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The Good Place Review – The New Afterlife (4×11)

THE GOOD PLACE -- "Mondays, Am I Right?" Episode 411-- Pictured: (l-r) Manny Jacinto as Jason, William Jackson Harper as Chidi -- (Photo by: Colleen Hayes/NBC)

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“Mondays, Am I Right?” starts and completes the human’s new afterlife plan. Michael and Shawn begin working together, Vicky and insecure Chidi return, and Janet reveals her dirtiest secret.

The return of insecure Chidi is a little surprising, since he seemed so fully transformed in the previous episode. I feel like this storyline maybe should have happened earlier in this season, but that wasn’t feasible due to Chidi’s erased memories. At worst, it felt like a regression of his character, but on the better side, it reminds us that the Chidi we’ve spent the last four seasons with is still in there and still has fears. Just because Chidi is his “best self” doesn’t mean he’s his “perfect” self, and he shouldn’t be. Nobody is perfect and we all have fears.

Jason, on the other hand, proves his worth by knocking some sense back into Chidi. Jason (for probably the first time in the series) slightly grated on my nerves last week, as he played no major part in creating the new afterlife system and his dimwittedness actively interrupted their planning. He seemed prepped to continue on this track at the start of “Mondays, Am I Right?” when he is helping Eleanor and Chidi sort out good people. He quickly names the Kool-Aid Man a top person (which isn’t necessarily a wrong choice), and then leaves Eleanor and Chidi to do all the work.

Instead of being superfluous, though, Jason gets to not just help Chidi with sound advice, but show genuine irritation at everyone’s assumption that he’s a total idiot. I really wish he would have been a more integral part of the creation of their new system because this moment would have landed even better, but as it stands, his reference to Romeo and Juliet and the offense he takes to Chidi being shocked he read it reminds us that Jason is a product of his environment and not necessarily just a dope.

Tahani hasn’t had much to do this season, but she gets a good showing this episode. Not only does she participate in the training of the demons, but her experience in swallowing her pride makes her a natural fit to encourage Michael to bring Vicky back. Her and Janet’s assumptions as to Michael’s motivations may have been wrong, but they display growth none the less. Janet’s growth comes from her admittance that asking for help is necessary sometimes, not because she ever had trouble asking for help, but because she’s grown human enough to realize that even she needs help sometimes. I can’t imagine what Alexa knows that Janet doesn’t, though.

Michael’s journey is the heart of this episode, and as it has in the past, parallels the show’s own journey. Michael, throughout the series, has been a demon with a purpose; whether that be torture, redeem, or save humans, he’s always had a task driving him forward.

With the completion of the new afterlife system, and having found someone who can run it better than he can (which is Vicky), he’s essentially out of tasks. He doesn’t know what his purpose moving forward will be, and the purposelessness scares him. What’s eternity mean if you’re doing nothing with it, anyway?

I don’t know. Not even Janet knows. But Michael does the right thing and places Vicky in charge, sacrificing his purpose for the betterment of all humans.

The rock has been pushed up the hill. By Michael, yes, but by The Good Place as well. “Mondays, Am I Right?” basically completes the show’s storyline, but we still have two episodes left.

So what’s next?

The team ends the episode sailing upwards towards the real Good Place, and having completed the overhaul of the afterlife, there seems to be no goal left for them to chase after. So some sort of conflict must arise once they get there.

“Mondays, Am I Right?” will be difficult to have a fully formed opinion on until that new conflict starts. The episode seems underwhelming, but its position in the narrative implies that this isn’t the endgame, and therefore it will be naturally underwhelming so close to an unknown finale. What sort of conflict will this system lead to? Will it end up not working? Will it continue to work perfectly and the final storyline only be tangentially related?

The other reason it feels underwhelming is it doesn’t lead anywhere. There is no implied next chapter within the episode. All there is is Janet telling Michael that he’ll just have to find out what is next. Once again, Michael’s journey reflects the show.

The fate of humanity may be solved, but what is next on The Good Place will determine the fate of this series. Until we can see where it goes, my understanding of this episode’s design is limited.

I’m optimistic, though.

Other Musings:

  • “It’s the way it’s always been done” is my least favorite reason for anything.
  • Vicky’s use here pleased me. I don’t know why, since I don’t feel she ever did anything to deserve getting her dream of being in charge, but it seems as though she chilled out once she felt someone trusted her. Maybe that’s just me trying to find a reason I liked her here.
  • 1.28 Jeremy Bearimy later, so we have zero idea of how much time passed.
  • The golden balloon is back!
  • FOLES!!!


