‘The Good Place’ 3×08 Review: Fear of the Unknown

I don’t know how I was expecting this episode to go, but I do know I wasn’t expecting it to go like it did, which probably says more about me and expectations than anything else. But then again, The Good Place is great at never really doing what I expect, in the way I expect it.

That was a tongue-twister. But it’s true. Did I think Eleanor was going to freak out about maybe, possibly having been in love with Chidi at some point? Yes, of course I did. This is Eleanor, after all. Did I expect the way this episode would handle it? No way, that’s way more answers than I envisioned. Did I see the ending coming? Not yet.

And that’s the thing with this show, not just that they constantly twist what we expect, but that they never seem afraid to pull the plug on stuff other shows would surely save for the season finale, or hell, for the final season. In fact, we’ve had about three or four cliffhangers I absolutely didn’t expect this season, and at this point I’m not even sure WHAT exactly they are saving for season four, and so on.

But here we are, and if this show has taught us one thing so far is this: we should have faith that they will ‘solve’ this in the best way we never expected.

So let’s talk about “The Worst Possible Use of Free Will,” Eleanor and Chidi kissing on a tree, and Michael’s fears.


THE GOOD PLACE — “The Worst Possible Use of Free Will” Episode 308 — Pictured: Kristen Bell as Eleanor Shellstrop — (Photo by: Colleen Hayes/NBC)

Eleanor isn’t making a point based on real factual information when she argues that there’s no such thing as free will, though it seems like she is because, after so much time with Chidi, she actually has the information she needs to make her fear-based points sound fact-based (and btw, this is scary AF).  That’s why she brings up determinism, because Eleanor Shellstrop is, if nothing else, an expert at these kind of arguments.

Or at making any kind of argument she needs to prove whatever point she wants to prove.

And, she makes some sense, she does, a lot of our choices in life are indeed determined by genetics, our upbringing, the people around us and a bunch of other factors which are outside of ourselves. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t free well, there is. In fact, that’s one of the hardest things about life, that despite all of those things, despite what other people try to mold us into, we have the power to learn, to do better, and to be better.

What we are is a choice we make, and one we continuously make, day in and day out. We aren’t perfect, and no one expects us to be so, but the choice to better ourselves is ours.

That’s what free will is all about.


THE GOOD PLACE — “The Worst Possible Use of Free Will” Episode 308 — Pictured: (l-r) Kristen Bell as Eleanor Shellstrop, William Jackson Harper as Chidi Anagonye — (Photo by: Colleen Hayes/NBC)

Eleanor is so scared of this thing with Chidi that she has to automatically lash out at Michael. That’s the Eleanor way, the self-defense way. And yet, the thing is, Eleanor is only scared because she saw those memories, and she believed them. If she hadn’t, this would all be way easier to laugh off. Except, she actually believes that she could be that Eleanor, that she could fall for Chidi that way.

Which takes us back to this Eleanor and this Chidi. The only reason you’d be scared is not just because you have seen proof that at some point you actually HAD feelings, but because you think you might discover those feelings again. There were so many reboots that something that happened in one reboot shouldn’t be enough to freak her out, not unless there was something deeper that was scaring her.

Like the fact that she thinks she might actually fall for this Chidi, and that scares her.

But that also makes her stronger. This Eleanor has had to learn the same lessons Eleanor has to learn in the Bad Place, and she’s had to learn them in much less time, and with no possibility of reboot in case she got it wrong. So yes, it’s harder, but she’s getting there. And she should be proud of that.

I’m proud of her.


THE GOOD PLACE — “The Worst Possible Use of Free Will” Episode 308 — Pictured: Ted Danson as Michael — (Photo by: Colleen Hayes/NBC)

Michael is scared too, though he pushes through quickly, for Eleanor’s sake. He’s scared she’s going to look at who he used to be and judge him for it. And – like Eleanor a few episodes ago, the reason he’s scared is because he has changed, he is a new person, and he doesn’t want reminders of who he used to be to ruin what he has managed to become.

But Eleanor has come too far to judge him for it, and Eleanor also has too much to worry about Chidi wise to give much thought to it. It’s always been easier for her to accept goodness and change in others, not in herself. Michael says he has changed, that’s all Eleanor needs.

Well, that and Michael being the good friend and basically snapping her out of her pity party.

And yet …what about everyone else? What about the rest of the demons from the Bad Place, because boy, they are coming. And I don’t think they’re feeling as charitable as we are.

Other things to note:

  • Whenever I’m sad, I’ll think about Kristen Bell with no hair and that’ll automatically cheer me up.
  • I’m getting whiplash from all these twists. When will it stop?

The Good Place airs Thursdays at 8:30/7:30c on NBC.

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