TL;DR – This was the perfect way to end such a special show
Score – 4.5 out of 5 stars
How do you end a show, does it go out in a whimper, in a mess, in a fleeting flame, or do you stand there as a wave of emotion pours over you. I have seen a lot of finales that have stumbled at the last hurdle, some so bad that they cast the rest of the series into question. However, today I get to take a look at one that gets it right as it says goodbye.
So to set the scene, throughout this season the philosophy gang Michael (Ted Danson), Eleanor (Kristen Bell), Chidi (William Jackson Harper), Tahani (Jameela Jamil), Jason (Manny Jacinto), and Janet (D’Arcy Carden) have been fighting to save the afterlife. First from a system that just put everyone in The Bad Place, and then from The Judge (Maya Rudolph) who decided to wipe everything away and start again from scratch. However, finally, after everything the gang has made it to The Good Place and it is here that they get to have their best times. Now we will be looking at the episode as a whole so there will be [SPOILERS] ahead.
I know that for many, this last season has been a bit lacklustre, and as always it was not helped but odd brakes throughout that really messed with its flow. Part of this is because nothing hit quite as hard as that first season reveal, and partly because it felt like it was not revealing where it was going. However, as it was stampeding forward in the back half of the season you could see the end was in sight, and you understood why the writers chose to end it when they did. It had been a battle since day one (even when they didn’t know it was a fight). They had to fight against The Bad Place torturing them, they had to fight against the structures of injustice, they had to fight to be recognised, and they had to fight to bring about the peace that is needed. In many ways this episode is that peace, it is their reward, their happy place, and their goodbye. So it might just be an epilogue, but it was an earned epilogue.
I’m going to be honest here, this episode broke me, and it broke me so bad that I had to stop watching for a bit so I could recompose myself. The first moment I knew I was in trouble was when Jason looked up and made a concerned face and at that moment I knew what he needed to do and I knew the emotional toll it would take. The episode approaches each of the gang moments of realisation with such care that you feel it in your heart that this was the right choice. Part of that is, of course, the writing and the direction which in the final episode was the show’s creator Michael Schur. But a large part of that was the actors, that so knew their characters that they could emote at that perfect moment to move both you the audience and also them as a character.
In this final episode, everyone gets their moment to shine, even the Doorkeeper (Mike O’Malley) gets a small arc across the episode, indeed I think everything bar the bed cowboy boots was addressed. It very much fits into the feeling of this being a final goodbye. I know for some, the fact that everything gets wrapped up in a nice bow, which might sum up the whole season as much as this episode, feels a bit forced. However, for me, it was the perfect way to bring closure for so many different characters. There was real power in showing the characters take charge of their lives and know what their futures entailed.
In many ways, this finale reminds me of the joy that was the last episode of Parks and Rec. It is that ending that is perfect, but that you don’t want to end because you love the characters as much as you do. It takes time to explore their motivations, to explore the spiritual aspects, and we get to visit the heart of philosophy with gallivants to Paris and Athens. Then when it was all said and done each of the characters said goodbye in their own ways and walked into the future.
In the end, do we recommend Whenever You’re Ready? Yes, yes we do. Even if you have been lukewarm on this final season, I think this final episode will make up for it. On the other hand, if you liked the final season then the finale will be everything you wanted and more. Would it have been nice if all of season four had hit as hard as this, yes, but I for one am just happy we got what we got, and to find those moments of joy.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of The Good Place
Directed by – Michael Schur
Written by – Michael Schur
Created by – Michael Schur
Production/Distribution Companies – NBC Studios & Netflix
Starring – Kristen Bell, William Jackson Harper, Jameela Jamil, Manny Jacinto, D’Arcy Carden & Ted Danson with Maya Rudolph, Marc Evan Jackson, Tiya Sircar, Mike O’Malley, Nick Offerman, Mary Steenburgen, Brandon Scott Jones, Kirby Howell-Baptiste, Ben Koldyke, Maribeth Monroe, Jason Mantzoukas, Mitch Narito, Eugene Cordero, Rebecca Hazlewood, Ajay Mehta, Anna Khaja, Keston John, Angela Trimbur, Meryl Hathaway, Kurt Braunohler, Josh Siegal, Noah Garfinkel, Mele Ihara, Tom Yi, Todd May & Pamela Hieronymi