The Good Place: Help Is Other People
November 8, 2019 4:15 AM - Season 4, Episode 7 - Subscribe

On the last day of the experiment, Chidi is faced with one final ethical dilemma.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero (87 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
I kind of can’t deal with the fact that we’re only halfway through the season
posted by DoctorFedora at 4:51 AM on November 8 [6 favorites]


I kind of can’t deal with the fact that we’re already halfway through the season

And I desperately need to find the inevitable fanart of Michael & Aziraphale performing stage magic together.
posted by cheshyre at 5:05 AM on November 8 [30 favorites]


I have to admit, I'm more than a little lost right now as to who was supposed to do what by the time the clock ran down. It's all become a big blur for me.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:07 AM on November 8 [4 favorites]


I really think that Brent, Simone, John, and Chidi are not the real experiment. Well, Chidi probably kinda is part of the real experiment because he's part of the original Team Cockroach. But I also think that Michael is in on what's really going on. There had to be some sort of secret agreement between Shawn, Gen, and Michael. And we've got half a season for it to go even more completely pear-shaped then get resolved.
posted by Shohn at 6:12 AM on November 8 [5 favorites]


I want all of William Jackson Harper’s lines for the rest of his life to be single words just to see what he can do with them.

Why?!?”
posted by Etrigan at 6:32 AM on November 8 [19 favorites]


I loved this, and I'm hoping what comes next is more of the show at its most Douglas Adams -- I really loved the season 3 stuff with the post office (I may cry if we don't see Nicole Byer again), the IHOP, the accountants, et al, and I hope we're moving back there.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 6:35 AM on November 8 [5 favorites]


His best emotion is utter worldview-destroying disbelief. He really conveys it well.
posted by wabbittwax at 6:35 AM on November 8 [17 favorites]


Wow, this was really good. I was on the edge of my seat the entire time. Simone figures it (mostly) out? Brent actually starts to say he's sorry? It's all a plot to make everyone think they're in the bad place? Cliffhanger? OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOH.

Simone: ya not basic. Ya badass.
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:38 AM on November 8 [2 favorites]


His best emotion is utter worldview-destroying disbelief. He really conveys it well.

Referring to the actor playing Brent, I assume? I completely agree! His acting this season has really been top-notch.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:44 AM on November 8


No I meant William Jackson Harper. I'm thinking especially of his reaction upon learning about the dot in Jeremy Bearimy.
posted by wabbittwax at 6:48 AM on November 8 [8 favorites]


I really enjoyed this episode, though I think that there's been very short shrift of Team Cockroach 2, and I'm unconvinced that goodness is defined by giving racist misogynists lots of chances to get better -- I mean, yes, leaving someone falling into the pit of hell is terrible, but you've already correctly determined this entire thing is a test and you're being forked with, I can imagine just disappearing because this seems like (and indeed is) another test.

I would love to see screencaps of her crazyboard. I am a big fan of KHB in general and Simone on this show, even if she's underused.
posted by jeather at 6:57 AM on November 8 [3 favorites]


I just really regret that this is literally the only show I watch as each episode comes out instead of waiting and bingewatching all the seasons as Gen intended.
posted by annathea at 7:20 AM on November 8 [13 favorites]


1. Will the fact that Brent was saying "I'm s--" but didn't complete it mean that doesn't count? Would that even be enough? Was he even saying "I'm sorry" and not "I'm sure you're wrong" or "I'm supposed to go to the Really Good Place!" or something equally clueless?

2. The little stress in Eleanor's eyes when she's doing the demon cackle. She hates scaring Chidi!

3. Where did Simone and John drive off to? Did they leave the Medium Place? How far will the Escalade go? Does it use...gasoline??

4. Love love them lampshading how suspicious it was that Jason was being coherent and how we were all thinking "Wait a minute, is HE a demon in a Jason suit??" by Tahani.

5. Did Janet seem to be wearing more makeup than usual? That seemed like a lot of mascara. Maybe it was the lighting.

6. Where is Bad Janet? What is she up to?
posted by emjaybee at 7:56 AM on November 8 [6 favorites]


So I'm on the fence about whether the test is on the Soul Squad's ability to ... I'm not exactly sure, or about Simone, John, Brent and Chidi's ability to improve. But presuming it's the latter, here's what we know from this episode:

-Brent had a buzzer-beating epiphany, and mostly said that he was sorry.
-Chidi, faced with Simone's very realistic logic and presented with a choice between losing her and saving Brent, who he really doesn't even like, didn't hesitate or waver in his choice. For a guy who doomed himself by his inability to pick a hat, that feels important.
-John definitely became less malicious and more open to teamwork. His defining trait (that need for hot goss) never left him, though. He's the one we got the least of, so it's hard to tell how much he "improved" though he surely seemed better than at the welcome party.
-Simone didn't change or improve at all. Anything she did in the experiment was under the ulterior motives of her own sub-experiment. She at no point felt the need to improve, nor felt any doubts about her own hypotheses.

If they're betting on the human subjects: Simone is their problem child now.
posted by Navelgazer at 10:38 AM on November 8 [11 favorites]


Ok but what if: Simone is right, and she's not (completely) dead? She's in a coma or having an experience that takes no actual Earth time because Jeremy Bearimy?

What if all three of them are? (not counting Chidi).
posted by emjaybee at 10:57 AM on November 8 [1 favorite]


I kinda felt like Simone didn't have any clear problems she needed to work on - she seemed like a good person, and was only thrown into the experiment by the Bad Place to mess with Team Cockroach. Chidi's issue is his indecision, but he seemed pretty decisive this episode. And John got much better. It was Brent who was the straggler, and the episode wasn't really framed about improving any of the others besides him. This is why I would imagine that the team "made it" in terms of beating the test - Simone and John leaving him, if cold, was not so much the issue as trying to get Brent to see beyond himself, and in the end they finally got him to (maybe).

But also maybe their sense of their success is way off of what they're actually being tested on.
posted by tarshish bound at 11:30 AM on November 8 [1 favorite]


I think the "well, I respect your position"/"I respect yours" moment in particular was signalling that the show wasn't judging her for leaving.
posted by tarshish bound at 11:34 AM on November 8 [4 favorites]


This was such a stressful episode to watch.
posted by obliquity of the ecliptic at 11:49 AM on November 8 [4 favorites]


I honestly don't know how I watched TV before DVRs. We had to rewind at least once in every scene because we were still laughing at a joke when a new one landed.
posted by Etrigan at 11:53 AM on November 8 [1 favorite]


Simone didn't have any obvious problems like Eleanor, Brent, John, Jason or Tahani had, and like Chidi, if you didn't know any better you'd guess she belonged in the Good Place, but like Chidi's indecision, Simone seems to have an issue around her stubbornness (and insistence that she's right) which, like Chidi's indecisiveness, fit right into her career in academia. And, yes, she was "right" about what was going on, but does that matter if she didn't improve in any way?
posted by Navelgazer at 11:57 AM on November 8 [10 favorites]


I think the "well, I respect your position"/"I respect yours" moment in particular was signalling that the show wasn't judging her for leaving.

