The Good Place wrapped up its third season with “Pandemonium”, an episode that’s much lighter on chaos and screaming than its title would suggest. But the witty show about the afterlife — known for keeping viewers on their toes with constant resets of time, space and reality — did pull yet another huge surprise.
Season three was involved, packing a hell of a lot into 13 half-hour episodes. It began as Eleanor, Chidi, Tahani and Jason were brought back to life on Earth, part of Michael’s desperate scheme (with Janet’s help, and the Judge’s begrudging permission) to get the Bad Place escapees to earn enough “points” to earn entrée to the Good Place. (If that feels as though it happened a long time ago, it did; season three kicked off back in September, and the show’s taken a few holiday breaks since then.)
After some elaborate cosmic wrangling, the quartet reunited and eventually discovered the truth about their doomed existence, which then led them to seek out other people (Tahani’s snooty sister, Eleanor’s reformed-con-artist mother) to hopefully set them on the path to the Good Place instead.
Along the way, Eleanor and Chidi finally fell in love for real. Jason (who’s technically still married to Tahani) began to reciprocate Janet’s crush. And Michael, after becoming convinced that the Bad Place was tampering with the points system — a believable theory, to be fair — realised there was an entirely different reason that no new humans had entered the Good Place in centuries.
See, life on Earth has become so complicated and screwed up that even a gesture that should rack up positive points (such as buying somebody flowers) is tainted by things that are way beyond the control of even the most well-intended person. Who grew those flowers? Did they pay their workers fair wages? Did they use damaging pesticides? Did they displace a smaller florist along the way? You get the idea.
After last week’s IHOP summit (that’s the International Hole of Pancakes, an inter-dimensional void where you better not eat anything, or make any sudden movements, for that matter) between the Judge, Michael and Bad Place demon Shawn, a new plan was put into play. The Judge allowed Michael to set up a new neighbourhood in the neutral Medium Place and run his experiment again — with the help of Janet, Eleanor and the gang — with four brand-new “bad” humans, all chosen by Shawn.
That last detail felt like kind of a throwaway in episode 12, but in “Pandemonium” it had huge ramifications and became the reason The Good Place was able to reset itself yet again.
To everyone’s horror (and Shawn’s delight), one of the new humans is Simone — Chidi’s ex-girlfriend. The only reason Chidi and Simone broke up on Earth was because, after he found out the truth about the afterlife and briefly became a nihilist, he was afraid he’d doom her to the Bad Place too.
Michael quickly offers to use his memory-wipe trick so that Simone won’t recognise anyone or recall anything about her romance with Chidi, but Chidi knows that won’t be enough — he’s too awkward and nervous, and he’s afraid of blowing the whole experiment, which depends in part on his ability to teach philosophy to the new humans to make them better people. (Honestly, Simone always seemed rather awesome, but maybe she had flaws The Good Place has yet to reveal.)
So Chidi decides Michael better wipe his memory of all his memories of Simone, which means he won’t remember anything that happened after his original death on Earth at the start of season one. Most importantly, and most devastatingly, he won’t remember that he’s in love with Eleanor — but she’ll remember that she’s in love with him. (“The Bad Place has pulled off the most intricate ‘cork-blork’ of all time,” she grimly deduces.)
Goddammit, Good Place, with your tear-jerking farewell montage showing adorable moments between Chidi and Eleanor! Of all the humans on the show, Eleanor is easily the one who’s evolved the most, morphing from a selfish and superficial person into someone who genuinely cares about others, and who had just started to let herself relax into the most happy and secure relationship she’s ever had.
The old Eleanor would’ve found the nearest bar and demanded free margaritas, but end-of-season-three Eleanor gets appropriately philosophical: “What’s the point of love if it’s just gonna disappear? And how is it worse to not love anybody? There has to be meaning to existence. Otherwise the universe is just made of pain and I don’t like the thought of that.”
Janet explains that there is no answer, because the universe doesn’t work like a machine, and “since nothing seems to make sense, when you find something or someone that does, it’s euphoria. In all this randomness, in all this pandemonium, you and Chidi found each other and you had a life together. Isn’t that remarkable?”
Eleanor knows she’s right — and that after all she’s been through, she has to accept the fact that the next human she’s gotta welcome to the New Fake Good Place is the man she’s deeply in love with, but who will have no memory of ever meeting her: “I guess all I can do is embrace the pandemonium and find happiness in the unique insanity of being here now.” That doesn’t mean it ain’t gonna hurt.
As is tradition when The Good Place wraps up a season, we have no idea what to expect next — but “unique insanity” sounds about right. We cannot wait for season four.