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S04.E13: Whenever You're Ready

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I have to admit I’m puzzled by people saying Team Coachroach (minus Tahani) went through the door because they were too bored to continue.

Not a single one of the characters said they were bored, nor did they play the scenes as if they were bored. They played it as being completed, contented, and/or at peace.

 

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I watched the episode again (about the fourth time or maybe fifth) and it still made me cry, even though I was also doing something else at the same time.  After so much dislike being discussed, I wanted to put out there that I loved it, and I'm still not ready, but if it has to go, I feel like Eleanor with Chidi--I'll let you go for you, but I will still miss you!

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6 hours ago, QuantumMechanic said:

I have to admit I’m puzzled by people saying Team Coachroach (minus Tahani) went through the door because they were too bored to continue.

Not a single one of the characters said they were bored, nor did they play the scenes as if they were bored. They played it as being completed, contented, and/or at peace.

 

I think it went that way in this topic because people viewed the end as a purely human concept - suicide - when it is people who have already lived a life, scratch that, 805 lives - and they are at a point where they feel fulfilled. It's like how Jason said he felt like the air inside of his body was the same as the air outside - he felt as if he was one with the universe. Remember from last season, where they got to the mail room and it smelled like their ideal smell. For Eleanor, that was something like the smell of vomit in a water park's heavily chlorinated pool and for Chidi, that was warm pretzels/absolute moral truth. So it isn't just regular air - it is the perfect smell, catered to the person.

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8 hours ago, QuantumMechanic said:

I have to admit I’m puzzled by people saying Team Coachroach (minus Tahani) went through the door because they were too bored to continue.

Not a single one of the characters said they were bored, nor did they play the scenes as if they were bored. They played it as being completed, contented, and/or at peace.

They didn't say they were bored, but that would be a reasonable interpretation of, for instance, Chidi noting that he had read all the great literature, and had moved onto trash, or even Tahani finishing her list. The flip side of "I've done everything I wanted to do" is "And now there's nothing left to satisfy me."

Having said that, I agree that they played it as completion and contentment, but that's precisely what doesn't make sense to me (and some others). It isn't clear why non-existence would be preferable to pleasant if now vaguely purposeless existence. And even if they had filled all of their personal goals, it seems to me more in the spirit of this show to then propose continuing to help others as an unending source of purpose, rather than to suggest that once you've achieved personal fulfillment, you're done.

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54 minutes ago, companionenvy said:

Having said that, I agree that they played it as completion and contentment, but that's precisely what doesn't make sense to me (and some others). It isn't clear why non-existence would be preferable to pleasant if now vaguely purposeless existence. And even if they had filled all of their personal goals, it seems to me more in the spirit of this show to then propose continuing to help others as an unending source of purpose, rather than to suggest that once you've achieved personal fulfillment, you're done.

Not everyone is driven to help others. For me each character’s ending fit their personality and personal goals. Jason was the first to be ready because his goals were the simplest. Chidi was driven by his pursuit of fundamental truth and his desire establish a deep connection with a soul mate. Tahani wanted to be valued. Of all the humans she the only one who showed any interest in helping others during her time on earth. It makes sense that she was the one to find a greater purpose in helping others. Eleanor is more complicated and I think she could have gone either way. One one hand she did find purpose in helping others but on the other hand she was always more concerned with helping those she had a personal connection to. 

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1 hour ago, Dani said:

Not everyone is driven to help others. For me each character’s ending fit their personality and personal goals. Jason was the first to be ready because his goals were the simplest. Chidi was driven by his pursuit of fundamental truth and his desire establish a deep connection with a soul mate. Tahani wanted to be valued. Of all the humans she the only one who showed any interest in helping others during her time on earth. It makes sense that she was the one to find a greater purpose in helping others. Eleanor is more complicated and I think she could have gone either way. One one hand she did find purpose in helping others but on the other hand she was always more concerned with helping those she had a personal connection to. 

Not everyone is driven to help others, but I'd say by the time they reached TGP, all of our four - except maybe Jason -- were. I mean, they'd just offered to submit themselves to eternal torment if it meant saving the rest of humanity. It doesn't get much more selfless than that. 

