It’s the beginning of the end as The Good Place kicks off its final run of episodes…
The Christmas break has ended, and The Good Place is back on our screens for its final run of episodes. Chidi is back in his new, confident form and ready and raring to help save the earth from The Judge’s ruling. So, while The Judge searches for her earth destroying key fob, the gang sits down to brain storm.
Not only did this scene treat us to the amusing juxtaposition of grown adults sitting in school desk chairs, but it also hammered home just how changed Chidi is. While still a huge philosophy boffin, he gives his lecture in roller skates and gets distracted by telling Eleanor that he loves her. Seeing him be confident and assured in his emotions was heart warming. After three seasons of his constant umming and erring, Chidi knows what he wants and isn’t hesitant about doing things that make him happy.
This personal progress leads very nicely into the solution that the gang find to stop The Judge from deleting Earth. Their first plan isn’t great and simply consists of making a more ‘official’ medium place. A suggestion that would, not only, still put thousands of people in The Bad Place, but also ignored the fact that the problem with the system was the way that points were given, not the threshold at which people were allowed into The Good Place.
But after that false start, the solution they come up with is actually pretty amazing, and does well to bring together a lot of the morals and ‘lessons’ that have been given throughout the show. The new afterlife, instead of the rewards at the end of the test that is life, will be the true test of humanity. A test that they can take over, and over, and over again until they become better.
This reflects one of my favourite things about The Good Place; its acknowledgement of humanity’s imperfection. It is a show that highlights people’s darkness and fear with a bright, soothing, smile. Showing time and time again how its characters have, and continue to, fail. And then bringing them back into the fold anyway.
This hasn’t always been a good thing for the narrative, with the never ending set backs and plot twists that happened over the first nine episodes of season four. But it does set the stage for some of the best character development through learning that I have ever seen. These characters learn to be better, and to be kind to themselves, with the help of their new friendship group. While this sentiment isn’t by any means unique to The Good Place, it does have a unique and timely spin to it.
The message of The Good Place feels poignant in its, sometimes ham-fisted, critique of the world and the way it works. Acknowledging the struggle of living in the world that we do and the disconnect that people can feel with those around them, especially when traditional institutions like family and schooling have failed them. And then showing how found family can help with that, how people form the least expected places can become your closest companions at the most important point in your existence.
Now, all of that sounds very dramatic for a review of a sitcom, but The Good Place, with it bright colours and soft joyfulness really does make for an interesting study of humanity, even if it is through the heavily filtered lens of the television screen. While it can be watched without thinking about the story too much and just taking at face value if you are really in need of an escape, every episode also gives the viewers something to really thing about or find meaning in.
Now that we are in the final stretch, I really don’t know how the show is going to end, but I am definitely very happy with the journey we have been taken on to get there.
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