They explicitly put Brent in the hell pit as a test; I can't see how the show didn't position it as Chidi passed and Simone failed. I'm not totally sure how I feel about how getting enough good person points involves constantly helping racist and sexist people who don't think they need to improve. I think a lot of this will look better (or, I suppose, worse) after the next few episodes when we have a better idea of how the test really worked and who was being tested.
posted by jeather at 12:06 PM on November 8 [2 favorites]


Well, given all the players we know, Chidi truly is the best moral compass in the game, at least intellectually, and he seems to have fixed his problem with indecision (though, dude, clinging onto deontology ain't perfect, but whatever.) The Good Place crowd are a slow-moving committee nightmare, and Gen is basically just bored and open to whatever argument. At this point, if Chidi says something is right, and anyone else agrees, the burden is on that other person to make a hell of a good argument. Simone's argument was a well-earned "fuck that guy," and yes, I respect that. But Chidi's argument of "we help him even if we hate him" is clearly more morally "right."
posted by Navelgazer at 12:23 PM on November 8 [2 favorites]


Yeah I am side eyeing the whole “save the racist, sexist white guy, save the world” thing, and I am reeeeeeaaaallly hoping they don’t whiff this.
posted by schadenfrau at 12:46 PM on November 8 [3 favorites]


I think I was thinking about how our moral duties might be contingent on the damage they would cause us to act on them - that maybe in some way it would have been unreasonable to expect from Simone the things Chidi felt like doing, and that in that moment they were acknowledging that. But now I want to go back and rewatch.

I think it's a sign of the show's strength (at least for now), and also this FanFare thread, that I feel more confused about what it all means, that the moral situations are getting more complicated. I guess this is Season 4. I feel like the show has been cleverly walking a line about not being a moral arbiter this season - there's been no answer key so far - and I kind of hope it continues down that road.
posted by tarshish bound at 12:53 PM on November 8 [3 favorites]


I'm just lost. I was happy to try to not think too much about how it all ends, not try to sleuth out clues about the direction it's going, but...I'm really stuck on what's happening. I have so many issues I won't bore anyone with, but I just...I don't get it.

Jason's never been my favorite character, but I really did love him getting a moment to shine with his football analogies. And I agree with how William Jackson Harper can do more with one word than many actors can with a whole soliloquy.
posted by kitten kaboodle at 1:06 PM on November 8 [6 favorites]


I mean, sure, letting someone fall into a pit into hell isn't great -- though we don't really have a great grasp of how bad Brent is because we haven't spent enough time with the new group -- but Simone doesn't actually think that Brent is at risk, because she thinks, correctly, that this is a test.

I'm willing to give this show all the chances, and I really enjoyed this episode, I just think it's got some weird stuff setting up. But then I've never agreed on how the show treats intentions, so I suspect I'm going to disagree with some more of its philosophy.
posted by jeather at 1:16 PM on November 8 [1 favorite]


3. Where did Simone and John drive off to? Did they leave the Medium Place? How far will the Escalade go? Does it use...gasoline??

No, it runs on almond milk

I'm so scarecited, guys. And we're only halfway through! Eek!
posted by littlesq at 1:17 PM on November 8 [8 favorites]


Jason's so right. "Toilet full of broccoli" is indeed the opposite of "A box full of donuts."

Sparkle Janet was amazing and I loved that costume so much.

Also, Brandon Scott Jones as John continues to knock it out of the park. His inability to contain his hot goss was such a good performance.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 1:53 PM on November 8 [9 favorites]


They explicitly put Brent in the hell pit as a test; I can't see how the show didn't position it as Chidi passed and Simone failed. I'm not totally sure how I feel about how getting enough good person points involves constantly helping racist and sexist people who don't think they need to improve.

But I think this final test is separate from Brent-as-sleazeball, it's really only about Brent-as-human-being. Chidi sees another human has fallen into a pit, knows that he could do something to help, and knowing that obligates him to try. Simone and John choose to escape the bad situation, Chidi tries to help.

It's not quite the Trolley Problem all over again, but the show has been pretty clear with the message that trying to be better than you currently are is at least as important as the results.
posted by The Pluto Gangsta at 2:37 PM on November 8 [11 favorites]




Would that even be enough? Was he even saying "I'm sorry" and not "I'm sure you're wrong" or "I'm supposed to go to the Really Good Place!" or something equally clueless?

I watch with closed captioning on and Brent was captioned as saying, "I'm so, so sorr-".
posted by palomar at 4:01 PM on November 8 [9 favorites]


oh man I hope the series finale is actually 90 minutes and not just three episodes in a row
posted by DoctorFedora at 4:17 PM on November 8 [14 favorites]


On the podcast the writer said they didn't think it was ambiguous that Brent was saying "I'm so, so sorry."
posted by obliquity of the ecliptic at 4:31 PM on November 8 [3 favorites]


but Simone doesn't actually think that Brent is at risk, because she thinks, correctly, that this is a test.

I think everyone's justifiable hatred of Brent and all he is and stands for is obscuring some key points in the show.

That's not her stated rationale; she wants them to leave because she believes that something bad is coming when the timer runs out, and puts self-preservation over helping Brent.

And her other actions deserve some analysis, too. She and Chidi keep secrets from each other, but let's look at the motivations: Chidi keeps Jason's secret from her out of a sense of obligation to Jason. Simone keeps her suspicions a secret from Chidi because...she's gathering data. And that means she can't tell him because it might corrupt the data.

And, of course, there's Simone's reaction to Chidi's "soulmates" thing; yes, she's honest with him about her views, but her overall reaction is to meticulously prove that Eleanor must have been lying about that, and sh's not especially interested in why Chidi would (as he puts it) want that to be true.

As her final dialogue in the episode suggests, she can respect other people's positions, but I don't think we've ever seen her actually give them any serious consideration. Even Chidi's argument against solipsism, and her seeming acceptance of it, seems to be undermined here: she wasn't being nice because she accepted his thinking, but instead because she simply moved on to a different empiricist testing of this place she had already decided isn't "the Good Place."

She's very good at deduction and being right on the facts, but that seems to be her sole intellectual and moral commitment. Empathy is not her default; that was, again, clear from episode 1 of this season, and it comes back into view here.

All of this suggests that John is right about Simone: in the end, she'd rather be right than anything else. this fits with her actions when she's deep in solipsism in the season 4 premiere, and it fits with her actions here. Next to Bren, she's practically a candidate for sainthood. But then, next to Eleanor Shellstrop in Season 1, so was Chidi.