In any case, the idea that the most important thing, or at least among the most important things, is figuring out what our moral obligations are to others is one of the guiding principles of the show. And even if helping others isn't your goal, that doesn't mean choosing eternal nothingness makes sense for any reason but as sense of torment. Maybe I'd buy it for now-actual monk Jason, since the idea of one-ness with the universe and total self-transcendence might be consistent with what I understand of Buddhist philosophy. But otherwise, it didn't track for me. 

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I think the idea that they became nothingness or a vaguely pleasant but purposeless energy that didn't help others is actually not what the show said happened.

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Whatever they became, though, they didn't know that it was anything other than the end of their existences-in fact, given that they themselves had set the door up under the logic that life needed to be finite to be meaningful, they had plenty of reason to believe it was going to be some kind of annihilation. Which, I'd argue, it was - the bit of light wasn't, to me, any meaningful continuation the individual known as Eleanor Shellstrop.

 

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But wasn't there a description of going thru the green door to go to the past, or into the future and I believe a couple more examples of what could happen?

Also, Eleanor had become quite the coach for behaving in kinder better ways  so that by breaking into the points of light and getting busy helping to remind humans of the better and kinder action,  was her 'thru the green door' mission.  Perhaps.

I realize that everyone will have their own point of view on the ending as it was ambiguous and of course whatever happens after death is unknown to us.

But I guess, I see the ending as leaning into that ambiguity and framing it in different ways, some unknowable.

Peace all.

What a great show and what a great discussion this has been and continues to be.

Edited by kaygeeret
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On 2/10/2020 at 1:29 AM, companionenvy said:

The flip side of "I've done everything I wanted to do" is "And now there's nothing left to satisfy me."

I don't think it's "And now there is nothing left to satisfy me" as much as it's "And now I no longer need to be satisfied."

 

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I took the point of Chidi's wave speech to be emphasizing that it wasn't annihilation per se. This is complicated because what counts as self is ultimately a personal, religious POV. But IMHO, the show POV was clearly that going through the door was more of an evolution of self than an annihilation of self. 

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I can't wrap my head around the Chidi leaving TGP before Eleanor part...he sees that he is causing her pain (IN THE GOOD PLACE!), offers to stay but seems bummed about it, and then she tells him it's ok to leave. In what "Good Place" would all of this emotional turmoil happen??? 

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37 minutes ago, RainbowBrite said:

I can't wrap my head around the Chidi leaving TGP before Eleanor part...he sees that he is causing her pain (IN THE GOOD PLACE!), offers to stay but seems bummed about it, and then she tells him it's ok to leave. In what "Good Place" would all of this emotional turmoil happen??? 

I’ve thought about this a lot and ultimately I think it is the difference between the shows version of soulmates and the normal idea of soulmates. They were never meant to be together. They chose to be together until the point when they both knew it was time to go their separate ways. On one level it was extremely unsatisfying but it also mirrors real life. Rarely are two people going to grow and evolve at the same rate. There is the nearly inevitable point where one will be forced to let the other go. Personally I loved the point when Eleanor realized she needed to let him go because the consequences of holding on to him would ultimately be painful for them both. Basically transition can suck but pushing against them is usually fighting a losing battle. 

Edited by Dani
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On 2/12/2020 at 1:27 PM, Dani said:

I’ve thought about this a lot and ultimately I think it is the difference between the shows version of soulmates and the normal idea of soulmates. They were never meant to be together. They chose to be together until the point when they both knew it was time to go their separate ways. On one level it was extremely unsatisfying but it also mirrors real life. Rarely are two people going to grow and evolve at the same rate. There is the nearly inevitable point where one will be forced to let the other go. Personally I loved the point when Eleanor realized she needed to let him go because the consequences of holding on to him would ultimately be painful for them both. Basically transition can suck but pushing against them is usually fighting a losing battle. 

I totally agree with that sentiment, but in the setting of the Good Place, I would expect that there would be no pain. I'm saying all of this as an atheist without much exposure to Christian views of Heaven outside of media, so I may be off-base, but I thought it was supposed to be ~perfect in every way~.

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45 minutes ago, RainbowBrite said:

I totally agree with that sentiment, but in the setting of the Good Place, I would expect that there would be no pain. I'm saying all of this as an atheist without much exposure to Christian views of Heaven outside of media, so I may be off-base, but I thought it was supposed to be ~perfect in every way~.

