When we last saw the characters on The Good Place, they were declaring feelings, arguing with an eternal judge (Maya Rudolph, in possibly one of the best roles of her life) and fighting for their right to Heaven based on their good behavior in the Bad Place. Michael (Ted Danson), the architect who experimented on four humans in season one to torture them by making them believe they were in the Good Place, came up with an all-new way to determine if they were actually worthy… by sending them back to Earth. A second chance! Or something.
It's the "or something" that will be explored in The Good Place season three. In preparation for the season premiere, we've compiled this list of everything we know about what's to come. However, it's important to note that whatever we know now, there are surely some major twists ahead. It's what The Good Place is best at, after all.
Eleanor and company really are back on Earth
In a June interview with Rolling Stone, The Good Place executive producer Michael Schur opted not to beat around the bush and just said where Eleanor (Kristen Bell), Chidi (William Jackson Harper), Tahani (Jameela Jamil) and Jason (Manny Jacinto) ended up at the end of season two.
"Normally I don’t like to just flatly state what’s going on," Schur said, "but here I don’t see the benefit of people experiencing ambiguity: The four of them are straight-up back on Earth, in a new timeline where they didn’t die."
That means that this new lease on life is real, insofar as anything is real on The Good Place. But as we saw in the season two finale, Michael is far more involved in what's happening to our antiheroes now than he was before they died and landed in the Bad Place in season one.
It won't be long before the humans are reunited on Earth
At the end of season two, Eleanor and Chidi had reunited on Earth, after a near-death experience made Eleanor want to try to be a good person. Unfortunately, her behavior didn't pay off quickly enough, but a gentle nudge from Michael (pretending to be a bartender) made her look up Chidi's work, drawing them together once more.
The working theory from the tail end of season two is, of course, that Eleanor, Chidi, Tahani and Jason behave better in the afterlife because they're in each other's company. That means that if they're going to rack up enough points in life to make it to the Good Place, then being around each other should help motivate them to do better.
In an interview with TVLine at San Diego Comic-Con, Schur teased, "The season ended with Chidi and Eleanor being in the same room, and it made everyone happy to see them reunited. I would only say that, for that reason, it won't be very long. It's not gonna be episode nine before the four of them are together, I promise. It's going to happen pretty quickly. By the time the premiere is over, you'll understand the scope, I think, of what we're doing this season."
"On this show, if history proves anything, nothing gets stretched out," added D'Arcy Carden, who plays Janet. "You're not waiting a season to see the thing that you're hoping to see. We bust through storylines."
No more "forking" censorship (in theory)
"Theoretically, they could curse, but we're still on NBC," Schur told TVLine at SDCC. Now that the humans are back on Earth, there's no more afterlife censorship, but of course, there are still restrictions on network television. Alas.
The first two minutes of season 3 reveal a new part of the afterlife
At SDCC, attending fans got an early sneak peek at the first two minutes of the season three premiere of The Good Place. In the clip, per Entertainment Tonight, Michael converses with the Guard (guest star Mike O'Malley) about a trip he's apparently taking — to Earth.
"So, I have this ruling. […] It's kind of tricky," he tells the Guard. "It starts off a new timeline. […] It's necessary for the new experiment. So… how long does this trip take? Hope I don't get a middle seat!"
The Guard replies, "I haven't heard a joke for 8,000 years. Still haven't." He informs Michael that, in addition to losing his powers once he's on Earth, there are other logistics to take into account. The clip then flashes back to when Eleanor's life is spared in a grocery store parking lot. When Michael returns from Earth, mere moments later according to the afterlife's accelerated timeline, it's clear that his mind has been blown.
What do we learn in this clip? Michael's appearance on Earth at the end of season two took some calculation; there's also, apparently, a bridge connecting the afterlife to Earth, with a door separating the two planes of existence that's managed by a Guard.
How will these new elements factor into season three, especially with the majority of the story taking place on Earth? We aren't sure, but we're excited to find out.
This new timeline comes with "ripple effects"
Per TV Guide, one of the logistical concerns that the Guard warns Michael about is the "ripple effect" of introducing a new timeline on Earth. Although, as he argues with Rudolph's judge in the season two finale, changing the lives of "just four humans" shouldn't make that big of a difference, The Good Place relies heavily on classic works of literature to structure its tale. Now that we've moved beyond Sartre's theory that "Hell is other people," it would seem that season three might explore "the butterfly effect."
There's a reason time travel is always such a big deal, after all. The Good Place may not be employing traditional time travel, but it's still severely altering things. Knowing this series and its twists and turns, that could mean giant shrimp terrorizing Earth or, possibly, something even more dire.
The Good Place season three premieres with a one-hour episode on Thursday at 8/7c on NBC.