EDIT: Sorry to add so much content, but the original version f the comment was very much a "accidentally tabbed to the post button and hit enter to create a line break" situation.
posted by kewb at 5:23 PM on November 8 [39 favorites]


Simone was very thorough too. On her board on the top right corner there is a post-it with "Where's Linda?".
posted by mephisjo at 5:34 PM on November 8 [27 favorites]


kewb: thank you for saying everything I was trying to put into words about Simone.
posted by Navelgazer at 6:44 PM on November 8 [4 favorites]


I think this is the first time this season where I really wish I could watch the next episode right away.
posted by dinty_moore at 7:27 PM on November 8 [3 favorites]


I think my takeaway from this show is going to be the importance of resisting fascism in all its forms. You just can't judge and micromanage human beings behavior like this, you can only just try to set them up for success. Simone wasn't set up for success having to deal with racism and sexism in heaven while none of the people in charge had experience with any of that.
posted by bleep at 7:28 PM on November 8 [11 favorites]


Simone didn't change or improve at all.

it would help if there had been anything actually wrong with her. being smarter than other people and arguing that taking racist abuse is neither fair nor equivalent to virtue, these are big positives to some.

it is patently absurd to take her very reasonable initial hypothesis to e the same thing as solipsism from a living person. death hallucinations are much, much more logical and likely than that this terrible chaperoned memory of a strip mall is any kind of real afterlife. the best argument against her theory was that her own mind was capable of much more interesting hallucinations than what she was given.
posted by queenofbithynia at 9:18 PM on November 8 [10 favorites]


I mean accusing someone of wanting to be right all the time is a great way to deflect from them being right all the time. what are they supposed to say -- I wasn't making an effort to be right, it just comes easily to me? The only way smart women can prove they don't care about being right is to be deliberately wrong. and why they should play such a degrading game is its own very good question.

meanwhile, a roomful of people make repetitive jokes about how dumb Jason's supposed to be and how amazing it is every time he says something smart or moral, which he actually does as frequently as anybody else on the show, but to a reaction shot of pantomime surprise every time. This isn't mean, though, because he's too stupid to be hurt, and picking on stupid people is fine.

simultaneously, Simone's bad because she's aware of being smarter than others. also because she notices contradictions and says something about them.

the idea that it was unethical of her to be more interested in whether all four of them are in heaven or hell than in whether the guy she's casually dating is sad that she doesn't think the word "soulmates" means anything, that is...something. how this could be worse than -- or as bad as -- Eleanor hollering at Michael or Tahani to FOCUS every time he gets caught up in some little rabbit hole or she gets anxious about something is of some interest to me.
posted by queenofbithynia at 9:34 PM on November 8 [21 favorites]


I'm not blaming Simone, who showed no clear or obvious flaws, for acting the way she did. I'm blaming Team Cockroach for focusing so hard on Brent that they ignored Simone and her equal need to improve in the experiment.
posted by Navelgazer at 9:42 PM on November 8 [6 favorites]


Yeah I'm choosing to believe that the absurd position Simone is in (why does she need to improve? They didn't present her as having any serious flaws. I mean none of them are even *that* bad) is the show's indictment of this whole stupid system. Imagine if in the end Gen just shuts it all down and lets people just rest in peace.
posted by bleep at 9:48 PM on November 8 [1 favorite]


I have a vague memory of Gen and Shawn giving each other a knowing look at the end of season 3, as the experiment is being explained to team cockroach. I think next week we’ll find out why.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 11:53 PM on November 8


It is patently absurd to take her very reasonable initial hypothesis to be the same thing as solipsism from a living person.

I'd agree that the show itself has given us a woman of color who the script has set up to not be right even when, in the real world, she should be. For one thing, the audience is more invested in Chidi's feelings for Simone than in her rationality. That's an effect of Chidi being a more central character who's gotten a lot more lead time and a lot more moments intended to make him a familiar, sympathetic character.

And she's been set up to not be right for pretty contrived reasons. For example, the plotting sets Simone up so that her reasonable guesses are actually dooming humanity; it's also a result of the audience's knowledge that Chidi has given up quite a bit, including a loving relationship, to be inserted into the experiment.

And it's there at a lot of levels. For example, the script is designed to argue that Simone doesn't treat her "this is a dying hallucination" as a hypothesis, because she does not behave as if the null hypothesis might be true until Chidi pretty much literally tells her it might be. Her initial response is to start shoving people into swimming pools and so forth; if the null hypothesis were true -- if this is, in fact, "real" -- it'd be hard to call that ethical behavior.

And, of course, it's used as a prime example of her not, in fact "being right all the time." (It's her being wrong, because her information is imperfect. From the show's perspective, that's likely about the concrete context in which actual ethical decisions are being made, and about the idea that obligations to others are more foundational than anything else. But it's hard , then, to have an empiricist and a skeptic character who doesn't end up being automatically wrong, and it's hard to have a real conversation about privilege, one that goes beyond a superficial "we're on the right side of that" one-liner.

And, as a final capper, the show does, indeed, have Simone leave Brent behind after openly stating that she would rather save herself than give him another chance, because she is afraid that something bad is coming. Yes, it would make more sense if her rationale were that Brent is in no real danger. But that's not where the scripting takes her. The one maybe bright spot is that Chidi does, in the end, get to flatly, incontestably tell Brent exactly what's wrong with him...but the show reserves that for Chidi, just like it reserved the face-punching of Brent for Chidi. Because, again, the show is written with the assumption that Chidi is more important as a character -- at least, more important to the audience -- than Simone.

So I'd argue that the problem is the show deciding Simone is wrong, indeed, putting the character in a position where her reasoning and ethical stance aren't allowed to be right. and it's the mistake of misusing her as a supporting character, both by giving her less dimension than would be needed to show her as seriously flawed, and by introducing her as smarter and morally better than the rest of the cast only to insert her into a plot where those things can't be true if the rest of the plot is to work as planned.

More generally, as many, many people have been arguing over the past few weeks, both Simone and Brent are serious writing mistakes, and both have a similarly problematic root of centering white characters -- or, in this last episode, male characters. Because the plot isn't just demanding Brent's redemption and demanding Simone's wrongness. It's also been much more interested in Eleanor and Michael struggling to win, in Janet suffering travails, than in anything else. Chidi's sacrifice, for example, ends up not being about him, but rather about how angsty that makes Eleanor.

The Good Place does a lot of things in funny, effective way, but addressing this kind of privilege doesn't seem to be one of them.
posted by kewb at 6:53 AM on November 9 [17 favorites]


A friend of mine refuses to watch this show because he thinks it's Christian propaganda, and this episode really kind of made me think he's right. I mean, I liked the episode, but the morality here seemed specifically Christian.

