The Good Place: Season 1, Episodes 12 and 13 “Mindy St. Claire” and “Michael’s Gambit” (B+)
It’s disheartening to see this show sign off so early in the season without any confirmation that it will be back for season two. This two-part finale had a major twist that I didn’t see coming and I’m not sure that it needed, but I do think it was interesting, and I’m not sure where the show would have gone otherwise. Sean the Judge retreating into a cocoon every time he detecting any feelings in your voice was entertaining, and I liked watching everyone step in to volunteer to go to the bad place. As we saw more of Eleanor being terrible during her life, she actually became a great, selfless person who couldn’t let her friends suffer for her misdeeds, and, better than that, she figured out what was really going on. What’s cool about this development, which I wasn’t initially so into, is that we only really ever got to know those four characters, and the notion that they were the only real people in a game is actually pretty awesome. Janet was who she was, Michael was an architect but not in a good way, and real Eleanor was nothing but an actress putting on a big show. It was great to see Kristen Bell use Eleanor’s knowledge as a weapon in this season-best performance, and I love that she wrote a note and put it in Janet’s mouth so that she could give herself a hint to figure out what to do next time when she got put with a totally different soulmate. Erasing Eleanor’s memories won’t have the effect of resetting her to being a bad person, and hopefully that learned goodness will help her to get back to a point of knowledge that can help her beat this thing. Everything about this twist ultimately makes sense, and I really hope we get to see where it goes. After a so-so start with the first two installments, every episode of this show has been great, as has the whole cast. Though it’s not the best performance (they’re all so good), Jianyu is definitely my favorite character. I’m really pulling for a season two renewal.
Season grade: A-
Season MVP: Kristen Bell as Eleanor