This review contains spoilers.
Over the course of its four seasons, “The Good Place” kept its audience on the edge of their seats with one big plot twist after the next. While this unusual sitcom beautifully balanced high-stakes conflict with individual character growth, the finale began with the show’s biggest questions already answered. From redesigning the fundamentally flawed afterlife to reorganizing The Good Place, all plot points had been resolved. All that was left was to spend a supersized episode with the people, demons and Janets we have grown to adore.
Showrunner and creator, Michael Schur, has only concluded one other show, “Parks and Recreation,” and the similarities between these two shows’ finales are undeniable. If you can recall, the “Parks and Recreation” finale served as an epilogue of sorts, giving viewers a preview into the future of each of the ensemble characters’ lives and careers. “The Good Place” replicates this formula, but on a more timeless scale. Rather than leaping ahead years, “The Good Place” reveals the countless “Bearamys” — how the show quantifies units of time in the afterlife — possible for the main characters. Still, the message remains the same: follow each character’s path to their specific happy endings.
The penultimate episode solved the final problem of The Good Place: Eternal happiness has no ending. Eventually, that happiness becomes mindless. So, our favorite saviors of the afterlife created a way out — once you have completed everything you ever wished you could possibly do, you can peacefully end your existence — making an infinite afterlife feel slightly less endless. Naturally, this episode titled “Whenever You’re Ready” follows our characters’ voluntary, peaceful and chosen ends of their existences.
While the show’s premise was originally centered around protagonist Eleanor (Kristen Bell, “Frozen 2”) and her inadvertent placement into The Good Place, the show eventually evolved, following the main characters’ attempts to repair the inequalities present in the afterlife. Instead of one big final plot twist, “The Good Place” returned to how it began, before the larger issues of humanity outweighed smaller developments like the romance of Jason and Janet. Endings reveal the true priorities of television shows. “The Good Place” resolved the big questions first so it could return to where it has always belonged — with Eleanor, Chidi, Tahani, Jason, Michael and Janet. Through its discussion of moral philosophy and exploration of ethics in a just society, “The Good Place” took an optimistic outlook on humanity: People can be self-centered, indecisive, impulsive and arrogant, but given the chance they can also learn and grow. I’ll raise a margarita to that any day.
The final scene suggests the greatest reward for living on earth is the ability to continuously touch the lives of those we left behind. As individuals, we can only hope our actions will contribute to making the world a better place for those who still live in it. Yes, it may be as simple as deciding to take the garbage out or emptying the dishwasher when you know it’s not your turn. But maybe, just maybe, you were unconsciously inspired by some random spark of goodness by someone from your past. It makes sense that the character that underwent the most change gets to say the final words of the show. In the words of the demon-turned-human Michael, “with all the love in my heart and all the wisdom of the universe — take it sleazy.”