Thursday, November 8, 2018

REVIEW: 'The Good Place' - Michael Tells Eleanor Even More About the Afterlife in 'The Worst Possible Use of Free Will'

NBC's The Good Place - Episode 3.08 "The Worst Possible Use of Free Will"

Eleanor recalls some forgotten events from her past.

In 2018, it has become very difficult to keep up with every television show out there. It's even more difficult to provide adequate coverage on this site about the episodes that air every week. Not every show can get full coverage because of my busy and hectic viewing schedule. As such, some reviews will now be condensed to give only some summary thoughts. But it also affords a space for me to jot down my thoughts on the various episodes. And so, here are my thoughts on this week's episode of NBC's The Good Place.

"The Worst Possible Use of Free Will" was written by Cord Jefferson and directed by Claire Scanlon

The ways in which The Good Place can tackle a huge philosophical question while remaining absolutely silly and hilarious continues to be so impressive. This episode revolves almost entirely around the debate of free will. Does humanity have any actual control over their actions? Or is every decision made just part of some grand design being orchestrated by something larger out there in the universe? Michael understands that Eleanor needs physical proof in order to accept that she and Chidi fell in love during one of the reboots. But that still absolutely terrifies her. The show never spent time in this version of the neighborhood experiment. Instead, it was just this looming thing that showed that relationship could develop into something more. They believe that they were destined to be soulmates and that's why they've been able to beat the system so many times. Even now, Eleanor is questioning if she is capable of being a good person or if she's only good because of the people she has surrounded herself with? She immediately believes in the idea that there is no free will because every single action made in the afterlife was in direct response to the experiment that Michael was running. He was trying to torture the four humans. Sure, it failed over 800 times. And yet, there is nothing but proof that these four characters all reverted back to their old ways as soon as the neighborhood was rebooted. Even now, it took direct interference from Michael and Janet for the humans to get as far as they did in order to become better people on Earth. Eleanor sees this as yet another reason why all of this is pointless and that there is no use to trying to change the circumstances of her world. Of course, that too is just a defense mechanism of hers. She doesn't want to see what is directly in front of her. She is presented with proof that she wasn't completely damaged because of her parents' abusive relationships with her. She was capable of being vulnerable and open in that way. She did so with Chidi. However, Eleanor is once again enlightened to the truth. This is something that she will have to carry because she's the only human who has memories of her time in the afterlife. That too could be seen as very convenient. Michael just happens to be carrying around those memories. It's unclear just how much of the afterlife is stored on those devices. Eleanor gets a much larger piece of the puzzle then she ever did before. She sees the actions that she made in this very specific environment. But that too is guided by Michael's understanding of her character and behavior. He doesn't know that she actually got into the Good Place by her own merit. Right now, he is trying to convince her that it is still a worthy goal even if the new experiment has failed because everyone understands what the stakes are now. Of course, that gives them the freedom to do whatever they want. The next step is to go larger in order to effect meaningful change in the world. To do that, Michael is taking them up to Canada for some reason. However, it's very ominous to see that the Bad Place has built a portal to Earth. They never chose to do so because they never had a reason to torture humans before they got to the afterlife. But now, they are hunting down the Soul Squad because they cheat their fates over and over again. That represents an immediate complication. Though it also puts more demons on Earth with no easy explanation for how they will find the main characters quickly. It's a big planet after all.