Tv Review: The Good Place Season 4 Episode 13 – The Series Finale

the good place s4e13 index

In the previous episode of Michael Schur’s all kinds of amazing sitcom everything appeared to be pretty wrapped up, one last big problem had been solved and are beloved sixsome could now, finally, enjoy heaven for the rest of their existences. Or at least until they presumably chose to go through the door that they’d just created, the door which would lead to their no longer existing at all.

Giving the set up, and the title, it wasn’t a surprise that the episode played out in the way that it did, there was the odd very minor twist but we got to witness the gang slowly come to terms with the fact that they no longer wanted to live, and perhaps unsurprisingly that made it one of the least funny episodes yet. Obviously that was intentional, and there were some fantastic moments which made me laugh hard (along with some lovely cameos too), but the majority of it was Schur making his central message very clear throughout the episode and that’s something I didn’t feel quite worked. This was partially because it happened so soon, with Jason being the first to want to go as he achieved a perfect game and then was suddenly hit by, well, what looked like very, very minor disappointment. The sensation that when our leads were ready to die was described as a sudden feeling of calm, but it just didn’t feel right to me, for one thing Jason and Janet were all still in love after all, and yet for some reason he no longer wanted to exist. And the fact that it was too soon seemed to be proven to be absolutely the case with the later reveal that Jason hadn’t actually died at that moment as well.

Perhaps witnessing the characters fall in to a deep depression would have been even more horrendous, seeing them in a state of malaise would have generated even less laughs and been even more distressing, but the way Jason initially decided he wanted to leave everyone behind and walk through the door felt rushed. Perhaps that was due to the fact that we needed to witness all of the characters reach such a point, but either way it left me dissatisfied. At least Tahani’s fate was a little different, with her on the edge of suicide but then deciding to become an architect instead, and Michael got a happy ending too as he was able to finally discover what it was like to be human and live on Earth, and both of these storylines should have brought me a certain level of joy, but they were overshadowed by the misery of Jason, Eleanor and Chidi’s deaths and so I was unable to find much solace in the way their endings played out.

Even though it was sad to see Jason go, watching the love story between Eleanor and Chidi come to the end was the most upsetting element of the episode, it’s been one of my favourite parts of the series and though Chidi’s decision felt a little more understandable than Jason’s, and he explained how he’d been feeling it for a long time now, it was still something I felt no need to witness, with the same applying to Eleanor’s eventual choice to walk through the door, leaving poor old Janet all by herself, and okay, they explained that she experienced time on a different level to everyone else, but she was still clearly upset by Michael leaving her so it clearly wasn’t exactly the happiest of endings for the character.

In many ways it was like the final ever episode of Six Feet Under (and you might want to stop reading here if you haven’t seen that show, but given that it ended fifteen years ago I don’t feel too guilty about spoiling it) but whereas the final ten minutes of that series showed us what happened to all of the main characters until they died, and which had me weeping throughout, this was spread over forty five minutes and was even more distressing. I understand what Schur was aiming at, that all good things must come to an end, we only see the value in something if it isn’t something we can always have, but as much as Schur is all but certainly right, and that if I was in the afterlife there would come a time I’d want to go as well, it still felt horrible. I didn’t want to see these people die, goddammit, The Good Place has always been a show about joy, about overcoming what appeared to be insurmountable problems, but in this very final episode the opposite applied and it was a miserable experience watching it.

This is a very personal response, it’s an episode which most will probably react to in their own way, and I’ve already seen a number of reviews and responses from people I admire who loved it to pieces. But it just wasn’t how I wanted the show to end. If in the last episode after creating the door we’d had a selection of shots of Eleanor and co enjoying their existence in The Good Place, and then it had ended with Chidi and Eleanor cuddled up on the sofa, well, that would have been good enough for me. Sure, leave the idea that it can’t last as a vague suggestion in the background if need be, but I had no need to see the final ever moments of these adorable people who I’ve grown to love over the years.

The Good Place is a series that I’ll always cherish, all of the cast have been stunning throughout and I’ve fallen madly in love with each and every one of them (though for the record Ted Danson and I were going pretty steady even before this), and it cements Michael Schur as one of the most fascinating and funny creators in the business. But in the future when I rewatch the show I may well not bother with this final episode, and just believe my own version of an ending where they might not live happily ever after, but at least I didn’t have to witness them kill themselves.

Episode Rating: ★★★1/2
Series Rating: ★★★★★

Alex Finch.
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Related Links:
Our review of The Good Place Season 4 Episode 8,
Our review of The Good Place Season 4 Episode 1.
Our review of The Good Place Season 3 Episode 12.
Our review of The Good Place Season 3 Episode 5.

One comment

  1. It’s good to know I’m not alone! While Tahani and Michael’s arcs were fairly satisfying, this episode left me with a sour feeling that has had me reconsidering the whole series. During the show’s run, I was so taken by its whimsy and originality that I could overlook the weirdly cynical moments (see: the Judge’s willingness to destroy humanity on a whim, still in force in the finale). After struggling so much to prove that people and intentions matter, how could Team Cockroach be so self-involved in the end? Jason and Chidi left because they became bored (as far as we knew). Eleanor tried to convince Chidi to stay because SHE would be lonely without him. It’s like they all existed in a vacuum, with no empathy for anyone else. (There was no indication that Earth’s problems had been solved in infinite Beremies. Certainly their countless years of experiences and perspective could have helped there.) For a while I was expecting this to be a setup, the show’s last examination of nihilism before some uplifting twist (especially when the philosopher pointed out Chidi’s misinterpretation of his work in the classroom). Sadly, I was mistaken. The excellent performances were great comfort, and I was happy to see comedian Kurt Braunohler in the final scene. Even so, I wish I’d skipped the finale (and perhaps the whole fourth season) altogether.

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