Note: Do not proceed unless you are caught up on The Good Place. This article is entirely spoilers.
The Good Place has mastered the art of the plot twist. Each of the twists is nearly as jarring as the last, and there is no shortage of surprises. To get pumped for the new season, let’s revisit some of the top twists of The Good Place.
Jianyu is Jason
Who would’ve thought the Buddhist monk with the strict code of silence would end up being Jason Mendoza, wannabe DJ from Florida who is pretty much textbook Bad Place? The show didn’t wait very long for this reveal, but it the contrast between Jianyu and Jason is extreme. After getting to know Jason, it’s amazing how we managed to believe that he really was Jianyu, even for only a few episodes.
Eleanor turns herself in
When the glitches in the neighborhood become too great to fix, Michael blames himself and plans for his retirement, aka the eternal shriek. Retirement for neighborhood architects is literal torture. When Eleanor learns that Janet is the only means to bring Michael to his retirement, she and Chidi plan to kill Janet. Chidi is the one who finally does the deed, and he feels relentless guilt for it.
Chidi’s feels even worse when Michael realizes that there is a problem in the neighborhood besides himself. To protect Chidi and the rest of the people in the Good Place, Eleanor publicly admits that she is in the Good Place by mistake. After she spent half a season trying to learn how to fit in with the saintly people around her, it was stunning to see Eleanor jump up and confess. Looks like all those ethics lessons weren’t lost on her; Eleanor was willing to subject herself to eternal torture in order to save the rest of the neighborhood.
We’ve known since the beginning that Eleanor did not belong in the Good Place, so learning that there was another Eleanor Shellstrop who died at the same moment and in the same place as our Eleanor managed to simultaneously shock and explain a lot. The introduction of “real Eleanor” into The Good Place, rather than fixing the mess caused by the mistake, caused more problems for the Good Place characters as people from the Bad Place infiltrated the Good Place.
This isn’t the biggest shocker on the list, but a great addition to the show nonetheless.
This is the bad place
What kind of plot twist list would this be if I left off the biggest twist of the show?! The revelation that the setting of the show was the Bad Place all along was huge and surprising, but not entirely random. Looking back, the clues were there. Yet, on a first watch, this news was a total shock.
Also, the montage of Eleanor (and Jason!) figuring this out in each of the reboots is one of my favorite montages of television.
Michael joining Team Cockroach
After hundreds of reboots to the neighborhood and a takeover by one of Michael’s lackeys, Michael decides he’s better off with the humans than against them. With Vicky blackmailing Michael for control of the neighborhood, Michael works with the humans to act like Vicky won. It keeps Michael from retirement and the humans from another reboot and the real Bad Place, so it’s a pretty good deal. Plus, Michael did promise that he could get them to the real Good Place in exchange for their trust.
“I just solved the trolley problem”
Chidi attempted to teach the team an ethics puzzle called the trolley problem. When on an unstoppable trolley, does one choose to run over five people or one person? The puzzle, seemingly straightforward to the group, is complicated as Chidi explains the variations of the thought experiment.
Most notably, Michael had trouble digesting this ethics lesson until Team Cockroach ended up at the portal to the neutral zone. When there weren’t enough of the means that would allow the members of the team to cross through the portal, Michael sacrificed himself for his friends, claiming that he’d “just solved the trolley problem.”
Admittedly, I was emotional for the entire week after this aired, even though I knew Michael would be alright. Another amazing thing was that the trolley problem was featured five episodes before this one, so it had been just long enough for the audience to forget the puzzle, yet still fresh enough to be relevant. That’s what makes this such a good twist.
Life on Earth
Last but not least, the final twist on this list came at the end of season two. Michael wanted to prove that bad people can become good without any knowledge of the afterlife; they just need a little push. With that idea, Eleanor, Chidi, Tahani, and Jason are returned to their lives on Earth and saved from their deaths. I don’t think any of us imagined that we’d see Team Cockroach getting second chances back on Earth.
After some hinting from bartender Michael, Eleanor finds Chidi right when the season ends, bringing us to where we’ll be picking up in Thursday’s season premiere. I can’t wait to see what happens with everyone’s lives on Earth after their newfound goodness.
What twists do you think await us in season 3 of ‘The Good Place’? Let us know at @PureFandom on Twitter!
The Good Place season 3 premiere is Thursday night (9/27) on NBC at 8/7c.