The Good Place S02E13 Recap: 'Somewhere Else' [Season Finale]

As expected, The Good Place ended its second season by once again blowing up its concept and introducing us to an entirely new dynamic heading into next year. Not only is that something that we were waiting for because of the sheer amount of times creator Michael Schur has done that so far this season, but it's been something that the show has building to for the last few episodes. "Somewhere Else" delivers on that expectation with an episode as funny, exciting and surprising as anything the show has done this season.

In a weird way, though, that's almost disappointing. This is a show that's spent the better part of the last 15 episodes defying expectations. The very idea of a show that constantly resets its premise, that is built on twists, is bound to eventually disappoint. I don't mean to say that "Somewhere Else" and the twists that it gives us are bad, far from it, in fact, but compared to the things that The Good Place has made us feel in the past, this finale felt almost pedestrian. We went into this episode wondering how the writers were going to switch things up again, and "Somewhere Else" feels more like the beginning of a surprise and not a surprise itself. Maybe that's kind of a selfish view to hold, but we've come to expect the show to hold a certain, very high standard, and if I'm being honest, this latest twist might have fallen somewhat short, because it's slightly more obvious than the bevy of twists that came before it.

I'm probably being unfair, though, because I still thoroughly enjoyed "Somewhere Else" and I'm still insanely excited about where this can all go next. Michael arrives at the judge's chambers and the two form a plan to figure out what to do to the foursome that's a fair way to judge whether or not they've come far enough to escape their fates in the Bad Place, and whether Michael's revelation about the unfairness of how people are judged at the time of their death is truly valid.

The next thing we see is Eleanor back on earth at the time of her death, but instead of meeting her embarrassing demise at the hands of a bunch of shopping carts, Michael pulls her out of the way at the final second, and she's given a second chance. With a new lease on life, she decides to become a better person, but after months of toiling and seeing nothing come out of it that benefits her, she starts resorting to her old ways. Sensing doom, Michael interferes and pushes Eleanor towards Chidi, so that she could learn, once again, about becoming a better person and about how seeking "moral desserts" isn't the reason one should seek to be good.

And that's it. That's the big show-changing twist for next season. Instead of being in a Fake Good Place, instead of trying to better themselves or find their way to the Real Good Place, now the gang has to learn how to get better in a real-world scenario; only it's an elaborate simulation that Michael and Janet are monitoring. I actually love the concept of this. Like I said, it's very LOST-ian, which similarly traveled "off the island" around this point in its run. It's about as different as the show can get, and it fits the theme of characters that constantly find their way back to one another, even with their memories wiped. I trust The Good Place not to make Chidi teaching Eleanor about ethics and falling in love with her again boring. That's not at all a problem.

The problem is that this felt the beginning to something, rather than its evolution. After a season of twists, The Good Place sets up an almost entirely new set of rules, and asks us to trust that it'll deal with everything when it comes back in 6 to 8 months. That's fine, but it's inherently different from what happened last season, which managed to blow our minds with one single smile from someone who we thought was a good guy, blowing up the concept but leaving us with a whirlwind of possibility. Now the path seems pretty clear. Chidi and Eleanor will interact in what they think is the real world, maybe discuss their near death experiences. They'll probably eventually meet Tahani and Jason and find out what happened to them, and then we'll move on to the next thing after that probably doesn't work out exactly the way Michael had hoped.

I guess my problem was that it felt rushed. This could have easily been an hour long episode where we got to see a little more of what happened to Chidi, and anything from Tahani and Jason (who completely disappear from the episode after a single scene). Eleanor's path to goodness, and back to badness, and then to Chidi, could have felt more natural. Michael's interference could have felt less artificial, and all the characters could have gotten the time they were due, instead of shooing them off to a future episode.

Don't get me wrong, none of this is exactly bad, in fact it's a pretty great finale that left me smiling and exciting to see what's next. I've just come to expect a top-flight standard from this show, and based on that expectation, this finale fell short in a certain regard. But a Good Place finale that fell a little short is still one of the best sitcoms on TV, and "Somewhere Else" earns 8.5 Ponzi schemes within a Ponzi scheme" out of 10.

Notes & Quotes:

  • Tahani's Casual Namedrops: Just one this week, since she's not in the episode much, Maggie Smith.
  • Michael posing as a bartender gives me a kick as a huge Cheers fan.
  • If this image from the magazine Eleanor was reading is to be believed, The Good Place and Parks and Recreation take place in the same universe (also "Celebrity Baby Plastic Surgery Disasters" is a perfect Good Place fake magazine gag).
  • Eleanor: "The little voice in your head sounds like the old lady from Downton Abbey?"
  • Jason/Chidi: "This has been one of the craziest years of my life." "One of?"
  • Judge Gen: "Hi guys, couple quick announcements. Will anyone eat chips and guac if I put it out? It's homemade. No takers?"
  • Michael/Eleanor: "You two kissed? Hot diggity dog!" "That's what I said!"
  • Judge Gen: "Slow your role there, Erin Brokovich."
  • Eleanor: "My name is Eleanor Shelstrop, and I think I might be a monster. I'm rude, I'm selfish, and I cyberbullied Ryan Lochte until he quit Instagram."
  • "Hey, Eleanor, do you want to come to Lauren's baby shower? "Do you want to chew on my ass..sortment of brownies that I will be bringing to the baby shower?"
  • Eleanor: "I was a good person for six months. That's like five years."
  • Eleanor: "Your friend sounds like she's one tickle short of a tickle party."
  • Eleanor: "What? Did I sell you a drink? Am I a bartender?"