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The Good Place - Somewhere Else - Review: "Moral Desserts"

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Holy forking shirtballs. That was an amazing season finale, and while the twist didn’t top that of last year’s, it came pretty close. Granted, I called Michael somehow sending the core foursome back before they died, but I didn’t actually think I would be right. It was just one of those insane theories that was floating in the back of my head. After spending most of the second season focusing on Michael, the finale was a nice change of pace by featuring the one and only Kristen Bell. For those of you who don’t know, I’m a huge Veronica Mars fan, and will pretty much watch anything she stars in. it really helps when she brings her A-game, and she certainly did this episode. With only about 15 minutes, Bell was able to knock every moment out of the park and really make us believe Eleanor would and could change.

“Somewhere Else” picks up with Michael telling the Judge there’s a new angle she should consider. The premise of their system is a person’s score on earth is supposed to be final, but due to Michael’s experiment, the core foursome became better people after they died, something that’s not supposed to be possible. Michael watched as time and time again, the humans became thoughtful and generous and caring people. However, the Judge counters that just because they got better in Michael’s pretend world doesn’t prove anything, but Michael feels it does. If he’s right, then the system by which the judge humans is fundamentally flawed, with hundreds of millions of people condemned to the Bad Place. So without an agreeable solution in the near future, the Judge and Michael decide to send each of the humans to their own Medium Place for the time being, yet that could take up to a million years. Eleanor tells the Judge and Michael both of those options suck, and since they’ve gotten better, why should they have to live alone. The Judge says while the core foursome have improved, they didn’t pass the tests she just gave them. She also thinks the only reason they improved in Michael’s fake neighborhood was because they thought there was some reward. The Judge says you’re supposed to do good things for the sake of being good and not just to earn a reward. However, Michael believes the core foursome would have become good people if they just had a push in the right direction. So Michael then comes up with the idea of sending the core foursome back to the moment of their deaths and saving them instead. The Judge calls this idea “loony toons” and cautions that it sets a dangerous precedent. Michael argues it’s the only way to see if people can change without knowing about what awaits them in the afterlife and if it doesn’t work, then they go back to the Bad Place. So before we dive into the crux of the hour, we need to discuss what really happened to the core foursome. Did our favorite humans really time travel back to the exact moment when they were going to die or is this some sort of alternate reality or timeline? Could this all be just a simulation or is it actually a flash sideways a la Lost? There are just so many possibilities of what the fork is actually going on, but it’s OK that viewers don’t know the answer yet. The uncertainty of what really happen doesn’t impede the season finale’s goals; it just makes for yet another mystery that’ll be solved next season, with all the goodness of my wild theories.

So Eleanor somehow end up at the moment when she’s supposed to die, being a grade-A jerk to the poor environmentalist, but instead of getting run over by shopping charts, some mysterious hooded figure pushes her out of the way. This near death experience inspires her to turn her life around. She quits her job selling fake medicine to the elderly and takes one working with an environmentalist group, starts being nicer to her friends and coworkers, and eating vegetarian. While the transition doesn’t happen overnight, she is actively making an effort to become a better person, proving Michael’s belief that the core foursome would have been capable of change if they had just gotten a push. However, things hit a bump in the road when her good deeds end up backfiring. After she confesses about her part in the dress bitch incident to her awful roommate, she finds herself evicted. Then when she hits a parked car and leaves her number, she’s slapped with a lawsuit. So upon realizing her good deeds aren’t benefitting her, Eleanor reverts back to her old ways. She’s been “good” for about six months but all she has to show for it is a crappy apartment, a lawsuit, and an overdrawn bank account. She wonders what people really get out of being good and ignores the environmentalist guy’s answer of a feeling of fulfillment. She starts skipping work and ends up going back to her sleaze of a boss. As Michael told Janet, the problem is that Eleanor hasn’t met Chidi – the one person who always helped her in the fake Good Place and pushed her to be a better version of herself. As nice and conscientious as the environmentalist guy is, he’s no Chidi. What I really loved about these scenes was that the evolution and subsequent devolution of Eleanor felt believable. A near death experience would make one reexamine their life, but that clarity doesn’t last forever. I’m sure we’ve all made pledges to change something but then end up backing out after it’s been a while, especially if the change is challenging. Like the Judge mentioned, it’s easy to change when you’re expecting a reward for your hard work, but if there’s not going to be any sort of tangible prize, then is it really worth it? Take studying for example. When you were in school, you would study and getting a good grade would be your reward. But if there were no exams or graded assignments, would you even put in the effort? I know that’s not a perfect comparison, but since I don’t have any experience with death, I’m using what I know.

