If the season 1 finale of The Good Place was an act of subversion (this place isn’t heaven-sent!) — and if season 2’s capper offered up reversion (let’s return to Earth for a do-over!) — then season 3’s grand finale was pure eversion, the heart and soul (squad) of the show turned outward for all to see.
In the cunning afterlife comedy’s most emotional episode to date, Judge Jen (Maya Rudolph) had granted reforming Bad Place architect Michael (Ted Danson) one last chance to prove his theory that human beings can indeed evolve. The stakes were once again harrowingly high for all of Team Cockroach, as failure would result in eternal damnation (and “retirement” for Michael). And scarier yet, Judge Jen let the wickedly scheming Bad Place choose the four new test-humans (and wrenches) in this experiment, two of which were immediately revealed: Gossip Toilet guru/Tahani nemesis John (Brandon Scott Jones) and neuroscientist/Chidi ex, Simone (Kirby Howell-Baptiste). The Simone curveball led Eleanor (Kristen Bell) and Chidi (William Jackson Harper) to reluctantly renounce their shot at eternal love, at least for now: he volunteered to have his mind erased so his neurotic instincts in regards to Simone wouldn’t befoul this grand experiment. “We found each other before hundreds of times,” Eleanor assured Chidi with melancholic hope before the big wipe took effect. “We can do it again.”
Season 4, which was just announced as the final season, will deliver on the promise of pumping new blood into the neighborhood, though it will flow a little differently than you’re used to. “We’ve had a lot of wonderful guest stars, like Jason Manztoukas playing Derek or Maribeth Monroe playing Mindy St. Clair,” creator Mike Schur tells EW. “There are people in the world who pop up and then they come back and they come back. But this year, there are new additions to the world who are fairly permanent — at least for the initial status quo. That was a new thing for us. We’d never really had characters besides the main six who we were juggling week to week, and now we have a bunch of new ones. So that’s the biggest change about this season.”
The Soul Squad will spend the early part of the season trying to help the subjects evolve into better humans. “They all have very specific jobs to play,” says Schur (who spoke to EW before the final-season announcement). “We thought of them almost as morality caseworkers, where John is Tahani’s [Jameela Jamil] project. And there are other projects for other people. Not the only thing Tahani does is deal with John. They’re also functioning as a team and they have big, large scale projects and big ideas for how to get all four of them to bond and change and grow. They’re there to help out and almost sheepdog style, herd them into better choices and better decisions.”
Viewers met 50 percent of the test subjects in the finale, and as Tahani pointed out, they were chosen not because they were the worst people in the world, but the worst people for each member of our quartet. So, what should viewers expect from the foils for Eleanor and Jason (Manny Jacinto)? “The two that you’ve seen are more individually specific to Tahani and to Chidi than the next two, for a simple reason,” explains Schur. “John was a gossip columnist who specifically wrote about Tahani and that’s not a thing that you could repeat with Jason or Eleanor. And then Simone happened to die on Earth, so they were like, ‘Ooh, this is perfect — an actual ex-girlfriend of one of the four people.’ The other two have specific relationships to Eleanor and to Jason, but not in the same exact, literal, one-to-one way that the first two did.”
Whomever Eleanor is paired with, she’ll be tested in other ways, as she spends time with Chidi, her not-appointed-but-selected soulmate who has no memory of their romantic history. “It’s not easy,” warns Schur. “One of the themes early on is the emotional toughness that she has to endure in order to just get through the day and do her job while this thing is happening right in front of her. That’s a big thing in the first two or three episodes of the season.”
There may be another big problem looming on the horizon, a face both familiar and ferocious. Asked for a one-word hint about what’s to come in season 4, Schur pauses for a moment and then simply says: “Vicky.”
Season 4 will debut this fall on NBC.