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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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Walker

Walker Review – Let’s Go, Let’s Go (411)

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Walker Review Let's Go Let's Go Season 4 Episode 11

Walker and his team suffered a major blow during their hunt for the Jackal on Walker Season 4 Episode 11. 

If I’m this frustrated with a case, I know that they are over with how this serial killer keeps outsmarting and evading them. It’s taken so much from them in terms of sanity, time, and even loved ones, as we saw James spiral back into old habits that once again put his home life with Kelly in the crossfire, and Walker’s hallucinatory dream showed that one of his biggest regrets in life was not being there for his family enough; for the big and small moments. 

As the Jackal pumped up Walker with drugs, the hallucination began like a dream as Cordell finally had his wife back. In reality, Cordell was living through a nightmarish situation before being buried alive. 

I’m typically not a fan of hallucination/dream episodes, but this one was interesting as it examined Cordell’s life and motivations through the lens of his funeral. It was his subconscious bubbling to the surface, but it was showing him how his absence made others feel. The message was loud and strong, though he wasn’t entirely open to receiving it, even when Emily urged him to let it go and get back to reality.

The drugs pumped into his system were so strong that if it wasn’t for Cordell’s team tracking him down, he would’ve suffered the same fate so many of Jackal’s victims have over the years. I guess it’s slightly reassuring to know that they have no idea of what’s going on in their final moments of life, but it still doesn’t make the situation any better, especially knowing that Jackal almost killed two rangers as they were on his tail. 

While they got to Cordell just in time, David Luna didn’t have the same amount of luck—and it was honestly the most heartbreaking development in this season-long case. 

When I say the Jackal took loved ones, I also mean physically, as it seems Luna succumbed to his injuries and died in Cassie’s arms, which we know is going to absolutely destroy her as she was just coming around to admitting that she loved him.

I’m hoping that maybe there’s a reality where Luna still has a pulse and is spared, but it’s not looking good for him. Their pursuit of the Jackal meant that he was getting sloppy and needed to tie up loose ends, which included Luna as he took his eye off the prize. 

I knew it wasn’t going to bode well for him when he made that overly long phone call to Cassie, which was super sappy, and she hesitated to say the “L” word, something we know she’ll come to regret if he doesn’t make it. 

They could’ve saved that conversation for another time so that neither of them lost focus and allowed themselves to be ambushed by the Jackal. And if I’m being realistic, I don’t think this is a one-man show. One man wouldn’t be able to take out David Luna all while moving Cordell and burying him in a shallow grave. I think there’s a team working here, which is how they’ve been able to stay ahead of the police. 

Either way, the desire to stop and capture the Jackal is only growing stronger now that he’s targeted two of the Rangers’ own men. And maybe it’s time to bring in backup because this isn’t something they can handle on their own. 

As for Cassie, I hope she hasn’t lost the love of her life in such a senseless way—she deserves a shred of happiness. 

And with only two episodes on the horizon, I hope this case helps Cordell reframe what’s really important in life, and that includes slowing down and appreciating all the love he’s surrounded by, including his new romance with Geri. Maybe it’s time he stop running by leaving the rangers behind? 

What did you think of the episode? Do you think Luna’s really dead?

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Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin

Pretty Little Liars: Summer School Review – The Bogeyman (207)

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Pretty Little Liars: Summer School Review - The Bogeyman (207)

Secrets, secrets are no fun—but they’re definitely fueling Bloody Rose’s wrath on Millwood and the final girls. 

Tabby is the last girl standing, waiting for Bloody Rose to pounce, which does make me think that maybe Christian isn’t as innocent as we’ve been led to (desperately wanted) to believe. He did swoop in with a superhero complex, loves to make masks (and could easily make a 3D rendering to make Bloody Rose appear as Imogen’s mother), and could be a chip off the old block as Chip’s buddy wanting to get revenge for his friend’s murder, so we have to look at all the possibilities now.

That being said, it’s only one of many options presenting itself, and with Pretty Little Liars: Summer School Season 2 Episode 7 serving as the penultimate episode, we’re still no closer to figuring out who could be tormenting these girls once again.

However, it’s clear the pressure is getting to them as they’ve been making reckless choice after reckless choice. By the end of the hour, they all found themselves at the scene of the crime in some way—and none of it looked good on them. 

