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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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Big Brother

Big Brother All-Stars Review: A Look Back (22×35)

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Big Brother All-Stars Episode 35 Review

Remember yesterday, when Julie said that we would get a special episode? Well that episode is the annual retrospective episode. This happens every year at the final 3 mark, where the finalists get to feast on lobster, drink champagne, and reflect on the game so far. This has happened every year and serves as a staged filler episode, where true “acting chops” are shown, because all of the dialogue is set up. Things like “Wow, what a CRAZY journey this has been,” and “Hey, remember when THIS happened?” It’s not an ideal episode, especially with the finale so close, but hey, it’s done every year, and sometimes new footage is shown, that was on the feeds, but never made the edit.

Nicole, Enzo, and Cody sit at the table and begin their celebratory feast. The first reflective segment showcased various pranks that happened throughout the season. Dani pranking Cody, Enzo pranking Cody to the point that Nicole peed her pants, Cody pranking Memphis, etc., etc. Enzo then said his favorite “prank:” when Nicole made Janelle a Have-Not solely because she doesn’t like her. That wasn’t much of a prank more than it was strategy, and also very personal, but it was nice to show that scene again, with Janelle being very passive-aggressive to Nicole. The queen of BB still makes an impact to this day.

Enzo, while eating steak at the feast, forgot for a minute that he became a vegan in the house, which lead to a moment I wanted to make the edit and didn’t! Flashback to day 48, where David nearly burned the house down trying to make French Fries. This happened on the feeds, and it was hilarious. It was mostly great to watch David’s dumbfounded face as he stared at the destruction that he almost caused.

Then we got to a moment that tore my heartstrings: Janelle and Kaysar, AKA Jaysar. Two best friends who met 15 years ago on BB6 and BB7, and now playing together again on BB22. It was an entire segment about their friendship, how it’s grown, and how amazing it is that they can play the game one more time with their best friend. These two are two of the most popular HouseGuests of the season (Da’Vonne with them), so it’s sad we will probably never see either of them play again. They were a great addition to this overall slow season.

Cody then reveals that he didn’t know what the word “ripe” meant until this season. I have no words beyond that. I’m just going to let that hang there.

There then was a segment where different HouseGuests were shown in the Diary Room requesting things from the producers. Wanting drinks, the AC to be turned off, the hot tub on, new insect repellent. A pretty okay segment, since they can’t do the shopping themselves.

They three then reflect on their fallen comrades. They mostly talk about Ian, and how open he was about being on the autism spectrum, and how it has affected his life since winning BB14. While the moment they showed was inspirational, because I love Ian, but I couldn’t help but think of the moment that Memphis, Nicole, Dani, and Christmas made of him for that on the live feeds. It was atrocious, inhumane, and I hope they understand what they did to him after the show is over.

They replayed the moment of Kaysar talking to Da’Vonne talking about racial injustice in the country, and what playing this game means to them, and the platform that they represent to inspire change. Da’Vonne subtly called out the fact that not many people of color are on the show every year, which inspires her to come back whenever she gets the call.

A segment gets played showing off all of the punishments from the season, from Ian performing space movie scenes, to Nicole’s slop costume, to Janelle’s star costume. And how could we forget Christmas’ all-star babies? They also showed (f0r the first time) Bayleigh’s triathlete punishment that she got during a Veto competition, where she had to do 500 laps around the yard on a tricycle. This punishment was shown on the feeds, but never made the edit, which I found weird because regardless of the punishment, they almost always show punishments on the edits. Bayleigh even finished the laps with one pedal, since one fell off, but celebrated with the HouseGuests after it was over.

While talking about things they will miss about the house, Nicole points out that she will not miss crying in the Diary Room, which prompted a full 2 minutes of the HouseGuests crying in the Diary Room with melodramatic violin music playing. I know the game is shown online 24/7, but that moment felt the most intrusive. I was uncomfortable watching it.

Before the episode ended, each finalist shared their thoughts on the end. Nicole wants to be the first two-time winner, Cody wants to avenge his BB16 loss, and take the win, and Enzo wants to win the game for his dad. The first part of the final HOH competition begins Monday, with finale night coming next Wednesday!

Cody, Nicole, and Enzo. The final 3. Not the final 3 I would’ve wanted, not in the slightest. These three were probably the most boring final 3 in recent years, probably sitting close with last year’s atrocious season. It was an all-star season, and we’re getting some all-duds getting to the end. If I had my way (and I’m sure the BB fans would agree), we would see Janelle, Da’Vonne, and Kaysar sitting with each other on finale night. Alas, we get these three. Maybe next year. Anyway, Da’Vonne for America’s Favorite HouseGuest!