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The Santa Clauses

The Santa Clauses Review – Into the Wobbly Woods (103)

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The Santa Clauses Review Season 1 Episode 3 Into the Wobbly Woods

The Santa Clauses Season 1 Episode 3 was a bit wobbly, at times proving that the limited series may have been better off as a TV film after all. 

While I’m enjoying getting lost in the magic of the North Pole—and being reminded about how unmagical the real world is all of its hand dryers in the bathroom, bills, and C Zone boarding groups—at times, the episode included too much filler material that wasn’t exactly necessary to move the storyline along.

The whole scene with Sandra and Grace wandering off into the woods to chat with the Christmas Witch (La Befana in Italian folklore) was strange and felt out of place, even if the outcome was an important father-daughter lesson that normalized feeling afraid of the unknown. They could have reached the same conclusion without all the extra La Befana scenes.  

That being said, the episode also set the stage for Simon Choksi’s Santa Claus takeover, which, inevitably, sent Scott Calvin and his family packing to the Chicago suburbs, far far far away from the North Pole. 

Ideally, the best course of action is for the Calvin family to find the magic in the real world, which I’m confident at least Cal will be able to do, but losing Scott as Santa may come at the price of the North Pole and Christmas entirely. Also, how long before they get bored of the mundane and miss all the whimsical gadgets of the NP?

Simon doesn’t seem like a bad candidate on the surface. Yes, he’s a budding tech entrepreneur who is very determined to drive sales, and selfishly, getting an inside look at the mechanics of Santa’s delivery system could be of use to him, but he’s also a father, first and foremost. While his interview as a potential Santa candidate didn’t go very well, Scott saw Simon’s true heart out in the woods as he opened up about his late wife’s passing and how he would do anything for his daughter, Grace. In fact, his decision to accept the role as the new Santa was mostly motivated by his desire to make Grace happy. 

The Santa Clauses Review Season 1 Episode 3 Into the Wobbly Woods

Credit: The Santa Clauses/ Disney+

As Scott told Sandra, he didn’t feel like he was the right man for the job when it fell into his lap (or rather, when Santa fell off his roof), but when he changed his perspective—and look at it through Charlie’s eyes—the gig was always in him. 

And so, Scott hopes the same will be true for Simon; He sees himself in Simon, which is why he decided to offer him the job.

But the truth is Santa’s boots are big boots to fill, and we don’t always get the hiring process right. A job as critical as Santa should have required Scott to stick around a bit to “test out” if Simon truly is a good fit. Simon didn’t even have any time to think it through, or fully understand the impact it would have on his life. 

He can no longer prioritize his company, EverythingNow, because his sole purpose in life is to be Santa. Can he let go of the “mortal” world? Or will his ambitions ruin everything?

One clear sign that Simon might not be the right candidate? Santa’s coat resufing to accept the change of hands! The coat literally ran away from Simon—why did no one call that out as a serious red flag?

Even though he did completely change from the man we met in the initial first two episodes when he accepted that he was at the North Pole—his joy upon seeing an elf and finding out he will get a one-on-one with Santa was so pure and heartwarming—his heart may not be in it for the right reasons.

The truth is, the North Pole is likely good in small doses, but it has the potential to erase every single part of your individual identity. Just ask Mrs. Claus, who was all too eager to go back to her old jean-wearing life. She didn’t even care what identity she would assume as long as she had one. I do think she’s been in this role for too long and has stopped seeing it for the magical opportunity that it is. The scene where the elves hugged her goodbye proved that her presence as a nurturer and caregiver was oftentimes more crucial and important than Santa himself. Though, I’m happy for her to get back to what makes her feel truly alive, even if it’s a short-lived break from her norm.

Once you assume the role of Santa, you are stripped of the person you once were and thrust fully into this new responsibility. It’s a huge commitment, and one I just don’t think Simon understood when he agreed to take it on for Grace. There are also plenty of unmentioned changes including his weight and appearance (Scott didn’t look like Santa before!) and the Mrs. Claus aspect of things. Santa has to have one, but Scott conveniently left that part out when selling Simon the gig. Who will his right-hand lady be?

