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"Chutes and Ladders" adds welcome backstory to Hotel's growing mythology while still packing plenty of shock value.
It was a pleasant surprise to have a good bulk of the hotel's backstory spelled out for us so early on.
Don't count on any of it making sense because clearly that's not what we're here for. The gore is necessary because the shock value is what keeps us coming back. We're as twisted as some of these characters.
Forget binge-watching a season, we feel like we've just binge-watched an episode - and we haven't even mentioned the part where Lady Gaga rides into a disco on the back of a horse.
For The Countess and other characters driven by vital dependency in the enjoyable, yet stout "Chutes and Ladders," it was addiction that made a body feel more alive than others, while at the same time trapping the addict in a prison of pure need.
"Chutes and Ladders" has what "Checking In" didn't have: a story.
"Chutes and Ladders" provided a horrifically fun backstory for the hotel...but that was a 15% chunk of an episode that sprawled for over an hour and a half, featuring some very grating vampire soapiness involving vain, pretty douchebags.
Sarah Paulson and Evan Peters are both playing villainous character this season -- a first for them both. And they're KILLING it. Literally.
Right now the stage has been set nicely for this to go in some very interesting directions.
The only mystery going thus far is how sewing dead bodies into old mattresses brings back the dead. So perhaps here is where horror and camp begin to work against each other: Can anything that preens so glibly in the spotlight's glare truly be scary?
There's an evocative grabbiness to the idea of Gaga-Bomer-Wittrock as party people and diseased infected people.
"Chutes And Ladders" is eager to share its enthusiasms, and the elaborate settings and playful camera work (directed by Bradley Buecker) help keep it lively.
While episode one hit us over the head with some pretty horrifying images early, episode two settles into more of a narrative groove.