Except, it’s not the same, is it? Except, we go into Season 4, into whatever’s coming, with something we didn’t really have before. And no, I’m not talking about the tears rolling through my cheeks as I write these words (though those are fairly new), or the feelings that this show has evoked in us (because this show always leaves us feeling things), and I’m not even talking about the hope that this time they’ll get it right, this time they’ll convince the judge and get to live, well happy in the afterlife.
Instead, for the first time, I’m talking about a sense of loss that’s intimately personal. One that doesn’t have to do with the metaphysical questions of what’s the point of life, and what’s the answer to the question of, well, everything.
The Good Place isn’t a stranger to new beginnings. We’re no strangers to starting another journey with these four characters. But now, for the first time, we’re not starting from scratch. Only Chidi is.
And that – despite the hope that these people, who have found a way back to each other during so many reboots, who have learned from each other and found themselves over and over again, who’ve made each other better, who’ve learned to love each other, who’ve become each other’s family, will find their way back to that place again – is heartbreaking, in a way this show has never been.
So much that I almost want to tip my hat to them for what they did in “Pandemonium.” I almost want to go, you know what, go you. You pulled a fast one on me. I’d long ago given up on thinking I could predict what was coming in this show, but I still thought I could predict my emotional reactions. I still thought I controlled at least that. This is a comedy, after all! Comedies aren’t supposed to break your heart.
Joke’s on me, I guess.
The story of this season of The Good Place has been not just about how to be better, but about how freaking hard it is to be better in the world we live in. And yet, these people keep trying to get there, and not only that, they keep trying to help other people get there. I’ve talked about this before, but it bears repeating now, because what else is there? If, like Janet said to Eleanor at the end, things don’t make sense, then what are we to do but keep trying to find that one moment, that one person who does?
Eleanor found hers. Over and over again, she found hers. And now, she has to go find him again, in Season 4, and he has to find her. And to make it even worse, we were treated to that montage of the moments WE never get to see, of the courtship we never truly got to fall for, because why not twist the knife a little bit? It’s the season finale, after all!
(But really, take a moment to appreciate that Michael basically made them a fanvid of their love. A FREAKING FANVID)
Will they find each other again? Most likely. This is television, after all, and this show has never – despite it taking place in ACTUAL and literal hell, been one to focus on the bad things. Instead, this is a show about overcoming adversity, about becoming better, about trying, over and over again, even when it seems like you’re going against the impossible.
Even when you don’t have your family to lean on.
But Eleanor isn’t alone. If anything, Chidi is, and he’s the one who will have to re-learn the lessons, once again. Eleanor has Janet, and Michael, and Tahani and Jason. Chidi does too, he just doesn’t know it yet.
And hey, maybe this show will somehow find a way to give him back his memory in episode two of season four, who the hell knows, I’ve failed at predicting where The Good Place is going over and over again, so I’ve pretty much given up trying. What I do know, however, is this: when I’ve felt down, when I’ve felt sad, when I’ve felt like giving up, this show has always been here to remind me that, as bad as things can get, there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel, there’s always a person who’ll make it worthwhile, there’s always family.
I’ve got no doubt they’ll continue on that path in Season 4.
So, farewell for now, The Good Place. Thanks for the laughs, for the lessons, for the hope, and yes, even for the tears. They’re a good reminder.
We’ll see you soon.
The Good Place aired Thursdays at 9:30/8:30c on NBC. It has been renewed for Season 4.