In The Good Place, Eleanor Turns to the Dark Side to Ease Her Pain

Eleanor embraces her role as the Architect...perhaps a bit too much. All photos: Colleen Hayes (NBC)
Photo: Colleen Hayes (NBC)

Eleanor hasn’t had an easy time running an experiment to ensure the fate of humanity. But this week, it was less about making mistakes than it was going deep on a plan to torture someone else, because she couldn’t stand the idea of suffering alone.

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The latest episode of The Good Place, “Chillaxing,” isn’t about piña coladas and getting caught in the rain—at least, not after Eleanor has her way. Chidi has abandoned his ethics studies class because he’s too happy, so Eleanor and Michael surmise that he has to suffer an ethical conundrum to get motivated again. The answer is simple: Bring in Jason Mendoza, who reprises his role as the Buddhist monk who’s secretly, well, Jason Mendoza.

It’s a good plan, but things go too far. Eleanor keeps putting Chidi in uncomfortable situations with Jason, at times matching or even surpassing the torture Michael did to them during the first season. She knows Chidi’s buttons and presses them hard, pushing Michael and Jason to keep going even as both of them tell her to cool down. It comes to a head when Eleanor’s schemes cause Chidi to lie to a crowd of people, something that goes against his nature. He shares that he feels he’s being punished for something he doesn’t even know he did, which quickly shows Eleanor the error of her ways.

Eleanor finally admits she’s hurting Chidi on purpose because she’s angry at him for abandoning her, even though she knows it’s not fair. It’s a moment of honesty and vulnerability that might be wrong on its face, but something I think we can all identify with. Doing the right thing can still piss you off.

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The other storyline involves Tahani and Janet trying to help gossip columnist John, the last ethics hold-out on their list. Tahani decides it might help to pamper John with all the luxuries and hot gossip he missed out on in life, to get him happy and encourage him to try studying ethics, which she calls “a colonic for the soul.” Tahani and John start to bond, but her repeated attempts to get him to join Chidi’s ethics class keep failing.

Eventually, Janet decides the best course of action is for Tahani to confront John about his moral failings, which seems like a weird course of action and naturally blows up in Tahani’s face. John isn’t a bad guy; deep down, he’s just resentful. He had to work for the things that Tahani, and those in her social echelon, took for granted and feels she isn’t in a place to criticize him for his life choices. After a heart-to-heart over bellinis, Tahani and John find common ground. Both of them yearned for acceptance to the point where it didn’t matter who they hurt or how isolated it made them feel. And that wasn’t okay for either of them to do.

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Tahani returns to the group proudly declaring that John is on the right path, but in his own way. He won’t be attending Chidi’s classes. Instead, they’re going to spend time growing and bonding together, starting with a Crossroads slumber party. I actually like that the series didn’t assume every character needed Chidi’s ethics class to become better people. Everybody is different, and John’s way works best for him. High five, girlfriend.

“Bye girl, I’m about to go poop mushrooms!”
Image: NBC
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Random Musings:

  • Did anyone else feel it was weird that Janet suggested Tahani punch John in the face? I know she’s going through a breakup with Jason, but that’s still totally unlike her. Even Tahani seemed shocked at the suggestion.
  • The episode ends with a mysterious figure coming down the train. I have no idea who it could be, but my money’s on someone from the Bad Place coming to stir up trouble again.
  • Eight of the Game of Thrones characters were modeled after Tahani—including six that would leap to action. Leave a comment with which ones you think they are!
  • If I threw a lava rock that gave me my heart’s desire, it would be a nation of unionized workforces.
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About the author

Beth Elderkin

Video Editor and Staff Writer at io9. My doppelganger is that rebelling greeting card from Futurama.