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The Good Place Whenever You're Ready Review The Good Place Whenever You're Ready Review

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The Good Place Review – Moving On (4×13)

THE GOOD PLACE -- "Whenever You're Ready" Episode 413/414 -- Pictured: (l-r) Kristen Bell as Eleanor, William Jackson Harper as Chidi, Ted Danson as Michael, D'Arcy Carden as Janet -- (Photo by: Colleen Hayes/NBC)

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The Good Place has completed its journey and is ready to go.

No crazy twist. No insane change of status quo. No dressing.

“Whenever You’re Ready” is the final chapter of The Good Place, and evokes the power and emotion that it does precisely because it doesn’t go wild.

The episode focuses in on each character, providing us a glimpse at what was important to them in their lives and what is important to them in their afterlife. From a narrative perspective, this approach allows the show to dive into the characters one last time to give us a perspective on what’s important to them and allows us to feel – just as they feel – when and why they are ready to leave the Good Place.

Jason has his time with Janet, completes the perfect game of Madden with his dad cheering him on, and throws a final party with his dance crew and EDM before heading off.

Tahani creates a positive relationship with her parents and her sister, then throws one final gathering of which she personally created every aspect of, including the furniture and food. A wonderful moment, as instead of tasking others with her every party need, she finally assumes the role of all those smaller jobs she at one point considered below her. Afterwards, Tahani finds a new calling in her afterlife and decides to become an architect.

Chidi witnesses his mother share her love with Eleanor and Eleanor’s mother treat her like a daughter. Yet he decides to stay a little while longer to allow Eleanor all the time with him that she needed.

Each of these stories is told from the focused character’s perspective, instead of as a unit. What gives the episode its sense of cohesion is that all these characters cross paths with each other through choice – Jason brings his friends to his party, Tahani meets up for a final gathering, and Chidi intertwines himself with Eleanor. The episode never feels disjointed despite having a distinct vignette structure.

However, alongside providing us perspective on these characters, this approach also provides perspective on what our lives are like (according to The Good Place). Asides from the dressing of these events being incredible (such as playing Madden on the jumbotron in a football stadium or walking through magic doors to go to Athens), each of these moments are small.

Tahani plays croquet with her family. Chidi walks around his old neighborhood. Jason tries to make Janet dinner.

These are the moments that make our own lives worth living. The connections and reflections we create are what we hold on to, and the ability to experience these moments is a gift. These simple moments are what allow each of these characters to move on from their lives because these are the moments that give them a sense of completeness.

These are the moments that Michael has been aching to experience his entire demon life.

Michael and Eleanor are the last two members of the squad remaining in The Good Place (Janet, of course, is still with them, but she will not be crossing through the doorway at any point, or so it seems). I am thrilled that these two are left together.

Michael and Eleanor are the reasons that everything on The Good Place happened. Eleanor and Chidi may have been the couple, but Eleanor and Michael were the team. Michael obviously started the series with his experiment, and Eleanor pushed it forward by constantly figuring it out.

The two are cut from the same cloth and Michael started his journey to the light side because of his ability to relate to Eleanor. Narratively, these two needed to be our ushers out of the story.

In a beautiful role reversal, Eleanor requests to Judge Gen that Michael be allowed to go to Earth to live out the rest of his life as a human, just as he had pleaded to Gen way back in Season 2’s “Somewhere Else.” Eleanor knows that Michael needs to experience human life to feel that he is complete, as he’s lost his way in the afterlife after running out of problems to solve.

Michael’s desire to be human has been present throughout the series, and the way he laughs at dropping a microwave dinner that is too hot reminds us how lucky we are to just be alive. Life is so full of stupid moments that not only do we take for granted, but ignore or actively get annoyed by.

This can’t be helped, and there are plenty of legitimately annoying occurrences in the world (why do people leave DVD’s in the DVD player?????), but it’s nice to be reminded to take a moment to appreciate those moments because by experiencing these moments, we are alive.

And being alive is special.

Outside of taking a stark stance on how to conduct ourselves as human, The Good Place’s biggest statement is that being alive is special, and being human is special. The series solidifies this point of view in its final episodes by making the claim that death is precisely what makes it special.

“Whenever You’re Ready” does a phenomenal job of showing us exactly why this is. We visibly see the joy drain from Chidi as he opens a menu in Paris and sees that the meal can be literally whatever he wants.

He’s bored. The perfect nature of his extended life has ceased to mean anything more to him. I can feel him wishing that the menu was set and that what he wants isn’t on it.

The restaurant not having what you want to eat is another very human moment, but it can lead to something exciting – a new dish and a new discovery.

