TV Review: The Good Place Season 4

Welcome to the Good Place – everything is more than fine…

January 30 marked the final chapter of The Good Place. It’s safe to say that season four hasn’t been as full of the smart wit and clever twists and turns as previous seasons, but it’s never once lacked the heart that makes this show so special.

When You’re Ready takes an introspective look at the afterlife created in this show, its characters, their flaws, desires, hopes and dreams and lays them out for all to see. This episode really can’t be considered in isolation because it is the culmination of four seasons of love, betrayal, heart-ache and battle. It is everything The Good Place has created and is a wonderfully heartfelt goodbye to the characters we know and adore.

This isn’t to give any spoilers away, we all knew going into this last episode it would be as the opening title card said The Final Chapter. Long before the show’s final season creator and lead writer Michael Schur announced this was going to be the final season. Way back in June last year he said: “We don’t want to tread water just because the water is so warm and pleasant. As such, the upcoming fourth season will be our last.”

There certainly has been an overarching sense of finality within season four, but this last episode really and truly put an end to the show. Often, particularly with American sitcoms, there is a tendency to do what Schur describes “tread water” and you watch as the characters you have grown to admire and love become shells of themselves. The Office, Parks and Rec, Friends, The Big Bang Theory (and many more) all suffered this fate. Schur, having been involved in two such shows, knew of the pitfalls this could bring and so decided, sensibly, to let The Good Place take its leave while it was still creative and fun.

Although, fun is not the word to describe this farewell. It is sombre, melancholy, down right heart-breaking at times. There are jokes littered here and there, but this episode really gives us room to see and understand how the main characters have grown in their time since they’ve died. And this really is the point of the show. People change, they grow and develop, but only with other people.

Chidi, Jason and Tahani all take steps in personal development and growth, whilst Janet, Michael and Eleanor are entirely different people. The change from demon, Google Assistant/Siri/Heaven Jeeves and selfish, trash human respectively to practical angel, human supercomputer and savior of humanity is astounding. All of this is allowed to shine in this final episode as every character gets their moment. In particular, Chidi’s moment was sensational and perfectly showcased his relationship with Eleanor. At the heart of this series has been their love story and seeing it come to fruition was the most tender moment Schur’s team have delivered.

Some might say it’s a little cheesy and rushed, but The Good Place notoriously burns through plot devices and is constantly on the nose whilst being subtle at the same time. It is exactly how it should have ended and I for one am glad that Schur and co. took the time to give us the most good place for the Good Place to end on.

This isn’t just a comedy anymore, and to be honest it never was. It was something more than that, a look at humanity and how we can all be just that little bit better, if we really try. As such it was never going to have a normal finale. It had stole notes from Parks and Rec and The Office and just like those shows The Good Place truly ended. It provided finality and closure and brought together every loose thread that had dangled for so long and pulled them into the most perfect bow it could.

It without a doubt saved season four from mediocrity, restricted in large part by the gigantic story it had to tell. It creaked and buckled under the avalanche of information it bore down on viewers, who could have been forgiven for thinking this show was past its best. Instead, it simply saved the best until the end, giving us the most moving and ultimately human finale we will see for a very long time to come.

By Chris King

Feature image credit: Netflix

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