After a season finale that pulled off a shocking twist ending, “The Good Place” returns with a second season that’s even more forking unpredictable than the first.
The first season of “The Good Place” ends on a major narrative spoiler. If you have not completed it, please read no further!
Welcome! Everything is fine. Such are the words that not only greet each new resident of the Good Place, but also everyone who’s about to watch a TV comedy that pulls off more surprises than you can count. After a critically acclaimed premiere season, “The Good Place” brings back all the elements that made it a success in the first place: lovable characters, clever humor, and a loophole that replaces swearing with innocent words like “fork” and “shirt.” But as it proved in the first season, nothing is quite as it seems in “The Good Place.” With so many plot twists and misdirections, season two firmly establishes “The Good Place” as one of the smartest and most creative comedies on television.
Created by Michael Schur (“Parks and Recreation”), “The Good Place” follows Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell) after she wakes up in the Good Place, a utopian neighborhood designed by an immortal being named Michael (Ted Danson). There, Eleanor finds herself in the company of her soulmate Chidi Anagonye (William Jackson Harper), British socialite Tahani Al-Jamil (Jameela Jamil), silent Buddhist monk Jianyu (Manny Jacinto), and informational assistant Janet (D’arcy Carden). Everything is seemingly perfect — until we find out that Eleanor has been mistaken for someone else and isn’t supposed to be in the Good Place. Things quickly begin to unravel, and at the end of the first season, Eleanor makes the shocking discovery that — spoiler alert — they’re actually in the Bad Place and Michael had been torturing them the entire time.
Season two starts immediately where season one first left off: after Eleanor deduces that she and the other humans are actually being tortured in the Bad Place, Michael wipes their memories and starts the experiment over again with a few adjustments. However, while most viewers probably thought this season would play out similarly to the first by focusing on the four humans trying to navigate the rebooted neighborhood, the show goes in an entirely different direction that exponentially increases the risks for each character. It’s a bold move for the show to repeatedly stray from their own premise and introduce so many curveballs, but the payoff is worth it. Not only does the “The Good Place” expand the possibilities for future episodes, but it also pulls off another huge twist ending in the final episode of season two that once again leaves viewers in the dark as to where the show will go from here.
Besides the constant plot twists, “The Good Place” also surprises by proving to be one of the most thought-provoking, intellectual comedies on television. At its core, the show attempts to answer the age-old question: Are humans good, and if not, can they improve themselves? “The Good Place” often directly addresses ethical conundrums, such as the trolley problem in episode six, and doesn’t shy away from exploring dilemmas where ethics are constantly challenged. “The Good Place” could have easily strayed into absurdity territory with all the ridiculous situations that the characters find themselves in, but instead manages to insert moral lessons throughout every episode in a hilarious and thoughtful way.
There’s no doubt that “The Good Place” is a show unlike any other. It constantly blows up its own premise and confronts questions of morality while the brilliance of its ensemble cast and cleverness of its storytelling allow “The Good Place” to keep on surprising its audience and set stakes higher than ever for future seasons. The one obvious downfall is that there are only 13 short episodes in each season, but when a TV show’s biggest flaw is that there isn’t enough of it, that’s something to be proud of. With so many plot twists, the only predictable thing about “The Good Place” is that it’s a forking triumph.
Runs: Sept. 20, 2017 – Feb. 1, 2018 (Full season available on NBC.com)
Starring: Kristen Bell, Ted Danson, William Jackson Harper, Jameela Jamil, Manny Jacinto, D’arcy Carden
Created By: Michael Schur
Image Courtesy of NBC