Image courtesy of pastemagazine.com
When Michael Schur first pitched The Good Place, he initially set out to explore what it means to be a good person. But as the show continued, the moral message of The Good Place began to change; by the third series, Schur concluded that being good isn’t so much about doing, as it is trying. Or as the reformed demon, Michael (Ted Danson), once put it, “What matters isn’t if people are good or bad. What matters is if they’re trying to be better today than they were yesterday.”
Now, with this new moral philosophy in mind, The Good Place’s fourth and final series saw our Soul Squad come together to fix a broken system that meant no one has been able to enter the Good Place for hundreds of years. This revelation came about when Michael discovered that because human lives are so complicated, even the kindest act has unforeseen consequences. In other words, moral absolutism had inadvertently sentenced thousands of would-be Good Placers to have their penises flattened in the Bad Place.
The penultimate episode saw the Soul Squad finally earn their spot in the Good Place after figuring out a new and fair system that would let others earn their spots as well. And after some retooling of the heavenly afterlife, the series finale, ‘Whenever You’re Ready,’ lets us see what our band of misfits are up to thousands of “Bearimys” (the afterlife unit of time measurement) into the future. This includes reunions with friends and family, quaint parties (with panda bear waiters!), and a romantic getaway across the globe. But unfortunately, not even the afterlife can last forever.
One by one the Soul Squad, now content with everything they have seen or done in the Good Place, enter the archway to the next phase of their existence. Not even the all-knowing Janet (D’Arcy Carden) has any idea what lies beyond, only that it will be peaceful once they enter. Each character has a poignant ending to their arcs, their story finally coming full circle. Jason (Manny Jacinto) is the first to leave after successfully completing a game of ‘Madden’ with his father. Tahani (Jameela Jamil), who spent her time on Earth helping others for her own self-gratification gets a solid farewell too. Having spent most of her afterlife learning to help others for the sake of helping, she decides to become a Good Place architect, realizing that her hard work will be worthwhile in the end.
But cue the tears, because the next one is a real gut-puncher.
661.7 Jeremy Bearimy’s later, Chidi (William Jackson Harper) decides it is his time to go. Eleanor (Kristen Bell) concocts a plan that includes a whirlwind-travel round Athens and Paris to convince him to stay. Bell and Harper have always had great chemistry, but the scene wherein Chidi tells his soulmate he has to leave is a whole other level of amazing. Explaining how she’s felt alone her whole life, Eleanor is briefly able to convince Chidi to stay, before realizing that despite the millions of possibilities the Good Place has to offer, she can never find the justification to keep him there. So, they spend one last night together, where Chidi comforts Eleanor with some Buddhist spiritual wisdom about the waves, the ocean, creation and eternity. The next morning, Chidi, who was once so indecisive it landed him in the Bad Place, makes the ultimate decision to enter the archway.
Then we’re left with the woman that started it all - Eleanor, who’s looking for a reason to move on. It’s only when she helps Michael find his own inner peace is she able to leave. Whilst sipping on margaritas one last time, Eleanor explains to Janet that it’s okay not knowing what’s on the other side of the arch. ‘The true joy is in the mystery,’ she concludes, before walking through. And in the show’s final moments, we do see what happens, but maybe it is better that I leave it for yourself to find out. I will say it’s a poignant, satisfying way to end a kind-spirited series about life, death and morality. Throughout this entire episode, the series’ message has never been clearer: everything will be fine, even when everything ends.
The Good Place is available to stream on Netflix.