Why is it "good" for Chidi to martyr himself for Brent? Maybe it was fate that Brent go to hell and Chidi is being disobedient by trying to thwart that. But this isn't ancient Greece, so of course that's not the direction that the show wants to go in, Chidi isn't going to be taught Oedipus's lesson. Or maybe it's wrong for Chidi to be so reckless with his own life by indulging in a doomed attempt at saving another? Maybe that's a failure to fulfill his obligations to Simone, John, Tahani, Jason, Team Cockroach, himself. But again, this isn't ancient Greece and the show isn't making an analogy between Chidi and Prometheus, so Chidi probably isn't going to be condemned for his choice. Instead, the show has deprioritized Chidi's other responsibilities, like to the group as a whole or to Simone or to himself in particular, and placed the moral weight on how many souls Chidi is willing and able to save, and it's painted as a *good* thing if he's willing to sacrifice himself doing it.

I think that Chidi is meant to be doing the "right" thing primarily because he's doing the most Christlike thing when he is literally willing to die for Brent's sins, in the hopes of saving Brent (and by extension, humanity -- by "winning" Team Cockroach's game).

I personally don't know if I agree that martyrdom is good, or sacrifice is good. I guess that's also why I'm so unmoved by Eleanor's willingness to "sacrifice" her relationship with Chidi for the good of the experiment, too. Martyrdom often seems so self-indulgent and irresponsible to me. Eh.

But the show seems to think martyrdom and sacrifice is a good thing, the correct moral choice, a sign of personal improvement. I think that's just very deeply Christian. For better or worse.
posted by rue72 at 7:57 AM on November 9 [4 favorites]


Did anyone else think the styling of Eleanor's little black dress was a bit edgy? Kind of almost villainous, in a way? It didn't seem to fit the overall tone of anything else she's ever worn. Or anyone else has worn on the show so far. I get that it was probably in preparation for a special occasion, but it seemed very purposely designed in a definitely-not-the-good-place manner.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:59 AM on November 9 [13 favorites]


Even if we focus solely on Brent, I'm not sure the Hail Mary pass will work. There's a good chance that he's apologising to Chidi merely as a way of avoiding punishment. Yes, Chidi had just told him he's a bad person, but he was told that in last week's episode and it didn't budge him at all. I think it's the reveal that they're in the Bad Place which makes him sweat.

Apart from that, I'm willing to give the show the benefit of the doubt regarding what it's saying about Simone and Chidi's choices. I've felt all season that we're not seeing the whole picture, just a very Eleanor/Tahani/Jason centered point of view. So we're only privy to their possibly-limited understanding of how this works. Endings are hard, and more tv shows fork it up than get it right. But I have hope.
posted by harriet vane at 8:09 AM on November 9 [2 favorites]


I don't know where this is going so I don't have any strong opinions on it, but I will point out: they had a rope! Chidi wasn't asking Simone and John to martyr themselves for Brent. He's asking for light altruism. If they had pulled together (ahem), they presumably could have pulled Brent up pretty quickly.

In the final moments of the simulation, Chidi reveals he was keeping Jason a secret, John reveals he was keeping John and Chidi a secret (for Jason's safety! That is growth!), Simone reveals that she doesn't believe the Good Place is legit, and Brent reveals that he knows the Good Place isn't legit. We know how much the original group's interdependence was necessary for their growth. From what we've seen, this group was mostly just tolerating each other. They never developed the same sense of community, so they failed a basic test of decency (and showed how badly Michael and Eleanor ran this simulation).
posted by grandiloquiet at 9:20 AM on November 9 [27 favorites]


But the show seems to think martyrdom and sacrifice is a good thing, the correct moral choice, a sign of personal improvement. I think that's just very deeply Christian. For better or worse.

To add to grandiloquiet's first point, the show also seems to have explicitly rejected extreme self-sacrifice through Doug Forcett, directly referencing the "happiness pump" idea and showing that making your miserable for the perceived benefit of others is not the way.

It seems pretty clear that the show is going for a "universal empathy and respect in a community of mutualists" vibe of some kind. Chidi's argument for saving Brent is less "we must sacrifice our lives" and more "we can't just leave another human being in a horrible predicament if we have the power to act."

Now, injecting questions of privilege and empiricist skepticism into that is showing the show's weak points. But if it's Christianity it's Unitarian Universalism at best. There's no apparent faith component to it, for example, no argument for salvation as stemming from a single, sacrificial act, or even a lifetime of them. There is an argument against apathy, and against putting one's own comfort ahead of the needs of others; there's also a limited utility argument: Eleanor's relationship with Chidi is explicitly said to be less important than the fate of the entire human race, and,..well, I mean, it is less important. Most of the sacrifices demanded of the leads so far are of the "nice to have isn't the same as need to have" sort.

This why the Brent-Simone-forgiveness thing doesn't work; the writers, to some extent, have written the show into a place where it's basically saying that "respect and dignity from narcissistic white guys" is only a "nice to have" for women people of color; Brent's redemption is being presented as his own "need to have," not anyone else's.
posted by kewb at 9:47 AM on November 9 [17 favorites]


Now that I think of it, the 100% failure rate is reminiscent of Calvinist total depravity, which isn’t as cool as it sounds.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 10:20 AM on November 9 [3 favorites]


The show has stated it’s theme many, many times: you gotta try. To do good, to be better.

It’s simple enough to sound profound, and dumb enough that if they really haven’t thought this through re: Simone and Brent, we are all in for a WORLD of disappointment.

I am...less optimistic than I once was.
posted by schadenfrau at 11:18 AM on November 9 [4 favorites]


In a way though I think it's kind brave of them to say "It's all well and good to study the trolley problem and even say that the solution is to sacrifice yourself, but in the real world sometimes you're in real danger and the people around you have hurt you before, what do you do then?" I just hope that they don't punish Simone for following her instinct of self-preservation.
posted by bleep at 12:39 PM on November 9 [2 favorites]


I'd not have expected that throwing a roap to someone hanging by their nails over a lava pit would be controversial. I'm pretty much all-in on the whole "big nope to coddling entitled bigots" thing, but I don't usually presume to judge people's worthiness before deciding to pull the fire alarm.

In the prior season I liked Simone quite a bit, but they've written her a bit negatively this time around. I'm not including her questioning the peer pressure to coddle Brent -- which, recall, Chidi also questioned -- just that her default ethical position is solipsist self-interest and relative indifference to others. She had no more proof that her past life was any more "real" than this one -- that's basically the point. Recall "What We Owe to Each Other"?

On a daily basis, with regard to things less acute than falling into a lava pit, it is very difficult to navigate the murky waters of ethics because it's so forking complicated -- it's hard to know what exactly are the consequences of our choices, how important are intentions, even how free we and others are to truly make these "choices" in the first place. Brent has every privilege and he's almost totally oblivious to other people except as a means to his ends. How much responsibility does he have for this outcome? Has his privilege blinded him to other people and in that sense he's a product of a system that he was born into? Or did his privilege allow him more opportunity to see and value other people instead of, say, struggling to feed and shelter himself?