When you have eternity, though, that doesn’t matter. There is nothing more to discover because you will eventually discover it all.

This is why death makes living special.

Unfortunately, in real life, we don’t exactly get to choose when we move on. Instead, we’re forced into making the best we can out of a seemingly random amount of time. We also don’t get to create our perfect experiences to fill that time with. We don’t know what happens when we die.

Michael’s time on Earth wouldn’t be human if he knew how the afterlife worked, so Eleanor’s clarification that the system may be different by the time he returns doubles down on death creating value in life. Michael is glad he doesn’t know what will happen because that makes him more human than anything.

A beautiful message, despite its sadness, and a message befitting of The Good Place at its end.

I cannot say I feel the finale was perfect, however (though obviously I think it is amazing).

Eleanor walked through the final door too quickly. I just needed that camera to follow her a little more slowly. It might be a nitpick but I wish I had more time to fully take in the moment that this is it, this is the final time we will see Eleanor Shellstrop.

I also wish there could have been more of a goodbye between Eleanor and Michael, as they did have such a solid connection.

Outside of those gripes – excellent. So many callbacks for the series, incredible expressions of the show’s themes through both show and character, and many wonderful character moments with our six heroes.

Janet was everyone’s ambassador to the original “Good Place,” so her also leading them to their final moments is excellent. Throughout the series, Janet’s growth into almost human made her relatable and someone to care about, but she always remained tethered to the afterlife with her amazing knowledge and powers.

As far as I can tell, she will remain in the Good Place for many Bearimy’s to come, but her time with the humans and Michael will always remain with her. She gets genuinely choked up when her friends leave, so seeing her in their final moments only emphasizes how human she has become. However, Janet is seemingly left in a narrative limbo – we aren’t given clear evidence of exactly what Janet will be doing in the Good Place moving forward, nor what that means to her, which is a missed character beat I wish they hit.

But Jason waiting for her to return, essentially becoming a monk – great writing. An amazing callback with relevance, as Jason only truly became ready to walk through that door when he finally took time to check his impulses and appreciate the world around him.

The Good Place is an amazing series. I stand by my feelings that we should have had an extra episode in the Good Place to build up towards a stronger revelation regarding the exit door, and I definitely feel Season 3’s Earth saga halted the tempo of the series a bit; but overall, The Good Place may just be an all-timer.

I’ve become a better person by watching this series, and I have a better appreciation of life because of it. The finale pointed out moments from the show and moments from my life and said, “Hey! Remember this? Appreciate it.

I’m guessing I’m not the only person who feels this way after watching this show, and I know I won’t be the last.

The twist at the end of season one is what truly hooked me into this show and will forever be its most famous moment, and that twist blasted open the doors to the complexity of humanity and existence.

The show never repeated a move like that, and it didn’t need to. The strength of the story, messages, and characters, as well as the hilarious writing, is what makes it an all-time great series.

“Whenever You’re Ready” is a fantastic end to a fantastic series. The Good Place leaves our screens now, but the ideals it pushed forward will continue to have meaning in our everyday lives, and I’m grateful for the laughs and lessons.

Goodbye, Good Place. Take it sleazy.

Other Musings:

  • Another aspect of the Good Place that encourages residents to feel complete is that everyone there is kind to one another. This is another subtle narrative parallel to the messages that being good and trying to be good brings value to other’s lives.
  • Loved John’s cameo. Wish we could have seen Brent make it to the Good Place to prove that even someone like him could improve. It felt as though he had regressed a bit since his final revelation with Chidi in “Help is Other People,” though I suppose that’s likely from his memory wipe?
  • Michael replaced Doug Forcett’s photo with Eleanor, Chidi, Tahani, and Jason.
  • The narrative memory of this show is great. Eleanor telling Mindy that she knows she cares for people because Mindy once said, “I’m rooting for you guys” is great continuity and a fantastic character detail that deepens Mindy.
  • When The Good Place announced it was ending after four seasons a lot of people were bummed out, but no good story lasts forever! Four seasons is perfect for this show. It allowed the series to essentially follow a typical three-act structure that makes it feel complete, with season two, three, and four acting as the three main parts with season one as a prologue. Thank you for ending with season four!

And that’s the end of The Good Place.


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Ghosts

Ghosts Season 2 Premiere Review – Spies

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Ghost Season 2 Premiere Review Episode 1 Spies

It was dark and gloomy without weekly new episodes of Ghosts, but the season 2 premiere made sure to remedy all of that and make up for lost time. 