As the energy crackles and surges in the North Pole, Scott and Carol might be back at the workshop sooner than they expected to undo the mess that Simon may inevitably create. There’s nothing like a holiday movie about saving Christmas after all—it’s what Santa does best. 

It was nice to see Tim Allen without the creepy Santa prosthetics (including those eyebrows!) for a bit, and seeing the horror on his children’s faces when they saw his transformation into a normal middle-aged male was quite hilarious, as was their joy over the above-freezing temps. As someone who has lived in Chicago her entire life, I can attest to the fact that we really do consider 8 degrees to feel like summer in the thick of winter sometimes. 

Other Must-See Moments

  • Santa’s “sit on my lap and tell me what you want” shirt definitely won’t work in the real world, but honestly, the adult humor is welcome as it proves the series doesn’t take itself too seriosuly.
  • The fact that Simon’s first thought is that he’ll get charged for eating the cookies at the “hotel” is peak millennial. Don’t touch anything.
  • Simon telling Cal that he has a cool name is hilarious once you realize the actor that plays Simon is Kal Penn.
  • Santa loves NFTs—Nutty Fudge Tea Cakes. I thought that’s what NFTs stood for this whole time. Could’ve fooled me. 

What did you think of the episode? How will it end? Will Scott and fam regret their choice to leave this world behind? Will Simon bow out? Or will there be two Santas—double the magic, double the fun!

You can read our review of the first two episodes of The Santa Clauses right here!

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Dead to Me

5 Biggest Moments From Season 3 of ‘Dead to Me’

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Biggest Moments from Dead to Me Season 3

Life is a beautiful chaotic mess–just take it from Jen Harding (Christina Applegate) and Judy Hale (Linda Cardellini). 

The third and final season of Dead to Me was a wild adventure that brought Jen and Judy’s love story to a fitting end. And yes, I said Jen and Judy’s because let’s be real, the show may have been a lot of things, but at its core, it was always about friendship.

There were some pretty jaw-dropping twists throughout the ten episodes before bringing it all home. A lot of F-bombs later, who would have thought that in the end, Jen and Judy would manage to get away with it all?

Here are the biggest moments from Dead to Me Season 3:

 

Charlie Learns the Truth… Sort of

One of the lingering plot lines from the second season was Charlie reading the letter that Jen wrote and thinking that he figured it all out. However, his mom didn’t want him to know the truth, so she fed him something that was a little less intense. Instead of allowing him to believe that she killed Steve and that Judy killed Ted, she simply informed him that Judy slept with her husband. Charlie was furious thinking that Jen was a home wrecker, so just imagine what he would actually do with the truth. In the end, he came around and was supportive of his mother, Judy, and Ben.

 

Ben’s Hit and Run Drama 

Ben was so drunk after learning about Steve’s death that he didn’t have any memory of the hit-and-run until he ran into Judy at the hospital and realized that he was responsible for T-boning his late brother’s wife and the woman he loved. Initially, Ben kept it a secret from the two women because he was scared of the repercussions, but when his connection with Jen continued to evolve, he couldn’t keep lying and told her the truth. Jen’s reaction was a little shocking as she decided to sleep with Ben immediately after. Despite Jen’s close relationship with police detective Perez, who was working on her case, they still arrested Ben after they realized he was behind the wheel. Plus, because of the bird figuring, officer Nick thought Ben/Jen and Judy had something to do with Steve’s death as he identified the piece found in Steve’s skull as the tail of the bird.

Ben ended up serving his time in prison for the hit-and-run, even though Jen never pressed charges, and you could say the jail stint was part of his process of making amends to his loved ones following rehab.

Of course, Jen and Judy were fairly forgiving about the whole hit-and-run ordeal considering the former killed Ben’s twin brother, Steve. It seems like everyone’s guilty of something in Laguna. 

 

The Greek Mafia Actually Helped Judy and Jen 

Steve’s connection to the Greek mafia, er, syndicate, was a lingering thread weaved in throughout the season. They were always able to place blame on Steve’s shady dealings with the Greeks to buy them some time and explain his suspicious death. The Greeks were also responsible for killing the main FBI agent on the case, Moranis, which allowed Perez to remove any and all files about Steve Wood so that it looked as though they were also responsible for his death, which ultimately absolved Jen and Judy completely. Having Perez on speed dial was a huge help, even if she had to down a bottle of Tums because of all the stress Jen put her through. Even Nick, who regarded himself as a good, fair, and honest, cop, couldn’t find it in him to turn in Judy after she “confessed” to Steve’s murder. 

