Third “Good Place” season ends with heartbreaking, unexpected cliff-hanger

Ever since the show’s premiere in September of 2016, “The Good Place” has repeatedly proven itself to be one of the most entertaining and original sitcoms out there in terms of both structure and theme. 

“The Good Place” wrapped up its third season on Jan. 24 with a finale just as open-ended as fans have come to expect from its two previous seasons. 

The beginning of season three picks up where the second season left off. The members of “Team Cockroach,” Eleanor—played by Kristen Bell—Tahani—played by Jameela Jamil—Chidi—played by William Jackson Harper—and Jason—Manny Jacinto—have been sent back to Earth to see if it’s possible for the four of them to improve themselves like they did during their time in the fake Good Place. 

Episode 10, “Janet(s),” is hands-down the best episode of the season. In an effort to escape the clutches of Shawn and the other Bad Place demons, Janet—played by D’Arcy Carden—brings Michael—Ted Danson—and the four humans into her own personal plane of existence called “her void.” There, everyone besides Michael is transformed into another Janet totally indistinguishable from the original, at least until they are given new clothes and left in the void while Michael and the original Janet try to talk to an afterlife accountant about their suspicion that the Bad Place is interfering with the points system. 

In episode 11, after three seasons of waiting, our team of heroes finally make it to the real Good Place. It is here that Michael finally realizes why no one has made it into the Good Place for hundreds of years—the Bad Place hasn’t been tampering with the points, but the complexity of modern life is resulting in dozens of unintended negative consequences for every action. 

The end of the season builds to a hopeful zenith before dealing a crushing blow to the characters, and by extension, the audience. The Judge—Maya Rudolph— brokers a deal between the Good Place and the Bad Place: Michael will oversee the creation of a new neighborhood similar to his original neighborhood in the fake Good Place and Shawn—played by Marc Evan Jackson—will select four recently deceased humans to live in this neighborhood. The plan is to see if four moderately crappy humans can improve themselves in an environment free of the unintended consequences of decisions on Earth. 

Everything seems perfect, until disaster strikes again. While Shawn agreed not to select any of the most irredeemable, evil humans for the experiment—like serial killers and boyband managers—he is able to strike below the belt by sending in Chidi’s recently-deceased ex-girlfriend, Simone—played by Kirby Howell-Baptiste. 

Chidi knows that the experiment is doomed to fail if his emotions get in the way of teaching ethics to the new group of humans. The only way to make sure that Shawn doesn’t win is to have Michael erase Chidi’s memory and send him in place of another random human. 

This ending is nothing short of heartbreaking, but it does give the audience the hope of getting to watch Chidi and Eleanor fall in love again in yet another timeline. Another “soft reset” of the show’s plot leaves fans wondering where the show’s fourth season will take the characters next.