Though many months have passed since the Ghosts Season 1 season finale in our world, no time passed on the series, which picked up with the first B&B guests arriving just as the foyer floor gave way under Sam and Jay and they crashed through the floor.

For a moment, it seemed as though Jay’s fall allowed him to see the ghosts as well, but the dream was short-lived. He didn’t see Pete; he saw the delivery guy. I’m kind of happy about it, as having both Sam and Jay see the ghosts would have likely made the show less interesting, but I’m also slightly bummed because it would be nice to see the ghosts interact with someone other than Sam.

Nevertheless, there was no time to mope around as the next set of guests—the unofficial first ones to stay at Woodstone Manor—arrived. 

Debbie and Tom seemed nice enough, but Pete, a former travel agent, knew this trick all too well. He pointed out that they barely touched their welcome drinks, a sure sign that they weren’t as impressed as they were letting on. And once the doubts were planted in Sam’s mind, she kept second-guessing herself at every turn. 

Jay wanted to let it play out, but since they couldn’t risk another bad Yelp review, Sam gave the ghosts the green light to spy on their guests behind Jay’s back. 

It started innocently enough as they reported back their findings so that Sam could make adjustments in real time, but it quickly spiraled out of control when it turned out that Tom and Debbie were the absolute worst human beings on the planet who hated and criticized everything, including the paper-thin sheets, Jay’s cookies, the butter dish, and even Sam’s complexion. Picky is an understatement. It didn’t take long for Sam and Jay to see the dark side of owning a rental property.

Sam attempted to fix everything, but it became too much to handle, and the final straw for Jay was when they criticized the smell of her perfume.

Jay bolted out there and defended his wife, aka the “best person he’s ever met,” with a passionate speech that moved all of the ghosts, even Pete, who noted that it likely wouldn’t make for a positive Yelp review.

Tom and Debbie were floored by the outburst, and when they questioned whether Jay and Sam were eavesdropping on them this whole time, the latter admitted that they simply wanted to impress them so that they could get a good review and start their business on a positive note. After all, online reviews can make or break you. 

And that’s when the hilarity ensued. I’m not one to call anyone out for generational flaws or differences, but their assumption that the Yelp reviews were anonymous was peak boomer behavior, right along with the belief that if they unplug their laptop, the reviews will be deleted. This may have been the funniest moment of the episode because it wasn’t that farfetched. 

While the scenario with the first B&B guests didn’t pan out perfectly, Tom and Debbie felt so guilty about all the businesses they publicly bad-mouthed and tore apart thinking that they were anonymous that they were thankful to Jay and Sam for making them aware and gave Woodstone Manor 5 stars, along with a questionable review that mentioned their account was hacked. Sure, Jan. 

At least now they’ll know to keep their opinions to themselves and stop criticizing every little thing. Who even wants to go on a vacation to hate-talk the whole time while being polite and kind to their hosts’ faces? It seems tiring to be that fake. 

Jay and Sam now know what to expect when they welcome their next guests, and while Sam assured Jay she would never allow the ghosts to spy again, she made sure to provide an asterisk to the rule if it was an important situation.

My two cents—who cares? The guests won’t know, and the ghosts need some form of entertainment. The TV is exciting, but sometimes, they need some human interaction. Why punish them when they’re confined to the house for eternity?

The teaser for the upcoming episode shows that season 2 will dive into each ghost’s backstory a bit more, and it’s exciting because it means we’ll finally see the ghosts while they were alive. I can live with Jay not being able to see the ghosts if we can see them interacting with others through flashbacks. 

Season 1 did a good job at introducing the ghosts and setting the scene as to how they died at the Manor, and while I feel I have a good grasp of who they were, there’s so much potential there when it comes to storytelling. They all lived rich lives with many experiences throughout different generations, so it’s necessary to tap into that more.

And with the B&B officially open for business, they’re bound to cross more interesting house guests. I fully expect this season to get absolutely wild. 

Elsewhere, Isaac navigated his relationship with Nigel, who didn’t seem all too comfortable watching TV at the mansion. TV is the greatest invention known to man, so it was a bit peculiar, and though Isaac was dreading the conversation, it was better than Hetty’s suggestion to let the resentment fester and numb the pain with morphine. See what I mean—Hetty’s backstory is a trip crazier than Flower’s. 

Nigel eventually revealed that Thorfinn was a bit too much for him, which prompted Isaac to ask his Viking buddy to tone it down a bit when his boyfriend was around.  Of course, Thorfinn didn’t take kindly to the criticism given his flair for the dramatics, and he promised to disappear forever. And by that, he meant that he was going to sulk in the basement with the plague ghosts, who actually complained that he was bumming them out.

