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The Final Season of 'The Good Place' Starts Out in a Really Good Place
September 26, 2019  | By David Hinckley

To reach the Good Place in the afterlife, one should not behave in cruel and aberrant ways during one's life on Earth. 

That means not divulging spoilers for television programs. 

But as we arrive at the fourth and final season of NBC's The Good Place, premiering Thursday at 9 p.m. ET, we're going to do it anyway.

Not a lot of spoilers. Just one. But maybe that's enough. So let the consequences fall where they may. 

Shawn (Marc Evan Jackson), one of the architects of The Bad Place, convenes a council of demons, some of the most depraved, arrogant, and insidious characters ever. 

They are tasked with finding a way to keep our Good Place heroes – Eleanor (Kristen Bell, top), Chidi (William Jackson Harper), Tahani (Jameela Jamil) and Jason (Manny Jacinto) – from proving to Judge Gen (Maya Rudolph) that human beings are capable of rising above their many bad traits and becoming better. 

Eleanor, Chidi, Tahani and Jason, led by demon-turned-apparent-good-guy Michael (Ted Danson, top), have been given one year to take a community of recently deceased humans and demonstrate that they can evolve from flawed to kind, considerate, and generous. 

If they can do this, they will both save themselves and open the doors of the Good Place to countless millions of future candidates.

Their success is hardly guaranteed, however, because all four have serious character flaws, primarily stemming from the way they focus on themselves with little or no regard for others. 

Those traits, which manifest themselves in different ways for all four, are what got them sent to the Bad Place. But then, through a series of perhaps implausible but delightfully entertaining events, they reached this juncture where they can now earn their way to the Good Place in spite of themselves. 

Shawn aims to thwart that quest by seeding the community with people who will drive Eleanor, Chidi, Jason, and Tahani nuts. 

That's not the spoiler. That's the setup for the new season and, presumably, the ultimate resolution of The Good Place's whole weird and wonderful journey. 

We've watched our team survive bizarre twists, pull off narrow escapes and learn the afterlife system well enough to, at times, outfox both the benevolent and malevolent keepers of that afterlife. 

They've shown brilliance. They've also at times reverted to their earthly behavior. 

It's critical to remember here that The Good Placeis a comedy and it has smartly remained in that lane. In The Good Place, bad behavior means flagrant name-dropping and taking the good Halloween candy, not murdering people, kicking puppies or defrauding widows with insurance scams. 

That has kept the show consistently amusing, thanks in no small measure to its rapid-fire stream of pop culture references. 

Yet it has also subtly raised more substantial issues. Through Eleanor alone, it continually reminds viewers that most human beings constantly struggle with the temptation to choose the easy, thoughtless path over the better paths of generosity and consideration. 

In an age of shaming and instant judgment, fueled by the merciless platforms of social media, The Good Place remarkably suggests that four people whose lives were riddled with selfish behavior aren't necessarily bad people at all. 

But enough about Eleanor, Chidi, Tahani, Jason and Michael. It's time for that spoiler.  

As Shawn and his council of demons gleefully brainstorm ways to sabotage the experiment, they take normal meeting-type breaks with a demonic spin. Lunch, for instance, occasions a lively discussion of the most revolting things anyone has ever eaten. 

The meeting peaks, however, when Shawn suggests they all join in singing the most insidious demonic song ever composed, at which point the whole group begins singing, "One-eight-seven-seven, Kars for Kids, K-A-R-S, Kars for Kids . . . ."

How can anyone not want to watch this show? 

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