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Big Brother

Big Brother All-Stars Review: The Thirteenth Eviction (22×34)

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Big Brother All-Stars Episode 34 Review

One spot remains in the final 3, and either Nicole or Christmas is going to take it. Cody has the only vote to evict this evening, and whoever stays will join Enzo and Cody on finale night. The other falls short and joins the jury.

As Julie introduces the night, we get a segment where Enzo tries to get Christmas to stay in the house in the final 3. Enzo believes that he has a better chance of winning with Christmas in the final 3, since Cody and Nicole are so tight and aligned, and Enzo might be on the outs. Christmas agrees with him, and wants to fight until the end to stay, though she has a belief that she’s done.

Nicole then points out that she has spent 230 days in the Big Brother house over 3 seasons, passing fan favorites like Janelle, and BB18 and BB19 alum Paul Abrahamian. She then believes that if she makes it to the end, she could win again. This should fuel Cody to get Nicole out now, because then no one can have the honor of being the first two-time winner. Enzo even went to Cody and said that Christmas could be easier to beat in the final HOH competitions. Cody then said privately that Enzo is terrible at competitions, which isn’t totally false. He’s got 2 HOH comps, a Veto, and a Safety Suite, so it’s a solid resume.

Oooh, we got a little drama too! Enzo said to Cody and Nicole, “Hey, don’t we make a good final 3?” What he didn’t know, is that Christmas was in the other room, and heard everything. She’s been hurt by Enzo before, so this shouldn’t be a surprise. Christmas hasn’t even been campaigning to Cody this week, only to Enzo, buy Cody is the only one with a vote, so she’s going to the wrong person.

As if she heard me, Christmas went to Cody, saying that Enzo is not a loyal person, and that if she stays, she will bring Cody with her to the final 2 no matter what. She did a good campaign to throw Enzo under the bus, saying that he flipped his vote last second during the Triple Eviction, and that he’s been gunning for Nicole ever since. I’m pretty sure this went in one ear and out the other with Cody, but he did acknowledge that she’s putting up a good fight.

Nicole, after daydreaming to herself that she’s winning the game, goes to Cody to campaign. She did a less than average pitch to him, with her main argument being that no matter what, Christmas will not take him to the final 2, and threatened her jury vote with it. This gave Cody flashbacks to BB16, when he had a choice between either the person he knew he could beat, or the person that he was loyal to from day 1. He took the person he was loyal to, and lost.

We then get a new jury house segment, which showed the newest addition of Memphis. Each juror shared who they wanted to join them in the jury house, and of course each one gets to say different opinions of different people left. When Memphis entered the house, the rest of the group was SHOOK. The happiest person there was David, who said that he doesn’t respect him at all, and is more than happy that he’s out. The jurors recognize that Nicole is playing a similar game to that of her winning season, where she laid low for several weeks, then started winning comps. Ian then says that if anyone clips Cody at the final 3, then that person would get his jury vote. David started making a point about Nicole and Enzo’s game, and Dani interrupted him, which was insanely rude, but Kevin jumped to his defense. It’s just so hard, as a fan, to want anyone left in the house to win. Yes, Cody is playing the best game, so he would be a solid win, but the way he did his game hasn’t earned my respect.

Christmas and Nicole then made their final arguments to Cody before he makes his vote. Christmas was SAVAGE to Enzo, saying “Enzo, congratulations on making third place!” This was…accurate. There’s a strong chance that Enzo is going to reprise his BB12 season by getting third place, because the bond between Cody and Nicole might be closer than he thinks. Nicole was pretty easy-going in her speech, just being nice to everyone. Cody then stood and cast his sole vote for….Christmas. No surprise, but he did say that she put up a good fight.

Christmas said a kind goodbye, and walked out to meet Julie. She said that she saw this eviction coming a mile away, but gave a great fight, which is definitely something worth recognizing. She said that she was truthful in her pitch to Cody, and that she would’ve cut Enzo at final 3, and that she could beat any one of them in the final 2. That statement was a stretch, but the confidence is key. The goodbye messages to her spilled all the information of Nicole and Cody’s alliance, and Cody’s final 2 deals with Nicole and Enzo. Cody also revealed the other Wise Guys alliance that was made and that Enzo told him all about it. Christmas wasn’t surprised by this, but respects the gameplay.

We have a final 3! In just 6 days, someone will be walking out the door with $500,000 in their pocket. Before the episode signed off, Julie surprised the final 3 with special messages from home. Cody got one from his girlfriend, Nicole her fiancé Victor, and Enzo his two kids. These sorts of moments are always great to see in games like BB, because they don’t get to see or talk to their families the entire time they’re in there.

Julie then teased a special episode tomorrow, and that the final three-part HOH competition will be set to begin! Voting also opened for the annual America’s Favorite Player competition, where the public awards $25,000 to their favorite player of the season. All I got to say is, Da’Vonne for AFP!

