The Good Place: Whenever You’re Ready

“Picture a wave…”

I’m so happy I watched this show.

This last, double-length episode of The Good Place brought everything to a beautiful close: Jason, Chidi, and Eleanor joined the fabric of the universe. Michael became human. Tahani did everything, and then became the ultimate party hostess designing afterlife tests. It was all perfect.

It was so delightful, in fact, that I’m left speechless. (This doesn’t happen often.) Should I talk about the fun way that real-life philosophers got cameos? That Thomas Aquinas is on his way? That Chidi’s beautiful speech to Eleanor about the Buddhist vision of the afterlife is a subtle nod to the western bias of many American and European philosophy departments, one reflected, in part, by this show’s core debates?

I could talk about the delightful cameos, from young Doug Forcett to Nick Offerman (Ron Swanson from Parks and Rec, showing off his real-life woodworking skills). Or the joys of Manny Jacinto finally getting to show off his dancing chops. What about Jeff getting all the frogs, and then finally a real frog named, of course, Mr. Jumpy Legs? Or the brief appearance of Mary Steenbergen, Ted Danson’s real-life wife, as Michael’s guitar teacher?

Should I talk about how I’m a bit miffed we didn’t get a Jason Momoa gag after Jason’s seemed-like-foreshadowing words to Janet? Or how sweet it was that Jason (our Jason, not Jason Momoa) was the first to feel that he’d completed his time on earth and in the afterlife thanks to a perfect video game and a feeling of oneness with the breath of life, much like the monk he pretend to be for so long?

I might instead talk about the beautiful way that this show portrayed the love matches: Janet understood that Jason needed to go, just as Eleanor did (eventually) for Chidi. Love and romance are an important part of life, and an important part of this show, but ultimately we all become tiny fireflies on our own.

There are also the non-romantic relationships to consider: Tahani’s friendship with her sister and her reunion with her parents were so sweet. Michael’s decision to experience humanity—to make a hobby into not just a lifestyle but an entire life—was perfect, although Janet’s reaction was heartbreaking. Even Eleanor, that trashbag, completed her purpose by helping Michael and Mindy St. Claire. And in the background, we saw the return of Simone, Chidi’s best friend, and Eleanor’s girl gang from Arizona. Everyone is reunited and, somehow, getting along.

I could ponder some of the larger ramifications of this episode. For instance, in a universe with magical green glitter doors that can transport you to exactly where you want to go, where pandas offer champagne at parties, and it’s possible to scale the Colossus at Rhodes, is it any surprise that it all worked out? In a way, yes: making people better while still letting them retain their core selves can’t be easy, but the implications are lovely. It implies that we all have the possibility of goodness within. All we need is the opportunity to figure out how to express it.

I could talk about all of those things, but I think instead I’m going to let Chidi—and Buddhism—have the final word:

Picture a wave in the ocean. You can see it, measure it. Its height, the way the sunlight refracts when it passes through, and it’s there, and you can see it, and you know what it is. It’s a wave. Then it crashes on the shore, and it’s gone. But the water is still there. The wave was just a different way for the water to be, for a little while.

The Marshmallow Cat Is Inside

• Chidi: “Can we eat words? Because I asked Janet about that…”

• Janet: “Goodbye, fire squid. Hello, silver fox.”

• Jeff and his frogs. And then a real frog! I really loved that payoff.

• The judge is re-watching The Leftovers!

• Michael named his dog Jason.

• Mary Steenburgen was on Justified, which exists in The Good Place universe (as we know from the Judge’s Timothy Olyphant crush). But she didn’t seem to be playing herself here, so the logic of this show falls apart completely and I’ll never trust Michael Schur again. Oh, well: it’s all goo under the bridge.

Four out of four magical squirrels.


Josie Kafka is a full-time cat servant and part-time rogue demon hunter. (What's a rogue demon?)

7 comments:

Victoria Grossack said...

I agree that in many ways the finale was perfect, and what I thought was especially excellent was that Chidi, our most indecisive soul, was actually the first to go through the gate (even though Jason was the first who was ready). Nevertheless, ever since watching it, I have been a little bit sad, tears pricking at my eyes, and I don't really know why.

Billie Doux said...

Josie, what a beautiful review. I actually started to cry, since I cried through the entire episode.

I always say that the best series finale I ever saw was Six Feet Under's. But this one gives it some competition. It was practically perfect in every way. And I'm really glad I watched this show, too.

Panda said...

Amazing review. Amazing episode. Amazing show.

I’m sad it’s over, but it had the perfect run. The middle seasons had a few pacing mishaps, but in general it told the story it needed to tell, and it did it beautifully.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful. I thought Tahani and Michael's choices were very nicely done. Cried over Chidi and Eleanor parting. Bawled over Jason and Janet. This was a good finale.

sunbunny said...

"I owe it to you to let you go." I mean.... I have no words.

Great review of a perfect episode, Josie! Thank you.

Victoria Grossack said...

I just realized that the creator of the series named the main architect after himself.

CoramDeo said...

Yep. I bawled. Whole way through. Beautiful review, Josie.