The Greeks also ambushed Jen and Judy during their road trip to Mexico, but Judy was a total badass and saved them by faking sick, grabbing a gun, and forcing them to surrender as the two besties drove off into the sunset. Those two were a modern-day Thelma and Louise… and I say were because, at the conclusion of the series, Judy passed away. 

 

Judy Has Cancer

Judy’s cancer was definitely a curveball for the season, but it made sense when you looked at the larger picture. With her days numbered, she could always take one for the team and guarantee Jen’s freedom. And she tried, but Jen was too good of a friend, and she didn’t want Judy to spend her remaining days in a prison cell. Instead, she bought her some time and they took a road trip to Mexico, where they stayed at Steve’s vacation home. This was also Judy’s final resting place.

The reality of Judy’s cancer storyline was that it was the most realistic one—and gut-wrenching at that. At the end of the series, both Judy and Jen were absolved of any wrongdoing, so they could’ve gone on and lived a life of bliss together, but life is unexpected, and it wasn’t in the cards. 

They say people come into your life for a reason, and for Jen, that’s absolutely true. Jen and Judy were soulmates who lifted each other up during some very dark moments.

While Judy didn’t want to know about her cancer diagnosis, Jen pushed her to be proactive, and she didn’t stop fighting for her until the very end. And the only reason Judy even found out about the cancer was because of the CT scans following the hit-and-run, so, in a way, it was a blessing. 

It was heartbreaking to see Jen without Judy in the final moments of the series—they never showed her death as it’s assumed she took the boat out that morning and simply passed away in bliss—but the good news is that Judy will always be there in spirit. She left her mark. 

 

Jen is Pregnant

Jen’s pregnancy storyline was the second unexpected twist of the series, even to her. I’m actually still laughing at the “I’m a thousand years old” comment. But the truth is, the baby with Ben was also a blessing in disguise. It reframed her life, it forced her to admit her feelings for Ben—even if they were extremely complicated since his brother killed her husband while she killed his brother—and it gave her some much-needed hope after Judy died. Most importantly, it gave her back the family dynamic that she lost when Ted was killed.

It was a long road for Jen to admit her feelings for Ben and allow him to be a crucial part of her life, but she got a lot of help from Judy along the way. Judy knew that she needed to give Jen the push to be vulnerable and honest about her feelings, and she continuously reminded her that honesty is the best policy. Jen remembered the lesson, which is why she decided to finally tell Ben the truth about everything in the end, including that she was responsible for his brother’s death. The admission might cost them their happiness, but it’s necessary. Unfortunately, we won’t see the outcome of that conversation because the credits rolled right as she told him that they needed to talk. We’ll simply have to find comfort in knowing that Judy’s presence and lessons will continue to influence Jen’s life. 

 

To sum it all up: Judy died in her happy place, Mexico, on a boat, from terminal cervical cancer, but before she left, she gave Jen all the tools she needed to succeed. Jen gave birth to her baby girl, Joey, with Ben, who was now part of her family. 

 

What did you think of the final season? Are you sad to say goodbye to Judy and Jen? Did you like the ending? 


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Alaska Daily

Alaska Daily Fall Finale Review – You Can’t Put a Price on A Life (106)

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Alaska Daily Fall Finale Recap Season 1 Episode 6 You Can’t Put a Price on A Life

Alaska Daily wrapped up the first half of its season with a compelling episode that capped off with a cliffhanger involving Eileen Fitzgerald’s anonymous stalker, Concerned Citizen. 

You know Eileen had to hit a nerve for someone to go this far, but unfortunately, we have no idea who this man is or what he wants with her.

Why is he so determined to silence her? 

I was convinced that CC was going to end up being Jamie, so part of me was a little bummed when that wasn’t the case, however, on the other hand,  I can rest easy knowing that there are good men in this world.

There are a lot of questions surrounding CC’s identity and why he’s so triggered by Eileen. The person who would have the most to gain from silencing her would be someone involved in Gloria Nanmac’s disappearance since that is Eileen’s top story. But then why aren’t they after Roz Friendly? 

