first member of the jury. Things have been crazy the last 48 hours in the house, and NONE of it made the CBS edit, which lead to an anti-climatic eviction, and further proof that the power alliance called the Committee take no chances in the game, leading this to be the most boring All-Star season of any show ever.

Winner of BB 14, and BB 20 runner-up Tyler sit on the block, after David used his Disruptor power to remove himself, and Da’Vonne used the Power of Veto on Kevin, leading to these powerhouses facing eviction. Dani said from the start of her HOH reign that she wants to possibly backdoor Tyler, but all the powers and Veto wins messed up her goal, leaving her to nominate 4 total people this week, which is a lot of pressure. Ian was already a target for The Committee, since he was not in the alliance, and as a former winner, it’s an easy target. However, Dani didn’t want to send him out right away. Ian knew that he only needs 4 votes to cause a tie, so he has been campaigning hard to everyone to possibly cause a rift and force a tie. I consider Ian one of the best players of all time, and he is good at campaigning, so I was hoping something would come out.

CBS then aired a segment where they show the other winner in the house, Nicole, cry hard over the fact that her best friend might go home. It was never shown that Nicole was one of the people making fun of Ian behind his back, making herself cry before going into a room with him, and lying to his face that she was going to keep him. Nicole is a bold-faced liar, and yes, that’s a part of the game, but she’s being rude behind his back to the point of attacking him personally. Thank the live feeds for exposing the 99% of what we don’t see on the edits.

Ian is convinced that he has the 4 votes needed to tie the vote, and have Dani’s support if she has to cast the deciding vote. Dani thinks in the Diary Room that if she had to break a tie, she actually might send Tyler packing, since he is more likely to win the entire game compared to a previous winner. She also talks to the rest of the Committee to possibly keep Ian, but Cody, Enzo, and Memphis are not phased by this and are more than willing to vote out the former winner before an alliance member. Okay, guys, just keep telling yourselves that until you see Julie give Tyler a check $500k.

At the live vote and eviction, Ian spoke about having more to give to the game that he loves so much, and Tyler plugged his jewelry company and his girlfriend’s cookbook. At the end of the vote, Ian was evicted on a 5-3 vote. Da’Vonne, David, and Kevin were the 3 votes. Nicole distributed more fake tears to vote out Ian, then quickly regained her composure and went back to the group. Ian hugged everyone, wished everyone luck, and joined Julie outside the house, mask and all. Julie gave Ian a really uncomfortable eviction interview, pausing every few words, and stopped mid-question, and changed questions. Not sure if she was given the right set of question cards or technical difficulty, no idea, but it was odd and I felt bad for Ian. He will be the first member of the jury, and will be in the jury house where he and 8 others will vote for the winner at the end of the season.

Before the Head of Household competition, Julie revealed that Dani did not use her BB Basement power, which could give her the ability to play in the next HOH competition, so she is not competing for power. Good move by her, especially with the week she had. For the competition, the players have to make a 3D puzzle of a fire hydrant, but they have to run back and forth to get pieces. The winner was not shown on the episode, but it will be announced on the live feeds shortly.

Right as she was signing off for the night, Julie revealed that next Thursday, a Big Brother legend will be moving into “the neighbor’s house,” which could really mean anything. I’m hopinIg it’s a legend that could mess with the game, or break up the Committee, cause I’m bored of them.

Who Will Be Nominated? 
It all depends on who wins the HOH competition. If it’s anyone in the Committee (Memphis, Tyler, Nicole, Enzo, Christmas, Cody), then they will put up a combination of David, Da’Vonne, and Kevin (eye roll, for several reasons). I hope it’s either one of the those three, because that can send the house into disarray and I would love to see that happen (cough, cough, MEMPHIS).


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The 100

The 100 Review- It Keeps Getting Worse (7×14)

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the 100 season 7 episode 14 a sort of homecoming review

After the disaster that was last week’s episode of The 100, I didn’t think it could get much worse. But it did.

Another pointless episode revolving around side characters with half-assed backstories and a graphic death of another man of color at the end. Every character felt off, relationships were erased, and we had to watch Gabriel “die” not once, not twice, but three times.

