The Good Place: The Answer
November 21, 2019 7:33 PM - Season 4, Episode 9 - Subscribe

In an attempt to plan a better future, Chidi considers his past.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero (65 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
 
I'm not crying. You're crying.
posted by bigendian at 7:35 PM on November 21, 2019 [22 favorites]


You're not crying. I'm crying.
posted by mephisjo at 7:43 PM on November 21, 2019 [22 favorites]


This was such a beautiful episode! Wow. As a philosophy grad student I recognize so much of Chidi in myself and those around me. The idea that there isn't always a rational answer, that truth sometimes lies in emotions, and must be created rather than found, is such an important lesson, and this episode delivered it in the most moving and kind way possible.

God, I'm going to miss this show.
posted by cosmic owl at 7:44 PM on November 21, 2019 [12 favorites]


Gosh that was a sweet episode. Especially after the lack of Chidi this season, it was great we got to have a mega dose of Chidi tonight. So glad that the gang's together again!
posted by acidnova at 7:50 PM on November 21, 2019 [7 favorites]


Full disclosure, I cried too.
Was Esmerelda played by Megan Amram?
Who's going to be the first one here to try a Midori, Coffee-mate, and ditch-water cocktail?
I can't believe this precious perfect show is going to end soon. I want The Good Place to live on forever with it's very own convention (which maybe should be held in Cincinnati because it's like a Medium Place?) Where I can hang out with hundreds of possible soulmates wearing a Diana Tremaine name-tag and enjoy a soda machine that dispenses shrimp, and see a Tahani-Centaur and have long conversations with Chidi-like souls who worry way too much about things we cannot control, and maybe try my hand at throwing a molotov cocktail.
posted by pjsky at 8:42 PM on November 21, 2019 [14 favorites]


I really love the subtle tone in Michael's voice during the flashback as he was introducing Chidi to the "Good Place" for the first time. There was such gleeful malevolence in it. And his very first act on meeting Chidi was to torture him with a decision!

Also, "Beignet and the Jets". It may not be "Custard's Last Flan", but it was nice to see that Megan Amram hasn't lost her touch.

Finally, I adore the fact that after more than three and a half seasons we can still learn something about a lead character that is touching, insightful, real, and true, and actually see them grow. How rare is that on network television?
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul at 8:53 PM on November 21, 2019 [22 favorites]


> Was Esmerelda played by Megan Amram?

Nope, by Kate Berlant.
posted by Pronoiac at 9:37 PM on November 21, 2019 [6 favorites]


It is amazing to me how both Ted Danson and D'Arcy Carden can play such very different versions of themselves in the same show, and it's all down to very small choices of gesture or intonation. Compare Janet in her wedding to Jason and then watch her take the note from Chidi.

Give them all the awards.

Also, William Jackson Harper reading thirst tweets about himself.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 9:57 PM on November 21, 2019 [15 favorites]


HOW LONG UNTIL THE BACK HALF AIRS

(and UGH, we thought we were getting a 90-minute finale, when we're getting a 60-minute finale followed by a 30-minute Seth Myers Good Place thing.)
posted by tzikeh at 10:15 PM on November 21, 2019 [2 favorites]


Also, 'Foot Lager'
posted by Marticus at 11:04 PM on November 21, 2019 [10 favorites]


Who's crying?? *looks around* Certainly not me, no sir, no.

Might have been one of the best episodes ever.
posted by KTamas at 1:22 AM on November 22, 2019 [2 favorites]


Oh Chidi. Oh my heart. He’s been my favorite since the first episode and I loved seeing him develop and how he got to be that person.

