The Good Place: Mindy St. Claire

Oh, the decor trends of the 1980s.
“Why am I like this? You don’t know me, dude.”

Eleanor Shellstrop is not a good person. She’s not just cruel by omission. She’s actively mean: refusing to apologize to someone she bumps into in the grocery store, yelling at people, scamming the elderly with pills that haven’t been proved not to cure Alzheimer’s. And this week, we get to find out why.

Each of the flashbacks this week were of Eleanor’s birthdays. The one on which she died, instant margarita mix undrunk. The time she crashed a girl’s quinceaƱera. And the birthday in which Eleanor emancipated herself from her selfish wastrel parents, who taught her that no one will ever care about her and she might as well just push everyone away to keep herself emotionally safe.

But we get to see just how much Eleanor has changed—how much she has revised herself from “is not a good person” to “was not a good person”—in her actions at Mindy St. Claire’s home in the Medium Place. Eleanor is curious about Mindy and spends time reaching out to her while taking care of Jason and Janet (and not snarking on their sexual struggles, which requires real moral fortitude). She’s kinder and more aware of others.

Meanwhile, Chidi, Tahani, Other Eleanor, and Michael try to make a case for Eleanor. Their deadpan delivery to avoid Shawn’s cocooning is hilarious and touching—wouldn’t it be nice if our friends said such wonderful things about us behind our backs? They do think Eleanor has changed, and I have a hard time disagreeing with them.

After all, in the Medium Place, Mindy told Eleanor not to worry about all that “morality” stuff and just to look out for herself. Jason, in his own way, concurred. But Eleanor doesn’t do that: she isn’t just interested in “self-preservation,” as Chidi says, but also “self-improvement.”

Perhaps more importantly, we can now see that the past eleven episodes haven’t just been about Eleanor doing what Chidi told her to do. They’ve been about her learning, as the book discusses, what we owe to each other, and how that requires us to think through our actions and their effects. All that means that, in her own way, Eleanor—like Janet for Jason—has engaged a “ride or die protocol” for her friends. She can’t let them take the fall. She can’t skip out on consequences.

Sadly, neither can her friends. And since Shawn is now demanding two people for the Bad Place, we’ll have to wait to see just how much Eleanor and her friends think they owe to each other in the season finale.

Lightly-Expired Cocktail Shrimp:

• Shawn’s cocoon of goo: do you think I can get one on Amazon?

• I try not to overthink the point system on this show, and Mindy’s groundbreaking charity work does sound great, but is it really enough to merit a spot in the Medium Place? It seems like that wouldn’t be enough by Good Place standards.

• The highlight of the episode, for me, was the deadpan delivery of Eleanor’s defense team when they made the case to Shawn.

• Janet: “Now I’m bored. Walking is dumb.”

• Jason: “Bortles!” Blake Bortles may have a cameo in Season Four, according to internet rumors.

Four out of four grocery carts

Josie Kafka is a full-time cat servant and part-time rogue demon hunter. (What's a rogue demon?)

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