In my experience, it's when we are considering social issues and ethics that these social conditions become paramount -- when we are talking about how society is and ought to be structured, and when we must make choices how to behave with regard to that structure, we can't ignore these social conditions, we cannot presume to consider "right" and "wrong" without this context. So questions of how to respond to Brent's bruising privilege, and questions about how one's own privilege or lack thereof mediate one's responsibilities and choices about one's response are unavoidably all about these social conditions.

And, sure, you could argue that there is never any context, any decision, any choice that isn't ultimately about social issues and conditions and you wouldn't be wrong.

But an important theme of this show has been that a reductive, bean-counting approach to ethical decision-making is, at best, so obfuscatory as to be self-defeating and, at worst, a rigged denial of the importance of choice that it becomes universally damning. The evolving theme of The Good Place has been that although there aren't guarantees and there is no perfect moral calculus, trying today to care a little bit more about other people than we did yesterday is a pretty reliable rule-of-thumb and, honestly, not that forking hard to understand.

I really have no clue as to whether there are schemes-within-schemes this season or what they might be, but I do have a sense that almost every character, from Michael through Team Cockroach to the repellent Brent, can be clearly seen through the lens of this "am I even making an effort to give a shirt about other people?" lens. By this metric, our familiar characters come off pretty well, but none of the new group are very promising.

Ultimately, it's becoming clear that this whole notion of eternal reward or punishment is absurd and disproportionate and, even worse, it completely misses the point. Whether we're on Earth or in The Good Place or The Bad Place or even, at this point, The Medium Place, there are other people and we affect each other. So, you know, make an effort: Help Is Other People.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 1:51 PM on November 9 [23 favorites]


I also felt the dress was a little Maleficent.
posted by bq at 2:47 PM on November 9 [4 favorites]


I simply cannot get over the dress. It's GORGEOUS, and very flattering on Bell.

I didn't read any malevolence in it; I just thought it was a very clever design for an evening/ cocktail dress.

Although Eleanor and Michael doing the evil laugh was pretty nuts.

Was that dress something the set tailor made, or are there others like it out there?
posted by porpoise at 6:08 PM on November 9


Oh man, I can't stop thinking (or writing) about this. Apologies for the wall of text.

But I think this final test is separate from Brent-as-sleazeball, it's really only about Brent-as-human-being. Chidi sees another human has fallen into a pit, knows that he could do something to help, and knowing that obligates him to try. Simone and John choose to escape the bad situation, Chidi tries to help.

This. They put Brent in the pit to maximize the chance of getting more points. There's no advantage to be gained in rescuing Brent. He was horrible to be around before he fell in the pit and he will be horrible to be around after he gets out. He has turned down every one of the many, many chances to improve himself and treat others with respect, and has really earned everyone's disdain. The only motivation to rescue Brent is the (supposed) moral duty to rescue someone if you can. Chidi, the dedicated deontologist, is motivated only by his moral duty, which Kant says is the only way that actions have moral worth. That Kant says it doesn't mean it's right, but it looks to me like the writers have this bit of the Groundwork in mind:
To be beneficent where one can is a duty, and besides this there are some souls so sympathetically attuned that, even without any other motive of vanity or utility to self, take an inner gratification in spreading joy around them, and can take delight in the contentment of others insofar as it is their own work. But I assert that in such a case the action, however it may conform to duty and however amiable it is, nevertheless has no true moral worth, but is on the same footing as other inclinations, e.g., the inclination to honor, which, when it fortunately encounters something that in fact serves the common good and is in conformity with duty, and is thus worthy of honor, deserves praise and encouragement, but not esteem; for the maxim lacks moral content, namely of doing such actions not from inclination but from duty.
Kant isn't saying that acts only have moral worth if they are contrary to our interests or desires, and he's not saying that finding satisfaction in doing the right thing is bad, though he's sometimes misread that way. Rather, he's saying that an act only has *moral* worth (as opposed to other kinds of worth) when it is motivated by duty to morality. If Tahani had been in the hole and John decided to rescue her, his action might have moral worth, but it would be an uncertain bet. Would he do it because it was the right thing to do or because he likes having someone to gossip with? As a deontologist, that's the framework Chidi is working from when making his decision. That the show seems to ratify it might make it Kantian propaganda, but it's definitely not Christian propaganda. Forgiveness doesn't play any role. If anything, forgiving Brent before rescuing him might risk *losing* points for acting from an inclination toward sympathy rather than from moral duty.

All that said, I think the show presents John's and Simone's decisions not to save Brent as morally reasonable ones. Few moral theories would say you have to save someone regardless of the risk it presents to your own safety, and John and Simone reasonably believe that they're in grave (albeit unspecified) danger. Maybe they'd be morally obligated to try to save him if they had a different relationship with him---lots of people think we have stronger obligations to loved ones than to strangers---but Brent has done nothing but treat them with contempt.

If pressed, I'd say the writers think that Chidi's attempt to save Brent is supererogatory while Jon and Simone's decision to flee is morally permissible or at least not blameworthy. Within the show's universe, Chidi seems to think that attempting to save Brent is morally required, but recognizes that reasonable people may disagree. He clearly thinks Simone is making the wrong choice, but he explicitly says it's a choice he respects and I don't think he's lying. He wouldn't be the first ethicist to say that x is the right thing to do but reasonable people may reach a different conclusion.

As for Brent, I certainly see how the show's treatment of him can read as "Be nice to racist, sexist white dudes," especially given how much airtime is dedicated to that bullshit narrative, but I think the show takes the opposite tack. Brent's moral growth, such as it is, doesn't happen until he is convinced that he is actually going to Hell and that there is nothing he can do to stop it. The only thing that breaks through his wall of self-deception and willful ignorance is being faced with (what he believes to be) real, unavoidable, undeniable consequences for his actions. The lesson is less "be nice to racist and sexists or they will never become better people" and more "send racists and sexists to prison or they will never become better people."

