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TV Review | The Good Place | Season 3


Eleanor (Kristen Bell) has a new job in The Good Place
 

Season summary: Eleanor, Chidi, Tahani, and Jason have been sent back to Earth in order to determine whether a second chance at life allows them to become better versions of themselves. Realising that they fall back into their old patterns, Michael repeatedly interferes without Gen's knowledge to manipulate them to find each other. (Wikipedia)


This is going to be a lot of gushing and not much else because season three of The Good Place is just about flawless in my eyes. Literally, the only complaints I have are that I now have to wait like everyone else for season four, and that the episodes should be longer so we could spend more time with Tahani and Jason.


Those two aren't exactly reduced to supporting characters, but they certainly don't get the screen time or focus they had in previous seasons. Part of this is due to the growing bonds between Eleanor and Chidi, and part because of just how important to the group dynamic Michael and Janet have become - the latter especially so.


D'Arcy Carden steals the show more than once, but really gets a chance to shine in the episode called "Janet(s)", where she pulls off perfect impersonations of the rest of the cast. I don't know how many times Carden must've had to film the same scenes over and over again, but the end result was certainly worth it and feels like a show knowing just how good it is and showing off.


Ted Danson also gets his moments, even if Michael doesn't have any truly memorable sequences like Janet. Then again, that's not really the point for his character; what's impressive is how much this character has changed since we first met him, yet still remains undeniably the same person. Michael has just grown as the show has, and Danson has stepped up every time it's been required of him.


As for Tahani and Jason, their reduced roles in events is disappointing, although to a much lesser degree as far as the latter goes. The good thing is that, with less screen time, there's less room for Jason's rougher edges to pop up. It's often felt like his character is solely there for 'slapstick' comedy relief, but even he gets to grow this season and I really want to see how he develops.


And Jameela Jamil as Tahani gets what is - for me, at least - the second most emotional moment of the show so far in what might prove to be the last encounter with her sister, Kamilah (played by Rebecca Hazlewood). In fact, it starts what feels like a new period of growth for her character too that is shown in later episodes and, like Jason, it will be interesting to see how Tahani changes in the future.


But the core of this season is ultimately the relationship between Eleanor and Chidi, who will make you laugh and potentially make you cry too. How this season ends for them is genuinely heart-breaking despite never stopping being funny. It's a masterclass in writing and acting that so many other shows, movies, games, books and more would do well to copy.

D'Arcy Carden stealing the show while acting for the entire cast in The Good Place

Heck, more than once in this third season, The Good Place has sequences are effectively 'clip shows', showing us highlights from previous episodes. Of course, this being the show that it is, this is done better here than I've ever seen done anywhere else before - and the last of them is what leads to the above-mentioned saddest point in the show.


It's genuinely astonishing how far these two characters in particular have come since we first met them, and that sequence - that the characters get to watch themselves! - really does highlight the difference they have made to each other's lives. Kristen Bell and William Jackson Harper are utter perfection in these roles and it is genuinely hard to watch them suffer as they do here.


And that's what makes The Good Place, and this season especially, so good to watch: we are now so invested in these characters that the show can be confident about tackling more dramatic moments while knowing the impact it will have on fans who are used to spending their time watching this show laughing and smiling.


The Good Place has always been uplifting, inspiring, thoughtful and philosophical while making us laugh - and now it can add moving and emotional to that list. I genuinely can't see how this show can keep getting better, considering the ludicrous level of consistent sky-high quality that it has already proven capable of, but I can't wait to see season four and find out.


The Good Place's third season is the best of the lot so far, with the show knowing just how invested the audience is in these characters, especially Eleanor and Chidi. It leads to a bittersweet ending that leaves you wondering just how the next season can possibly top this one.

[10/10]

 

Why a 10/10? This one is relatively easy: because the show is prepared to be serious about things that will leave audiences upset in the best way possible. All of these characters are fantastic and, while it's great to see them bounce off each other for comedic purposes, this season allows them all to develop their emotional sides to varying degrees.


It's very easy to take The Good Place as an upbeat, whimsical show that makes you laugh, but it's those emotional moments that stand out this time around and make you realise just how far these characters - and the show as a whole - have come since the first episode.

 
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