Who I Hope Makes Final 2: 
This is a little hard, but in thinking about total game, I would like to see Enzo and Cody. I feel like if Cody wins the final HOH, he will take Nicole. We’ll see. A lot can happen with less than a week to go!


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Supernatural

Supernatural Review: Flashback and Flashforward (15×16)

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Supernatural Drag Me Away (From You) Review

When we last left our favorite monster-hunting group, it was revealed that in order to kill God and his sister, Jack will have to die with then when he uses his powers. While Castiel takes some time off-world to investigate ways to save Jack, Sam and Dean take on a case that hit a little close to home. While on the way there, Cas texts Dean telling him to inform Sam of what will happen to Jack, but ignores it.

The brothers learn that an old family friend Travis, appeared to have slit his throat in a motel they used to stay at while their dad went on hunts. In reality, Travis went there to confront some past demons, when a figure of a child (later revealed to be Travis as a kid) scared him and might have done the act itself. The motel is filmed in a very Shining-esque way, with retro hallway shots, and the rooms looking like they’re trapped in the 1960s. You know, typical Supernatural gold.

As they arrive to the motel, we get a flashback of a time that Sam and Dean were left by their dad at the Rooster Sunrise motel. The two new child actors they got for them were fantastic, and encompassed Dean’s passion for hunting as a kid, and Sam’s desire to get out. While pre-teen Sam studies a college exam book, teenage Dean hacks into a vending machine and meets Caitlin and Travis, who’s mom works at the motel.

Meeting up with Caitlin in present day, she tells the Winchesters that a trauma he experienced at the motel as a kid has haunted him for years, and that his therapist told him to go back to room 214 at the motel to immerse himself in his fear. Caitlin fears that something must have happened to him, because she feels that his brother would never kill himself. Dean wants to believe something else went on, but says that he killed the monster that was causing havoc on children in the town.

We flashback to little Travis trying the hack Dean used on the vending machines, and hand popped out of the chute. Dean reveals to their new friends that monsters are real, so it’s possible something is crawling around the motel. Caitlin even shows them recent disappearances of children, noticing that one kid disappeared at the local cannery, and young Dean investigates it alone, and Caitlin follows him, to his chagrin. While there, Dean stumbles upon a nest of dead children, which scares him to the core. Sam and Travis, while playing a word scramble game, get jumped by the monster, and Dean rushes back and kills it. The monster disintegrates, but leaves behind a suspicious looking ring.

Present-day Dean, while looking down the hallways of the motel, is approached by a ghost of his former self, and the ghost echoes to him to insert the knife he’s holding into himself, but Sam stops him before he can do it.

Discovering that the monster is still at large, Sam and Dean contemplate about what the monster might be. While getting some food for the group, Billie (a reaper) comes to Dean and informs him that Chuck (God) has destroyed every world except for the one they currently reside, and they have limited time before he comes to get them next. Billie gets on his case about not telling Sam about Jack, and that everyone needs to be on the same page for this final battle.

Sam and Caitlin discover that the monster that’s been attacking them is a Baba Yaga, meaning is this JOHN WICK?! I’m kidding, but wouldn’t it be cool if John Wick and the Winchesters were in the same universe? Anyway, they discover that a Baba Yaga feeds on children’s fears and can take shape of a person or memory they fear most. Caitlin remembers the suspicious ring that Travis wore was the Baba Yaga’s, but is jumped by the being taking form of her brother.

Sam and Dean investigate the motel, looking for Caitlin. Sam finds the concierge smoking in the back room, and Dean hears a couple behind a room…well…you know. However, Dean finds himself back in what appears to be the cannery where the nest was, but it was an illusion created by the Baba Yaga to distract Dean. Sam stabs the being, and Dean destroys the ring, and the demon bursts into flames.

As they say goodbye to Caitlin, the flashback shows them saying goodbye to her in the past, and young Dean thanks Sam and thinks they make a good team (cue the tears). As they drive back to the bunker, Dean told his brother about Billie’s visit, as well as the news that Jack will die when they face off against Chuck and Amara. Naturally, Sam is angry that Dean hid this from him, causing them to have a genuine fight for the first time in several seasons. This will definitely effect how they treat each other moving forward.

In the 15 seasons of this show, not every episode was a hit. Obviously, the series has had several filler episodes, but these final episodes of Supernatural are going all out. With great monsters, cases, and performances by everyone, it’s clear to see that the writers, directors, and everyone involved on the Supernatural team is working hard to make these final episodes ones that we won’t be forgetting, even after the show is off the air. I’m extremely impressed by this episode, integrating the episodes main case, with the overall plotline that’s bringing this show to a close. It’s also going to lead into some great conflict between the entire group in the last 4 episodes.


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