“Pandemonium” | The Good Place
It has been a week, friends, and almost all TV shows are back on our screens. (Waiting impatiently for Game of Thrones, Superstore, and Elementary.) On a side note, I’m still too devastated over the Saints’ loss during the championship games to even talk about it. Sunday’s episode of Outlander brought us one step closer to the finale. This is Us unlocked the mystery of Nicky Pearson, Black-ish gave us another great episode, Riverdale unmasked the Gargoyle King but not without giving us another killer to find. The Magicians premiered with an emotionally and frustrating episode. (I just want all my babies back together again is this too much to ask for!?) And Brooklyn Nine-Nine took us back to 1999 reminding us of the beautiful friendship between Jake and Gina. But it’s The Good Place’s season finale that left me a bawling wreck—absolutely no exaggeration.
There’s a lot I want to say about “Pandemonium”, and may potentially save that for Best of the Year reviews, but for this piece specifically, I need to talk about the final scene between Eleanor and Janet. I loved Chidi and Eleanor tremendously, but I needed something more for them to become a couple I “ship like fed ex”, and that very thing was this type of angst. I live for this kind of angst despite how much I hate it because it brings the couples further in a way that I imagine season four of The Good Place will ruin me with. I mean, who am I kidding, it already has. But regardless, I’m so happy that Chidi and Eleanor are now on my list of ships I’d ship to the end of the sea and back. Who’s with me?
But let’s get to this week’s most exquisite TV moment, Eleanor wanting Janet to give her the answer to everything crushed me. Kristen Bell’s calm delivery, quickly and delicately turning into that of a frustrated, completely broken-hearted woman made for a scene that was easy to be felt. And whether we’ve felt the kind of broken heart that Eleanor’s feeling or not, this is the kind of answer we’ve all desired at some point in our lives. What’s the point of it all? What’s the point of the pain and suffering? And even if it’s not our pain, why do good people suffer—how are people supposed to remain good when they continuously suffer? And Janet’s response about things not making sense for humans turned me into a blubbering wreck. The ambiguity is a part of the beauty. It’s what makes humans so different from the all-knowing beings we call gods. It’s what makes us so fascinating and complex because of how often we bounce back from the pain. The choices we make, time and time again to find happiness in the midst of the pain is what makes us strong—absolute forces to be reckoned with.
And The Good Place has ceaselessly done a remarkable job of not only asking the right questions, but giving the right answers. Answers that sometimes don’t make sense but remind the audience of the fact that all our choices matter, and good deeds shouldn’t be done solely for points. “Pandemonium” was the kind of evocative episode I’ll never be able to get over because of how well it brought some of the most complex emotions to life. Janets may have the answers, but even Janets could see the beauty in taking it day by day, living to learn, and finding laughter in the midst of tears. Pain should never be romanticized, but to say that there’s no beauty in the ashes would undermine the resurrection that comes after falling.
“I guess all I can do is embrace the pandemonium, find happiness in the unique insanity of being here, now.”
Eleanor’s response was nothing I was expecting, which served as incredible showcase of the exquisite character growth she’s gone through after landing in the Bad Place. It’d be easy to fall back to her old ways after losing the love she’d finally opened her heart to. It’d be easy to believe that no risk would be worth it. It’d be easy to just give up and walk away. But instead, she chooses to move forward, accepting that sometimes, life is one bad day after another, but people are worth it. Love is worth it. Finding love and inspiring people to be the very best versions of themselves is worth it. And even when the unknown brings more questions than answers, even with all the possible ways this journey could pan out, in the midst of all the sadness, she’s choosing to believe in the sacrifice Chidi made. She’s choosing to believe that in the end, every human’s story is different and worthwhile. Each human experiences unbelievably gut wrenching pain and unparalleled, incandescent joy. And the unparalleled, incandescent joy always surpasses the bad. Chidi may not remember Eleanor and everything they’ve gone through (I literally couldn’t type this without crying.), but he’s fallen in love with her in every timeline they’ve found themselves in, and I don’t doubt for a moment that when he falls in love with her this time, it’ll be even more beautiful than it ever was before. He’ll fall in love with her, flaws and all, proving to her that the pain in this unique insanity wasn’t for nothing. And I can’t wait for that. No really, I can’t wait. Why is this the season finale? Why is season four so far away? Why is this show, of all shows, not 22 episodes? This is the kind of show that deserves all the episodes. Janet, can I get an answer to all these questions, please and thank you.
What was the most exquisite thing you watched on TV this week?