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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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Umbrella Academy

Umbrella Academy Review – Party Like It’s 1963 (2 x 04)

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In episode 204 of Umbrella Academy, Diego, Five and Lila crash a party to investigate the “Majestic 12,” a deep-state shadow government group that includes Reginald Hargreeves as a member.

Lila’s backstory with the Handler is partly revealed. In London 1993, Lila’s parents are killed by an unknown Commission assassin, and the Handler takes her in, adopts her, and trains her to be an agent of the Commission as well.

In the present day (or at least in 1963 on the show), the Handler gives Lila the mission of protecting Number Five at all costs.

Meanwhile, the rest of the Hargreeves still refuse to help stop the apocalypse because of personal attachments they’ve developed in the timeline.

Infiltrating The Majestic 12

A photo of 11 members of the “Majestic 12” owned by Elliott. The 12th member is presumed to be Reginald Hargreeves. / Umbrella Academy / Netflix

Five manages to hear part of the secret organization’s plans, which seems to hint at the assassination of JFK.

It’s unclear, however, what their intentions are solely based on what Five heard. Will they cause or simply mitigate the assassination? Hopefully, a mystery that will soon be revealed.

Also while at the party, Diego sees a woman resembling Grace / Mom from season 1 who happens to be Reginald’s date to the party; implying that the robotic matron was based on a real woman from Reginald’s past love life.

Chaos ensues when the Swedes also crash the party and attack the Hargreeves brothers and Lila.

Which also disrupts the Majestic 12’s secret meeting causing them to scatter

During a moment in the battle, Lila is forced to choose who to protect between Diego and Five, and she chooses Five because of her mother’s orders.

This will definitely cause a rift with Diego moving forward, and question Lila’s motivations for hanging around with them.

At the end of the episode, Five shouts cryptic phrases in Ancient Greek toward Reginald, who hears it and drives away but seems to understand some kind of revelation.

Vanya Saves Harlan

Vanya tries to comfort Luther after he gets knocked out from his underground fight in the previous episode as they bond over how much of an a**hole their brother Five is. Luther reveals Vanya causes the apocalypse of season 1 and they share a small cathartic moment of forgiveness and understanding before Luther sends her away.

Five tries to convince Vanya to help him stop the apocalypse, but she instead goes back to Sissy to tell her she needs to leave to keep her and Harlan safe.

Harlan overhears their conversation and runs away and nearly drowns in a large pond.

Luckily, Vanya is able to use her powers to literally make the water float, revealing an unconscious Harlan whom she revives after giving him mouth to mouth resuscitation. She also seems to have transferred either some kind of power to him or revived him from his death.

Afterward, a distraught Sissy starts making-out with Vanya and they share an emotional moment together.

Hargreeves Siblings’ Personal Troubles…

  • Luther gets kicked out by Jack Ruby from his abode because of the fight he lost, which caused Ruby to owe a lot of money. Luther decides to go to Elliott’s place and the two get high on laughing gas – a hilarious scene with dark undertones that shows the two men sharing depressing details about their personal lives, and then inappropriately laughing about them. (PURE COMEDY!)
  • Ray avoids Alison due to the incident with the cop almost beating him to death as he suspects her of being some kind of spy after she uses her powers to save him. This pushes Alison to go find Luther, who is eating his feelings away by voraciously consuming barbecue. They share a meaningful embrace, but awkwardly catch-up.
  • Klaus continues to convince David to not sign up for the military, but instead, David punches him at the urging of his uncle Brian to “hit the queer” (Klaus). This depresses Klaus and he relapses and gets wasted.
  • Klaus, after a night of drinking, badly tells the fable of “The Scorpion and The Frog” to Alison and claims that the point of the story is “Frogs are bitches and we don’t negotiate with terrorists.”

Verdict: 7.5 / 10

This episode was a bit uneven in terms of pacing and focused more on the individual issues of the Hargreeves siblings. The kissing scene with Sissy and Vanya was expected but didn’t have as much impact. While Diego and Lila’s romance also became a bit questionable, mostly due to Lila’s unpredictability. Klaus’ tragic story arc with David was somewhat usurped by sudden comedic breaks that took away from the gravity of the moment.

