In its finale cliffhanger, The Good Place transformed from quirky sitcom to TV masterpiece, revealing that the immaculate, fro-yo laden utopia its characters had come to know as heaven was actually an elaborate artifice for hell. It was an ingenious twist, but also a risky one: What could be the meaning behind The Good Place Season 2? Where could it possibly go from there?
When the show returns Sept. 20, viewers will get the first glimpse at how its next chapter will take shape. With their memories wiped, Eleanor, Chidi, Jason, and Tahani — the four unfortunate souls at the heart of Michael's psychological torture test — will find themselves once again at the gates of the so-called "Good Place," except this time, the audience will be in on the joke, and the focus will need to change accordingly. Whereas Season 1 centered on Eleanor's struggle to blend into heaven and keep her secret from destroying the neighborhood, Season 2 will shift perspective. Now that viewers are clued into Michael's diabolical scheme, the series can begin to pull back the curtain. As creator Mike Schur told Variety:
"[We're in] a situation where the audience is ahead of the characters, which is kind of boring for the audience. The way around that is we switch perspectives. The first season is Eleanor’s, the second season is — largely speaking — Michael’s ... So now, you’re seeing a bunch of stuff but you’re seeing it through the eyes of the people staging it rather than the people in the middle of it."
The premiere picks up with Michael's newly rebooted experiment, which, as he said in a sneak peek, will keep "everything from version one that made them miserable [and add] a bunch of new stuff they'll hate," like the fact that "all the coffee is from those little pods." Except, and this is a light spoiler, it doesn't work. Thanks to the note Eleanor cleverly left for herself to "find Chidi," she figures it out once again, and it ends with the same disastrous results it did the first time. But Michael is determined to prove to his demonic boss that his twisted mind game is just as effective as the fiery violence of his peers. Namely because if he doesn't, he will quite literally be thrown into the sun.
The theme, then, doesn't appear to be about trying to dupe Eleanor and co. on an endless loop until something finally sticks — a smart move, since it's hard to imagine that having season-long staying power. Instead, it seems to be about Michael scrambling to hold his plan together, or at least tricking his boss into thinking he is. "[Season 2] has a lot more Michael in it, a lot more Ted Danson. The right amount of Ted Danson," Kristen Bell, who plays Eleanor, said in the sneak peek.
As for what that entails, it's not immediately clear, but William Jackson Harper (Chidi) told Entertainment Weekly it will include "acupuncture and pigs," while Schur teased to Variety in the aforementioned piece that they'll continue to explore "what the rest of the afterlife looks like," as they did in Season 1 with the Medium Place.
On a broader scale, The Good Place will also further examine the dichotomy between "good" and "bad" that underscored Season 1, particularly when it comes to Chidi. His indecision was stifling, and in many ways selfish, but his intentions were pure, making it difficult to understand how he was placed on par with someone like Eleanor, an impulsive drunk who rarely thought of anyone besides herself. As Harper told EW:
"It’s sort of a harsh rubric for everyone to be held to. But honestly, a lot of those questions in this next season will explore that a lot more — why those things were so damning for Chidi and why things are so harsh. A lot of those questions will be answered, to some degree."
In the meantime, the reviews are in, and The Good Place's second outing is just as brilliant as the first, so settle in for another forkin' great Season 2.