I know there was other stuff but I could hardly see it through my hearteyes for Chidi.
posted by kitten kaboodle at 1:34 AM on November 22, 2019 [2 favorites]


Also this gives me real hope that there might be some form of happy ending for the gang. It'd be downright cruel after this episode to separate Eleanor and Chidi in whatever reboot.
posted by KTamas at 2:39 AM on November 22, 2019 [6 favorites]


THE BOOTS
posted by kyrademon at 3:22 AM on November 22, 2019 [32 favorites]


I loved the way that this episode rested on the emotional beats but still had lots of really subtle jokes like the boots (or callbacks like the fork in the garbage disposal, which, as it turns out, was more than just a hypothetical point of comparison)
posted by DoctorFedora at 3:25 AM on November 22, 2019 [9 favorites]


Whewwwwww I am crying like a goddamn child
posted by palomar at 4:35 AM on November 22, 2019


“The Prepared”

I think I am straight up in Love with Esmerelda.
posted by Faintdreams at 4:36 AM on November 22, 2019 [9 favorites]


A fucking tv episode hasn't made me cry this hard AND laugh this hard, ever.

Even Steven Universe.
posted by sugar and confetti at 5:42 AM on November 22, 2019 [5 favorites]


Definitely crying! I always love when the show reveals moments that we haven't seen surrounding moments that we have, so the whole sequence after Eleanor and Chidi say goodbye was delicious to me. Such great acting from D'Arcy Carden in particular, but all three of them were amazing, really.
posted by merriment at 6:06 AM on November 22, 2019 [8 favorites]


Great episode. Was all of that existing highlights or was any of it new versions of the scenes? I kept watching to see if there were any...irregularities...in Chidi's memories, that might indicate maybe the process didn't go perfectly. I don't think I saw anything. I think.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:16 AM on November 22, 2019 [1 favorite]


In the wrong hands, this could have been a standard clip show. Bravo to the cast and crew for a long overdue visit with Chidi.
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:25 AM on November 22, 2019 [2 favorites]


According to the podcast, most of those "memories" were shot fresh for this episode.
posted by Superplin at 8:07 AM on November 22, 2019 [8 favorites]




I'm confused by something.

When they decided to reboot Chidi, I thought that Michael said his memories couldn't be restored.
That's why the separation was so poignant. They couldn't just snap everything back once the experiment was over:
"We'll be okay. We found each other before, hundreds of times. We can do it again."
Have I missed something, or did they retcon the rules?
posted by cheshyre at 9:20 AM on November 22, 2019 [1 favorite]


Ok, now I’m invested in Chidi and Eleanor. That was just the sweetest thing, and man did they pull it off.
posted by schadenfrau at 9:24 AM on November 22, 2019 [9 favorites]


Ok, now I’m invested in Chidi and Eleanor.

I'm still not, but they both are, and in the end it turns out that's what matters.
posted by Flannery Culp at 10:34 AM on November 22, 2019 [3 favorites]


‘The Good Place’ Star William Jackson Harper Explains Why Chidi Wrote Himself That Note (Reid Nakamura, The Wrap)

Nice interview, focused mostly on this episode.
“Eleanor is the reason, she’s the point, she’s the person that he exists for”
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:42 AM on November 22, 2019 [2 favorites]


I'm confused by something.

When they decided to reboot Chidi, I thought that Michael said his memories couldn't be restored.

That's why the separation was so poignant. They couldn't just snap everything back once the experiment was over: "We'll be okay. We found each other before, hundreds of times. We can do it again."

Have I missed something, or did they retcon the rules?


Michael said he couldn't selectively remove Simone from Chidi's memory, a suggestion Eleanor made when trying to persuade Chidi he didn't need to be wiped and rebooted. Simone's presence was too intertwined with all of the Australia memories of the whole gang to allow for a selective wipe. But no, no mention that the erasure of Chidi's memory was permanent -- and a permanent erasure would be totally out of canon for the show. Michael's been wiping and restoring throughout all four seasons.

The tension and poignancy of the erasure and reboot, IMO, stems from Eleanor's underlying fear that Chidi would fall in love with Simone during the year of the experiment and no longer want to "chill out in the dot of the i" of Jeremy Bearimy forever once the experiment was over, as Chidi promised they would do during their goodbye scene.
posted by palomar at 12:30 PM on November 22, 2019 [16 favorites]


At the time Chidi asked to be rebooted, we didn't really have precedent for the restoration of the entirety of someone's memory. We'd only seen Eleanor get a few snippets back via Janet's simulation device. They squeezed the restoration of all 300+ years between Bad Janet's unveiling and the rescue of Good Janet. It felt a little like they were establishing it for something that would come later—I'd assumed it was because they needed Eleanor, Tahani, or Jason to remember something for a plot thing to work. Now I think it must have been for this episode's premise to make sense.