The prison analogy is a bit of an exaggeration, but not much. There's a quasi-Kantian justification for punishment that says wrongdoers deserve punishment (rather than rewards or indifference) because they deserve to be taught a lesson and punishment is the only way it can be taught. I kind of like that view because of cases like Brent. It may not be anyone's duty to drag them toward moral growth, but we probably do have a duty not to stand in the way of the only thing that would lead to moral growth, and so we probably have a duty not to shield them from at least some kinds of punishment for their actions. And that's in addition to whatever duties we have to victims that would rule out too-quick forgiveness! It's not the kind of position that licenses cruelty or torture, but it's a much harsher position than endless, unearned, and unrequited patience, hope, and love.
posted by This time is different. at 6:17 PM on November 9 [30 favorites]


Eleanor’s dress is the Marisol Pleated Lamé Dress by A.L.C — that link points to an exact match and a cheaper lookalike.
posted by kittydelsol at 6:54 PM on November 9 [9 favorites]


A couple more points:

1. As much as Chidi is, I believe, the true moral compass of the show, Deontology is kinda bullshirt as an ethical system and is the framework most likely to turn back inwards on itself, as seen in the Points System this whole time. Moreover, I don't think it's actually Chidi's moral framework as much as he might think it is. We've seen him try, throughout knowing him, to follow deontology or consequentialism, and both led him to crippling indecision as he tried to figure out which of conflicting rules were paramount, or what the end results of certain actions might be. The decisive and resolute Chidi we see now is in fact following Virtue Ethics, the one of the three systems Chidi laid out in his excellent Chili Babies monologue, and the one that the Points System deals worst with, but the one that's most intuitively correct. He had developed the virtue of caring about others no matter how awful they are, and was acting in accordance with it.

2. Eleanor's dress was the absolute boom-diggity.
posted by Navelgazer at 7:12 PM on November 9 [11 favorites]


Deontology is kinda bullshirt as an ethical system and is the framework most likely to turn back inwards on itself, as seen in the Points System this whole time.

But the points system is consequentialist! If Kant were designing the system, we'd only gain or lose points based on things within our control, which may not be anything beyond our own wills:
A good will is not good because of what it effects or accomplishes, because of its fitness to attain some proposed end, but only because of its volition, that is, it is good in itself… Even if, by a special disfavor of fortune or by the miserly provision of a step motherly nature, this will should wholly lack the capacity to carry out its purpose—if with its greatest efforts it should yet achieve nothing and only the good will were left (not, of course, as a mere wish but as the summoning of all means insofar as they are in our control)—then, like a jewel, it would still shine by itself, as something that has its full worth in itself. Usefulness or fruitlessness can neither add anything to this worth nor take anything away from it.
One of the appealing features of this view is that it seems to shield our point totals from the effects of moral luck. I bet we'll see this in the next episode with respect to Brent's interrupted apology. Does the fact that his attempt was interrupted by forces beyond his control make a difference in how many points he does or doesn't get?

Unfortunately (and as is typical for deontologists), this appealing feature of the theory ends up making things more strange and counterintuitive. The more you think about it, the more it seems to scramble any hopes of making moral assessments at all. How can you award points for my good will when whether I have a good will or not depends a lot on circumstances beyond my control: how I was raised, the circumstances I find myself in, the options available to me, whether I'm hungry, tired, or scared, etc.?

I think Michael Zimmerman (discussed in the link above) has a very good solution to the problem of moral luck, but most people don't agree and even if they did, there are plenty of other problems. As much as I have a soft spot for it, I have to admit that deontology is the sort of view that gets weirder the more time you spend on it. Personally, I hope the writers don't settle on presenting it as The Right Answer. I'd rather they leave the theoretical question it open and focus on the importance of caring about each other. If they must endorse a theory, a convergence theory would fit the theme better than anything else, even if it would seem like a bit of a cop-out.
posted by This time is different. at 9:27 PM on November 9 [11 favorites]


I hate to say it, but I think the fear of horrific consequences does make people act like better people. Or anyway, that the certainty that doom hovers on the horizon makes people act better. Not because they think fate will change its mind -- not at all. Rather it's because imminent doom means you have one last chance to get it right. For its own sake. It becomes meaningful when you realize time is up. I don't know why. It just always does.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 11:48 PM on November 9 [3 favorites]


My prediction is that in the end Team Cockroach doesn't make it into The Good Place.

They end up in The Best Place.
posted by ckape at 5:27 AM on November 10 [3 favorites]


The points system is consequentialist in that it takes long-term ramifications into account when determining the positive or negative value of an action, and deontological in that the points assigned to those actions are then set and determined going forward. At least from how we've seen it in the accounting office.
posted by Navelgazer at 7:59 AM on November 10 [2 favorites]


Also the current points system does take intent into account, not solely consequences. This is especially apparent in Tahani and Mindy's cases.
posted by lampoil at 8:57 AM on November 10 [4 favorites]


> "This is especially apparent in Tahani and Mindy's cases."

I think Mindy's case, at least, demonstrates the exact opposite. If her intent (drawing up plans for a charitable foundation) were not followed by an action as proof (withdrawing the money to create it, immediately before her death), and had not also had a consequence (the charitable foundation being created in her name), she'd have gone straight to the Bad Place along with everyone else.

Intent but no action? (She drew up the plans but didn't withdraw the money.) Bad Place. Intent and action but no consequence? (She withdrew the money, died, and nothing further happened.) Bad Place.

And what is most interesting to me, if the intent, action, and consequences had all happened but she hadn't died, she'd have still gone to the Bad Place, because she'd have accrued all the messy negative points that actually go with creating and running an enormous charitable foundation and living in the world. The only reason she escaped the Bad Place is because an argument could be made that she should be credited with all of the positive consequences of her action, and none of the negative ones.
posted by kyrademon at 9:48 AM on November 10 [5 favorites]


... On the other hand, many other things we've seen imply that intent ALSO matters. Otherwise, it wouldn't make a difference whether or not someone is performing good actions for ulterior motives (e.g., to get into the Best Place). Only the consequences of the action would matter. So there's every reason to believe that if someone, say, accidentally saves a million lives without meaning to, they get no points for that.

So you're right and I was wrong. Intent, action, and consequences are all apparently taken into account.
posted by kyrademon at 10:23 AM on November 10


Yeah, but the show hasn't been very explicit or rigorous about this stuff.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 10:29 AM on November 10 [1 favorite]


Mindy didn't go to the Bad Place. If the points system only took consequences into account and nothing else, she would not be considered a special case, because at the time of her death the only consequence of what she was in the middle of doing was her own death.

(ETA Posted before your followup, apologies)
posted by lampoil at 10:29 AM on November 10


Re Chidi:
he seems to have fixed his problem with indecision (though, dude, clinging onto deontology ain't perfect, but whatever.)
It finally occurs to me why Chidi is a Kantian. To grapple with his extreme indecision, a strictly dogmatic ethical code makes a lot of sense.
posted by Cogito at 12:37 PM on November 10 [5 favorites]


Loved this episode! And rather than get deep into the philosophical weeds that this thread has delved into, I would like to present one thought:

Chidi asked to be mind-wiped because he would not be able to keep the truth from Simone. But this episode shows Chidi kept two truths from Simone rather ably.

