Spoilers ahead for The Good Place season finale.
“Want to talk about it?”
So begins the conversation between Michael, a reformed demon, and his newly human pal, Eleanor Shellstrop, as they encounter each other at some random Arizona bar in The Good Place’s season-two finale. Of course, Eleanor doesn’t know who he is: A year prior in human years, the Eternal Judge wiped her brain clean from any and all memories of being in the Bad Place, placing her back on Earth as a final test to see if she can truly ascend to the Good Place. Despite starting off pretty great — she quit her sketchy pharmaceutical job and apologized to her friend for capitalizing on that viral dry-cleaner freak-out! — as months dwindled so did her morale, and as much as she wanted to keep doing good work for Clean Energy Crusaders, she just, like, didn’t have it in her anymore.
Enter our dear Michael, who managed to temporarily bypass heavenly protocol to have a brief conversation with Eleanor at Sting’s Desert Rosé bar in the bustlin’ metropolis of Phoenix. (We see you, Brand New Day stans.) Rather than approach Eleanor as a fellow cocktail guzzler or waiter, The Good Place decided to hark back to some classic ’80s sitcom nostalgia and give the people what they want: Ted Danson at ease behind a bar, cleaning glasses, and stylishly draping a towel over his neck.
That’s right, readers! It’s a septuagenarian Sam Malone in the flesh, if Cheers chose to be one of the many reboots infiltrating the small screen in 2018.
“You’re talking about ‘moral desert,’” he begins with his behind-the-bar wisdom, when Eleanor weighs the pros of cons of being a “good” person when there’s seemingly no reward in plain sight. “Moral desert is the concept that if you act with virtue, you deserve a reward … I had a friend that said whenever she was doing something bad, she’d hear this little voice in her head, a distant little voice, saying, Come on, you know this is wrong. And then when she started doing good things, that voice went away. It was a relief.” That friend was Eleanor herself, back when she still had her memories intact with Michael and Team Cockroach in their celestial abode: “She’s a little rough around the edges, but she was also a really good person when she tried. See, I think that little voice was her conscience trying to guide her in the right direction.”
With his advice and promise of a free drink completed, Bartender Michael wraps up their conversation with a very poignant push: “The real question, Eleanor, is what do we owe to each other?” This soon prompts Eleanor to browse through philosophy videos on YouTube to seek this greater good. Soon enough, she’s inspired, on an airplane to Australia, and looking for the man who was able to break through to her with his “What We Owe to Each Other” lectures. And that man, of course, is Chidi Anagonye.
All thanks to that delightful demon bartender.