The season finale of The Good Place consisted of two back-to-back episodes last night. The first was the usual funny but weird look at morality. The “medium” place was so perfect that it’s actually a shame it got completely overshadowed by what happened in the second, final episode.
So the “Good Place” was a complete lie. After Judge Shawn tells Jason, Tahani, Chidi, and Fake Eleanor (i.e., the one played by Kristen Bell, who will now be referred to as Belleanor”) that two of them have to go to the Bad Place and he doesn’t care which, fighting erupts. All of them want to go, except for Jason because he is actually the worst.
And then “Real” Eleanor (i.e. Tiya Sircar) bursts in to say she’s going to take one of the slots because, well, her soulmate doesn’t love her and she’s been there before, so why not?
The battle gets so intense and awful that Belleanor realizes something: there not actually a Bad Place to go to. This is the real Bad Place, specially tailored to torture them psychologically. In flashbacks, we see that this was Michael’s big breakthrough plan: these four Bad Placers would torture themselves, two with the knowledge that they didn’t belong in the “Good Place” and two by helping them. Everything else is fake, and all the other people in the neighborhood, including “Real” Eleanor, are just more cosmic beings fucking with them.
(I do want to give credit to Ted Danson, by the way, they way he let a malevolent smile curdle his face after the reveal was really, really good.)
And Shawn isn’t a judge, he’s just another element of fucking with them. The only “person” who is exactly who she appeared to be is Janet. She’s hardwired into the worlds these beings create.
On the one hand, the reveal does answer a number of questions that have been bugging me for a while. Like how there’s an afterlife that only cares about deeds and not motivations. It turns out there isn’t, and Tahani’s selfish motives are what landed her in the Bad Place. And why, if there was a real Eleanor out there, we hadn’t seen who Jason had accidentally replaced. All of that is answered here. Plus, if the idea was that there’s a perfectly tailored heaven, why not have a perfectly tailored hell? Michael’s still a craftsman, he’s just working with a much different agenda than we thought.
On the other hand, I’m not sure if they actually telegraphed the fact that we were in the Bad Place all along that well. I’ll have to rewatch the whole season to check, but it feels more out of the blue than carefully plotted. And now good people aren’t helping Belleanor, now the One True Eleanor, learn to be good—they’re all bad people running around in a hamster ball. Also, now I wonder if Trevor’s Bad Place, with traditional torture even exists. Or what the real “Good Place” is.
We’re also left with a cliffhanger where Michael wipes everyone’s memories in order to start his experiment over. Except this time, he isolates them so that they can’t work together, since that’s what made it possible for Eleanor to figure out his secret in the first place. Eleanor, pre-mindwipe, manages to use Janet to get a message to future self: Find Chidi.
So now we’re left wondering how much you can change if you don’t remember being changed. And whether any of the development we’ve seen in these characters—Eleanor learning to care about others, Tahani’s new motivations, Chidi learning to take stands—actually matters at all. (Also? We’re going wonder whether this show could possibly be picked up for a second season.)
The Good Place finale was, as always, well acted and funny. I just don’t know if its ending was good or bad... which seems oddly appropriate for this show.