Tv Review: The Good Place Season 4 Episode 1

the good place s04e01
This final season of The Good Place has a lot to deliver on given just how amazing the first three seasons were, packed full of not only hilarious moments but thoughtful commentary on the nature of existence. It’s also a show which has been so twisty and turny it can make you feel dizzy if you watch too much of it in one go, but it’s never stopped being an absolute delight as the journey we’ve been on has been incredibly unpredictable but also warm and sweet natured. Given it’s nature it’s almost certain to conclude with a happy ending, but just how we’re going to get there, and how that ending will play out, are the big questions everyone’s asking.

At the end of the third season the premise for the fourth was set up where Eleanor, Tahani, Jason, Janet and Michael had to run an experiment in the fake Good Place to prove that four humans very much like our core cast can change, can be better people, with Shawn and the other demons from The Bad Place choosing who’s taking part. So this year as well as the usual gang we’ve got Simone, Chidi’s former girlfriend, Jon, a gossip columnist who used to drive Tahani mad, Linda, a Swedish woman who sees no joy in the world at all (and so the opposite of Jason), and Brent, a non-PC twat who will probably drive everyone crazy, but Eleanor especially.

Given the nature of the series there were some surprises to be had along the way though, from Simone rejecting the possibility that she is actually dead and in heaven, because as she was a neuroscientist she presumes this is a hallucination created by her dying mind (or as she puts it, “”My nonsense brain jail”) and the show gets a lot of laughs out of her acting like none of this is real from wearing outrageous costumes to pushing people in swimming pools. Simone was a great character last year and an apt romantic interest for Chidi, but she’s even better here as she mocks everything going on around her.

Also fantastic to see back is Jason Mantzoukas’s Derek, who may well be the dumbest character ever seen in a sitcom (and yes, I am counting all of Charlie Sheen’s shows in this statement) but he’s incredibly endearing as his very simple outlook on life is filled with joy over the smallest things. And like Simone he’s even funnier in this episode as he boasts about creating butts, taunts Jason over his relationship with Janet, and though he’ll obviously be back his death was a beautifully funny moment too, and once again show’s just how unpredictable the series can be, even when we feel we know these characters extremely well.

The best twist came towards the end of the episode though, where Eleanor and co struggled with all of the new residents of The Good Place and Linda turned out to be a demon and did so in a hilarious manner, punching both Eleanor and Michael before beating the shit out of other residents, which gave Shawn another moment to shine as he gloated about how of course the denizens of The Bad Place were going to cheat. But it also moved the plot forward by having Chidi chosen as one of the four humans who have to change, which may well involve Simone and Eleanor in a love triangle which should be fun / possibly distressing to view.

The episode was also packed with inventive madness, from the “Baby Elephant made of pure light that tells you true secrets about the universe”, including how Shirley Temple killed JFK and Stonehenge was a sex thing, to references to Disco Janet and rivers of popcorn, and Michael Schur and his fellow writers never cease to amaze me with the things the think up, most sitcoms have the odd good idea per episode but The Good Place is packed with an enormous amount, nearly all of which are unique and the kind of thing you won’t see anywhere else.

I do have some very, very slight concerns about the new characters Brent and Jon as they’re not exactly the kind of people who seem fun to hang around with, but then the same applied to Eleanor, Jason, Chidi and Tahani in the first episode and Schur managed to make us fall madly in love with all of them pretty damn quickly, so I’m sure the same will apply here. That or he’ll sweep the rug out from under us again and take the show in a direction no one could have predicted as he’s done so many times before, and either way I have complete faith that the show will continue to be heartwarming, beautifully hilarious comedy.

Indeed my only real complaint is that this is the final season, but then that’s probably a good thing in the scheme of things, this was a show which perhaps could have gone on for five seasons, or six at a stretch, but it was always going to be a finite number of episodes telling one long story that needed to have a strong ending and not risk repeating itself. And that looks like it’s definitely going to happen now we only have thirteen more instalments to go, and if there are as funny as this one was then when it’s finally over we could have an all time comedy classic on hands.

Alex Finch.
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Related Links:
Our review of The Good Place Season 3 Episode 12.
Our review of The Good Place Season 3 Episode 5.

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