DISCLAIMER: This recap of The Good Place episode “A Girl From Arizona, Part 1” contains more spoilers than the number of cocktails Derek can consume. Derek is always operating in Maximum Derek. You’ve been warned. Proceed with caution.
Welcome back, messy benches! The Good Place returned this week with its Season 4 premiere. There was a popcorn river! Foam fingers! Death! Raucous theme songs! Overall, it was a solid entry into the comedy’s final season. The stakes are higher than ever before, and I’m intrigued to see how it all ends.
Alright, ready to delve into “A Girl From Arizona, Part 1?” Just be sure to give Janet a wider berth these days. Creating humans out of thin air is tough stuff.
We open with Eleanor (Kristen Bell) introducing Chidi (William Jackson Harper) to The Good Place. If you’ll recall, Chidi asked to have his memory erased in the Season 3 finale when ex-girlfriend Simone arrived. He didn’t want to jeopardize the experiment via his own bias. Anyway, memory-less Chidi is delighted by The Good Place. Eleanor ushers him into his very own library where he can summon books at will. We see that Eleanor is clearly pained by the whole ordeal, especially when Chidi forgets her name.
Next, Michael (Ted Danson), Tahani (Jameela Jamil), Janet (D’Arcy Carden) and Jason (Manny Jacinto) are there to comfort Eleanor. Michael rallies together the troops by reminding the Soul Squad that anything is possible when they work in tandem. Simultaneously, we see Shawn (Marc Evan Jackson) is also encouraging his demons in The Bad Place. They burst into The Bad Place’s theme song, but dumb Glen interrupts the revelry. Oh, Glen.
Then, we see Eleanor ushering Linda (Rachel Winfree) into her office. Linda is the next human to be integrated into the experiment. However, Linda appears to be as dull as an off-white wall. She exhibits no signs of excitement in learning of The Good Place. Eleanor and Michael discover that Linda will be a tough nut to crack. They decide that, since John is there to annoy Tahani and Simone for Chidi, perhaps Linda will prove to be a repellent for Jason. The Bad Place sure knows how to play dirty. They foist Linda off on Janet.
Later, Eleanor brings Brent (Ben Koldyke) into her office. He’s the final human puzzle piece to this experiment. Brent proves to be a misogynistic sort, one who despises the “PC” culture of today. As they introduce him to Janet, Eleanor knows for certain that Brent was handpicked to irritate her.
Next, our Soul Squad reconvenes for a meeting in The Medium Place, taking up headquarters in Mindy St. Claire’s living room. A man named Matt (Brad Morris), who works for the Judge, will oversee the four humans for the next year, charting their progression. After Matt departs, Eleanor and Michael roll out a dry-erase board with photos of the four humans. They’ll move each photo over to the “good” side of the board once their strengthened moral code is evident. Eleanor scoots Simone over to the “good” side, since they already know the latter is a good person.
Meanwhile, Janet finds Derek (Jason Mantzoukas) admiring his work from afar. Derek did aid Janet in creating the remaining humans for the neighborhood, after all. She urges him to return to The Medium Place, since he’s supposed to be hiding out in Mindy’s house. Derek tries to intimidate Jason as the pair vie for Janet’s affections. Derek is wearing a suit, though. That’s in his favor.
Later, we see an introductory video of Michael playing as part of orientation for the neighborhood. Eleanor urges the Soul Squad to especially observe the four humans and their reactions. Linda appears nonchalant, as usual. However, Simone (Kirby Howell-Baptiste) is seen rubbing the temples of a random man. Simone believes that she’s in a coma or on her deathbed, and the neighborhood is a figment of her dying brain’s imagination. So, there’s that. Our crew gathers once again at Mindy’s place. Eleanor moves Simone’s photo back with the others. They’ll need to double-down in their efforts to persuade Simone of her reality. That she’s really dead, and this is the afterlife. Hopefully, the impending house party will prove effective in this regard.
Next, our Soul Squad is seen mingling with the neighborhood at Tahani’s decadent house party. Simone arrives donning a Swiss cheese hat, foam fingers on each hand and, well, appearing as if she dressed herself in the dark. She boasts that her imagination drummed up her outfit. Eleanor and the Soul Squad attempt to keep Simone away from the other guests. Michael urges Eleanor to introduce Simone to Chidi, but the latter is reticent. She’s afraid Simone will remember Chidi or vice versa, and the two will fall in love. However, Chidi may be crucial in persuading Simone that she’s in The Good Place.
Then, Eleanor discovers Simone pushing two innocent humans into the pool. She decides to pull out the big guns by bringing Chidi into the fold. The two realize they worked at the same university, but neither of them truly remembers the other. However, before progress can be made, Simone scares Chidi away.
Meanwhile, Derek arrives at the house party against Janet’s wishes. He threatens Jason, and reminds him that Janet will always be his mommy-girlfriend. The two are now in a battle for love. Jason sneaks off to Mindy St. Claire’s (Maribeth Monroe) house. Mindy urges Jason to kill Derek – she does it all the time! They find the button for Derek termination in the backyard. Derek arrives just in time for Jason to push it. Derek keels over. Bye bye, competition!
Of course, Derek appears on a large screen in the neighborhood publicly announcing his death. Back in Mindy’s living room, Janet chastises Jason for committing murder. She had to play damage control and erase Derek’s message so as not to rouse the suspicions of the humans. It would appear our lovers are quarreling. I’m not a fan.
Later, Flying Day is underway. Michael and Eleanor discover Linda only dipping her toes into the affair, merely hovering over the ground as opposed to soaring skyward. They urge her to take advantage of the day’s festivities. They even parse through her favorite hobbies in an attempt to elicit any kind of reaction from her. Suddenly, Linda punches Eleanor in the face, followed by a subsequent punch to Michael’s face. She speeds upward and begins taking out the flying humans one by one in a violent rampage. Well, that escalated quickly.
Next, we see the Judge (Maya Rudolph) and Shawn on screen in Michael/Eleanor’s office. The Judge is infuriated with Shawn for sending a demon undercover to pose as a human. Linda pulls off her disguise to reveal Chris Baker (Luke Guldan), Eleanor’s incessantly shirtless soulmate from Season 2. He’s now shirtless…again. Shawn threatens to punish Chris for not maintaining his cover. The Judge asserts that Chidi should be the fourth human in the experiment. Eleanor is hesitant to include him, but Michael reminds her that Chidi sacrificed so much for the success of this endeavor. He would want them to see it through.
Later, Eleanor and Michael escort Chris to the train station so he can be whisked back to The Bad Place. Bad Janet rolls in on The Bad Place Express, knocking trash cans over in her arrival. Bad Janet is just as bad as ever. Michael and Eleanor place Chris on the train and…to be continued!
Now, The Good Place has never disappointed on the comedy front but this episode, while a solid entry, still fell a bit flat for me. Perhaps it was the lack of Chidi in his true state. He is my favorite character, after all. However, I find that most premieres and/or pilots are typically not at peak form. Things can only go up from here, messy benches. With the stakes at an all-time high, I have faith that The Good Place Powers That Be will deliver the goods for Season 4.
Do you think we’ll see Derek again? Will Shawn continue to meddle in the neighborhood’s affairs? Can Chris successfully wear a shirt? Join me next week as I continue to recap The Good Place, here on Geek Girl Authority.
The Good Place airs Thursdays at 9pm on your NBC affiliate.
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