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Can The Good Place Change, Well, Everything?

Eleanor (Kristen Bell) and Michael (Ted Danson) make a plea for humanity.
Eleanor (Kristen Bell) and Michael (Ted Danson) make a plea for humanity.
Photo: Colleen Hayes (NBC)

It’s all come to this. Everything they’ve been through has all happened so they could be here, together, as the very best version of themselves to solve the ultimate problem in the nick of time. “You’ve Changed, Man” may be the most important episode in the history of The Good Place.

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Illustration for article titled Can iThe Good Place /iChange, Well, Everything?

That doesn’t mean it’s the best (that honor still goes to the season one finale, when our heroes realized they weren’t actually in the Good Place), but it’s the one that carries the most weight. The midseason premiere of The Good Place’s final season finally answers the show’s longest question: Can you make the afterlife a better place? Eleanor (Kristen Bell), Michael (Ted Danson), Chidi (William Jackson Harper), and the others finally completed the show’s greatest task. They fixed Heaven.

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While the Judge (Maya Rudolph) was busy searching through all the Janets’ voids—including a visit to a Bad Janet’s void, which hilariously featured a billboard for Elon Musk’s Cybertruck—the team had just a few minutes to try and change the entire afterlife. That’s no easy task, especially when your greatest ethical mind is known for his indecisiveness. At least, he used to be. Apparently having 800 different lives hurled into your head at the same time is exactly what you need to find your inner center...and get really horny, as Eleanor and Chidi keep getting turned on by each other’s knowledge of philosophy and ethics. It was really cute, and confident Chidi is hot as heaven.

The problem with the Good Place system is that the punishment doesn’t fit the crime. The cruelty of being tortured for eternity with no chance at redemption isn’t a fitting end for someone who, let’s say, couldn’t pull off the Mod look. They first come up with an idea for giving the people “in between” a Medium Place, but the problem with that is there’s still no opportunity for the people inside it to grow or change. Plus Shawn rejects it because he’s a tool, even after our heroes offer to surrender themselves to the Bad Place in exchange.

So, they decide to come up with a new plan—something we should’ve seen coming all this time. Their solution to making the Good Place is, basically, to make The Good Place. They want to create an afterlife that recreates what Eleanor and the others went through in the first place. Building personal scenarios that are designed to test people, making them easier or harder depending on the “score” they received on Earth. If they pass, they get into the Good Place. If they fail, they’re rebooted with a little “voice in the head” that helps remind them of what they need to learn. The Bad Place still gets to torture people, but in a way that may end up making them better.

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Thanks to some a great presentation, aided by guest star Timothy Olyphant as his sexy Justified cowboy, the Judge agrees to their proposal. But Shawn’s still not on board: Not because he doesn’t like the plan, but because he’s stuck in a loop of thinking that making Michael miserable will make him happy. The moment Michael calls him out on it, Shawn relents. Torturing Michael has made him the happiest he’s been in a long time, and Michael reminds him that if they have to work together...it’s gonna torture him for eternity.

There you have it: The Good Place has finally solved its greatest puzzle! It may have felt a little underwhelming, especially considering we have three more episodes (including a double-sized finale) before the series is actually over. Where will they go from here? Presumably, we’ll see the plan come to fruition but surely there will be a few more bumps for the Soul Squad along the way. That said, it feels refreshing to see people come together to make things better. If only every problem could be solved the same way. Alas.

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The Good Place airs Thursdays on NBC.


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Video Editor and Staff Writer at io9. My doppelganger is that rebelling greeting card from Futurama.

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DISCUSSION

“...may be the most important episode in the history of The Good Place.”

I realize 3 years is probably a much larger portion of your life than mine, but The Good Place does not have a “history”, regardless of any  “important episode”.

It’s a network sitcom. In 2020, that’s about as far as you can get from anything important or historic.

People need to stop deifying television shows. TV shows, especially network TV shows, and brunch dishes, are not life changing.

War and climate change are examples of things that are life changing.