Mike Schur’s comedy, “The Good Place,” continues to embark on a compelling adventure, investigating morality and ethics as the series reinvents its premise by returning the characters to Earth.
Season 2 ended with Eleanor (Kristen Bell), Tahani (Jameela Jamil), Chidi (William Jackson Harper) and Jason (Manny Jacinto) failing a series of tests administered by the inter-dimensional Judge Gen (Maya Rudolph) who threatens to send them to The Bad Place. The gang’s demon companion, Michael (Ted Danson) who has developed into a compassionate, more empathetic demon, protests that the after-life justice system is corrupt and they deserve a second chance.
Judge Gen allows one final opportunity to prove the main characters are truly reformed by wiping their minds clean and sending them back to Earth, at the very moment they were meant to die. Michael then prevents their deaths and returns to observe whether they pursue an upstanding path. Naturally, it doesn’t go as planned.
All of the characters initially perform exactly as expected. Eleanor pursues environmental efforts and attempts to be more generous, Chidi temporarily overcomes his indecisive nature, Tahani removes herself from the spotlight to overcome her desire for attention and Jason — well, he continues to be Jason, just without committing crime.
However, like with any character, making a dramatic change is quite difficult and the characters struggle to commit to their reformed lives.
Michael intervenes, nudging them all to rendezvous in Australia by disobeying Judge Gen’s explicit rule forbidding such action. The episode unfolds from there.
The strength of “The Good Place” remains as strong as ever. Like with Season 2, it presented a fresh narrative and its storytelling continues to beckon curiosity for what’s to come. Moreover, presenting these characters with very human flaws succeeds in making them relatable. We root for their success in obtaining entry to The Good Place as any of us would want for one another, because we connect with their humanity.
These characters are flawed — they have imperfections but aren’t so awful as to make them despicable. The show focuses on the ethics of the issues they encounter and how they choose to interact with these issues. They won't always make the best decisions, but they are people with good intentions, who are willing to work to improve themselves.
It just takes work and that’s the reality of the show, which lingers on the viewer. Season 3 provides the perfect set-up to observe who they are by diving into how they interact with moral dilemmas on Earth. With their memories wiped, we get to see their most authentic selves and these characters’ actions continue to remain interesting in each scenario they are cast in.
The comedy takes a different approach this time around. Rather than setting up scenes for potential jokes, the humor tends to stem off of character interactions. It's a clever change of pace, seeing as Earth's setting doesn't allow for some of the more unearthly scenarios jokes thrived in beforehand. Viewers might find themselves not laughing as frequently as they recollected from when they first started the show, it doesn’t really matter. The show’s strength is its writing and developing these characters.
The stakes are significantly higher this time around and Michael’s interventions will provide an additional angle to the narrative that should prove interesting. A realm of questions and possibilities presents itself as viewers, once again, analyze just how much these characters need to be influenced in order to do good, whether they can become a good person without selfish ulterior motives, or even whether their flaws will inevitably bar them from a serene afterlife.
NBC’s “The Good Place” will likely continue to take interesting directions into exploring these characters’ ethical and philosophical dilemmas and viewers eagerly await what is to come.