Chuku Modu’s performance has been the only bright spot of these past two seasons, and he will be greatly missed. He would’ve been a great candidate to take the test to save mankind. I’m glad he was given the traveler’s blessing, and I know he said he was ready to go, but you would think Clarke would at least attempt to patch him up in some way. She’s been the show’s resident medic since the first season.

However, we’re not dealing with Clarke anymore. Our lead character has been replaced with a shell of what she once was. Any fan of the show knows that Clarke would have never killed Bellamy, let alone defended her decision. When Clarke killed Finn all the way back in season two, it was under very different circumstances. She was saving him by killing him. Even then, she beat herself up about it for quite some time and hallucinated him in the next episode out of guilt. Everyone around her, Raven, in particular, were harsh on her afterward. But this time around, Clarke is coddled.

Clarke doesn’t show any remorse. She cried for a minute, but it felt artificial. She defends her choice, and actively lies that she did everything she could when we all know there were a million other ways she could’ve gone about it. She killed Finn when she was surrounded by an entire Grounder army with no other option, but she killed Bellamy when they were alone. There was one, maybe two other people in that room with them, and the only person who was a danger to him was her. Her hands were not tied. She could’ve shot his arm, shot the book, shot everyone else in the room before even considering killing Bellamy.

I love Clarke Griffin, and this isn’t her. It feels wrong to criticize her actions when it’s clear that the character we once knew doesn’t exist anymore. She’s become a plot device. It’s hard to care about a story when you no longer feel connected to anyone in it. Clarke Griffin died when she shot Bellamy last episode, but unfortunately, this week the rest of the cast went along with her.

We didn’t even see Octavia mourn her brother. She didn’t hesitate for a second before hugging Clarke and telling her it was okay that she killed her brother in cold blood. How is this the reaction of his only blood relative? She had just started to finally understand Bellamy and everything he did for her after her time on Skyring, and then she immediately forgives his murderer? That’s just bad writing.

The Blake sibling relationship has been rocky for a while, but to be comforting the other’s murderer? Yikes. Especially considering Octavia was there when Bellamy was begging Clarke to trust him on this whole transcendence thing. He was so emotional and passionate in that moment and spent the entire time emphasizing how all he wanted to do was save them. How is he a different person now? Just because he doesn’t agree with you? He still fought for you and did his best to ensure you would get the salvation he knows is possible.

None of them ever deserved him.

Miller and Madi’s reactions to his death were the only ones that worked narratively. Miller hasn’t been close with him for a while, but he still expresses remorse over not patching things up with him while they could. It was a nice tribute to one of the original friendships of the show.

Miller’s small moment of mourning felt earned. He really hasn’t spent that much time with Bellamy. But what about his so-called family of Spacekru? Just a few tears and a hug for Clarke? Come on. They spent over half a decade with the man, you would think they’d be more upset about his sudden death. Echo went off the deep end on Skyring and Bardo in pursuit of him but now accepts his death immediately. Bellamy, and what he meant to everyone, has been erased completely.

Madi was completely valid with her anger at Clarke for making such a terrible decision in her name. She should be mad at her for constantly using her as an excuse each time she betrayed her closest friend. Clarke doesn’t let Madi be her own person, just like the series hasn’t let her be her own character.

Madi’s speech after Gabriel died was exactly the same as Charlotte’s speech all the way back in season one. She doesn’t want anyone else to get hurt over her, so she’ll put herself in danger to save the rest of them.

She sends herself to M-CAP, making Bellamy’s death meaningless. It was already a poor narrative choice, but it feels like a kick in the gut that they ended up in the same situation anyway. Two men of color died to keep Madi safe, and she ended up on Bardo regardless. Neither death was necessary, and neither one needed to be so graphic.

Brutally killing off characters of color for shock value (Lincoln, Shaw, Pike, Anya for example) will be the lasting legacy of The 100. It’s shameful.

Stray Thoughts:

  • Echo and Niylah’s backstories served no purpose whatsoever. It was forced and pointless.
  • What was the point of Bellamy and Echo’s relationship? She never even told him her name and then hugged his murderer. They should’ve never been a thing.
  • Hope and Jordan are sweet, but it feels horribly out of place with such little time left.
  • Clarke’s lack of reaction to killing Bellamy is so wildly out of character I need to mention it again because it bothered me so much.
  • If they’re going back to Bardo, what was the point of stopping on Earth? What was the point of Gaia being there alone? Who took her there? Why does this season not make any sense?