It took a Spice Girls special about the 90s (truly the greatest decade) and friendship to convince Isaac to apologize to Thorfinn. He brought Nigel along as he didn’t realize how much the Viking meant to him until he was no longer in his life. That’s when Nigel realized just how special their bond was, he apologized to Thorfinn, who admitted he was a bit of an acquired taste. 

And then, in yet another bizarre twist, Nigel and Thorfinn bonded over their love of watching ants. These ghosts are truly something. 

It’ll be fun to see Nigel find his place amongst the ghosts as he and Isaac navigate the early stages of their relationship. I’m rooting for them!

What did you think of the premiere episode? Did you miss all the shenanigans? 


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Abbott Elementary'

Abbott Elementary Recap – Wrong Delivery (2×02)

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Abbott Elementary Recap Wrong Delivery Season 2 Episode 2

Abbott Elementary Season 2 Episode 2 is on a mission to underscore exactly why it deserved that Emmy for outstanding writing. 

“Wrong Delivery” might be the funniest episode to date solely because of the bit about Barbara confusing Black actors with white ones. The delivery from the cast, the perfectly chosen names, the way everyone tried to figure out who she was actually talking about, and the way they all let her go out misidentifying because it was “easier this way” made for some hilarious moments. 

And honestly, I can’t even blame Barbara for confusing Milly Bobby Brown and Bobby Brown! She can get away with anything and everything in my book.

The rest of the episode dug deeper into the issues plaguing public schools and their dedicated teachers, as the staff at Abbott took a little trip to the nearby charter school, Addington Elementary, and got a firm understanding of how underfunded they are. 

Janine, mostly, took the comparisons to heart, setting out on a mission to better Abbott with the grant money they received. While everyone agreed to spend it on the basics—cleaning supplies—Janine wanted to find a way to make the children feel special by buying a computer for the library since Addington had a whole computer lab for their kids.

Ava figured that the only way to settle this debate was to stage Shark Tank with each teacher and professional presenting their case. Not only was it a smart opportunity for ABC to promote one of their other shows, but it also allowed for some hilarity to ensue as Ava’s fellow sharks were Mr. Johnson and little Ava, Courtney.

Janine over delivered with a very over-the-top presentation (on brand for her), but once again, Barbara and Melissa proved that they knew what they were doing better than anyone. After years of teaching at Abbott, they understood that the key to success was to take care of the basic and fundamental needs of their students; everything else was the fluff on top that wasn’t exactly necessary.

Janine may have convinced the sharks to give her the money, but her efforts were wasted when a mouse outbreak in the cafeteria prompted them to use up the funds to pay the exterminator. Hey, at least it wasn’t rats!

Ava may not always have the school front of mind, but she heard Janine’s plea to make the kids feel special and ordered a water ice truck, which, in turn, made the Addington kids jealous of Abbott’s students. People always want what they don’t have. And Abbott’s students were perfectly content with this one special day. Because, while a computer lab with new tech is nice, it doesn’t necessarily measure up to caring teachers who have your best interest at heart. 

Janine has a good heart and wants to help the students, but sometimes, she gets caught up rather than seeing the big picture, so it’s good that she has Melissa and Barbara around to keep her grounded.

Elsewhere, Gregory dealt with his Taylor situation. His romance with Barbara’s daughter was fizzling out, but he didn’t know how to end things without upsetting Barabara. The duo ignored each other in the halls, which made for some tense and awkward moments before Jacob suggested that Gregory “peters out” of the relationship, which is slightly nicer than just ghosting someone. He was on board until Janine helped him realize that he’s more of a straightforward shooter rather than the guy who skirts around the truth.

When Gregory confronted Barbara about Taylor, she, in turn, informed him that she was sorry that her daughter chose to “peter out” of the relationship, noting that she felt he was a “broke boi.” Harsh. He’s just trying his best while uplifting the youth!

Overall, it was a hard day for Gregory, who was also dealing with a malfunctioning AC unit, but in the end, the breakup leaves the door open for Gregory and Janine to finally get together. Well, first they have to be honest about their feelings for each other, but you know it’s coming!

Other highlights from the episode:

    • Melissa starting with her doppelganger at the charter school before revealing it’s her sister. 
    • Ava’s comment about the 2021 Khloe K and the 2022 Khloe K being unrecognizable.

What did you think of the second episode of Abbott Elementary season 2?