In fact, Michael must have actually restored Eleanor and Tahani's full set of memories in the short time between Bad Janet getting caught and his leaving for the Bad Place, because just before that Eleanor refers to demon Chris as "that...punching guy" whereas if she'd had her full afterlife memories, she would have remembered him as her fake soulmate from at least two reboots.

But I'm not sure if it is super important in terms of the risk Eleanor and Chidi were taking in their relationship by rebooting him. A relationship is two people actively choosing to be together at the same time, and Chidi often has been hesitant to go for it. Any reboot, even one where he later remembers choosing Eleanor, risks him making a different choice next time. Or, more likely with Chidi, failing to make a choice at all.
posted by lampoil at 1:04 PM on November 22, 2019


Kids are idiots. If they knew half the things their parents are up to they’d lose their minds.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 1:09 PM on November 22, 2019 [26 favorites]


Oh my god a portrayal of good relationships as work but good work, work that is worth doing and constantly changing as people grow and change. I love it so much. I don't know how to explain it but I had the urge to hug the television after watching this episode.

I also love that Eleanor had so many reaction shots, with Chidi saying off-the-wall stuff, since it's usually the other way around - a nice subtle change in the point of view. I wonder what is says about them that they both see themselves as the weirdo and the other one as the straight man.
posted by dinty_moore at 6:21 PM on November 22, 2019 [14 favorites]


Yeah, I was....very surprised when Chidi's childhood lecture staved off divorce. And I was glad that they capped it with Michael's explanation that Chidi just inspired his parents to work on their relationship!

TBH when I realized we were going to get a Chidi's life" episode I was not jazzed. It ended up being very solid, though. (I'm so glad they gave us more footage from the restarts! Skipping over them was GENIUS, but also that show concept was uniquely hilarious and I miss it.)
posted by grandiloquiet at 6:54 PM on November 22, 2019 [7 favorites]


"Do you like it Chidi? Or would you like a different name? Oh, looks like he has a tummy ache!" -- Chidi Begins

The writing and directing in this episode was so great: particularly the emotional cut in "What did I do to / deserve you?". Same line, same characters, total mood switch without even repeating the line. No plot advancement (imagine bingeing the season and skipping this episode: you might not even notice, which is notable in a show which blows up the world with consequences every few episodes), but it pays its way.
posted by Wrinkled Stumpskin at 4:09 AM on November 23, 2019 [12 favorites]


Eleanor was reading the cards in the game off the reflection in his glasses, which is why he wanted to read the note again even though he knew what it said ahhhh I love this show.
posted by rewil at 6:23 AM on November 23, 2019 [45 favorites]


I love this show but I feel this season has never really found its way, and with this episode it felt especially lost. Chidi has been the spine of this show. The heart -- what has made the show so different from anything else on television -- is Chidi's quiet insistence that it's worth it to think about what's right and wrong, that there's something to be gained by not just doing what feels right in the moment but trying to do a little better, to reflect.

For the show to seem to veer into treating everything Chidi has worked for as an extension of his chronic stomachache, to say "forget all that, the answer is LOVE" feels empty, dispiriting, and, perhaps worst of all, like something any other TV show might do.
posted by escabeche at 6:46 AM on November 23, 2019 [3 favorites]


I don't think the show is saying that. Chidi's problem is not that he looks for answers, but that he's always sought a comprehensive universal answer to everything, which is impossible, and why he's always so indecisive -- there's always the possibility of a better way. (I don't think it's any coincidence that the universal metric of goodness sends everybody to hell; it doesn't work.) The illuminated Chidi knows there's no answer, but also knows the way he feels about Eleanor is answer enough, if an answer is necessary.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 9:20 AM on November 23, 2019 [25 favorites]


it is goofy, even though it tugs at my eleanor/chidi heartstrings and is in character, that suddenly chidi has always wanted and looked for a one-true-love, and it feels a little less like "chidi needed to ease up on everything and live his life" and more like "chidi needed to ease up on everything but romantic love, and now he's good." but again, my eleanor/chidi heartstrings, and i cried so much in this episode - imagine loving and being loved! plus, it balances it more for me that he had satisfying, emotional scenes with the others and not just eleanor. when he asked for advice from jason and tahani was the kind of thing i wish we got more of, and it was nicely done.
posted by gaybobbie at 10:20 AM on November 23, 2019 [1 favorite]


Eleanor was reading the cards in the game off the reflection in his glasses, which is why he wanted to read the note again even though he knew what it said ahhhh I love this show.

