Thursday, September 26, 2019

REVIEW: 'The Good Place' - The Four Test Subjects Prove Difficult for Eleanor to Handle in 'A Girl From Arizona, Part One'

NBC's The Good Place - Episode 4.01 "A Girl From Arizona, Part One"

With Eleanor assuming the role of the architect, the group adapts to the challenges facing them when four test subjects inhabit a new neighborhood under their supervision.

In 2018, there were 495 scripted shows airing amongst the linear channels and streaming services. The way people are consuming content now is so different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, there is less necessity to provide ample coverage of each specific episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site is making the move to shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the season premiere of NBC's The Good Place.

"A Girl From Arizona, Part One" was written by Andrew Law & Kassia Miller and directed by Drew Goddard

The Good Place begins its final season with a return to the neighborhood and the central experiment. Eleanor and the rest of the gang are recreating the original concept to see if four new human subjects can also improve in the afterlife. If the experiment is successful once more, then the judge may have to issue a ruling that throws the entire system that has always existed away entirely. The stakes are incredibly high. That pressure was immediately felt when the new experiment began in the season finale. And now, this premiere introduces the four new humans that Eleanor and company will have to coach into becoming better people. It is absolutely possible. They have all gone on such a remarkable journey over the course of the series. It is sad that the show is coming to an end this season. However, it's thrilling to know that that was the plan the creative team wanted to do. As such, there is the sense that all of this will be worth it somehow in the end. Yes, it is tragic that Chidi's mind is wiped once again. He has no recollection of who Eleanor is. That stings much more for her now because she understands just how much in love they actually are. In the past, there has always been pressure for them to be a couple because they knew it was something that previously happened between them in some of the reboots. But now, their feelings are genuine. Chidi made this epic sacrifice in order to keep the experiment viable. The addition of Simone to the proceedings threatened to destroy everything even though she doesn't remember Eleanor, Chidi, Jason and Tahani. That was one gift that was bestowed on the experiment. Chidi didn't know if he could successfully lie and keep this ruse going. It's devastating when Eleanor shows him around the familiar neighborhood and he is once again amazed at all that is possible. In fact, the show points out just how great all of this can be for him. Eleanor knows how to appeal to him as well. It just takes the right shelves, lamps and books to do so. And yet, it's not that easy with the other newcomers to this world. Simone refuses to believe that any of this is real. It's just a major hallucination she is experiencing after the tragic accident that killed her. She believes she is still alive and this is an elaborate fantasy. She is absolutely right to be weary of what's going on. That suspicion should be driving the narrative forward. Michael was always light on his feet when it came to improvising solutions to various wrenches the humans threw into his plans. But it's much more difficult now because the stakes are so much higher. When Michael conducted the first experiment, he just wanted to prove that there was a new way to torture humans. And now, Eleanor and her friends are trying to prove that all of humanity doesn't deserve to be tortured for all eternity. They are capable of improving now that they have the resources to do so. Life on Earth wasn't easy. It was hard and allowed plenty of people to embrace terrible behavior. It's hard to break those patterns. Eleanor and the gang only have a year to do so. That's all the time the judge is giving them. She promptly calls foul on the bad place for sending a demon in disguise to mess with the experiment. That means the twist with Linda is revealed fairly quickly in the new season. But Brent and John seem much more difficult because it's unlikely they'll change their ways any time soon. That can be exhausting for Janet as well because she has to deal with so much more than anyone else on the team. Eleanor feels the burden. The weight of that uncertainty gives the show the central drive this season. It may all work out in the end. Right now though, it seems like things are only going poorly. Jason feels he has to kill Derek in order to stay with Janet. Eleanor doesn't want to lose her connection with Chidi by introducing him to Simone. The bad place is ruining the experiment. And yet, there is still reason to hope because these humans have beaten the odds plenty of times before. They just have to do so again.