So after regressing to the old Eleanor, we then flash forward to one year after her near death experience which also happens to be her birthday. After her friend ditches her at the bar, she encounters a familiar face in the bartender and tells him about her past year. Eleanor, in her drunken state, tells Michael the problem with being a do-gooder is that no one cares. After being a good person for six months, Eleanor felt OK, but it didn’t feel as good as she thought it would. Eleanor wonders what she got for all her trouble, besides the crappy apartment, lawsuit and overdrawn bank account. In a nice role reversal, Michael enlightens Eleanor about the concept of moral dessert – if you act with virtue, then you automatically deserve a reward. He then quotes her to her, explaining whenever his friend did something bad, she would hear this little voice in her head, but when she started doing good things, the voice went away. Michael says his friend may have been a little rough around the edges, but she was a good person when she tried. He then leaves her with a little nugget of wisdom: What do we owe to each other. Of course, this phrase makes no sense to Eleanor, but it does stick with her when she wakes up the next morning. So turning to the internet for answers, she stumbles upon Chidi’s three-hour Youtube video, which is essentially 179 minutes too long. But before Eleanor can switch to watching cute animal videos, Chidi mentions that little annoying voice that Michael had mentioned. So after watching the entire video, she makes the completely insane decision to fly to Australia to meet this lecturer in person. And then we end the season with Eleanor asking Chidi if they can talk. So it definitely seems like at least part of next season will be spent in this timeline or simulation or whatever, with the eventual goal of our core foursome finding their way back together. Thanks to a nudge from Michael, Eleanor and Chidi have already met but what about Jason and Tahani. I’m looking forward to seeing under what circumstances they all meet because in “real life,” where would a Floridian DJ, a judgmental socialite, a selfish monster, and an indecisive philosophy lover cross paths? That actually sounds like the opening line of a bad joke. I’m also really excited to see what Chidi’s, Tahani’s, and Jason’s lives look like after their brush with death. I’m pretty sure Jason is still an idiot, Tahani still cares what people think, and Chidi can’t make up his mind, but I’m hoping the writers will find a way to surprise me and prove me wrong. However, I did call the unthinkable, so maybe I already know what’s planned. (I don’t really, but let’s pretend I do).

Before I end my review, I want to briefly touch upon the entangled romantic lives of our favorite characters. Janet finally told Jason she loves him, and he said he felt the same way. While we’ve known about Janet’s feelings for a while, Jason’s declaration surprised me. Besides being incredibly stupid, this guy has the attention span of half a goldfish. He just got out of a relationship with Tahani, a person he had planned on marrying. I just don’t buy that he’s really in love with Janet or actually knows what he wants. Maybe on some instinctual level he has feelings for her, but he’s just so scatterbrained all the time, and it felt like this reciprocation of feelings came out of nowhere. I know a lot of viewers like them together, myself included, but it just doesn’t make sense to me that Jason really does love Janet. I completely buy him saying those words, but I don’t know if he meant them. What I do buy is Chidi finally realizing how he feels about Eleanor. After being inspired by Janet’s declaration, Chidi makes a bold gesture and kisses Eleanor. We’ve been getting hints for a few episodes that Chidi may have feelings for Eleanor, but he couldn’t sort out how he felt due to the craziness all around them. However, realizing this could be it, Chidi does the very un-Chidi thing and goes for it. The kiss was certainly good as it left Eleanor speechless. Now that Chidi and Eleanor have met in the timeline or simulation, I wonder what this means for any sort of romantic relationship moving forward. Chidi once told Eleanor he wished they met like “normal” people, with them running into each other at a philosophy conference or her stopping by for office hours. Well, Eleanor flying across the country and showing up at Chidi’s office is certainly his version of “normal,” so maybe these kids will make it after all.

Some stray thoughts:
- Of course Maggie Smith is Tahani’s godmother, and of course, she couldn’t resist name dropping even when her very fate is being decided.
- I really want to know what other insane things happened during Jason’s life.
- I loved the full circle effect of Eleanor opening her eyes every morning. It was a nice homage to the pilot and a great way to tie things together.
- Eleanor’s two friends are really awful people, like maybe even worse than she initially was. I’d hate, and slightly love, to see what torture those two cows would get.

So hit the comments below to let me know your thoughts? What actually happened to the core foursome and where are they? Is Eleanor on a path to getting into the real Good Place? What will be the ramifications of Michael meddling? What happens next?

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