Ahhhhhhh...I didn't make that connection!!!
posted by Thorzdad at 11:04 AM on November 23, 2019 [9 favorites]


It's nice to see Chidi finally catch up with the idea that "philosophers have hitherto only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it." Let that boy read Marx!

A spectre is seriously haunting this show, but I doubt they plan to really go there.
posted by One Second Before Awakening at 11:51 AM on November 23, 2019 [3 favorites]


Sorry for the length, but I Have Thoughts. For me, what this show is essentially about is what much of my life has been about; and while I'm not Chidi, I have been Chidi, I know Chidi very well.

When I studied philosophy, most especially moral philosophy, I always approached it as a sort of applied science, as opposed to intellectual exercises so abstracted from daily life as to be almost irrelevant. That's not at all to say that I am impatient with extremely abstracted, detailed, and even notably abstruse work -- as a rule, across all intellectual activity I'm more attracted to theory than application . . . to a point. But I almost always reach that point, whether it's in philosophy or math or physics or even topics such as literary criticism.

In studying moral philosophy, I noted that of those who were strongly engaged, the majority were one of two types: those for whom it's a deeply fascinating intellectual activity largely or entirely divorced from their daily lives (and they're okay with that because they are in their deepest essences contemplatives); and those for whom it's a vital endeavor, certainly applicable to their daily lives, but is so wide-ranging, complicated, and often obscure, that it defies the kind of certainty they'd need for it to provide an ethos around which they could confidently arrange their lives.

These are the Chidis: the (usually) rationalists who need to believe there are answers but for whom that very need for answers leads them on a path where what they seek is always just over the horizon. The need for some kind of truth (a need I share) becomes suspiciously not so relevant to the actual practice of daily life.

Which often isn't, I think, a coincidence. This type of need to know is paradoxically both an attempt to assert control over one's circumstances, and an attempt to abdicate responsibility for them. Each of us is like this at least a little: we desire choice, but we are frightened by choice.

This is Chidi's stomachache. He's afraid of pain, he believes he's smart enough to reason his way to an avoidance of it, but he's also smart enough to recognize that this isn't a panacea and pain is probably on its way in some form, regardless of how hard he reasons to avoid it. But he's stuck because this is the only way he knows to cope -- it's sometimes worked in the past, mostly when he was a child, and it's the devil he knows. Also, he's pretty good at the thinking part.

Sometimes the behaviors which we believe are in service of achieving some goal are actually behaviors that allow us to covertly avoid reaching that goal.

I'm best described as an ethical pragmatist of the John Dewey variety. Pragmatism has a colloquial meaning that can be a bit misleading in this context. As I wrote earlier, I find most varieties of philosophy interesting, some of which are extremely abstruse, and I find many of them useful. But we live in the world, not our heads, information is limited and our comprehension imperfect, and we are forced to make choices whether we like it or not.

Chidi excels on both the good intentions and the effort parts, albeit his efforts are exclusively in one area. I'd argue to him, as gently and sensitively as possible, that it's not his reason which has been failing him, but that he's somewhat emotionally immature and therefore maladjusted. As the show makes clear, he learned entirely the wrong lesson from his precocious lecture to his parents and he's been burdened with that error his whole life. For many children, the idea of their parents divorcing is perhaps the most terrifying thing they can contemplate. It undermines everything they thought they knew, trusted, took for granted. Chidi has never really gotten over that fear and processed it and what it implies as an adult. Reason, intellectualism, moral philosophy are the magic words he chants to charm the monsters away, but for him those monsters are always still out there waiting, in the dark. His inability to make choices and the physical symptoms he manifests as a result are all about how he's caught on the horns of a dilemma: needing reason as a tool to drive the fear away, and both reason and experience proving that it's not the most appropriate tool for the task.

