TV

Stop Panicking, Maybe ‘The Good Place’ Knows What It’s Doing?

The latest episode was pretty forgettable.

The Good Place Season 4

Anyone else watching The Good Place Season 3 and finding themselves a little bit worried? A teensy-bit concerned? Just a smidge… scared? You are not alone, unfortunately. None of us are alone.

We’re four episodes in to The Good Place Season 3, and frankly, it’s not amazing. We have concerns.

The gang has managed to get together in Australia for a big ethical study, a plot masterminded by Michael as a way of ensuring that Eleanor, Tahani, Chidi and Jason become good enough people that they will eventually get into The Good Place. Meanwhile, Michael and Janet have spent most of their time popping back and forth between The Judge’s magic chambers and Earth, in order to laboriously set up the current situation we’re in. It’s felt like the first three episodes were all spent setting up episode 4.

And episode four doesn’t really do much at all.

Now that the obstacle of Adam Scott’s gross demon Trevor has… literally disappeared, the clinical test can get underway. And it does. So they literally jump forward a whole bunch of months, with Michael and Janet “clearing the way” of minor inconveniences, which creates some fairly minor ramifications.

This therefore sets off various incarnations of classic character traits, such as Eleanor lashing out when she feels like she’s not wanted… but honestly it’s nothing that we haven’t seen before. It’s a bit of a repeat of the same old problems. Honestly, I recap this show and I have trouble remembering the specifics of this episode.

Really, the best bit of the episode was the introduction of the fourth, non-famous Hemsworth brother.

Panic! On The Internet

And the swamp people of the internet are feeling a slight panic too:

Personally, it’s the time-jumps that worry me the most. In almost every show that doesn’t use them as part of their narrative spine, they tend to highlight inconsistencies and weak points in the plot. When you literally have to skip over three months of boring nothing, it shows you that the stakes have been reduced, or at least feel less present. The sword of Damocles is hovering a long way away and it’s more of a butter-knife.

And it’s true — we know that the humans have to become better people, but we really don’t have a schedule for this anymore! Do they get to be judged at the end of their natural, mortal lives? Because according to most religions, SO DOES EVERYONE. That is not a special enough premise to base a sitcom around.

It was so different when every single moment risked their un-masking. At first when we thought they were bad people who didn’t belong in The Good Place, the stakes were frantically high. Then in Season 2, the subterfuge became about escaping the Good-Bad Place.

In both of those seasons, the failure of the group to achieve their goals was immediate and painful eternal damnation. The failure of the group in this series is that they continue to live full and vaguely happy lives, as far as we know.

Throwing A Shrimp On The Barbie And My Soul

I’m honestly not sure if the comedy is really suffering in this season, or if Australia has become a super tough sell because it’s FULL of Australian themed gags (Hemsworth brother content mostly). It’s also leaned in to some of the worst Australian accents ever heard on television.

Now, whether or not the Aussie accents have been done on purpose as part of a long-con yet to pay off, remains to be seen. But it may have made everyone over here slightly more resistant to this season than ever before.

You never know, they could be shitting their pants with laughter over in the US.

A Schur Thing

Here’s the thing — we know that this show is a highly crafted, plot-driven comedy. It’s managed to pull off two pretty astounding twists in its time, and managed to keep a really weird high-content show pretty fresh and hilarious. We shouldn’t give up hope yet. This might all be going somewhere.

I dunno, I feel like a conspiracy theorist writing this — “there’s wheels within wheels man, a higher plan”. Maybe everything is being done on purpose, lulling us into another grand reveal? Or maybe we’ve had a rough episode or four of setup, and the best is yet to come. I probably put more faith in Mike Schur and the writing team of The Good Place than I would in most things. I’m pretty good at spotting the shark that the show jumps over.

Hopefully this season comes together, and I have to go back and delete this recap out of embarrassment. I have faith!

The Good Place drops every Friday on Netflix.


Patrick Lenton is the Entertainment Editor at Junkee. He tweets @patricklenton.