The Good Place is back for its final season. Jessica Thomas reviews the opening episode.
This Friday marked the beginning of the end for The Good Place. After three thrilling – and hilarious – seasons spanning Heaven, Hell, and everywhere in between, the main characters arrived almost back where they started.
After showing The Judge evidence that the points system is rigged against humanity, the gang have been allowed to restart Michael’s original experiment, the major difference being that the aim of this experiment is to prove that humans can become better people after they have died. The major downside; the Bad Place gets to choose the four humans. We saw the first two humans at the end of last season, a gossip columnist who has written about Tahani, and Simone, Chidi’s ex-girlfriend. This caused Chidi to get his memories erased for the integrity of the experiment.
This season starts up just as Eleanor is introducing memroy wiped Chidi to the Good Place. Though she keeps her composure in front of him, you can tell from her face that it is a struggle. This once again shows off Kristen Bell’s amazing acting chops and just how much she brings to Eleanor’s character.
The move to wipe Chidi’s memory is also an interesting move in terms of narrative. In season three, we finally got to actually see the many times that Eleanor and Chidi have realised their love for each other, but their relationship once again met a road block. This constant cyclical relationship could easily get boring, but this time promises something different, as Eleanor is aware of their entire past. Thought she has always been the one to be a step ahead of the pack, this does provide a new dynamic. Watching Eleanor have to treat Chidi the same as she does all the other residents is going to be painful to watch but also another fascinating facet of how she is growing to be a better person.
The other two test ‘humans’ are introduced this episode. I put humans in quotes because one of them is actually a demon in disguise. ‘Linda’, an intensely boring Norwegian lady, turns out to be the demon who never has a shirt on, much to Eleanor’s satisfaction. I can’t say I was expecting the Bad Place to mess with the experiment this much so quickly, but it was very fun seeing an old lady fly around beating people up. It also sets the tone for the ways in which the experiment may be sabotaged through out the season and the tests that the cast may face.
However, by far the most irksome of the new humans is Brent. He is a obnoxious misogynistic racist, and probably every other -ist or -phobic in the book. While I am intrigued to see how, and if, the team manage to get him to be a better person, I also know that he will be making me and many others grind their teeth in frustration before any of that happens. But that is part of what makes adding him to the pool of new test subjects so interesting. Many people know a Brent, but will seeing him on screen be cathartic and inspiring, or just down right irritating?
By far the most interesting development of this episode was The Judge’s reaction to the Bad Place’s attempt at sabotage. She decided that, as punishment, Chidi will be the replacement human, making him, once again, part of a celestial experiment. This adds yet another layer to Eleanor and the gang’s interactions with Chidi. Not only do they have to pretend not to know him but they also have to convince him to teach the other humans to be better people while also becoming a better person himself.
This whole situation is quite complicated and I’m not sure if this episode really set the season up as much as I wanted it to. It felt a little unfinished. This is probably because it is only part one of two, but it still doesn’t do the best job of being a gripping opener. It isn’t by any means bad, I guess I was just expecting more. Though the episode may make more sense next week when the second part comes out I do really think it would have been better if the two halves had come out as one hour long special.
I am excited for The Good Place to be back, and even more excited to see how it will end. The story has nearly run its course, but there is still so much potential for a variety of shenanigans to happen before the final credits role. I just hope that next week’s episode gets more into the meat of the story than this opener did.
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