For four seasons, The Good Place‘s “Brainy Bunch” jumped through hoops, explored moral philosophy, and challenged demons in their quest to save the afterlife. But in the series finale, they finally found peace. As I watched the finale—and later, tried to describe how I felt watching it—that was the one word I kept returning to. Peace.
While another version of the finale might have seen Shawn and his demons throw one final obstacle in their way, there’s a certain beauty to the quieter, moving note creator Michael Schur and company decided to end the series on. For a show remembered for its jaw-dropping season one twist, ending the series without one final trick up its sleeve was a genius move. And may as well have been that one final trick.
In the penultimate episode, the group arrive at the Good Place to discover that, like the rest of the afterlife, it’s fundamentally flawed. Apparently, an eternity of getting everything you want is not all it’s cracked up to be. Thus prompting the creation of the door. A door a person can step through when, or if, they feel ready and cease their existence in the universe. For many, their time in the Good Place is finite, but it’s their choice to stay as long, or as short, as they choose. As Chidi tells Eleanor, the Good Place is simply “having enough time with the people you love.”
In the finale, we see how that plays out for our beloved group, discovering it also means them finding peace for themselves. It was jarring to see, just five minutes in, Jason Mendoza (Manny Jacinto) realize it was his time to go. And minutes later, Tahani (Jameela Jamil), having achieved thousands of goals, ready to move on from the Good Place—though, instead of moving through the door, she embarked on a journey to become an architect. Eventually, the moment of clarity reaches Chidi (William Jackson Harper), something Eleanor (Kristen Bell) is desperate to subvert.
While Chidi initially agrees to stay for Eleanor’s sake, she realizes that doing so wouldn’t allow him peace, so she lets him go. On a quest for her own peace, Eleanor convinces Mindy St. Clair to leave the Medium Place and take the Good Place test, and secures Michael (Ted Danson) his one true wish: to be a human.
The Good Place is very much a comedy. But by nature of its material, it’s also intrinsically linked to heavy and complex ideas, like death and grief. It’s impossible for many to watch the series without thinking of one’s mortality or departed loved ones. During the thousands of Jeremy Bearimies that occur throughout the episode, we see the characters spend time with one another, reunite with loved ones, and strive to learn more and reach their goals.
When thinking about death and what lies beyond, most people will reflect on the people they’d hope to be reunited with. It’s something that the series finale touches on, with appearances from Donkey Doug, Pillboi, Kamilah, Simone, and Eleanor’s roommates, among many others. From the beginning, the series has followed our core quintet on their journey of self-discovery, as they strove to be better humans, demon, and Janet. Therefore, it’s fitting that the series ends with each of them at one with themselves. While only Janet remains in the Good Place—until Michael returns as a human—she reassures Jason that while it’s sad to say goodbye, she lives all time at once; meaning for her, Michael and the others aren’t really gone.
Over the course of four seasons, The Good Place asked a lot of big questions. About morality, the universe, and what lies beyond. To the end, the series had an optimistic outlook on life and the afterlife. In bringing peace to its cast of heroes, the finale was poignant, moving, and, ultimately, peaceful.
Feature Image: The Good Place