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Reviews Series / The Good Place

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02/02/2020 09:21:31 •••

Am I the only one who didn't "get" the finale?

I'll take the (mostly) popular opinion that the vast majority of this series is gold, and that its flaws are somewhat minimal. That being said, I think the show's finale is actually kind of bad. I've looked for other opinions, and I can't seem to find anyone else talk about it in this context, so I feel it best to express my own take here.

So, I'll say that I have major problems with the last two episodes of the show, and so the criticism I'll have will focus mostly on that. Sure, I'll also say emphatically that I would have preferred the main/Fan-Preferred Couple of Eleanor and Tahani, and main/Capitalism Is Bad, a main/Berserk Button trope of mine, being a central theme of season three grinds my beans a bit, but let's instead draw our attention to the finale.

The first issue I have is with the pacing. The show's fast pace had served it well in the past, allowing the show the opportunity to worldbuild and show off interesting aspects of the characters as their circumstances change rapidly, but in a weird way, the pacing got the better of itself at the end. The cast seeing The Good Place, recognizing a problem, and resolving it in one episode feels almost painfully forced, even with the main characters' substantial main/Character Development, they should have had some time to get familiar with the actual Good Place's workings and the fact that this burnout and malaise is occuring should have been a more savory mystery. If anything, the show should have had two more episodes of the Good Place experiment early in the season, and instead dedicated the arc of the final two episodes to an entire fifth season.

The rushed nature of those episodes also hurt the solution itself. As someone who very much does not find the idea of main/Cessation of Existence comforting, to the extent that I had a depressive breakdown over the idea as a teenager, I felt it being fetishized as a solution for the sense of malaise that eternal paradise would give somewhat uncomfortable, especially as the *only* alternative to said malaise. Moreover, the fact that it was insisted to be the only solution felt incredibly forced as well. Erasing memories was brought up, and in a show that spent season after season giving nuanced views and deconstruction of every moral idea it encounters, it honestly felt insulting for the show to Hand Wave that solution by just saying "heaven can't use hell's tactics," without ever exploring why.

Moreover, this solution doesn't really make sense from a worldbuilding perspective. It's clear that any angel, demon (not named Michael), judge, janet, derek, or accountant doesn't have the same problem as humans do in terms of being eternal beings. The events of the finale also make it clear that it is possible to change a human's anatomy into one such being, and vice versa, as both happen to Tahani and Michael. There's no reason to force people to either burn themselves out of perfection itself or cease to exist when there's a way for them to be excited and engaged with life forever.

And even from there, there's no reason to destroy a soul when reincarnation is another possibility. Sure, people live single human lives in the present state of the setting, but what is to say that you could learn everything relevant in only one "real" life. It seems much more logical to give another opportunity to live life and see it from another perspective, to create a more "complete being."

Ultimately, I can't see any reason for this, but in a way, that doesn't even feel like the most egregious issue with the finale. No, that is the fate of Eleanor. Eleanor's arc is that she learns to open up and not only to be helped, but to help others in kind. That she convinces Mindy St. Clair to take the test, and helps her mother on the path to The Good Place a season before feels resonnant, and yet it seems strange that after she finds such a purpose, which feels eternal, she would simply choose to erase herself after only saving a few people. Her arc instead should have been becoming a demon actor, and giving herself an ironic parallel to Vicky, who even played the "other" Eleanor Shellstrop way back in season 1. That would have given her a connection and a purpose, especially with so many of those she cared about leaving.

Overall, I'm confused over the positive reception the last few episodes seem to be getting. To me they seem rushed, full of plot holes, and full of bad characterization, to the point where I see it as a very much unworthy ending to one of the greatest sitcoms of all time.

02/01/2020 00:00:00

Its a general issue I see with a lot of pro-oblivion stories. They like to offer complete death as a form of release when in fact it completely removes any sense of struggle the main characters have worked toward thus far. What was the point of Chidi going through so much trouble for Eleanor if he is essentially pushing her through the hole to oblivion? It just seems silly to work so hard to do something and then shrug it off as if its seems like no big deal. I\'m surprised everything moves at such break neck speed to include such significant developments as an oblivion door. I dislike the story\'s message that decay is inevitable and that only the new and blissfully ignorant are the only people that are truly happy. If anything, it makes Brent the smartest character on the show as this message says that commitment to anything will end in disappointment and if good and bad are simply hells of their own, you might as well go for what ever cheap satisfaction you can get as you will eventually become numb to the whole process anyway. It also says that after you peak, you should kill yourself as anything else is a pale imitation. Its message really grinds human ambition and desire into dirt and makes people as a whole look more like hedonists looking for a buzz rather than people seeking to improve themselves, which was the whole message of what the show was supposed to be about.

02/02/2020 00:00:00

When I initially heard them say that they’d offer a way out of the Good Place, I thought this meant reincarnation. They were purposely vague about what walking through the door entailed, that it would be something like “you’d be at peace.” That *could* mean Cessation of Existence, but it could also mean anything else. I saw the very end imply it is more like you become one with the universe and become the inspiration for people to do good things – that’s how Kristen Bell saw it, too.

The introduction of this eternal door continued with ongoing theme of the series: that the ending or re-starting of things is what makes them meaningful. The door makes an option available for people who’ve decided that’s what they want—there’s no compulsion about when/if you do that. Tahani chose to take a different route, so there were other possibilities as well. The Good Place is more like a utopia than the metaphysical afterlife consistent with many living religions. Blissful living in a utopia could only be managed for so long, so now there are next phases to pursue after a stay in the Good Place.

That’s my interpretation of it.

02/02/2020 00:00:00

I'm never said there was a compulsion to go through the door, its just that being willing to abandon your sense of self and accomplishments after your finished struggling for them, means they have no meaning. That people get bored of what they accomplish after they finish struggling for it. It ends up validating the beliefs of Rick, from "Rick and Morty", when even that show acknowledged that lifestyle was toxic.

The story strongly implies that your consciousness is fragmented, which is still horrifying because you are barely anything but a glimmer in someone else's consciousness. This show discussed the morality of rebooting, and how it affects people in negative ways, yet the complete destruction of self is somehow not bad in everyone's eyes. Its a one-sided conversation in a show that liked to weigh all options and that is not reflective of the themes of the show.

There's a set of stairs you want to climb because you think there is a great reward at the top. You spend years doing this boring, mundane, activity.You reach the highest stair you can reach, find yourself disappointed with what's at the top, and then hang yourself because you can't climb more stairs. That's pretty nihilistic if you ask me.

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