Thursday, November 21, 2019

REVIEW: 'The Good Place' - Chidi Goes on a Journey to Answer All of Life's Biggest Questions in 'The Answer'

NBC's The Good Place - Episode 4.09 "The Answer"

In an attempt to plan a better future, Chidi considers his past.

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 Answer" was written by Daniel Schofield and directed by Valeria Migliassi Collins

The fate of humanity rests on Chidi's shoulders now. It's up to a man who has long been indecisive because of any possible repercussions to his actions. It's a newfound responsibility that will be flung onto him as well. He hasn't been an active member of Team Cockroach this season. Instead, he was rebooted to serve a function in the latest neighborhood experiment. He succeeded in that mission. Now, Eleanor's soulmate can return to her. This episode just chooses to frame the situation in such a resonant way. It's not the expected outcome of the team of humans coming together to try to create a better system to rule over the afterlife. Instead, that's a concern for the future. Right now, it's all about the numerous lives Chidi has lived. Every version of life has taught him something. There is the hope that the humans are the best possible versions of themselves at the moment because they've put in hundreds of years of hard work to improve their ethics. Chidi helped guide them along those paths. But it's also just as important to reflect on the journey in the hopes of landing in a significant destination. Chidi's past has been explored before. This episode provides more clarity to a number of key events. It allows the audience to be more informed on the specific journey Chidi has been on throughout these lifetimes. There is the risk that comes from him receiving all of these memories at the same time. It could throw him into even more chaos when the rest of the team needs him now more than ever. Eleanor and Michael believe he is the only one who can save humanity before the judge finds her button in Janet's void. That's the plot happening at the moment. It's more significant to live within the characters and their respective journeys though. That's what will make all of this worth it in the end. It was previously difficult to be invested in the outcome of what would happen to the new humans. It was all about Team Cockroach trying to prove their point. The final result may not be what they expected. It may not have been enough to save humanity. And now, the arguments that Chidi can make may not be enough either. However, Michael restoring these memories is a life-changing experience because it puts so many things into context for Chidi. When he interacts with his friends once more, he suddenly understands how annoying he could sometimes be across hundreds of years. That may not change his behavior at all. He may only be more aware of it. He already was to a certain extent. He felt like a perfect embodiment of good amongst humanity as well because he was willing to sacrifice himself for his friends. That also turned out to be the moment of absolute clarity for him. He has spent his life searching for the answers to every question. The universe is vast with so many mysteries that seemingly don't have easy solutions. Chidi has always believed that philosophy can be a driving principle to ensure that answers are found. It never could be as simple as that. His parents staying married took more than him putting together a presentation highlighting just how bad it would be to get a divorce. Hindsight can be a powerful thing. Only then does Chidi realize that they got the therapy necessary to give him the best family unit he clearly needed to survive and thrive. He was given the tools to succeed because of his connections with other people. Sometimes it was frustrating because his indecisiveness ruined so much. Even in the afterlife, he had no clue how to stand firm by his decisions without any remorse. He wasn't like anyone else. And yet, he had to rely on his friends in order to improve and become enlightened. When he writes that note to Janet, he does so with the clarity that it's okay that there isn't any answer to life. That could be so crushing to him at one point in time. Eleanor makes it all seem worth it though. So long as he follows her as a guiding principle, then he knows that he will turn out okay. That is a powerful connection that seems to transcend time and space. Michael genuinely doesn't know if soulmates are a real thing. But it is magical to watch as two people come together and have such a drastic impact on their lives. Team Cockroach helped each other succeed in a world that wanted to cast them aside. That may prove that humanity can always be loved and embraced no matter how horrible things may become. Chidi may have been annoying at one point. However, he is now the man everyone trusts. He may not have satisfying answers at the moment. Humanity may be doomed. But it can still be comforting because Chidi has a sense of peace and calm over his actions. That has long been absent from his life. He has found it. That is so phenomenal to watch knowing that all of this is building to some kind of massive ending for these characters as they fight for their survival in this crazy world.