Thursday, November 14, 2019

REVIEW: 'The Good Place' - Michael and Shawn See the Results of the Experiment in 'The Funeral to End All Funerals'

NBC's The Good Place - Episode 4.08 "The Funeral to End All Funerals"

The group awaits the judge's final decision on the fate of human existence.

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.

"The Funeral to End All Funerals" was written by Josh Siegal & Dylan Morgan and directed by Kristen Bell

Team Cockroach has long insisted that the point system that rules the afterlife is fundamentally flawed. In the beginning, it was an assertion just to prevent these four humans from being tortured in the Bad Place. After they figured out that no one had been sent to the Good Place in over 500 years though, it became clear that the system was rigged against humanity. They presented their case to the judge who set up this new experiment. The results are finally in. The outcome of the entire human race depends on whether or not Team Cockroach could improve four people. Now, the show realistically could have produced any results in this moment and it would have been believable. Simone, Chidi, John and Brent could have gone completely unchanged in the afterlife. Their actions were no different in this neighborhood than they were on Earth. Or the show could have suggested that they all became worse because of this experiment. Chidi did punch Brent after all. Or it could have made the argument that they all passed with flying colors and the core hypothesis was correct. All of these outcomes could have happened. The audience has no grand stake in the fates of these four humans with the exception of Chidi. Of course, his character arc has been scattered because of the latest reset and his inability to actually interact with his friends like they always have. And now, the fate of humanity may rest on his shoulders as he is the only person who could reasonably create a better system in the 45 minutes it will take the judge to find the button that will end all life on Earth for good. Michael presents his case. Simone, Chidi and John all made drastic improvements. Brent had a huge spike at the end because he was confronted with the sobering reality of everything his actions cost him. However, they were ultimately seen as toys. The people running the experiment were where the core focus was. That made the new humans come across as props who simply had to be navigated along this journey. That may highlight just how impersonal all of this truly is for the people who run the afterlife. Not all of them have the same love for humanity as Michael does. He is so invigorated about this pursuit that he even wrote a book about it. A book that ultimately changed Bad Janet's perspective on the world. A collection of Janets who are more sentient and willing to exist as individuals is exciting while possibly terrifying too. It may mean that there is no way to control this system. Judge Gen fears that it would simply be too complicated to try to fix what has long been broken. It would be easier to just start over again. It may take centuries for humanity to evolve into what it is now again. However, she has the time to wait and see what happens. She is in a position of authority. That may actually make her the new antagonist standing in the way of ensuring a viable future. Eleanor, Jason and Tahani spend this episode hosting funerals for themselves because they understand this to be the end of their journey together. It isn't quite yet because there are still insane twists to come. However, the conclusion is coming. It's one designed around the idea that these friends have experienced a lot but may ultimately be torn apart in the end. They come to accept that concept while acknowledging all that they have taught each other. They figured out how to care about the world around them and not just their own selfish interests. They still have the potential for growth. That is the most invigorating concept of humanity this show ultimately projects. Any moment can be the one where humans turn it around. That optimism is refreshing. All it takes is the right push. Team Cockroach had that effect on the humans they interacted with back in the third season. Michael gets that clarity here. He operates with this wisdom and the sense that more can be done to save this current iteration of humanity. Judge Gen doesn't have that same confidence. But she too may be swayed after eventually getting her hands on her button after searching through the various Janet voids. It may all depend on Chidi. That is a lot of pressure to place on him. And yet, Team Cockroach still has so much confidence in him and his ability to make all the crucial decisions that humanity needs on a grand scale right now even if it may come at a great personal cost. That is the essence of what it means to be a good person. The folks from the Good Place may not be very helpful right now. But there is always reason to keep hope alive for something better. That's the profound lesson this show passes on to its audience.