Am I choosing to write this review by my own free will, or have external forces created an environment that pushed me into this?
An episode of The Good Place hasn’t caused me to think this much in a long time. Eleanor and Michael’s back and forth over free will was a true debate that Eleanor kept pushing to the next level. When Eleanor initially drew the conclusion that she didn’t actually fall in love with Chidi because Michael set it up, I was asking myself, “How did she draw THAT conclusion?”
To my delight, the next line of dialogue after the break addressed the same question, and thus the great debate over free will started. Eleanor referenced Determinism, which is the theory that we have no control over our own actions, and that everything we do happens because of some external force over which we have no control (in this case, Michael controlling the afterlife neighborhood). Eleanor believes that this theory is the only explanation for how she fell in love with Chidi.
Michael argues against her, using Eleanor’s unpredictable nature in the afterlife as an example of free will, but Eleanor then pushes the idea further and further towards it’s most logical conclusion – that someone is controlling Michael, or set HIM up for torture.
To which Michael dumps a glass of iced tea on her head, which he had ordered using his free will.
What I loved about this debate (aside from being a sucker for philosophical musings) was that the opposing stances Michael and Eleanor took were completely based on their experiences on the show thus far. Michael has spent 800 years trying to control everything and everyone around him and consistently failed over and over and over again due to something he could not predict. He learned first hand that humans, no matter how well you know them or how much you try to influence them, will make choices unique to them and act on their own free will. His experiences informed his belief, and he used those experiences to support his argument.
Eleanor, on the other hand, has lived a life where she is constantly blaming others for her misfortune and rarely accepting responsibility for her own actions. It’s much easier to accept the selfish part of yourself if you believe it’s not your choice to be that way. On top of that, Eleanor knows that she has had her memories rebooted against her will hundreds of times. She has been at a complete loss of control for centuries, so of course she doesn’t feel like she has the ability to exercise free will.
This debate would not have been effective with any other character combination on the show. Jason is too…Jason. Chidi is too indecisive to not believe he actually has agency while making choices (his life would be so much simpler if he just straight up subscribed to Determinism). Tahani, while also believing she is partly a result of her parents, constantly worked by her own will to attempt to upstage her sister and earn her parents’ respect, so she doesn’t have the same background of excusing her behavior the way Eleanor does. And then there is Janet, who was programmed by someone, so a lot of her actions ARE predetermined, though she has been breaking the boundaries of what she is supposed to be able to do (except for breaking the boundaries of her supporting role this season).
Eleanor and Michael, though, can have this discussion, and they make this debate work on a character level. It’s not just a philosophical argument; it’s a personal spat between friends, each informed by what they’ve experienced and who they are. This episode would not have been successful in season one or season two, because these characters needed all the experiences they’ve had to take the stances they take here.
Last week I mentioned that I felt Eleanor cleared her last hurdle into becoming a selfless person. Turns out I was wrong; she needed one last push. Determinism, in combination with Eleanor’s blame hose, was a perfect way to cover up her insecurities, vulnerabilities, and her shortcomings. Michael has come up short more times than any other character on the show, though, and ran out of excuses a long time ago. Eventually, he had to accept that maybe, he was wrong.
When he came to this conclusion, he also discovered that the entire afterlife system might be wrong. He’s been trying to prove this ever since, so he sticks to the mission to put good in the world because it matters to him. His friends matter to him. Picking them up at the airport on time, despite being the worst possible use of free will, matters to him. I like that Michael doesn’t “win” the debate. He just chooses to continue to try to exert his free will because otherwise nothing he does matters, and he won’t accept that. Eleanor doesn’t want to accept that, either, so she once again decides to try. Perhaps now that last hurdle has been crossed.
I can understand how this episode may not have been to everyone’s tastes, and perhaps if the season as a whole had been moving at a better pace this episode would have felt more like a breather than a slow outing. I enjoyed the episode and the discussion myself and thought it was a nice allusion to a return to form for the show, especially seeing the memories back in The Good Place. After two weeks of complaining about the split cast, we get an episode that I felt was a perfect example as to when isolating some characters is necessary. An interesting debate informed by the characters with some good laughs in between. I liked this one, but I am so ready to get back to the whole gang together again.
Finally, by the end, the team reunites. They have a new plan to shake up the system but need to find the perfect person to lead the charge. Michael suggests they head to Canada.
- I miss the afterlife. It provides such a unique platform for humor. Tahani the Centaur, Chidi suffering in a big pink blob; my biggest laughs came from these moments. The memories provided a nice contrast from the old Michael to the new Michael, but it also showed us just how plain the show has gotten on Earth compared to days of old.
- I’ve seen a theory floating around that Michael was being tortured on Earth, so it was interesting to hear Eleanor reference that idea this episode.
- I, too, dislike picking people up at the airport, Michael. That has to be quite the gain of good place points, though.
- The Demons are coming to Earth. Is Judge Gen going to get involved?
- Doug Forcett!!!
- When I was a kid I was always dragged to my sister’s soccer games, and I used to roam around making stories up to keep myself occupied. It’s very possible my interests in stories came from that external source, which was out of my control. I love that The Good Place is making me consider something about myself tonight.
TV Shows to Binge During Your Self-Quarantine and Social Distancing
In case you haven’t been keeping up with global news, coronavirus, COVID-19, is forcing everyone to practice the 2020 version of”conscious uncoupling” known as “social distancing.”
