Thursday, November 7, 2019

REVIEW: 'The Good Place' - The Experiment Ends with Simone and Chidi Questioning Their Reality in 'Help Is Other People'

NBC's The Good Place - Episode 4.07 "Help Is Other People"

On the last day of the experiment, Chidi is faced with one final ethical dilemma.

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 next episode of NBC's The Good Place.

"Help Is Other People" was written by Dave King and directed by Beth McCarthy-Miller

The final season has devoted half of its episodes to the new human experiment. The audience may not know if it was worth all of that time until the conclusion of the season plays out. That means the show is in a curious wait and see portion of its run. That has never really been a predominate quality of the show before. It has always been gratifying to watch in the moment because the audience was invested in the main characters. And yes, it is compelling to watch as Michael, Janet and the humans do their best to keep their fragile hold on a stable reality. However, this season has seen them operating with uncertainty because they have no clarity on whether or not they are making a difference in the lives of the new humans. The audience should feel the exact same way. The show propped up the point system as the proof of who deserves to be labeled as a good and bad person. That final point tally at the end of one's life on Earth determined which afterlife experience each person would be sent to. Eleanor is running a new experiment that questions those results. And now, it is coming to the end of the experiment. The humans have spent a year in this new simulation. Eleanor wants to believe that all of them have made significant improvements and have earned their spots in the actual Good Place. However, there is the lingering uncertainty that all of the hard work may not have worked at all. The circumstances that led Eleanor, Chidi, Jason and Tahani to this position may not be easily replicable. Because they proved capable of improving in the afterlife doesn't mean that every other human would follow the same pattern. Sure, there should be some comfort from the fact that any person can improve when under the right circumstances. There is just forever the fear that no matter how hard one person tries it will never be enough. Eleanor and Michael feel energized heading into the end. They think they need one last big push in order to produce the results they need for the experiment to be seen as a success. However, it all quickly goes off the rails because Simone confides in her new friends her suspicions about the nature of this neighborhood. That presents a reasonable case for why she has tolerated Brent for so long. That should have been everyone's first clue that this wasn't the Good Place. He is a selfish individual who doesn't care about what happens to other people. He is simply buying time until he can move to the Best Place. He sees that as his ultimate fate. It's delusional. Simone and Chidi try to get him to see that. However, the experiment was only tenuously held together. It couldn't withstand much observation or questioning. Simone figures it out. It took her a year. That is still impressive. Eleanor did that as well over and over again. In her case, Michael was actually trying to torture her. In this new experiment, the leaders of the neighborhood want the humans to improve so that they can make it to the Good Place. They don't embrace torture because they enjoy it. They see it as a necessary tool in order to produce the results they need. A sinkhole opens up and takes Brent down with it. Chidi is the only one who feels the moral obligation to stay behind and rescue him. Simone and John escape because they fear whatever is coming next in this twisted reality where they are secretly being tortured. Eleanor and Michael confessing to Chidi and Brent about what's been going on may be too little too late. But it may put all hope for humanity on their shoulders and how they react in that moment to that news. Brent apologizes for the first time in his life. But he is also cut off before finishing the thought. That is an epic cliffhanger. One that is bound to create a major sense of uncertainty for Eleanor and her friends. Now, all they can do is wait for the results to be calculated and released to determine what the future of humanity will look like. Were all of the humans' efforts successful or were they all in vain because the system as it currently stands is ultimately right? Those answers just remain elusive for a little while longer.