vulture lists

Our 7 Biggest Questions After The Good Place Season Finale

Photo: Colleen Hayes/NBC

Spoilers ahead for season two of The Good Place.

NBC renewed The Good Place for a third season a few months ago, which means that fans could enjoy season two’s game-changing finale without worrying about whether they’d get to see what happens next. Perhaps because of this, the show’s creator Michael Schur didn’t end the season with a big cliff-hanger so much as with the start of a reset. Early in the episode, reformed torture-demon Michael (Ted Danson) convinced the afterlife’s eternal judge, Gen (Maya Rudolph), to give his four condemned friends a chance to prove themselves capable of profound change. The rest of the half-hour followed our primary heroine Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell) in a “what if” scenario, imagining what might’ve happened if she’d been spared from death and had tried to become a better person on Earth — with no memory of her time in Michael’s experimental Neighborhood.

The season ended on an ellipsis, with Eleanor compelled to seek out her afterlife pal Chidi Anagonye (William Jackson Harper) in Australia, without really understanding why. The impression we’re left with as the credits roll is that season three will pick up where the finale left off, and that we’ll keep tracking the Earthbound adventures of this quartet as they stumble into each other’s lives.

What else may lie ahead? Here are the seven biggest questions that the season-two finale “Somewhere Else” left us pondering.

Where are Tahani and Jason?

The finale focused almost entirely on Eleanor, with Chidi popping up only at the end. We didn’t learn anything about what Chidi’s been up to since he avoided getting crushed by an air conditioner, though presumably that story will be coming early in season three, given that he just reentered the picture. And then, Eleanor and Chidi will somehow have to cross paths with Tahani al-Jamil (Jameela Jamil) and Jason Mendoza (Manny Jacinto), which is going to involve some tricky storytelling, given that none of these four people have much in common with each other and live in far-flung locales. As we move toward an inevitable reunion, we’ll surely learn all about what their second chances have been like, too. Eleanor’s earnest attempts to turn her life around stalled out after six months. Did anyone else fare better?

Are the humans actually alive, or is it a simulation?

For the sake of describing what Michael and Gen have done without adding a dozen qualifiers, it’s easiest to say that they brought Eleanor and company back to life, and then returned them to Earth at the point in their mortal timeline when they originally died. But is that really what’s happening? It’s possible that this is all just an elaborate simulation, akin to what Michael did when he made Chidi’s theoretical “Trolley Problem” into a reality. For one thing, if this isn’t a simulation, what’s the endgame? Will all four of these humans just keep on living until they die again? Or do they only have a limited time to prove themselves before Gen — who explained in the finale that she reserves the right to close this whole operation down at any time — yanks them back out, potentially alarming anyone on Earth who might happen to be standing next to them at the time?

Here’s another cue that this could all be fake: At the end of the episode, Chidi is speaking English in an American accent, the same as he does in the afterlife. If this were the real mortal plane, he’d likely sound a lot more Senegalese.

Will Michael’s intervention nullify the experiment?

Eleanor only went to see Chidi in the first place because Michael did his best Sam Malone impression, playing bartender while subtly nudging her to look up one of Professor Anagonye’s lectures. This, it would seem, is in violation of the parameters that Gen set out when she agreed to run the test. When Michael returned to the afterlife and asked Janet if anyone noticed he was gone, she rather curtly said no. But it felt like something else was going on in that moment, and that Janet could be hiding something. Either way, it’s highly doubtful that Michael will get away with his interference. Gen is omniscient, after all — at least when she’s not eating Mexican food or bingeing Netflix shows.

What’s up with Janet?

Janet’s behavior throughout the second half of the finale — where she’s quiet and brusque rather than cheery and helpful — was so unusual that it seems likely that The Good Place will circle back to her early in season three, if only to offer some kind of explanation. Chances are, it has to do with Jason. We saw Michael intently watching Eleanor’s point-ticker, to track how she was faring back on Earth. Janet, meanwhile, appeared to be keeping an eye on Jason … to whom she’d just declared her love. It’s possible, knowing how Jason is, that he’s completely botching his second chance. Or maybe he’s met someone else. Whatever’s going on, maybe it’s putting Janet into a funk.

One thing’s fairly certain: Janet grew so much as a character in season two that she admitted in the finale she’s not even “a Janet” anymore, so that new understanding of herself will have larger implications next season. She’s an entity with near-limitless power, who ought to be disinclined to sit idly by while the human she loves faces an eternity of torture.

When will Shawn and the Bad Place demons catch up with the good guys?

The Bad Place, the Good Place, and the realms in between (like Gen’s chambers) are supposed to be governed by clear rules and lines of jurisdiction. Yet toward the end of this season, we saw Shawn order an illegal raid on Mindy St. Claire’s house, which would indicate that these demons are bound by custom more than by actual limitations. In other words, if Shawn gets mad enough — and right now he’s probably furious — there may not be much stopping him from storming into the Neutral Zone and going after Michael and Janet. It’s never been entirely clear how time corresponds between the different realms, but in Earth terms, Eleanor’s return to the living covered just over a year in the finale. That ought to be plenty of time for the Bad Place forces to mount some kind of attack.

Will we finally meet someone from the real Good Place?

If Shawn doesn’t swoop in to demand a halt to Michael’s new experiment, someone from the Good Place surely might. Remember, everything that’s happened in Gen’s chambers for the past two episodes has violated protocol. She wasn’t supposed to hear the humans’ case at all, let alone allow them to prove themselves on Earth. The Good Place representatives might be as concerned about what’s happening as the Bad Place demons are. After all, Michael is threatening the entire order of things, and Gen is capriciously allowing it. A larger conflict could be a way for the show’s writers to at last bring the other side of the afterlife into the narrative.

How long until season three blows everything up?

Season two didn’t entirely ditch the Lost-like flashback structure that dominated season one. Instead, Schur and his writers used it when they needed to fill in some background on the characters. At other times, they allowed themselves to play around with different kinds of ways of telling their stories, from freewheeling fantasy to white-knuckle adventure to “bottle episodes” stuck mostly on one set. This latest plot development, with the humans back on Earth, may allow The Good Place to revert to its original format. We could very well get flashbacks to Chidi’s year, and then Tahani’s and Jason’s.

After that, though, who knows? Over the course of two seasons, this show has always roared ahead to its next big twist rather than artificially drag things out. Will we spend all of next season on Earth? That’d be out of character for The Good Place. It’s possible that the writers will close out this phase in the season premiere, and we’ll be back in the afterlife right away. Schur will do whatever he feels he must — not just to keep fans guessing, but to keep us thinking about what it means to be a decent human being.

The Good Place Season Finale: Our 7 Biggest Questions