Religion or lack thereof is immaterial in my mind.  I'd think what one would consider a "good place" is a place you wouldn't feel compelled to leave.  If needing to evolve is something that makes someone happy, it would happen in their good place...if having a Janet cater to every whim makes someone happy, then that is their good place.

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13 hours ago, possibilities said:

So... stasis = good. Change = bad?

As a blanket rule?  Of course not, it depends on an individual.  If change = good to an individual, then their "good place" would involve change.  If stasis = good for an individual, then their "good place" would involve stasis.  If the opposite of what people prefer occurs there, then by definition that cannot truly be their "good place".

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20 hours ago, RainbowBrite said:

I totally agree with that sentiment, but in the setting of the Good Place, I would expect that there would be no pain. I'm saying all of this as an atheist without much exposure to Christian views of Heaven outside of media, so I may be off-base, but I thought it was supposed to be ~perfect in every way~.

The Good Place has never been based on the Christian view of heaven. This season as been more consistent with Eastern religions than anything you will find in Christianity. 

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2 hours ago, Dani said:

The Good Place has never been based on the Christian view of heaven. This season as been more consistent with Eastern religions than anything you will find in Christianity. 

I always felt like TPTB went out of their way to not be associated with any religious leanings, especially since Michael explained in the 1st episode that (paraphrasing) "Muslims were a little right, Hindus were a little right, Jews...Christians..."  

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11 minutes ago, ByTor said:

I always felt like TPTB went out of their way to not be associated with any religious leanings, especially since Michael explained in the 1st episode that (paraphrasing) "Muslims were a little right, Hindus were a little right, Jews...Christians..."  

For the first 3 and a half seasons I agree with you. The final system introduced feels heavily inspired by Eastern religious concepts. Chidi’s wave analogy comes from a book on Buddha by Thich Nhat Hanh. 

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The cessation of craving, and the surrender to bliss is what I thought the final episode was talking about, which is a Buddhist idea. Many people are interpreting it as boredom, but the way I understood it, it was the end of neediness and the transformation to peace.

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On 2/3/2020 at 11:57 AM, Zuleikha said:

I think the show bit off more than it was willing to chew. It was too hard for it to both be a sitcom and a serious exploration of an afterlife system. 

Much as I enjoyed the show, this is how I see it.

This Shimmer was neither a dessert topping NOR a floor wax. Sadly.

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On 2/14/2020 at 10:59 PM, possibilities said:

The cessation of craving, and the surrender to bliss is what I thought the final episode was talking about, which is a Buddhist idea. Many people are interpreting it as boredom, but the way I understood it, it was the end of neediness and the transformation to peace.

This is where I think the sense that the show but off more than it can chew comes from. Because iin theory, I think that is what they wanted to suggest - but they were still more or less depicting the characters as they always had, which made it hard to see them as these beings who had evolved past desire to the point where choosing total loss of self over a continued pleasant existence, let alone pursuing other possiblities (as Tahani did in becoming an architect) seems to make sense. 

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It’s been a couple weeks. I’ve sat with the ending and still hate it. Hate it. I used to rewatch the first seasons because there was always something I’d missed such as a background sign or reference about their pasts or their futures. No more. Having them truly die ruined the entire series for me.

The ending tells me that being good while on Earth doesn’t matter because I’ll eventually go to The Good Place. What does it matter if people who go through the door become lights that help others — it only shortens their time being tested. I might as well do whatever the hell I want while alive bc I’ll get to The Good Place eventually. What do we owe to each other? Not a goddamn thing apparently. See you around the bearimy!

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40 minutes ago, Kiddvideo said:

I used to rewatch the first seasons because there was always something I’d missed such as a background sign or reference about their pasts or their futures. No more. Having them truly die ruined the entire series for me.

I'm with you there.  I always had season 1 on in the background to fall asleep to as pleasant background noise, but not anymore.

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The Deseret News has an interview with one of the philosophers advising the show.

The Good Place’ had a controversial ending. Here’s what the show’s philosophy adviser had to say about it

Spoiler:

Spoiler

She disagrees with it.

I have to say, I was bothered by the ending. While I understand that these people are already dead, the essence of who they are -- Eleanor, Chidi, Tahani, Jason -- has continued from life to after death. In all the eons they spent in The Good Place, they are still, essentially, who they were in life.  I must confess that every time I think of the door (even now), I get a jolt of anxiety. It is the end of existence as they have known it. It is final.

