NBC’s The Good Place airs its season finale, saying an incredible goodbye with a poignant statement
NBC’s The Good Place aired its series finale on Jan. 30, 2020, ending not with a bang, nor with a whimper, but with a heartfelt goodbye. Fans of the show knew this was coming. Showrunner Michael Schur had announced last year that season four would be The Good Place’s last.
It had the trademarks of a classic Good Place episode: witty comebacks, modern references, relatability, and moral philosophy. With a final season that put Game of Thrones’s to shame, The Good Place did not shirk from the expected. The ending isn’t shocking. It doesn’t aim to leave viewers sitting on the couch not knowing what just happened, but rather to leave viewers with a sense of peace: that if season four’s depiction of the afterlife is really the way the universe works, then we’ll all be okay.
This tranquility that pervades throughout The Good Place sets the tone for the entire 50 minutes of viewing time, and it’s that same peace the characters come to experience. This sad calm is an acceptance of the end, and also a quiet enjoyment of the journey to the finish. Like The Good Place’s Patty (Lisa Kudrow’s hilariously idiosyncratic representation of Hypatia of Alexandria) says, “When perfection goes on forever, you become this glassy-eyed mush person.” We know that it must end — and we are sad it will end — but we might as well enjoy the final moments we have.
It was definitely difficult to watch beloved characters like Chidi Anagonye, the Soul Squad’s belovedly indecisive philosophy professor, walk through the archway and dissipate into the universe. After four seasons, we knew these characters’ hopes, dreams, fears and memories, and witnessed the paths they took to overcome their past demons.
It was a shame that we didn’t get more of Jason and Tahani in the afterlife. It was a bittersweet end for both, including a cameo from Nick Offerman (Parks and Recreation, Making It), and Doug “Donkey Doug” Mendoza, Jason’s father, played by Mitch Narito. However, seeing some touching moments with Tahani’s family, as well as Jason’s family, I was left wanting more. Earlier episodes that focused on Tahani’s parents and sister make it a point to show the powerful long-lasting effects they had on Tahani, and the same with Jason and his upbringing. As such, it was incredibly moving to see her parents go through the new afterlife process and run to their daughters asking for forgiveness, and to see Jason play his perfect game with his father.
Nevertheless, these tidbits seem to suggest that the show believes that Jason and Tahani’s arcs dealing with their family after they have reached the Good Place aren’t as central to the story as the other main characters’ experiences. Their absence left an obvious hole in the fabric of the finale. The finale would have probably benefited from splitting Tahani and Jason’s story lines from Chidi and Eleanor, to give those two members of the Soul Squad enough time to finish out their stories.
In journeys that spanned countless Jeremy Bearimys, we watched these characters become good people; they struggled with their own vices, with time, and with an eccentric-but-lovable all-knowing Judge (played by Maya Rudolph). But throughout their adventures, the masterfully crafted plot makes sure the audience takes note of one important thing: you can be good, and you can be yourself. The afterlife looks different for all the characters, and that’s okay. They are still flawed, they are still imperfect, but they try to be good, and that’s what’s important.