Imogen was at the cemetery with Dr. Sullivan, who finally came clean about her connection to Archie and Bloody Rose. Turns out, she’s also been victimized by this family, after serving as Rose’s therapist at Radley, failing to help Archie at her request, and then being targeted by the psychotic killer, who also killed her son, Sebastian, years ago. It makes sense why she’s been trying to help the Millwood girls in a way she couldn’t help her own child. But getting too close to it also means you’re in the line of fire, as Imogen realized Sullivan was kidnapped by Bloody Rose at the cemetery, as she left behind her signature calling card of red roses scattered across the car seat. 

Faran, who has spent all season trying to prove herself, finally allowed herself to let her guard down, with Greg, no less (I don’t mind this pairing, but I don’t want her to forget how douchey he was for literally two full seasons), but while it may have been a welcome distraction, it was also the reason she missed all of Kelly’s calls and later found her dead in the pool where she was waiting to meet. If Faran had picked up, maybe Bloody Rose wouldn’t have gotten to another Beasley, though since we know how much BR is capable of, it’s unlikely anything could’ve helped Kelly. If it wasn’t this moment, it would’ve been somewhere else. I do feel sorry that she got killed off the moment she had an actual “come to Jesus” moment and realized that maybe her friends were right about the cult… and her mother, who claimed the Millwood girls have not yet atoned for what they did to Karen. It seems like everyone is just forgetting that Archie is the actual murderer while they are all victims of a very toxic situation. 

 

Also this fan theory that I’m still standing by:

Noa was being easily manipulated by Jen—because that’s what’s happening, right?—as she chose to take a baseball bat to Shawn’s car, Carrie Underwood style, but the ironic part was that she was the one cheating on him all summer. Does Shawn not have a right to be angry? Sure, he shouldn’t have punched a hole in the wall, but two wrongs don’t make a right. How did Noa know he was threatening Jen when he did it?  

It all seemed so out of character for Noa as she spiraled out of control in a relationship that’s had all too many red flags (like she bling-ringed Shawn’s house AFTER he helped her out…..). I actually don’t know where the writers planned to take Noa’s character this season, but it’s not something anyone is getting behind. Before she jumps into any relationship—healthy or otherwise—she needs to learn how to deal with her own emotions. 

All of this could’ve been so easily resolved had both of them just talked it out like adults—something Jen conveniently hinted shouldn’t happen because she thrives on chaos and destruction. 

Either way, despite his flaws, Shawn deserved better. He may not have been perfect, but he really went out of his way for Noa (even going against his mother because he loved his girlfriend), only to get stabbed in the back and kicked to the curb. 

 

 

And then there’s poor Mouse, who made the very terrible choice of posing as Angela Waters on Spooky Spaghetti in hopes of getting all these rabid followers to slow their roll, except it backfired right back—and Lola became a prime target, with Bloody Rose’s fandom suggesting that the grandmother become the first sacrifice in Archie’s blood atonement. It’s, well, unhinged, and I’m not surprised these ladies are sleeping with one eye open. They aren’t safe anywhere, as evidenced by actual Rose’s arrival at Mouse’s place. I’m intrigued to see what it is she wants from Mouse and Lola.

Also, WES IS ALIVE? Scream it from the rooftops because I truly thought it was over for him. He waltzed into the Orpheum like “Heck yah, I’m still here, but I’m also leaving Millwood because that’s the sane thing to do.” Before he peaced out of there, he said he suggested both of them for co-managers as if there’s literally anyone else working at that theater. And also, who owns the theater? Is it Veronica Lodge? Because that would be epic. 

One final note, this scene had me in tears… Bloody Rose knows she’s a menace. 

This was, hands down, one of the best episodes of PLL: Summer School, firing on all fronts. Bloody Rose claimed yet another victim—why didn’t Faran run to double check if Kelly was alive because you know, no body, no death rule of TV—all while the girls are all being played and no closer to figuring out who their tormentor could be.  I’d say we can cross Kelly’s mother off the list as she was locked up and drugged, which leaves us with all the love interests—Jen, Christian, Johnny (but I really want him to be good), and Ash (who is slightly sus now because he knows everything and could be using it to his advantage. How else did Mouse’s identity come out in that video unless BR has bugged them all), along with the scorned mother, Mrs. Lansberry. 

Who do you think it is? Share all of your theories with us! 

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Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin

Pretty Little Liars: Summer School Review – Hell House (206)

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Pretty Little Liars Summer School Review Hell House Season 2 Episode 6

Welcome to our nightmare couldn’t have been a more accurate statement for the liars of Millwood, especially after the most recent development on Pretty Little Liars: Summer School Season 2 Episode 6.