Going through the door puts a permanent end to that. It is the door, not death, that is truly the embodiment of Shakespeare's "undiscovered country":

Quote

But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscovered country from whose bourn
No traveler returns, puzzles the will
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?

I thought it was a mistake for Jason to pop up after he supposedly went through the door. To me, it didn't show that he had become a monk in reality; it showed that he wasn't ready to make the transition because he had to find the necklace he made for Janet. 

And I don't understand how it works -- what if your overwhelming desire was to meet Abraham Lincoln, but hey, Abe grew "content" and passed through the door before you even got there. Does that mean you missed your chance? Did Chidi never get to hear Socrates or Plato lecture in Ancient Greece? He and Eleanor went to the ruins in modern time.

I was also disappointed with how pedestrian The Good Place seemed. If I was there, I'd be making visits to stand on the sands of Mars, paraglide in the winds of Jupiter, watch the suns rise in Alpha Centauri.

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8 hours ago, SmithW6079 said:

And I don't understand how it works -- what if your overwhelming desire was to meet Abraham Lincoln, but hey, Abe grew "content" and passed through the door before you even got there. Does that mean you missed your chance? Did Chidi never get to hear Socrates or Plato lecture in Ancient Greece? He and Eleanor went to the ruins in modern time.

I was also disappointed with how pedestrian The Good Place seemed. If I was there, I'd be making visits to stand on the sands of Mars, paraglide in the winds of Jupiter, watch the suns rise in Alpha Centauri.

They could experience that behind the Green Doors - anything they can think of, walk through the door, and they are there. Jason drove carts with monkeys and Draculas - I imagine you could go through the door and watch the suns rise on Alpha Centauri and visit Mars and Jupiter.

Chidi & Eleanor going to the Parthenon in modern times was because Chidi went there during college - he had probably already gone there in ancient times, if he wanted to.

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If your idea of the ultimate is the ceaseless creation and satisfaction of desires, then this would be a frustrating or scary or depressing ending, because it implies that there is something greater than craving and the scratching of that itch.

If your idea of the ultimate is to not be itchy, and to become something previously unimagined, then the door represents the eventual embracing of whatever comes, including the unknown, because it surpasses anything you have yet experienced or imagined. It's saying that the ego is finite and eternity is infinite.

As long as you are attached to having the ego-self, you would hate the door and not want to go through it. The show allows you not to ever go through, and to continue forever doing whatever you want. So why is it threatening to anyone, just that it exists and others choose it? Maybe the ego doesn't want to consider that it might not be the only game in town, that it has limits, and that some beings don't want one anymore.

I personally have plenty of stuff I want to do and experience, so I wouldn't choose the door. But I like the idea that at some point, in theory, I could be done with everything I can imagine, and would trust and be peaceful enough to be ready for anything, even what I don't know enough to think of it, and to be able to rest, and trust, and not be needing to pursue anything anymore. It's restful.

It's like recycling. You complete your purpose and go back into the resource pool to be re-formed into something else. But in this system you get to choose! You aren't forced to change, or to stay the same. It's total freedom.

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On 2/1/2020 at 4:27 PM, possibilities said:

RE suicide vs Nirvana: I 100% thought the show might be interpreted as glorifying suicide, and that worries me even now. I'm very glad to read the post from someone who has experience with depression and suicidal ideation and didn't have that reaction!

I am not trying to convince anyone who thinks otherwise, but for those who don't really get what made me personally react more toward the bliss/Nirvana side, but who are curious about it, this is what I can say about that issue....

Have you ever had a moment where you felt totally at one with someone else? Maybe when you were in love, or during sex. Or just... any time you felt really happy, in a moment you wanted to last forever? That is bliss. And I think that if you got to where you had absolutely gotten to that point, and it DID last forever, you would have nothing left to "do" or strive for. It would all be the same-- in a good way. It's not boredom.

What I think the show was trying to portray, and maybe it didn't succeed for everyone, but this is how I took it, is that it's like after a certain point you can no longer maintain your finite form because your bliss exceeds what you can finitely contain. And so you kind of turn into pure energy and it rains down on others, and helps them get a glimmer of that oneness/kindness/happiness/perfection, which adds momentum to their own journey toward that state.

