'The Good Place' Season 3 Finale Offers Its Most Heartbreaking Twist to Date (RECAP)
[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Season 3 finale of The Good Place, "Pandemonium."]
Well, that might just be the most forking emotional episode this show has ever aired.
To a large extent, The Good Place has been about Eleanor's journey; her journey toward self-betterment, her journey toward understanding and showing empathy and kindness, and, this season, her journey toward becoming a true leader. It's impossible to remove Chidi from that journey and feasibly find her reaching the same destination — and, even setting Eleanor and Chidi's separate character developments aside, they are the main couple of this show. They're The Good Place's Jim and Pam. They're the afterlife Ben and Leslie.
In "Pandemonium," the Bad Place has found a way to mess with the high-stakes experiment sanctioned by the Judge, which, by nature of the meddling, unavoidably places Eleanor and Chidi's relationship — and the fates of the entire group — in peril. The couple and their friends are faced with making a decision that'll have devastating consequences, with no good options... and the outcome is shocking.
The episode opens where the last one left off, with Eleanor sitting Michael down and trying to talk some sense into him before they welcome John to the afterlife. Unfortunately, the "middle management" architect can't get ahold of himself. Michael's worried the experiment is going to be an "epic fail," and even suggests canceling the whole thing. With her leader still in shambles, Eleanor poses as the architect and welcomes John, telling him he's dead and letting him know he's in "the Good Place."
She shows him around, again, much as Michael did for her. Eleanor conjures Janet and introduces her to John, who seems fascinated with her. He asks if there's a significance to there being 322 people in the neighborhood, then starts prattling on about other complicated and scandalous celebrity-related questions. Exasperated, Eleanor asks Janet to take John for frozen yogurt so she and Michael can talk to Tahani, Jason and Chidi. She tells them she's now posing as the architect. The group takes a minute to adjust, but ultimately, they're in support of Eleanor. "You're the Blake Bortles of whatever's going on right now. I'm not really sure!" Jason says.
John later introduces himself to Tahani: he says he worked on a blog related to her in the past, and she's clearly not too pleased to see him. She storms in to see Michael and Eleanor and reveals John was a gossip columnist who "tortured her" on Earth through his writing and gossiping about her. Tahani asserts that the Bad Place didn't pick the worst people — they picked the people who are worst for those trying to run the experiment.
The Bad Place Strikes Back
Eleanor realizes the Bad Place could even pick their exes, and — as if on cue — the next person to show up is Chidi's ex from earlier in the season, Simone! They contact the Bad Place and the Judge and try to argue that what's been done is against the rules, but the Judge says it's not against the rules for the four new humans to have connections to the old ones. She does even things out, though: she says Michael can erase Simone's memory to the point where she didn't know Chidi, in order to level the playing field.
Eleanor takes control, but Chidi's visibly bereft. He can't avoid Simone if he has to teach her about ethics, but he can't be comfortable around her enough to teach her ethics because she's his ex.
Eleanor talks to Simone and gets her acclimated to the neighborhood, just as she did with John. Simone notes how nice everyone seems, but knowing Chidi wouldn't handle seeing her well, Eleanor encourages Simone to stay closed off from the other residents. Later, when Eleanor and Chidi meet with him in his office, Michael says this new dynamic might be good — Eleanor can be the face of the operation, and he can handle behind-the-scenes action. Things seem to be slowly stabilizing until Chidi, still freaked out about the Bad Place's deception, says he needs to have his memory erased so that he can help the new residents. Right now, he says he can't do that because bringing Simone in was a checkmate for him and terrified him; he's also worried he might slip up and reveal something she shouldn't know, which would get them all sent to be tortured for eternity.
The trio tries to think of something else, but Chidi insists he's thought about it from every angle and doesn't see another option. Eleanor's upset, because erasing Chidi's memory of Simone will also mean erasing her relationship with him — it would take away Australia, and the Soul Squad, and the foundation of what brought them together and made them work and caused them to fall in love.
Eleanor gets the group together to talk about the experiment and Chidi: they opt to erase his memory until the moment of his death. Tahani's upset that Chidi and Eleanor wouldn't be together anymore. Michael says he's not giving up yet, and that they need to have an old-fashioned brainstorming session — Eleanor says Micahel's learning more about humans through having to watch them go through something awful and being unable to do anything about it.
Eleanor and Chidi get to spend a little more time together. Chidi says every time she sees him get a stomachache, she should think he's thinking about her. "So, all the time?" Eleanor says. "All the time," he responds.
Michael stumbles in and gives them a "going away present:" a video recording of the moments they spent together in the fake Good Place, showing the progression of their relationship and how they fell in love. They both get emotional. Eleanor says what's happening is scary because she'll miss him, but he won't miss her. Chidi tells her he's not even scared to get rebooted, because he knows she'll be there to take care of him.
"Jeremy Bearimy, baby," he says. "We'll get through this, then you and I can chill together in the dot on the 'I' forever." She gives him a kiss and tells him goodbye.
Embracing the Pandemonium
Eleanor sits in Michael's office and, heartbroken, calls Janet. She asks the not-a-girl-not-a-robot to tell her why love exists if it just disappears, and demands Janet tell her "the answer to everything." Janet empathizes with Eleanor's pain; she had to watch Jason with someone else on Earth. But though she has the answer for many things, she doesn't have the answer for why the universe exists — but Janet finds a poetry in not knowing and invites Eleanor to do the same. "Since nothing seems to make sense, when you find someone that does, it's euphoria," Janet says. "You and Chidi found each other and you had a life together. Isn't that remarkable?"
Eleanor remembers pandemonium from Paradise Lost — a book Chidi got her to read by telling her Satan was totally her type — and comes to the conclusion that all she can do is embrace the pandemonium. She has to find happiness in the unique insanity of being there, now. Janet encourages her and says, in the words of the man she loves, "I got you, dawg."
Her confidence bolstered by Janet's encouragement and kindness, Eleanor goes to meet the next resident of their experimental, fake Good Place. Of course, it's Chidi. She greets him as Michael once greeted her, a lifetime ago: "Hi, Chidi. I'm Eleanor. Come on in."
- Holy motherforking shirtballs, this whole episode was more emotional than I had expected. Plus, now I'm wondering about the likelihood of Chidi falling for Simone all over again now that he doesn't remember Eleanor...
- On the bright side, does this mean we get Kirby Howell-Baptiste back, maybe even as a regular? I love her on Killing Eve and loved her earlier in the season, so getting to see her in a regular capacity would be fantastic.
- Tahani overcoming her instinct to insult John and instead extending him a friendly, welcoming greeting might just be my favorite moment of the show for Tahani's character. In not a whole lot of time, it showed just how far she's come.
- The conflicts on this show get more and more layered every season. Now, not only do we have Eleanor posing as the architect instead of Michael, but we have the experiment itself, which is no small matter. And we also now have Eleanor's feelings for Chidi, which will pretty likely get in the way of doing her job at some point. There's so much going on... Season 4, we need you now!