The Good Place: The Eternal Shriek

“Attention: I have been murdered.”

One of my favorite episodes.

After Michael’s declaration that he and he alone has been causing problems in the neighborhood, he decides to go into retirement. Eleanor celebrates thinking she has gotten away with…well, everything, but then Michael reveals that retirement is also called “The Eternal Shriek,” and consists of being tortured for all of eternity. Moral quandary. To retire, Michael takes a train. Janet runs the train. Eleanor’s solution: kill Janet.

Chidi is obviously very against this but ends up accidentally killing her himself to prevent Jason from killing her because being a bystander would be, in his opinion, worse. That doesn’t quite track for me but hey, I’m not a moral philosophy professor. Killing Janet sends off an alarm in the sky and leads to some of the funniest stuff we’ve gotten: Chidi being “the most stressed out [he’s] ever been in [his] whole life” and Eleanor trying to play it off with sunglasses. Makes me laugh every time.

Janet comes back but, once the ultimate source of knowledge about everything in the universe, she now thinks the alphabet goes “A, B, Janet.” In a really touching pair of scenes, Chidi tells Eleanor that he will lie for her because he promised to help her but he hates lying and it will be torture for him. Eleanor, having (ahem) REALLY AND TRULY CHANGED sees this and instead of making him suffer for eternity, confesses to Michael that she’s not supposed to be in the Good Place. Dun dun dun.

Just reading that quick synopsis, it’s honestly impressive how much this show crams into 22 minutes. And I didn’t even touch on the three separate parties Tahani throws. I love Tahani.

I will say the flashbacks this week were underwhelming. They follow Chidi’s emotional journey after lying to his friend Henry and telling him he liked his terrible red cowboy boots. He agonizes over the morality of doing the wrong thing and the situation is only made worse when Henry faces a life threatening aneurysm. It’s an interesting exploration of Chidi’s opinion on the ethics of lying but it does feel like we’re being taken out of the story for a less interesting one. It’s my problem with most of the flashbacks, actually. Can’t we shape our characters in real time without relying on flashbacks to their mortal lives? Sometimes they’re necessary, for instance the explanation of Tahani’s home life or the introduction to the real Jason Mendoza, but in here, as in other episodes they feel distracting.

So, what are we left with? We have Eleanor, facing an uncertain future but proving, at least to me, that she’s become a better person and maybe even one worthy of staying in the Good Place. We have Janet, who is…well, a little bit broken, and Michael who is now faced with the cold truth: he made a mistake. I have so many questions for the next episode: will Eleanor tell the whole truth or will she lie about Jason and who actually killed Janet? What will happen to Eleanor? Will Janet ever get back to normal? What will Tahani wear next?! Tune in next week to find out!

Ethical Bits

High points of the episode, for me, include Janet’s “best approximation of human crying” and Tahani’s outfit at Janet’s funeral.

Eleanor calls Chidi “Cheedster.”

It bugs me that Eleanor still calls Jason “Jianyu” in private even though she knows his name is Jason.

The Good Quotes

Michael: “Oh, my dear Janet, will you be okay after I leave?”
Janet: “Yes. This will not affect me in any way.”

Chidi: “There’s an old Chinese proverb. Lies are like tigers. They are bad.”
Eleanor: “That’s it?”
Chidi: “It’s more poetic in Mandarin.”

Tahani: “By the way, what’s your favorite color for the tablecloths?”
Michael: “Well, it’s not perceptible by human eyes. It’s called pleurigloss.”
Tahani: “Could you describe it?”
Michael: “It’s the color of…when a soldier comes home from war and sees his dog for the first time.”
Tahani: “Hmm. How about blue?”
You’re welcome/I’m sorry for making you cry:

Eleanor: “Why do bad things always happen to mediocre people who are lying about their identities?”

Chidi: “We can’t kill her.”
Eleanor: “Not with that attitude, we can’t!”

4 out of 4 Janet-murdering buttons

sunbunny

2 comments:

Victoria Grossack said...

Thanks for the videos! I guess the soldiers get accustomed to carrying huge packs on their backs.

Ariel Williams said...

Great review of such a great episode! I'm glad I'm not the only one who loves Tahani's entire wardrobe. I was starting to worry it meant I was secretly terribly pretentious...