What did you think of the episode?

How many characters are you mad at this week? All of them?

Do they even deserve to win the last war?

Let us know what you think in the comments below!


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Big Brother

Big Brother All-Stars Review: Power Everywhere (22×18)

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Big Brother All-Stars Episode 18 Review

Week after week, this season of Big Brother has been nothing but a load of…well nothing. The Committee alliance is boring, all of the people who deserve to be there keep getting evicted, and it seems like we can’t catch a break…until this week! For once, there was nervous gameplay happening, a complicated Veto meeting, and confusion in the house.

Dani, as Head of Household for the week, nominated David and Kevin for eviction, feeling like now wasn’t the time to go after her real target, Tyler. However, David had a trick up his sleeve, and used his Disruptor power to secretly take himself off of the block. I liked that it was kept anonymous, and let the ominous Haunted Mansion lady voice spill the beans on the new power. David (attempted to) produce fake tears when he was taken off the block, trying to hide the fact that he won the power. Dani had to immediately nominate someone else in the now empty seat. Unsure with the pressure of the powers, she set her sights on Tyler, and up he went next to Kevin.

David made his horrible acting debut even worse when he started walking around, fake crying, and asking everyone if they had that power. Naturally, everyone saw right through that, proclaiming that David had the power and used it to save himself.

Nervousness ran through the Committee alliance, because Tyler is a member, and he’s on the block. Cody and Enzo are nervous that Dani has no allegiance to the alliance, and wants to cannibalize in on the group. Tyler had a feeling that this was coming, and was excited to work for the Veto so he can take himself off. Lest we forget, Tyler was apparently trying to self-evict last week, now he’s okay!

For the Veto competition, Dani, Kevin, Tyler, Da’Vonne, Ian, and Enzo were chosen to play to take someone off the block. They did a really crappy lead in, where Nicole shocked the Veto players with a laser, shrinking everything around them. There were some awkward special effects, and awful play-acting with the remaining HouseGuests. For the actual competition, the players had to stack 15 miniature beer cans into a pyramid with giant tweezers. Whoever stacks it first, wins. When the competition started, it was clear there was a learning curve to this. The cans were super sensitive and could be knocked down easily. Tyler literally breathed and his stack collapsed. There were constant lead changes, with Dani looking to win, but placed a can down too hard. Then Kevin had a lead, and he slipped up. But at the end of the competition, Da’Vonne was the quickest with the tweezers, and won a mini Power of Veto!

Dani told Da’Vonne that she wants the nominations to stay the same, because she wants to target Tyler, and she doesn’t want to nominate a fourth person in the same week. Da’Vonne said in the Diary Room that she doesn’t want Kevin on the block, but doesn’t want to be told what to do in the game, whether or not they are aligned. Christmas talks to Dani that should Da’Vonne use the Veto, the only two people that she can nominate without causing strings to break in the house is Enzo or Ian. Dani agrees with this, but is angry because she doesn’t want to put up Ian, but feels like she can trust Enzo more. Cody weighs in saying that it should be Ian, since he’s won before, and Enzo is a loyal guy. Nicole was nervous when Dani told her this idea, because she’s making sure that the two winners can make it as far as possible.

At the Veto meeting, Da’Vonne decided to use the Power of Veto on Kevin, and saved him from eviction. Dani now had to nominate her fourth person of the week, and decided to send the former BB14 winner sitting next to Tyler. Dani called Ian “the ultimate pawn,” but in a game where pawns go home, it’s highly possible that Ian won’t be sticking around much longer. It’s a house divided right now, and it’ll all come to a head this Thursday for eviction night.

Prediction for Eviction: 
This is the first one that I feel like I won’t get right. I love Ian, he’s one of my favorite winners; and although I don’t like Tyler’s actions so far in this game, he’s playing very well. There’s fair choices in keeping and evicting both, but I am going to select Ian. I just don’t think he has the votes to stick around. Nicole and Ian are both campaigning in the house as this is posted, and they will likely continue to do so until the last second. With 8 people voting, there could be a tie, which means Dani casts the deciding vote, and she could go either way. I think Nicole, Da’Vonne, and Kevin will vote to save Ian, but I think the rest of the Committee will say otherwise.


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