I, too, initially worried at the implications of "Eleanor is the answer." But that's preceded by "There is no answer." All of these lifetimes Chidi has lived, most of them knowing Eleanor, have brought him to a place where that childhood wound is healed and that fear now far from acute. It's an adult fear now, the fear that we can't control everything and avoid all pain, but that this is okay. Situationally, it can still be intense and paralyzing -- as is true for most people. But it's no longer at the core of who Chidi is. Eleanor isn't his new magic amulet. Rather, it's that knowing her has helped him find himself, his adult self, and while she is central to this experience for him, she also represents everyone else. Help is other people, right? If you let them; if you understand and manage your fear of being hurt; if you understand that very, very often, the fear is worse than the actual hurt itself.

Understanding this, all of Chidi's vast knowledge of moral philosophy becomes something different for him than what it was. In fact, it can become what it should be and what he thought it could be. It wasn't the tool he needed before, but it's a tool he needs now and he's finally equipped to use it effectively.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 2:58 PM on November 23, 2019 [50 favorites]


I, too, initially worried at the implications of "Eleanor is the answer." But that's preceded by "There is no answer."

OK, if the next episode begins with Chidi reasoning his way to the end of the syllogism and Eleanor popping out of existence, I'll concede that the writers have found a way to surprise me.
posted by escabeche at 3:36 PM on November 23, 2019 [4 favorites]


But what about Glenn???
posted by willF at 4:31 PM on November 23, 2019 [5 favorites]


I would actually love it if Janet stashed Gen's earth rebooter thing with Glenn
posted by nicodine at 5:17 PM on November 23, 2019 [3 favorites]


Ivan Fyodorovich, that's a beautiful comment.
posted by gaybobbie at 5:43 PM on November 23, 2019 [1 favorite]


“There is no answer, but Eleanor is the answer” reminds me of There Is No God and He Is Always with You.
posted by signal at 7:00 PM on November 23, 2019


The boots!

Michael tormenting Chidi with a choice immediately was great

"We're registered at me."

"Where I'm from, most things blow up eventually."

The demon playing Esmeralda must have been having a lot of fun.

But did Eleanore get her margarita?
posted by ckape at 8:12 PM on November 23, 2019 [1 favorite]


Janet is generating Eleanor a margarita during the snap, if you watch her hands.
posted by rewil at 8:19 PM on November 23, 2019 [1 favorite]


I’m not sure the message is Love is the answer, maybe more like dynamic work through each other is the answer.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 9:02 PM on November 23, 2019 [5 favorites]


The is no answer. Eleanore is my answer. Maybe a little bit closer to the mark. Unless Eleanore Shellstrop is Chidi's answer to the whole problem. Put Eleanore in as the arbiter of Good Place or Bad Place. She knows both and Chidi may see her growth as allowing her to be able to help others through challenge and misplacement.
posted by Ignorantsavage at 11:05 PM on November 23, 2019 [1 favorite]


Glad to see I wasn't the only one who cried.
posted by Wretch729 at 11:08 AM on November 24, 2019 [1 favorite]


After reflecting on the ep and listening to the podcast, I'm wondering if the Good Place committee is somehow more directly tied to Chidi. They're extraordinarily indecisive.
posted by hijinx at 10:58 AM on November 25, 2019


That's not indecisiveness. It's bureaucracy. Painful, painful bureaucracy.
posted by cooker girl at 12:47 PM on November 25, 2019 [2 favorites]


Yes, they know precisely what they want to do. It's just that everything they want to do is stupidly inefficient and redundant, but it looks like they're working, so that's all that matters.
posted by wabbittwax at 3:07 PM on November 25, 2019


Unless Eleanore Shellstrop is Chidi's answer to the whole problem.