On the other hand, Luther steals the show in this episode with his comedic chops, and the mysteries surrounding the apocalypse and Reginald are enough to keep you hooked and wanting more.


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Umbrella Academy

Umbrella Academy Review – Racism, Rebels and Reveals (2 x 03)

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The implications surrounding Lila, and her relation to the Handler is a mystery that's sure to be intriguing as it unravels this season.

In episode 203 of Umbrella Academy,  “The Swedish Job,” Alison leads a sit-in to protest racial injustice, Klaus becomes a cult leader, and The Handler’s daughter is revealed to be Lila.

During episode 2, the Handler was revived from the brink of death, while Diego is fatally wounded by Reginald Hargreeves. This episode begins with Diego being nursed back to health by Lila, and in a game-changing plot twist at the end of the episode, she’s revealed to be the daughter of the Handler – whom she’s actively involved with.

The Handler has followed the Hargreeves in 1963 and hides in a secret base of operations with a pet store as a front. The implications of her presence at the same time and place as the Hargreeves siblings suggests that she has new machinations that will probably mean bad news.

As if that doesn’t complicate things enough, Diego decides to sleep with Lila, albeit in an awkwardly funny sex scene where Elliott, who’s in the other room, pretends to be oblivious.

Klaus Started A Cult

In the opening montage sequence of the episode, Klaus is shown to become a messianic figure for a cult he hilariously calls “Destiny’s Children.”

For the past two years, Klaus traveled to Mexico, India, and San Francisco to spread his message, which he mostly made up as he went. But his status proves useful as he’s managed to survive and bide his time to eventually encounter his siblings whom he thought were all dead.

Alison manages to find Klaus in his mansion where the two reunite joyously and have a great dialogue, the highlight of which was as follows:

“You started a cult,” Alison says.

To which Klaus replied, “We prefer to call it an alternative spiritual community.”

The two share a laugh, and after realizing that Klaus met Alison’s husband Ray when he was incarcerated, he vows to free him.

He does so by using Ben to scare the police into releasing Ray by haunting the station. (Apparently, that’s what it takes to combat police injustice.)

Also in the episode, Klaus tries to convince a younger Dave, the Vietnam veteran he fell in love with in season 1, not to sign up for the military in order to save his life.

Alison Leads A Civil Rights Protest

Alison convinces the rest of the civil rights activist group she’s involved in to go through the sit-in protests despite the absence of Ray, who was wrongfully jailed – he eventually joins the protest after being freed by Klaus.

Alison has a powerful dialogue that empowers the discouraged civil rights activists when they begin to have doubts and fears about their plans to protest.

Their protest, of course, causes chaos at the local diner where they organized the sit-in, which is underscored by the racism and police brutality against African-Americans during those times.

The scene shows disturbing and sickening acts of prejudice by the local population, and it’s an intense scene to watch that’s apropos to the racial tensions happening in the country.

Eventually, Alison is forced to use her powers to save his husband, who was getting beaten with a baton by a Caucasian policeman. Ray, however, is shocked as to why a white officer would ever listen to a black woman and runs away confused and frightened.

Earlier in the episode, Alison revealed to Klaus that she has not used her powers since arriving in 1961 because of the incident with Vanya, who slit her throat and rendered Alison incapable of speaking for a year.

So using it in a desperate situation definitely caused her some emotional turmoil as well.

Other Noteworthy Events:

  • Vanya is hunted down by The Swedes but manages to fend them off by instinctively using her powers. As a result of the power surge, Five was able to locate Vanya and informs her of her forgotten past, and the current situation they must deal with regarding the coming apocalypse.
  • Luther tracks Alison’s home address with the help of Jack Ruby, but only finds Ray at home. He’s saddened to find out that Alison has been married for a year, and he hilariously eats the box of chocolates he brought as a gift for Alison. Emotionally distraught, Luther later lets his opponent in the underground fighting ring to knock him out, so he can “feel all the pain.”
  • The show depicts a gripping scene with Harlan, the autistic mute son of Sissy, throwing a tantrum where he bites his mother.