In the final few moments of Alaska Daily Season 1 Episode 6, Eileen and Roz figured out that the second person identified on the police report that they couldn’t locate, Rega Horne, may have actually been Reed Gallahorn, a pastor from Gloria’s church. And though it may seem too obvious, there’s a huge possibility that CC is Reed. 

There’s still plenty to uncover in Gloria’s case, and Eileen and Roz are doing their best with the tools they have while also working on other stories in the meantime.

However, the disappearance of Henley, a 25-year-old Texas woman, who fell overboard and sparked massive and costly rescue efforts, still fed into Eileen and Roz’s overall mission of bringing awareness to the missing indigenous women. 

With media from all over the nation trying to cover Henley’s disappearance, The Daily Alaskan needed to cut through the noise with a local story and angle. Claire actually suggested that they do a comparison piece about how much funding is going into the search for Henley, who very clearly fell overboard due to her own carelessness and likely didn’t survive, as opposed to the lack of funding going into the search for Jade Jacobs, a Yup’ik woman who went missing two days prior and whose case got absolutely no attention. 

The episode brought up some crucial points when it came to the value of a woman’s life, with one getting priority over the other, but I also thought it was interesting when the Commissioner explained that much of the reason goes back to public perception. When they don’t go above and beyond for a white woman, everyone is up in arms, including the media, but no one seems to bat an eyelash for the native women. The Commissioner was clearly trying to skirt blame and responsibility with her reasoning, but there was also some truth to what she was saying. Journalism tends to lean into the clickbait-y stories—the ones guaranteed to bring in the page views. It’s an unfortunate reality and another example of why local journalism is better. They are able to tell the stories that matter in a way that’s oftentimes better and more connected to their audience.

As Roz, her boyfriend Jindahaa (who I hope will be more involved in the outlet), and Stanley joined the search efforts for Jade in order to bring awareness, Eileen followed the money all the way to the gala, as Pritchard’s date no less. She made sure to underscore that they weren’t doing the romantic thing, but she needed to take advantage of the invite to confront his father about his PR company, which was eating up most of the budget for the governor’s MWIW task force to find indigenous women. Instead of using the money to find women, they were using it to promote the cause, which was a huge disservice to everyone. It was a PR stunt to make it seem like they care when, in reality, they are all profiting off of these missing women. It’s disgusting, and it gives you just a glimpse into the kind of man Conrad Pritchard is. 

Unfortunately, it’s also a case of biting the hand that feeds as Conrad is Aaron Pritchard’s father. Aaron may or may not be like his dad (from what we’ve seen thus far, he isn’t), but regardless, it’s complicated and messy. Aaron was also a little thrown off by Eileen’s ambush on his father, but that just proves he’s in way over his head with his crush on her. She’s not like other women, so what was he expecting? She’s ambitious as hell and always doing whatever it takes to get the story. Did he really think his charm was going to work on her? Does he even know her at all?

While Eileen made it clear that her relationship with Aaron was going to be strictly professional, he did get a little handsy and Claire took notice. She also gave her a warning about small-town gossip, as Eileen’s romance with Aaron would be the talk of the town. I wish Eileen was more receptive considering Claire was simply calling it like she saw it, and likely how a lot of people would see it, and looking out for a colleague. She doesn’t have to have her defenses up all the time.

During the gala, she also reconnected with Jamie, who, again, is not the Concerned Citizen threatening Eileen ever since she arrived in Alaska. It’s unclear how their relationship will progress, but there’s clearly chemistry between them. 

For now, however, Eileen needs to survive her altercation with her stalker. Teaser footage from the winter premiere in February reveals that it’s going to turn into a hostage situation with all of her co-workers, including Pritchard, hoping for the best possible outcome. 

When Eileen faced the armed assailant, you could see the fear and anxiety come over her; it was the first time she was genuinely scared or faced any true blowback from a story she’s been pursuing. She knows the risks that come with the job and territory, but it’s one thing to be aware of it and another to look it dead in the eye. 

I have no doubt that Eileen will come out of this alive, though it’s probably not going to do very well for her panic attacks. But it’s also a reminder that the stories they write and the people they expose come with very real consequences. And most importantly, it means that they’re closer than ever to figuring out what happened to Gloria, so I hope this doesn’t freak Eileen out and force her to retreat. 

What did you think of the episode? Are you hooked on Alaska Daily? I’ll see you on February 23, 2023, for more new episodes, Cravers! 


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