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Big Sky

Big Sky Review -The Woods Are Lovely, Dark and Deep (3×02)

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Big Sky Review The Woods Are Lovely, Dark and Deep Season 3 Episode 2

Big Sky needs to tone it on down on the “big” when it comes to its plot. 

The promos for Deadly Trails hooked audiences because they provided one singular focus—a mystery involving a Sunny Barnes’ camping adventure where hikers go missing under mysterious circumstances. 

It felt like the series was hitting refresh after two thrilling yet muddled seasons. Unfortunately, the writers seem to be repeating the mistakes of the past, packing all too much into one season in a way that’s overwhelming for audiences. 

There’s the mystery of Mark, the hiker that we saw fall off of a cliff when he encountered Walter, a strange man, at the top of Deadman’s Drop. The beginning of the episode reveals that Walter, a recluse who lives in the woods, informs his mother about Mark, claiming he accidentally fell from a cliff. She goes into protective mama bear mode, telling Walt she’ll handle it, but when she’s alone with Mark, she just lets him die a slow and agonizing death. When Cassie and Beau come around investigating, she pretends that she knows nothing about Mark’s whereabouts when that’s clearly not the case. 

There’s also the mystery surrounding the campers at Sunny’s, including Paige and Luke, a couple who clearly didn’t mesh well when it came to vacation plans. After the premiere, it seemed as though they simply didn’t see eye to eye about glamping, but a little time in the woods is beginning to unravel them as they mention that they are hiding out until the money comes in. Paige even mentions that Luke would be in jail for what happened. The campers at home base get concerned when Paige and Luke don’t come back, but it’s even more concerning that Luke grabs a rock after he gets into a fight with Paige and attempts to choke her. 

When Emily, Beu’s daughter who is camping with her stepdad Asher, sets out to find the missing couple, she sees Luke covered in blood and makes a run for it. It’s good podcast material… if she survives. The teaser also talks about a missing woman from Sunny Day Camp, which could be Paige or Emily. Did Luke do something to Paige? Or was she the dangerous one since she threatened to kill him if he ever laid hands on her again?

There’s also Asher, who didn’t seem suspicious at first, but he started becoming way too invested in Paige and Luke’s relationship, even sniffing around their room and finding a gun in Paige’s duffel. Why would she leave that behind? Why did she have it in the first place?

There are clearly a lot of concerning things happening at Sunny Day Campgrounds, and it doesn’t seem to be a first. Sunny is great at burying her secrets, but it does make me wonder if Mark’s death at Deadman’s Drop is connected to the case Denise mentions from 20 years ago, And was Walt responsible? 

Sunny seems to have everyone fooled, but Cormac hesitated when he stumbled upon his mother in the woods and questioned her carefree plan to find the troubled lovebirds. Does he know something he’s not letting on? Is he aware of Walt? Or is Walt a child from a previous relationship?

Jenny and Beau also team up to deal with a squatter situation at one of Tonya’s properties. They encounter Donno manhandling Jef with one F, who isn’t exactly forthcoming about his true identity or why he’s living inside the home. Jenny arrests him, along with Donno and another drunk that they pick up on the side of the road, who actually attempts to assassinate Jef. Donno and Jenny save the day, and while I know Jenny does a good amount of kicking butt in this scene, Donno is such a gem. I can see why they chose not to write him out. He brings a sort of flair to the series that continues to be interesting even as he tries to walk a straight and narrow path these days,

Anyway, the near-attack forces Jef to come clean about what’s really going on—he’s a whistleblower for Redmond, a jet company that’s allowing a fleet that failed inspection to hit the skies, putting all of their passengers in danger. Since he knows too much, they want him dead. Jenny persuades him to go into Witness Protection, but the agent that comes to get him raises some red flags. Technically, it all checks out, but Jenny and Beau have played this game before, so they send Poppernak to make sure that Jef gets to safety. When they see Weaver’s car divert from the road to the airport, they leap into action, saving Jef in the knick of time. They also find Camille, the CEO’s executive assistant that went missing, hiding in the basement ready to corroborate Jef’s story. It’s unclear why this new storyline was introduced, but it does beg the question: how does it connect to the hikers at Sunny Day Camp?

Also, did anyone else catch the subtle nod to Jensen Ackles’ Supernatural character when Beau gives Cassie bread and salt as a housewarming gift to “fend off the demons?” Classic. 

Does Asher work for this company? Are Paige and Luke somehow involved?

And if Walt didn’t kill Mark, why is Sunny so eager to cover for him? Has this happened before? What’s her story? 

Do you think there are too many threads to follow this season when it should have been more simplified? 

Share your thoughts about the episode in the comments below! 


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