And once you get to that point, trying to contain it amounts to resistance, or struggle, like trying to hold back the tide.

What I find most interesting about the way the show handled it, is that they made it a conscious choice for people to allow themselves to burst into fireflies, rather than something that just kind of happens when they attain a certain degree of "completion".

I think that element of choice was supposed to make it more comforting to people, so they didn't feel like anything was being forced on them. But it accidentally made a lot of people see it as a glorification of suicide, and obscured the bliss part.

I've read a lot of posts and reviews about the finale, and it all came back to the same feeling inside of me. The episode does glorify suicide. It got me very disturbed. Just talking about it triggers a hundred different feelings in me. I would not recommend it to anyone suffering from depression, ever.

Possibilities, I loved your post, but I think there's a big difference between what the show was trying to say and what it really said. Your idea of bliss is lovely. A natural progression where your bliss surpasses you body and you become a being of pure energy would be a great ending for the characters. That's not what I saw. I saw people who lost interest in life and decided to end it. Period.

I wish there was no door. I wish they all evolved together, till they became those bright lights in the infinity, still connected, still together. Now that would have been a good ending. I shall forget about this one, and let the show end when Eleanor and Chidi are seating on the sofa, contemplating eternity together..

This is a great philosophical analysis of the finale.

https://www.theatlantic.com/culture/archive/2020/02/good-places-finale-made-heaven-look-hopeless/606001/

 

Edited by maddie965
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The finale has brought on passionate discussion. That's ok and natural when a show ends. What isn't ok is targeting your fellow posters. If you don't like what someone has written then scroll past or use the Ignore feature.

Also there's nothing to win here. Debating and explaining are fine but trying to convince other posters to agree with your view just puts the thread into a vicious circle of "I'm right/you're wrong" which doesn't benefit anyone. Be careful not to fall into that trap.

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On 1/31/2020 at 9:26 AM, LBS said:

 

My twin sister is dying of stage 4 cancer.  She has a loving husband and 3 kids under 6.  We are only 41.  Death has become a reality and not a concept for me this last year.   It scares me and and makes me sad.  This show and especially this finale made me less scared and less sad.  I can picture her up there in the Good Place and then eventually becoming a spark of hope when she is finally completely at peace.   I hope and pray that it's not for Bearimy's and Bearimy's and Bearimy's from now but life throws you for loops.  

The scene between Chidi and Eleanor before he leaves was heartbreaking in its simplicity.  I sobbed.  It hit hard for lots of reasons but it is one I will watch over and over because it was so comforting.  I can believe that.  I can understand that.  I'm going to miss this show.   

Picture a wave. In the ocean. You can see it, measure it, its height, the way the sunlight refracts when it passes through. And it's there. And you can see it, you know what it is. It's a wave.

And then it crashes in the shore and it's gone. But the water is still there. The wave was just a different way for the water to be, for a little while. You know it's one conception of death for Buddhists: the wave returns to the ocean, where it came from and where it's supposed to be

 

My twin died on Thursday.  One week after our 42nd birthday.  I’m saying that quote at her funeral.  I hope she’s in the Good Place now because for the first time ever I don’t know where my twin is and I can’t feel her anymore.  

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I’m so very sorry, @LBS. I know how you feel, at least inasmuch as anyone can know how somebody else feels at such a difficult moment, because I’ve had much the same experience since my husband died 2 1/2 years ago. I don’t know, of course, but I pretty much believe they’re in a “place” (not a place) that’s inaccessible to us right now unless we’re very enlightened (which I’m not) but maybe we’ll feel united with them when it’s our turn to sink back into the ocean. *

* The Showtime series The Affair’s theme song was Container by Fiona Apple. I love the lyrics, part of which are:

I have only one thing to do / And that’s be the wave that I am / and then sink back into the ocean

My heart is with you right now.

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22 hours ago, LBS said:

My twin died on Thursday.  One week after our 42nd birthday.  I’m saying that quote at her funeral.  I hope she’s in the Good Place now because for the first time ever I don’t know where my twin is and I can’t feel her anymore.  

❤️

As someone with cancer, I hope you'll join me in saying the motto of one of my online cancer support groups: F&#@ CANCER!

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