Though maybe it’s just because the one truth (“this is a test to determine the fate of all humanity forever”) is a lot more significant than the other two (“this monk is actually Florida Man” and “I was told we are soulmates”).
posted by ejs at 5:18 PM on November 10 [5 favorites]


I think Brent's epiphany (if it is in fact one, and not a misdirect) is actually similar to Eleanor's: it's not that he's facing punishment, it's that he's finally presented with incontrovertible proof that he was a Bad Person. And I think all of the quartet went through this, to a certain extent: we don't see growth and change from the other three until they all realize what they did wrong on earth.

Where the experiment went wrong with Brent was in hiding that from him. So I'm crossing my fingers that the message isn't, in the end, be nice to coddled privileged white guys (because that didn't work in show). It's not going to be shun them or punch them in the face, either (because, again, that didn't work). It's going to be the same as what we saw for the original four: confront people with their badness, but give them a space and a place to grow and be better, with people who can help them.

This is actually similar to what Derek Black suggests for deprogramming White Supremacists: towards the end of the transcript, he talks about how his mind was changed both by people very loudly and publicly telling him his views were morally reprehensible, and private conversations with people who were willing to talk and work with him and show him the way out. Ditto the deprogramming tips at the end of the "How to Radicalize a Normie" video posted on the green a bit ago, where, again, both push back against hateful ideas and safe spaces to work through/away from them are necessary. Ian Danskin makes it a bit clearer, though, that it's on less vulnerable folks to do that deprogramming work, and it should be voluntary labor; I don't quite trust the show enough to get that aspect of it right.
posted by damayanti at 6:38 PM on November 10 [13 favorites]


I wonder if the show is going to grapple with the fact that in the process of trying to save humanity, Team Cockroach has basically been using these people as a means to an end, which is ethically horrifying (especially from a Kantian perspective). I do like the idea that the actual experiment is on Team Cockroach, and what they do with ultimate Godlike power, and not so much the completely rigged curveball team that they were presented with.
posted by codacorolla at 9:08 PM on November 10 [9 favorites]


I wonder if the show is going to grapple with the fact that in the process of trying to save humanity, Team Cockroach has basically been using these people as a means to an end, which is ethically horrifying (especially from a Kantian perspective).

That actually seems to be part of why this round didn't work. This is going to take the long way around to making that point, though. Wait for the curve of the second "e" in "Jeremy Bearimy" and it'll all make sense. Or not.

Eleanor and the others, this time, were too conscious of trying to really make their Fake Good Place a heaven, and when they did try to challenge the others, they used clumsy, external situations, not anything tailored to these new humans' self-perceptions. And so the two most visibly flawed of the new group of humans, Jon and especially Brent, never had Eleanor's or Jason's experiences of knowing, for sure, that what they were telling others about themselves was false.

As a result, none of these four humans ever really ran into the kinds of gaps between self-perception and actuality that made the original Fake Good Place a crucible for self-improvement. In fact, Team Cockroach did such a bad job of things that they instead made it obvious to Simone that their own self-perceptions as clever architects of the experiment didn't match the actuality.

In Michael's neighborhood, for example, none of the humans got to fly; that was deliberately dangled in front of them and various methods were used to prevent them from getting to do so. Here, we saw pretty early on that everyone got to do just that. No one had to make the choice between maintaining their supposedly moral personae and getting a no-strings-attached perk. Of course, this just reinforced both Brent's privilege and Simone's suspicions about just why people like Brent got to keep all their privilege and then some, the two biggest thongs that caused the apparent failure of this "experiment."

It's also notable that It's notable that, despite repeating the sinkhole and chaos sequence bits, Michael and Eleanor didn't run the same "you have one of the lowest point totals" bit on Brent that Michael did on Tahani. Instead they just told him he was right in his self-perception that he was too good even for this Good Place, reaffirming his self-perceptions in hopes of manipulating him seamlessly into superficially "good" actions. Again, this just reinforced his false perception of himself, showed him there were no real consequences for it, and ultimately robbed Brent of any real opportunity for self-improvement.

It's worth remembering that one of Michael's major moves in Season 1 was his false humility, his supposed dithering over having done a bad job on his first project as an architect. Here, Eleanor and the others were far too invested in making their Fake Good Place seem like a real heaven than in actually, meaningfully engaging with their subjects as people. One of the few times that happened, with Tahani and Jon, it happened belatedly, because it took that long for Tahani to really listen to and actually think about Jon's experiences and where he was coming from. And, indeed, that moment of engaging with him personally and meaningfully did, indeed, lead to real moral growth on the basis of self-recognition.

More generally, Team Cockroach was resistant to creating the kinds of genuine moral dilemmas and discomfort that they themselves faced. The original Fake Good Place would never have even given Brent a golf course with cheat codes; he'd have gotten the kind of thing he'd say he wanted or could do, and then been set up to find out he couldn't do those things without the "easy mode" he'd had all his life.

Tellingly, the only major "moral" actions happened when Team Cockroach did, in fact, deliberately create real challenges, but those incidents seemed to be few and far between. And they also didn't craft false narratives of goodness to create cognitive dissonance in some of their subjects, as Michael originally did for Eleanor and Jason. Nor did Team Cockroach use the kind of passive-aggressive undermining methods that Michael used on Chidi and Tahani.

But the problems are deeper still.

I just rewatched the scene in which Team Cockroach and Shawn negotiate this whole experiment with Gen, towards the end of season 3. It's pointed out that two things made Team Cockroach able to improve:

-- First, all the variables that complicate efforts to do good on Earth were removed, and "paying the bills" and "racism and sexism" are explicitly mentioned as things that weren't present in Michael's original neighborhood

-- Second, it's stated that Team Cockroach had to deal with "challenges," because Michael's original neighborhood was deliberately tailored to out the characters in moral dilemmas as part of the torture

However, this second experiment actually fails to replicate those conditions, for the most part. Brent's inclusion actually brings back many of those variables of privilege, and Team Cockroach spent far more of their time trying to make their experimental group comfortable, or trying to engineer character growth by assuming that this new foursome was basically them, or that their external actions would just automatically produce the same kinds of moral reflection that all of them experienced.

Ironically, the Bad Place managed to turn the new neighborhood into precisely the kind of unredeeming torture for Team Cockroach that Michael's original project failed to be, and team Cockroach, in turn, forgot nearly everything about why they learned what they did. Thy tried instead to create a place where "being/acting good" led to immediate, easy rewards, and "being/acting bad" was shrugged off. They tried to make a points-earning machine out of their project and out of Simone, Jon, Brent, and, I guess, Chidi. And it didn't work.
posted by kewb at 3:46 AM on November 11 [13 favorites]


The points system is consequentialist in that it takes long-term ramifications into account when determining the positive or negative value of an action, and deontological in that the points assigned to those actions are then set and determined going forward. At least from how we've seen it in the accounting office.

