The Good Place Season 3, Episode 12 ("Pandemonium") (NBC) Review | Under the Radar - Music Magazine

The Good Place Season 3, Episode 12 (“Pandemonium”)

NBC

Jan 25, 2019 Web Exclusive
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The Good Place mastered the art of the season finale ages ago. "Pandemonium," its third season finale, nevertheless ups the show's ante. It is unilaterally the show's most heartbreaking episode to date.

It opens innocuously enough: Eleanor gives Michael one of her classic motivational speeches to get him back on track, following his meltdown ending last week's episode. It's a funny surprise, then, to see Eleanor open the door to welcome John (Brandon Scott Jones) to what he thinks is The Good Place: "Hi John. I'm Eleanor. I'm the architect. Come on in." Her explanation for his circumstances is both a great callback to a longtime The Good Place gag and another of her instantly gif-able moments: "Ya dead."

John quickly turns out to be an awful person, far more so than any of the original four Good Place humans. On Earth, he ran a celebrity smear blog called The Gossip Toilet, and Tahani was one of his frequent targets. She hasn't at all forgotten how meanly The Gossip Toilet wrote about her, so, when John asks, "Gosh, what are the odds that you and I would end up spending eternity together?," Tahani becomes suspicious.

And thus, three seasons into The Good Place, Tahani finally gets her turn as the human who figures things out. "The Bad Place didn't pick the worst people," she tells Eleanor and Michael. "They picked the people who would be the worst for us." This scene occurs in Michael's office, where a tube containing the file on the next new human arrives just after Tahani presents her case.

And here's where the heartbreak begins. The file is on...Simone (Kirby Baptiste-Howell).

Perhaps in season four, we'll learn how Simone died. All we know now is: Shawn (Mark Evan Jackson) sent her there as the person worst for Chidi. Nowhere in the rules Shawn and Michael established with Judge Gen (Maya Rudolph) did they declare that the new humans can't be people whom the original humans know. Judge Gen lets these new humans stay, but she does allow Michael to erase Simone's memory from before she met The Brainy Bunch.

It's not enough. Although Simone-whose froyo flavor choice is "half strawberry, half male coworker gets called out for stealing your ideas"-very clearly does not remember Eleanor, Chidi certainly remembers Simone, his literal ex-girlfriend. He realizes that somehow, completely unintentionally, he will say something to Simone in the afterlife that gives away the experiment's premise and entirely ruins it. Remember when he thought she knew about the afterlife in the moments after their earthly breakup?

What Chidi suggests to save the experiment from himself is radical: Reboot him. More heartbreak ensues. "If I am awkward around my ex," he says, "everyone gets tortured forever." Unfortunately, Michael can't erase Simone from Chidi's memory, because she's intertwined with his memories of Eleanor from the Brainy Bunch days, and everyone's main objection to Chidi's rebooting is the obvious one: It means the end of Chidi and Eleanor.

Yes, this is The Good Place's key tension: teasing the romance between Eleanor and Chidi, then taking it away before it can truly percolate. Now, though, we've gone through three episodes where the two are together in the present, deeply in love with each other, and growing rapidly for it. Even before Eleanor and Michael try to find a solution other than a reboot, we all know Chidi and Eleanor are going to become a thing of the past again, a thing that the writers' room will need to rebuild towards across season four. It is genuinely the most devastating thing a sitcom has done in recent memory.

Eleanor's pain is palpable, but since The Good Place is a sitcom, it begins exploring her devastation with a brilliantly layered joke. "The Bad Place has pulled off the most intricate corkblork of all time," she says, before noting, "It's a nice touch that the cursing filter maintains the rhyme. I appreciate that attention to detail." This is the last we see of a fully humoristic Eleanor in "Pandemonium": Her later jokes are wrapped in intense sadness and ire.

Before Chidi's rebooting, he and Eleanor have one final conversation as lovers, which Michael interrupts with a montage of afterlife moments they may have forgotten. The montage is incredibly moving, featuring scenes from old episodes, touching moments we haven't yet seen (including a surprise donkey), and even arguments. It presents a fully rendered picture of Eleanor and Chidi's spark in just about a minute of silent film. Naturally, it breaks them both, although they manage to find some optimism in what they've seen.

"I'm gonna miss you, [but] you're just gonna think I'm some sexy god-like figure who you wanna hump immediately after meeting her," Eleanor says, through tears, after the montage rolls. Chidi reassures her (and the audience) with a line that's unusually confident and lacking in indecision: "I am not even scared to get rebooted, because I know that you'll be here taking care of me." Eleanor responds: "We'll be okay. We've found each other before hundreds of times. We can do it again."

This scene is far more believable than a typical moment of heartbreak in a rom-com. Chidi's assuredness is believable since he's not stomach-sick and anxiety-riddled. Eleanor's utter despondency at losing the first person she's ever loved still fits in ample space for her constant jokes about how hot she finds herself, how her origins as an Arizona scumbag will never quite leave her, and all the other things that make her the most compelling lead in any of Michael Schur's handful of beloved half-hour sitcoms.

At the episode's end, Eleanor, frazzled by the Bad Place-engineered demise of her romance with Chidi, hails Janet to ask, "Can you just, you know, like, tell me the answer?" By which she means, Janet, you know everythingWhy am I living if my love keeps being taken from me? "There has to be meaning to existence," she says, "Otherwise, the universe is just made of pain." It's easy to forget that Janet has every reason to relate to Eleanor's experience: On Earth, she spent ample time around a Jason whose memories of her had been entirely erased. She too had to watch the love of her life forget who she was.

"The more human I become," says Janet, "the less things make sense. But that's part of the fun, right?" If we had all the answers to everything, then none of our actions would feel meaningful, she says. It's this search for meaning, the quest that The Good Place undertakes every episode while landing great jokes and teaching the basics of philosophical theory, that makes our time alive worthwhile.

In this scene, both the audience and Eleanor can find optimism amid the titular pandemonium, or as Janet deftly puts it, "In all this randomness, in this pandemonium, you and Chidi found each other." Eleanor, upon hearing the word "pandemonium," refers to something Chidi taught her, via Paradise Lost: "Milton called the center of hell pandemonium, meaning 'place of all demons.'" The Good Place has put its protagonists through literal pandemonium time and time again, but they've all survived despite insurmountable odds. (Also, Chidi got Eleanor to read Paradise Lost by describing Satan as "her type," which Janet agrees is accurate.)

So, when the episode ends with Eleanor opening the architect office's door to a newly amnesiac Chidi and saying, "Hi Chidi. I'm Eleanor. Come on in," it's easy to feel hopeful despite the magnitude of this episode's loss. Sure, the Chidi in this final scene isn't the self-assured, deeply-in-love Chidi we've come to know these past few episodes, but we'll have that Chidi back someday. The loss is still brutal, but nobody, audience or The Good Place protagonist, would have it any other way, as Eleanor says to Chidi at the start of their final conversation: "You don't need to apologize for making a huge sacrifice to save your friends. This is why people love moral philosophy professors." (www.nbc.com/the-good-place)

Author rating: 9.5/10

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harshak3
January 28th 2019
2:15am

Thanks for the blog….
Xender