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Spoiler warning for anyone who hasn't seen the season finale of The Good Place.
Before NBC's The Good Place debuted its highly acclaimed first season, creator Mike Schur tempted everyone's curiosity by likening the ethically-driven comedy to one of modern TV"s most confounding dramas, Lost. And while the relevance of that tease was sporadically apparent throughout the 13 episodes, Thursday night's season finale really drove that point home by introducing a game-changing twist that makes it almost impossible to predict where the next batch of episodes will go. And there was a hatch! Okay, there wasn't a hatch.
Mike Schur might not have been making such direct references to Lost or its story elements, but as far as the narrative structure goes, he definitely wasn't lying. (Though I suppose a gorgeous island is thematically comparable to the "utopia" of Good Place.) Lost excited audiences for six seasons with an endless line of conversation-starting twists and surprises, and The Good Place has done much the same thing, especially with its finale, in which it was revealed that The Good Place that Kristen Bell's Eleanor & Co. have been kicking around in is ACTUALLY The Bad Place, and Ted Danson's Michael is totally closer to a Devil figure than a Godlike entity. Lost was also good about having characters' allegiances get twisted, so that matches up as well.
Just when it seems like Eleanor's discovery will actually work in anyone's favor except for Michael and the put-upon Shawn, who is actually Michael's boss, everything goes white. (Lost had some very memorable white-out fades in its run.) A memory-wiped Eleanor then finds herself in a rebooted version of her introduction to The Good Place, complete with a new chiseled soulmate, but a hidden note sets offs what would presumably be her Season 2 journey: to find Chidi and rediscovery the truth. Characters revisiting familiar locations with different information than they had the first time? Sounds like when everyone left the island and came back to the island to me, brother.
That said, there are definitely differences between The Good Place and Lost, too. And not just dumb crap like "One's a comedy and one isn't." Mike Schur also put his money where his Lost comparison was and actually got tips from Lost writer and Leftovers creator Damon Lindelof when initially conceiving The Good Place, which is where he learned the lesson that was not initially followed on his mystery-driven show: figure out the ending early. And even though this was only the first season, The Good Place showed just how much thought had been put into this twist with all the post-reveal flashbacks showing off the intentional misdirects and in-our-faces clues.
And even though it takes place in an afterlife, which Lost also worked into its complex timeline and polarizing finale, The Good Place didn't have the same kind of religious overtones, sticking entirely to the core concepts of Good and Bad without ruminating on Biblical elements. But Eleanor is sure to have one HELL of a time finding her way back to enlightenment in Season 2. And if Season 2 doesn't happen, and it's hard to tell with the ratings, that's how we know we're in the Bad Place. Oh and look, Fake John Locke is here.