NBC’s most existential comedy, “The Good Place,” has officially begun rolling into its final season. On Thursday night, the bittersweet final first episode aired on NBC and signaled that this farewell season will indeed be a fun one.
Season three saw the gang in uncertain cosmic danger. After discovering that it had been 500 years since someone had enough points to get into the Good Place, Eleanor (Kristen Bell), Chidi (William Jackson Harper), Jason (Manny Jacinto), Tahani (Jameela Jamil), Michael (Ted Danson) and Janet (D’Arcy Carden) strike a deal with the Bad Place and the Judge (Maya Rudolph.) The arrangement spelled out the mortal peril of the group: A new Good Place experimental simulation would be set in motion, with the subjects carefully chosen by the Bad Place.
In “A Girl from Arizona,” that new experiment is shot into action. When Chidi’s memory is erased, Eleanor is painfully forced to pretend that he is just any other resident — while also taking Michael’s place as leader of the simulation. Every season of “The Good Place” so far has put Eleanor in a position where her newfound commitment to righteousness is challenged; it seems that this time around, Chidi’s predicament will engage Eleanor’s struggle to remain good.
Chidi is, of course, not the only experimental subject introduced in this episode. Chidi’s ex-girlfriend Simone (Kirby Howell-Baptiste) and celebrity blogger John (Brandon Scott Jones) were already introduced as two of the experiment souls in season three. Naturally, the season premiere revealed the final two: the lukewarm Linda (Rachel Winfree) and the disturbing “woke” white man Brent (Benjamin Koldyke.)
This episode proves that the gimmick of bad souls in heaven still works. Both of these characters offer cringey comedy and relatable reflections reminiscent of the first time viewer’s met the name-dropping Tahani or saw Jason’s “bud hole.” And this nostalgia, assisted by both swift dialogue from the writers and excellent comedic timing from the actors, foreshadows the full circle energy that one would expect of an ideal final season.
Judging by this first episode, season four will be one brimming with series nostalgia and new bits all around. Older references like the return of the absent-minded and hysterical Derek (Jason Mantzoukas) and revamped storyline of Jason murdering him were coupled with fresh bits — like a baby elephant made of light who announces that “Stonehenge was a sex thing.” All together, it appears as though a wonderful and testing final season is afoot.