Verdict: 9.5 / 10

The most political episode of the season yet, the racial undertones of the show reach an apex in this episode, and it’s a beautifully weaved sequence of events that delivers a powerful albeit uncomfortable reminder of our country’s problematic past. Even so, Umbrella Academy retains the humor within the chaos and simultaneously sets up intriguing storylines to follow while delivering an important message about social change.


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Umbrella Academy

Umbrella Academy Review – The Handler Comes Back To Life, & [SPOILERS] Return (2 x 02)

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After getting shot in the head in season 1, The Handler survives and is back to cause problems for the Hargreeves.

In season 2 of Umbrella Academy episode 2 “The Frankel Footage,” The Handler comes back to life after getting shot in the head by Hazel in season 1. Then Diego and Five encounter the younger versions of Pogo and their father, Reginald Hargreeves, who turn out to be formidable opponents.

Also, the mysterious Commission assassins are revealed to be called “The Swedes,” who have decided to wear milkman outfits as disguises.

After her shocking death in season 1 at the hands of Hazel, The Handler is shown in the opening scene of the episode almost getting incinerated by two morgue workers. Fortunately, she regains consciousness just in the nick of time to tell them to take her to the hospital.

She survives because of a metal plate in her head that’s implanted from a previous incident.

It takes her three months to rehabilitate herself back to health and proceeds to return to work at the Commission. However, she’s been demoted and usurped by AJ, a character lifted straight from the comic book, who well… looks like this:

The Handler doesn’t take well to her new role and is furious at the person who put her there, Number Five.

Ironically, she is placed at the same desk where she put Five on in season 1 when she “promoted” him. Her return certainly complicates things for the Hargreeves who already have a lot going on in their plate.

Young Reginald and Pogo

A young Reginald Hargreeves (Colm Feore) and Pogo make a surprise return in episode 2 of Umbrella Academy season 2. Image c/o Netflix.

After deciphering the film (labeled “Frankel Footage”) left by Hazel in Five’s pocket as a clue in episode 1, Diego and Five find out that their father is alive and in Dallas the same as them, and seems to be involved in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy as the grainy video suggests.

They decide to track his company, D.S. Umbrella, in hopes of finding and confronting their father. The company is revealed to be a front, and they find disturbing clues that make no sense.

Eventually, Five finds a young Pogo who attacks and injures him. While Diego engages his young, spry and agile father who is more than a capable fighter in his own right. Diego almost beats Reginald but he hesitates, which Reginald takes advantage of by stabbing Diego and calling him an “amateur” before escaping with Pogo.

The fight scene is great by itself, but because it was foreshadowed makes it much more clever.

Earlier in the episode, Five describes Diego as “Imagine Batman, but aim low.”

A seemingly throwaway joke that surprisingly pays off as a setup because Diego and Reginald’s fight mimics the scene in Batman v. Superman where Batman hesitates to deliver the coup de grace on Superman when he utters the name “Martha.”

Similarly, Diego, after seeing his father’s face pauses and suffers the consequences.

Other Notes:

As for the rest of the Hargreeves siblings…

Diego starts developing a bond with the mysterious crazy lady, Lila (played by a new cast member, Ritu Arya), from the loony bin they were admitted to.

Vanya also seems to be growing attracted to Sissy– the woman with an autistic mute son, Harlan– who took her in.

Luther tracks down, confronts, and apologizes to Vanya for what he did in season 1.

Klaus seems to have created a cult and is sent to prison where he meets Alison’s husband as they bond over Shakespeare passages.

Also, Klaus hilariously quotes lyrics from “Waterfalls” by TLC and passes them off as sage wisdom to followers of his cult.

Alison continues to struggle with racism during those times and has to plan a sit-in while her husband is in jail.

Luther’s boss is revealed to be Jack Ruby, the historic gangster who killed Lee Harvey Oswald after the latter’s trial.

Verdict: 9.0/10

The episode is fast-paced and filled with excellent music choices that fit well into scenes, which has been a distinct element for Umbrella Academy. Particularly the contrapuntal tracks that underscore sinister scenes work especially well. Moreover, the background setting in the 1960s continues to dictate narrative elements into the fold that gives the characters great new thematic elements to play in.


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