From the moment the problem is posed to the moment the problem is “solved” in The Good Place there is the best most wonderful story about hope and endless forgiveness.
But it is Michael- who is only a few weeks into what we see as a forced relationship with Eleanor, Chidi, Jason, and Tahani- who figures out that solution. (tbh I posed the same answer many years ago and was told that it’s not possible in the experiment- I think this though is where theory and reality are very different indeed.)
So we need to do our own thought experiment.
We don’t ever see his kind ever support each other, except in finding more ways to be cruel. So imagine that, since the start of time. Then his experiment fails hundreds of times, but he doesn’t just find this frustrating, and frankly terrifying, he’s got to see how Eleanor and Chidi are always there for each other. It’s been estimated that all the reboots take about 200 years. That’s a lot of vulnerability and forgiveness and support to watch develop over and over again.
Imagine that! After an eternity built on the fact that vulnerability would always be exploited. That maybe your understanding is wrong, but that also what “everyone” understands is also wrong.
Imagine seeing that, and imagine having to admit you actually want that for yourself but not knowing how to ask. So you bluster and say you’re just being selfish, and you act out.
And then imagine that you realise the way you have lived is ending, the risk of going back is great but nothing like the risk going forward.
How wonderful to have someone recognise that internal conflict and reach out. To say you are worth the risk.
Janet and Michael is the episode where we really see the effect all this generosity has meant. Again, Janet represents everything he has been taught to mock. Over 200 years of her own relentless positivity and help, regardless of assumptions about programming. And this is now something he sees as of value.
Most people love the bar scene in the final episode. I see that look of hope in Michael’s face, there is so much there, just so much. It’s beautiful. Here it is his forgiveness, his compassion, and his hope that is being offered for someone who now needs it. Because she is now in his position. Believing that hope and kindness and vulnerability are not for her.