Eleanor and Chidi are the answer together, not just because they fell in love. Eleanor is the first human to improve after she died because she had the chance; Chidi gave her that chance. Chidi’s note to himself, a callback to Eleanor’s note to herself after season one (“Find Chidi”), is the answer. Give everyone who dies a chance to improve. Imagine an afterlife where, instead of torture, demons taught people how to be better. Seriously, this is the part of The Good Place that I find the most moving. What if everyone got a second chance and the conditions to be better? Maybe what we owe to each other is redemption?
posted by gladly at 3:42 PM on November 25, 2019 [22 favorites]


Big question...This Thursday being Thanksgiving, do you think they'll be airing a new episode? Hopefully not, as I will be, sadly, nowhere near a tv that isn't tuned to a football game.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:17 AM on November 26, 2019


Big question...This Thursday being Thanksgiving, do you think they'll be airing a new episode?

No, they're done until the home stretch starts on January 9th.
posted by Etrigan at 6:24 AM on November 26, 2019 [2 favorites]


This was just beautiful. Jason's advice. Eleanor's gravitating towards him regardless. "Okay, we'll just rescind the kiss then." The glasses reflection. The answer and the "answer." AWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW.
posted by jenfullmoon at 7:14 AM on November 26, 2019 [2 favorites]


Every time they invoke the Medium Place (or Eleanor's idea that such a place might be in Cincinnati) all I can think of is "Champaign, Illinois" by Old 97's.
Oh and if you die fearin' God
And painfully employed
You will not go to heaven,
You'll go to Champaign, Illinois

...memories they aren't all bad
And neither, my friend, are you
There is an argument there must be some heaven left
For hearts that are half true

If you spend your whole life
Driving horses into Troy
You will not go to heaven
You'll go to Champaign, Illinois
posted by DirtyOldTown at 1:24 PM on November 27, 2019 [4 favorites]


Also, William Jackson Harper reading thirst tweets about himself.

This was delightful, because he's such a bashful dude. There's also a Manny Jacinto version, although some of the thirst tweets are weirdly violent, although they end with this classic tweet.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 1:55 PM on November 27, 2019


I actually don't think "love is the answer" is at all an empty or facile move, not with the way the show has set things up. Because the show has been clear, again and again, love isn't just a feeling, love is an action, love is a choice. To quote Massive Attack, "love, love, is a verb, love is a doing word." In this episode, Michael made it clear: soulmates aren't real, there's no perfect match, there's only the person you choose to love, and you make that choice again and again, you don't ever stop making it. And that goes together with their conclusion about becoming a better person: you need external love and support to help you do it, and it too is an active process with no endpoint, it's a thing you do again and again, every day. Our Team Cockroach has proven that, again and again, as they've chosen to love each other and help each other. They make each other better people through that love. So I don't think love is a facile or empty answer at all. It only seems that way because, I think, a lot of people still view love as a feeling more than as an act, but it is an act, and it's not always, or even often, an easy one.
posted by yasaman at 10:24 AM on November 30, 2019 [20 favorites]


That's not indecisiveness. It's bureaucracy. Painful, painful bureaucracy.

With a heaping helping of... I'm not sure what to call it, exactly, maybe privileged liberalism? The committee's all wearing nice clothing that signals certain values (putting Paul Scheer's character in a blue Patagonia puffer vest doesn't feel accidental), carrying tote bags, talking about the farmer's market, talking about writing sternly worded letters instead of taking more direct action...
posted by palomar at 8:28 AM on December 1, 2019 [7 favorites]


Especially given that none of them was alive in the last 400 years or so.
posted by Etrigan at 11:10 AM on December 1, 2019


The people on the committee have never been alive. They're the good place equivalent of Michael, or the Accountant.
posted by wabbittwax at 3:20 PM on December 1, 2019 [3 favorites]


DOT Jr. (just shy of 11 years old) just started binging this and loves it. Rewatching has been a blast.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 5:52 PM on December 1, 2019 [2 favorites]


NBC did goofy giveaways in honor of Cyber Monday, and I happened to be around when The Good Place items dropped, so I may have won a wall clock that says Jeremy Bearimy. We shall see; hard to know if you can trust it when it’s free. In 4-6 weeks I will know!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:43 PM on December 2, 2019 [15 favorites]


« Older Mystery Science Theater 3000: ...   |  RuPaul's Drag Race UK: A New Q... Newer »

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

poster