Many cities/states are on lockdown with bars, restaurants, and other establishments closing their doors to keep the outbreak from spreading even more than it has.
If you’ve found yourself self-quarantined at home on the couch to prevent the spread of germs, you’ll likely be looking for things to keep yourself occupied.
Many shows have shuttered production with daytime and late-night talk shows going sans audiences or completely dark for the remainder of the month.
And this means it’s the perfect time to binge-watch those shows you’ve been putting off.
Here are some shows to watch during your self-quarantine.
What the world needs now is a fixer who could tell us all how to get out of this mess. Since that’s not possible, we have the next best thing in Olivia Pope, DC’s fixer and right-hand to the President, who is also in a torrid love affair with him. It’s political, dramatic, and sexy as hell to this day.
Don’t you wish we could all travel back to a time before the coronavirus? Same. Maybe if we had a time machine like Lucy, Wyatt, and Rufus, we totally could. But alas, we’ll have to settle for watching their journey through key historical moments as they attempt to stop Rittenhouse from destroying the world.
Locke & Key
Think Harry Potter meets Narnia. Netflix’s new fantasy thriller finds a family moving into a mansion following their father’s death where they learn that it’s filled with secret keys that open up portals to other dimensions. You never know where you’ll end up, but it’ll make you forget you’re curled up on your couch amidst a toilet-paper shortage.
Elliot works as a cybersecurity engineer by day and doubles as a vigilante hacker by night. When he’s recruited by a mysterious underground organization, he’s forced to do things that make him question his personal beliefs, his morals, and most importantly, what’s real and what isn’t.
Financial burdens (like the fact that you spent all your money stocking up on canned goods and paper towels) plague three suburban moms who are tired of always playing “catch up.” They decide to take matters into their own hands and rob a grocery store. Soon, they find themselves trying to navigate a world of crime that has absolutely no rules. As they try to survive, their actions will keep you on the edge of your seat.
You’ve already heard of Stranger Things, and if you haven’t seen it yet, it’s high time you do. The series takes place in 1980s Indiana and follows a group of young friends who become privy to supernatural happening within the government.
There’s no better time than during a quarantine to watch all 16 seasons of Grey’s Anatomy. Honestly, when else are you going to have the time? All you need to know is that it’s a medical drama, there’s a doctor named McDreamy, and Shonda Rhimes is the boss babe behind it.
The Good Place is a stroke of comedic genius mixed with some of the most insightful and wholesome storytelling of our generation. It’s also the only series that had the perfect series finale (fight me, but after coronavirus cause there’s a no-touching ban). Eleanor Shellstrop is shocked to find herself in the Good Place following her death and immediately realizes she’s there by mistake. No one is prepared for her hilarious afterlife antics as she hides from architect Michael and her new friends while trying to become a better version of herself.
Don’t be deterred by the plot — a young Latina woman learns she’s pregnant after she’s accidentally artificially inseminated. The series weaves together the best parts of a telenovela while adding heart, feshed-out characters, strong female leads, irresistible love interests, and family at the forefront of every storyline.
Love is Blind
In the reality TV vein, Netflix delivered the world’s newest obsession. It’s a social experiment that many claim prepared our generation for dating throughout “social distancing.” Love is Blind forces a handful of contestants to meet people while isolated in pods. Once they find their “soulmate,” they propose to them without meeting face-to-face and a few weeks later, walk down the aisle.
If you’re not familiar with Joe Goldberg, you’re missing out. YOU is a suspenseful thriller that digs into the mind of an obsessed serial killer and follows his romantic relationships.
Game of Thrones
Similarly to Greys Anatomy, when else are you going to find the time to watch all of Game of Thrones? This is the perfect time to dig into a pop culture phenomenon so you know what “winter is coming” means the next time someone mentions it.
The Marvelous Ms. Maisel
If there’s anyone that can cheer you up and put a smile on your face, it’s Ms. Maisel. Set in the late 1950s, Miriam aka “Midge” breaks the rules and pursues a career in stand-up comedy. While it’s unheard of for women of her class to pursue a career, it’s even more unheard of a woman succeeding in such an industry. But leave it to Midge to prove everyone wrong and do it with flair and style!
Tweets and Memes About The Good Place Series Finale That Will Hit You in The Feels
The series finale of The Good Place will go down in history as a finale that got the closest to perfect.
There was incredible character development, poignant moments, organic callbacks to past seasons, and most importantly, closure on its own terms.
With all that working for them, it was enough to get Twitter all types of misty-eyed.
See the tweets and memes about the bittersweet series finale that will hit you right in the feels!
Be sure to read our series finale review right here!
HE GAVE HIS DOG A BOWTIE BECAUSE HE DOESN'T WEAR HIS SUITS ANYMORE AND HE MADE IT THE COLOUR OF THE JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS BECAUSE THE DOG IS NAMED AFTER JASON
— caitlin (@cxpxldi) January 31, 2020
— Borny (@monodelarctic) January 31, 2020
— THANK YOU #TheGoodPlace (@jakexsantiago) January 31, 2020
–#TheGoodPlace finale spoilers-
“i owe it to you to let you go”
“to me, remembering moments with you is the same as living in them”
“say goodbye to me now. then leave before i wake up” pic.twitter.com/Vuh1dHNmg1
— gwen (@daisyfitzjemma) January 31, 2020
— frankie (@frankieonfilm) January 31, 2020
— Neo Womanism™ (@NeoWomanism) February 2, 2020
The Good Place Review – Moving On (4×13)
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.
- 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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