[Warning: The following contains spoilers for Season 4, Episode 12 of The Good Place, "Patty." Read at your own risk!]
Two weeks after Timothy Olyphant made the ultimate cameo in Janet's void, The Good Place pulled another dreamboat of a guest star out of thin air in Thursday's episode. Meet the wise philosopher, astronomer, and mathematician Hypatia of Alexandria, played by... Lisa Kudrow in a Jacksonville Jaguars jersey. That's the chaotic energy I love to see from this show.
After almost four full seasons, Team Cockroach has finally touched down in the Good Place, where the Ring Pops allow you to fully understand the meaning of Twin Peaks and the photo booths take "passport photos, but good." It seems like paradise for everyone: Eleanor (Kristen Bell) can summon her favorite targeted Instagram purchases by thinking about them, Jason (Manny Jacinto) can ride go-karts with monkeys, Tahani (Jameela Jamil) can hear every nice thing anyone ever said about her behind her back, and Chidi (William Jackson Harper) can rub elbows with his philosophical heroes, or at least the ones who didn't go to the Bad Place for defending slavery.
Hypatia, aka Patty, brings her No. 1 fanboy up to date on the basics of the Good Place, which is pretty current by Jeremy Bearimy standards. ("What are the big things from Earth recently? Um, the Industrial Revolution, Manhattan Project, 'Gangnam Style,' I feel like I get it.") But she also has bad news: All this infinite, uninterrupted perfection is turning everyone into zoned-out happiness zombies. Lisa Kudrow is perfect as a great mind trapped in a shiny prison: "I used to be cool, man! I studied so much things. Art and music and the one with the, um, number piles?" She ran out of big questions to ask, so her intellect rusted. Now there's nothing left but milkshakes.
It's no surprise that the Good Place is as messed up as the rest of the afterlife is. (I've been saying!) But it is a little surprising -- even for a show that moves like The Good Place does, and even considering that our four humans are old pros at fixing the afterlife by now -- that this episode doesn't even pretend to break a sweat redesigning the Good Place. Eleanor already knows what needs to be done: People should be allowed to leave. It's the Good Place version of dying: You walk through a door whenever you're ready, and your time in the universe ends. You're at peace. And because the committee tricked Michael (Ted Danson) into becoming the new Good Place boss, he's got the power to make that change.
The new door is a hit. Like Eleanor told Midlife Crisis Michael, life has meaning because it ends, so knowing that their time in the Good Place can end makes everyone want to stick around. And while it would be nice to believe that in the afterlife there would exist a way to be perfectly happy without limits, The Good Place isn't really about the afterlife. It's an analogy for how to be alive. As Chidi puts it, the Good Place is "not even a place, really. It's just having enough time with the people you love."
I've had some issues this season with how isolating the afterlife has become, even after its upgrade. The test is individualized, and the Good Place isn't programmed to welcome more than one person at once. But it's clear in "Patty" that even if the solution to the Good Place's problems is technically a door that offers a way out, the real fix is (sorry) the friends Eleanor made along the way. She and the rest of Team Cockroach disrupt the system because they're invested in each other. The monotony can't break them down in the same way if they're all together. When Jason gets tired of racing go-karts, he comes back to the people he still finds exciting: "I just kind of wanted to hang out with you guys again."
It's a safe bet that next week's series finale will probably involve that door, more than once, and it's going to be bittersweet. But for now, everything really is fine. Chidi and Eleanor are chilling in the dot of the i.
Lines of the night:
Patty: "Look, there's math on my shirt! Is it an S or a math?"
Eleanor: "How do you get the 'of' in your name? Is it just, like, where you hung out the most? Like am I Eleanor of the Cheesecake Factory bar?"
Jason: "Maybe I'll finally get some of those squigglies on my brain. Doctors said my brains are smooth as an egg."
Michael: "The committee is me! I am committee! It me!"
Paltibaal (David Danipour): "I would have killed for a vaccine. Any vaccine. It's crazy that you guys just don't like them now."
The committee's ideas for improving the Good Place:
-Music you can eat
-Get more chocolate in chocolate
-Wait until Beyoncé gets here, ask her to fix it
-Fewer hoverboards somehow?
-Giant mini-donuts (not just regular donuts -- Dave will explain)
The Good Place airs Thursdays at 8:30/7:30c on NBC.