Ah, you're right. I'd forgotten that Mindy got some points for her intentions too.
posted by This time is different. at 5:48 AM on November 11


I feel like I should mention that technically, neither Brent nor Chidi can die in this scenario. They are already dead. It may not be martrydom(?) if that isn't a possible consequence? Eternal torture is far more of a consequence/concern in this environment

I sort of feel like they hadn't though the whole thing through about Mindy and the Medium Place compared to the things we've learned about Good Place standards since then. Good intentions don't matter compared to "sweatshop was used to produce the flowers*" (or whatever it was exactly) so nobody can ever get in. Mindy technically didn't get to do anything. I am in favor of them having a medium location, but given the developments we've learned about since then, she shouldn't really have gotten any kind of exception, much less be the only exception in 500 years or whatever it was.*

* I'm not remembering the technical details of any of this right now, obviously.
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:19 AM on November 11 [5 favorites]


I really think that Brent, Simone, John, and Chidi are not the real experiment.... There had to be some sort of secret agreement between Shawn, Gen, and Michael.

the actual experiment is on Team Cockroach, and what they do with ultimate Godlike power

I've had a theory for a while now that the point of the experiment - or at least the point that will clinch the experiment - is Michael. If a demon can become good, I mean, damn. (Or, ya know, don't!)
posted by MiraK at 11:22 AM on November 11 [4 favorites]


Ultimately, it's becoming clear that this whole notion of eternal reward or punishment is absurd and disproportionate and, even worse, it completely misses the point.

posted by Ivan Fyodorovich


Eponysterical?
posted by tobascodagama at 11:44 AM on November 11 [8 favorites]


I had a lot of stated reservations about how the experiment wasn't really set up properly as a "duplication" of the first conditions, but assumed that it would all get worked out. Instead we saw how the initial conditions fed upon each other until we had Neighborhood Death Spiral, with maybe a little redemption coming in under the wire. This first half of the season definitely had a "cargo cult" feeling with Team Cockroach going recreating things from the previous experiment (chaos sequence, etc.) assuming they'll work when they don't really have an understanding of how/why they worked in the first place. Looking forward to uncharted territory in the final half!

Also, if you are going to have a secret command room in your office, maybe have a magical secret door only you can access door instead of a plain physical secret door.

Seems like Janet could have tipped the others off when Simone asked her to conjure a giant corkboard, thumb tacks, post-its, pictures of everyone etc. (note: does not use red thread, so you know it is serious research, not a crazy conspiracy theory). I'd love to get an image high-res enough to read all the notes.
posted by mikepop at 1:15 PM on November 11 [2 favorites]


mikepop: If she was spending months collecting data, that request would have come through when Bad Janet was running the place.
posted by JDHarper at 1:42 PM on November 11


I'm just here for Tuxedo-in-a-Can.
posted by Marticus at 2:07 PM on November 11 [11 favorites]


Oh that Neednagel
posted by bq at 8:49 PM on November 11



I wonder if the show is going to grapple with the fact that in the process of trying to save humanity, Team Cockroach has basically been using these people as a means to an end, which is ethically horrifying (especially from a Kantian perspective).


What's interesting is whether we even assign a moral status to Gen, the Good, Place, the Bad Place, etc. I mean, we as viewers do, but does the universe of the show? We've been shown that the Point System is fundamentally unjust, but then why is it being used as a barometer for moral improvement on the test subjects?

If the "real test" is on Team Cockroach, I'd be less concerned with their point totals and more with how much they counter the main characteristics that got them into the Bad Place. The same for the new subjects, too, actually.

It seems more likely that Chidi's redemption in staying for Brent isn't that he's being a good Kantian; it's that he's being decisive enough to make an extremely hard choice. Maybe Simone and Brent aren't being tested on their willingness to be Kantian about helping Brent; their big tests are on whether they resist their worst impulses--though I admit it's hard to see how those are being tested in the moment.
posted by pykrete jungle at 5:46 AM on November 12 [3 favorites]



Did anyone else think the styling of Eleanor's little black dress was a bit edgy? Kind of almost villainous, in a way? It didn't seem to fit the overall tone of anything else she's ever worn. Or anyone else has worn on the show so far. I get that it was probably in preparation for a special occasion, but it seemed very purposely designed in a definitely-not-the-good-place manner.


Maybe the show is trying to say that if you give to much power to people (Eleanor, Michael), they will do evil things?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 7:13 AM on November 12


I think the show makes it relatively clear that the writers side with Simone RE: Brent. It will be disappointing if her and John not helping Brent is presented as a moral failing. I think the amicable break-up scene between her and Chidi is saying that while Chidi isn't morally wrong to help Brent, Simone isn't morally wrong to not. It's just two different approaches to the same situation informed by different ethical perspectives. That would fit with the overall idea of breaking the points system.

Anyway, I'm excited about the end of the series to see how all of the moving pieces land. I'm not 100% optimistic, but maybe like 75%.
posted by codacorolla at 7:23 AM on November 12 [5 favorites]


Maybe the show is trying to say that if you give to much power to people (Eleanor, Michael), they will do evil things?

I had that literally anviled into my head throughout high school: if you get power, it corrupts you, period. This is why I have dedicated my life to being a shitty powerless peon for eternity.

On a related note, isn't this quiz stupid because we know everybody is automatically sent to the Bad Place?
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:30 AM on November 12 [4 favorites]


Okay, theory time: I don't think that Simone, John, or Brent are dead because we didn't watch them die. I think they are in a coma. I think that the "failure" of the experiment isn't a failure, at all. It just shows that a one-size-fits-all road to improvement doesn't work. Some people like John just need understanding and guidance. Some people, like Brent, need real consequences, and some people like Simone need to to do something they're not proud of and then go look in a mirror. No one will be as hard on them as they are themselves. I think the real experiment will begin when they each get out of their respective comas and go back to their lives.
posted by CatastropheWaitress at 8:30 PM on November 12 [4 favorites]


Count me among those very nervous that they are whiffing it regarding Simone. What we have learned, once again, is that Simone was right! Wasting everyone's time trying to talk Brent into being good was worthless. All it did was force us to spend time with Brent. Saving Brent from the pit was totally unnecessary because, once again, it was fake - in fact, they didn't even need Chidi in the room for Brent's apology. They could have told him if he had anything to say to anyone while he waited to just state their name and a portal would open or something.

"Simone is smart enough to think for herself and not waste her time on a man who clearly does not merit it" is not evidence that she is not a moral person.
posted by Emmy Rae at 12:10 PM on November 15 [1 favorite]


I think one of the main reasons why I enjoyed this episode so much is because we finally got Chidi back in action for the A-plot.
posted by MiraK at 10:33 AM on November 17 [2 favorites]


« Older Supernatural: Atomic Monsters...   |  For All Mankind: Prime Crew... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments

poster