THE GOOD PLACE Review: “Mindy St. Claire” / “Michael’s Gambit”

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With a wild ride of a season and especially a finale, the first season of has drawn to a close. The entire finale hinged on a twist, one that was not easy to see coming, but perfectly ended the season, and looking back on it, was the only way this world made sense. Twist aside for the moment though, this season, with it’s thirteen episodes aired at very odd times, made for possibly the best new broadcast show this year. It was funny. sweet, and as the finale demonstrated, unpredictable. It’s a little show that manages, in the age of hundreds of shows, to really and truly stand out. This is a recap of the finale, and I’m about to dive into that, but moreover, it’s a plea for renewal, to let this good, bright, clever thing stay on the airwaves and keep making us smile.

“Mindy St. Claire/Michael’s Gambit” leaves everyone right where they left off, with Jason, Janet, and Eleanor on the way to find the mythical Mindy in the medium place. Michael, Tahani, Chidi, and real Eleanor are left to try to defend Eleanor to the eternal judge Sean. Unsurprisingly, everyone is unsuccessful, from those trying to convince that Eleanor is net good, to Eleanor trying to find peace with Mindy, to Jason and Janet trying to have sex. Everyone bumbles and fails until Sean finally gives an ultimatum. Either Jason and Eleanor come back to go to the Bad Place, or he is sending Chidi and Tahani in their place. They have four hours.

Credit: NBC

Of course, all of Eleanor’s development has lead to her insisting that they go back, so that Chidi and Tahani won’t be sent down there. Convincing Jason takes some time, but they make it back, just past the deadline. Now, the ball is in Sean’s court, and he immediately shoves it back into everyone else’s court. There are two people going to the bad place, and they get to choose who it is. The next good chunk of the show is filled with arguments and self-sacrificing statements and declarations of love, that leave the core group drained, angry, and tortured. That’s when Eleanor has an epiphany that changes not only what the characters think of The Good Place, but what the entire audience thought they knew about The Good Place.

It’s not The Good Place. It’s never been The Good Place. It’s just an innovative version of the Bad Place that Michael designed to spice up the torture methods, having the residents torture each other. Eleanor, Chidi, Tahani, and Jason have all been placed in this intricate simulated world to play off of each other’s anxieties and bad traits making them all tortured in their own ways. It’s a genius move for both the character of Michael, and the creator Michael (Schur), to make all of this a hoax, but such a believable one. This twist only works because it does not take anything away from the central four characters. All the development of Eleanor especially, her becoming a better person, was the opposite of fake. It was so real that it even destroyed Michael’s plan, as she became too good of a person. Oftentimes, major plot twists can make the audience feel cheated, but this one worked because the Eleanor, who we’ve been following for the whole season, was the one who figured it out. She was the downfall of this plan, and good for her. It was a crowning moment for this character and her growing morality.

Credit: NBC

However, even though she got to have that moment, Michael still is the architect. Also, he is weirdly still likable throughout all this. If someone is played by Ted Danson, they can design intricate ways for eternal torture and still be a delight and a half. And he’s not given up yet. After they all figure it out, he just decides to wipe their memories and start over again. So there we are, and there Eleanor is looking at the sign that says “Welcome, Everything is Fine.” All that beautiful development is lost in the wind, leaving Eleanor as we met her, with only the hint of a note that says “Find Chidi.” This is why we need a second season. We need to see if Eleanor will find Chidi and if she will figure out a way out of there, or a way to be a good person again. Come on, NBC, we’re counting on you to bring this forking amazing show back to delight us once again.

TB-TV-Grade-A

Season 1, Episode 12-13 (S01E12-13)
Show Titles airs Day at 8PM on Network

Read all of our reviews of The Good Place here. 
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Raina spends most of her time watching television and trying to find the perfect bagel and lox, because she likes being emotionally distraught.
Follow Raina on Twitter: @ItsRainaingMen
Keep up with all of Raina’s reviews here.

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