After four seasons, “The Good Place” concluded its run on Thursday night. For those who have yet to watch but plan to, be warned that SPOILERS lie ahead…
Fans learned the final fates of Michael (Ted Danson), Eleanor (Kristen Bell), Chidi (William Jackson Harper), Tahani (Jameela Jamil), Jason (Manny Jacinto) and Janet (D’Arcy Carden).
As viewers discovered, the big twist involved the appearance of a special door that leads from the afterlife to… well, something else, but completely unknown.
After Jason, Tahini and Chidi enter the door at various points in the one-hour finale, that leaves just Michael and Eleanor, with Janet remaining to carry on her work.
Michael, however, discovers he’s unable to pass through the door, but Eleanor comes up with a genius solution she presents to Judge Gen (Maya Rudolph): turn Michael into a human being so he can eventually get through.
The judge agrees, and we see Michael suddenly transported to Earth, where he’s enjoying a wonderful existence that includes a large dog (that he’s named Jason) and taking guitar lessons from Mary Steenburgen (Danson’s real-life wife).
As Eleanor and Janet observe Michael’s happiness as a human, they drink a toast to him while coming to the epiphany that, regardless of what is on the other side of the door, “the true joy is in the mystery.” They share a hug, and Eleanor walks through the door…
Earlier this week, “The Good Place” creator Michael Schur spoke with the New York Times about the finale, and shared his insights into the viewpoint the show was trying to impart.
“I don’t know that we have an answer, but the show ended up taking a position, and it’s something close to Aristotelian virtue ethics,” Schur said. “What matters is that these things matter to you. You’re going to fail over and over again, and you’re going to encounter decisions that have no answer. Anything you do is problematic and causes someone somewhere some amount of pain or sadness or suffering.”
And, he added, “because you’re doomed to fail, what matters isn’t that you do everything right. What matters is that you try. When you make a mistake, you apologize and then you try something else. The show is suggesting that the real victory of being alive is just putting these things in the front of your brain and attempting all the time to be a better person than you were yesterday.”
Interviewed by Entertainment Weekly, Bell discussed the the finale’s key themes. “The fact that once you have everything you’re striving so hard to earn, it’s still not enough,” she said. “That what you need to earn is the acceptance of the complex internal decision to let go. It was so beautiful how they made everybody mush in the Good Place because it’s true. There’s one line that really sums it up: ‘A vacation is only so fun because it has an ending.’ If everything were bliss, would everyone be happy? I don’t think so. Part of the drive and the passion is why it’s the journey, not the destination. And I was very happy with the tough-love ending that happened.”
She also opened up about the evolution of Eleanor’s relationship with Michael and how she was able to give him one final gift. “That was my very favourite part of what [Schur] wrote in that final episode,” said Bell. “The fact that Eleanor’s final mission is to give a gift to the person that has been there for her through and through, who was her enemy and then her frenemy, and finally one of her closest allies. The fact that she could use her weight with the judge to give him the ultimate gift just made my heart smile. And what made me even more excited was that Mary Steenburgen jumped at the opportunity to play his guitar teacher.”
So what plans does Bell have after four years in “The Good Place”? “I am taking some time to look inward, to be present for my family. I will keep up the friendships with these people and the crew,” she said. “I know where all the camera guys have landed and on what shows. I know where the grips have landed. These friendships will be forever. As far as my life, I am hoping to affect people in a little bit more personal, intimate way. I think I’m going to take a step back from shooting anything for a while, be there for my kids, be there for my husband, do some charity work and affect the people directly around me.”