In the final moments of the episode, Imogen is challenged by Bloody Rose, but unlike with the other girls, she doesn’t give her much of a heads up, ambushing her in her mother’s bedroom. 

It’s at this moment that I had this odd feeling that maybe, just maybe, Bloody Rose is Imogen’s mother—and lo and behold, that’s exactly who Imogen said was under the bloody gauze when she pulled it off. 

Now, we have to take it with a grain of salt, considering Imogen’s mother died… we never saw a body body, but we saw her in the bloodied bathtub, which seemed like enough proof. 

There’s also the fact that trauma has a way of playing tricks on you, and while it seems like Imogen is fine most of the time, she is in a vulnerable and fragile place when it comes to her mental health. She’s had a significant amount of breakdowns that could have caused her to imagine her mother’s face in place of whoever is actually attacking them. The trauma could’ve intensified by being back in her childhood home where she saw her mother take her own life. 

And let’s not forget that there’s a handful of people in town who are skilled at making very detailed and intricate masks. Imogen wasn’t able to say much about who she saw under the gauze aside from “my mom,” but it’s possible that her next words would have been “or a mask to look like my mom.” Because the odds of it actually being her mom are slim. 

It also doesn’t really make sense if it were to be Imogen’s mother as she didn’t give off homicidal tendencies. I know a lot of people aren’t who they claim to be in Millwood, but Imogen’s mother was genuinely excited to support her daughter becoming a mother before she was brutally murdered—and made to look like a suicide—by Archie. Therefore, I don’t think she’d ever turn around and terrorize her daughter and her friends—what would be the reason?

The town of Millwood is ensuring that the liars don’t forget about their trauma too quickly either with the arrival of Redemption House, which everyone dubs Hell House. And considering the rooms are all themed to stick it to the liars and make them feel guilty about all that they’ve endured—losing loved ones, being taken advantage of at parties, etc—it’s a fitting name. 

Thankfully, this season, the liars aren’t just taking it, they are fighting back in any way that they can. They aren’t just boldly taking on Bloody Rose’s deathly challenges, they are taking a stand and ensuring that their message is received by the culty church that rented out Imogen’s house for their theatrics. 

 Their plan to terrorize Redemption House with monster and demon masks was innocent yet effective, considering the cult members’ fear of hell, but it also slightly backfired not only because of Bloody Rose’s attack on Imogen, but because Bloody Rose already got to Redemption House before them and stabbed Pastor Malachi dead between the eyes. 

Was it gruesome and brutal? Yes. Was it deserved? Well, no one ever deserves murder, to be clear, but the man did bring it upon himself. I was hoping someone would notice his absence/bring up his death during the episode, but I’m guessing it will be timed to the movie that the boys recorded, which will somehow place the blame back on the liars. It’s not the first time they’ve been set up. 

The whole Redemption House storyline is bizarre on so many levels—something the liars themselves have acknowledged, which is nice—and I can’t speak to why Henry is blindly taking part in it, but I’m convinced that Kelly is brainwashed. Whatever her mom did to her in that “prayer room” changed her completely, so she’s just going along with it blindly despite knowing that it isn’t right. 

Another development I’m excited to see is Greg and Faran’s hook-up. They have such an intense chemistry that it’s only a matter of time, not to mention Greg’s character was being wasted on that Redemption House storyline. If anything, Faran is his redemption. Plus, the fact that he’s Kevin from Riverdale’s cousin makes him so much better in my book. I love the subtle callbacks to sister shows. 

Then there’s the Jen of it all. While I was on board with her and Noa’s relationship initially, I’m not into it now that I know she tried to right one of her wrongs but bling-ringing Shawn’s house and then giving him the money. Like, in what world is that a reasonable solution? Noa was upset, but not as upset as she should’ve been, simply telling Jen to stop breaking into people’s homes. Her feelings for Jen are clearly clouding her judgment, but I wish this moment would’ve painted a clearer picture for her overall because it was a shitty move on Jen’s part. 

What did you think of the episode? Do you believe Bloody Rose is really Imogen’s mom? Or do you think someone is playing tricks on her? Can the liars’ circle of significant others really be trusted? And where is Wes? Did Bloody Rose get to him? Did Christian?

Share your thoughts on this weeks episode of PLL: Summer School now! 

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