Eleanor's Plans Are Already Crumbling in 'The Good Place' Season 4 Premiere (RECAP)

Emily Hannemann
Spoiler Alert Colleen Hayes/NBC

[WARNING: The following contains MAJOR spoilers for The Good Place Season 4 episode 1, "A Girl From Arizona, Part 1."]

It looks like saving all of humanity is going to be a LOT harder than Kristen Bell’s “girl from Arizona” anticipated.

What does it take to save everyone from eternal damnation? As Eleanor (Kristen Bell) might say, “an Arizona dirtbag, a human turtleneck, a hot rich fraud with legs for days, literally the dumbest person [she’s] ever met.” Oh, and a reformed demon.

That might seem like a rickety, motley crew, and in truth, it is. But they at least have a decent plan for a few minutes… and then it all goes sideways, several times over. Can architect Eleanor pull it all together? “A Girl From Arizona,” The Good Place’s last first episode, sees her trying to combat the chaos unfolding around her… but some things she’s not prepared to handle.

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Lethargic Linda

The episode opens with Eleanor showing Chidi (William Jackson Harper) around his new home. After that, she and Michael (Ted Danson) welcome a new resident to the neighborhood: Linda. She’s pleasant and all, but her blandness, and general boring nature, is off-putting. But it’s not Linda that gets under Eleanor’s skin. Their next and final resident, Brent, is a misogynistic, arrogant, know-it-all businessman who takes advantage of Janet (D'Arcy Carden)’s presence and (wrongly) assumes the Good Place is the only place he’d ever be in the afterlife.

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The crew meet at Mindy’s to try and get a handle on the humans. While it won’t be an easy task to get to know Brent and Linda, Eleanor at least draws encouragement from the fact that they already know Simone. Or do they?

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Semi-Charmed Kind of Life

They don’t. When it comes time to welcome the residents with a video explaining that they’re all in heaven, Simone has a breakdown. As it turns out, she’s convinced the whole thing is a figment of her imagination, and she’s either dying or in a coma. She leaves the presentation abruptly, and Eleanor’s forced to make up a flimsy excuse for her behavior.

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That night at the welcome party, Michael tries to lift Eleanor’s spirits. He tells her some humans in the Bad Place refused to believe they were dead, but after a few days of mouth fleas, they adapted. For Simone, that doesn’t seem to be the case. Even introducing her to Chidi doesn’t change her mind—and while she’s singing “Semi-Charmed Kind of Life” to try to wake herself up, the other humans at the gathering are being their obnoxious selves.

In the midst of all of this, Jason (Manny Jacinto) does a bad thing. Insecure because of Derek’s taunts, he decides to reboot the not-a-man to keep his relationship safe. That works about as well as you could expect. During the party, Derek’s mug shows up on neighborhood announcement screens, declaring, “Murder is me!” Nice going, Jason!

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Truly Demonic

This catastrophe leads to a change of plans for the team. Eleanor deems Simone a lost cause for the time being, and instead says they should focus their efforts on figuring out Linda. The next day, during flying lessons, they find out there’s a little more spice to her than they thought; Linda punches Michael and Eleanor and then proceeds to exact a jaw-dropping amount of wrath on the rest of the residents. Does Linda have a glaring anger issue she’s been burying under that plain oatmeal personality?

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No. She’s a demon! As it turns out, Shawn sent one of his colleagues (the “I’m going to the gym” dude) in disguise as Linda to sabotage the experiment. The Soul Squad, Michael, Gen and Shawn have a tense conversation, in which Gen tells Shawn that if he messes with the experiment again, she’ll “rip off his eyelids and make him watch videos of soldiers coming home to their dogs.”

A Bad Place Janet comes to pick up the demon. Michael tells the Bad Janet to relay a message to Shawn: “Booyah!” (Complete with a triumphant hand gesture, to drive the point home.)

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Other Observations

  • What an incredible first episode. This show never ceases to amaze—its storylines are well thought-out, and its plot twists, while surprising, never enter “jumping the shark” territory.
  • I already like this season better than Season 3. We’re starting with all our main characters (with the exception of one) already knowing each other, and there are real stakes. Plus, there’s a certain bittersweet nostalgia in being in a Good Place-Bad Place neighborhood again.
  • Ted Danson and Kristen Bell are absolute magic together. Their scenes are always fun to watch, and the Eleanor-Michael dynamic is even better now that she’s “the architect.” I just adore the friendship between those characters.

The Good Place, Thursdays, 9/8c, NBC