Thursday, October 10, 2019

REVIEW: 'The Good Place' - Eleanor and Micheal Begin Torturing Chidi by Pairing Him with Jason in 'Chillaxing'

NBC's The Good Place - Episode 4.03 "Chillaxing"

Michael and Eleanor discover something troubling and turn to an unusual source for help. Tahani lends her expertise to assist with one of the new residents.

In 2018, there were 495 scripted shows airing amongst the linear channels and streaming services. The way people are consuming content now is so different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, there is less necessity to provide ample coverage of each specific episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site is making the move to shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of NBC's The Good Place.

"Chillaxing" was written by Aisha Muharrar and directed by Anya Adams

It's surprising and actually remarkable just how steady the central premise has remained for this season. The show has always prided itself on never lingering on one idea for too long. It has traveled throughout the world, the afterlife and time itself. It moves so briskly with its pace even though some ideas could have lasted for several additional episodes. That's the way the storytelling of this show moves. As such, it's significant that the first three episodes have maintained the same focus on recreating the neighborhood experiment. Eleanor is the one in charge. But it's fundamentally about proving that Chidi, Simone, John and Brent can become better people now that they no longer have the stress from their lives on Earth. The biggest twist so far this season came early on with the Bad Place trying to sneak a demon into the experiment. They were caught right away and punished by the judge. This episode also closes with the reveal that someone is coming to the neighborhood. However, that's mostly just a mysterious tease to reassure the audience that the status quo may still be influx. It may not be smart to relax into this new reality and setup just yet. However, the show is exploring how the main characters are doing now that the fate of all humanity rests on their shoulders. Eleanor feels like she is in the aftermath of a bad breakup. She still has to see her ex-boyfriend all the time and she still loves him so much. It's much more complicated than that. Chidi sacrificed himself to preserve the experiment. He gave up his personal happiness to save the rest of the world. It was an act of selflessness. But it's difficult for Eleanor to essentially be controlling his life. She is lying to him and making him suffer. She has basically become the demon in charge of the neighborhood torturing its citizens. She wants to be doing the right things. She hopes her actions will allow the humans to become better people. And yet, she fears that every action only makes things worse. She is focused intensely on Chidi right now. She feels like she has to add some pressure to the situation in order to really get the experiment up and running. She knows the value of his philosophy classes. They inspire people to improve their lives. It worked for Eleanor. She became a better person. She is giving that opportunity to many more. Of course, that may not be the only way a person can improve in the afterlife. Tahani reaches out to John in the hopes of bettering his life. She is completely in charge of him here. She makes him feel accepted amongst the wealthy socialites of the world. However, she only truly makes a connection when she realizes that they both felt alone and simply projected their insecurities to the rest of the world in the form of vicious attacks. Realizing that and choosing to correct it now can be influential and life-changing for them as individuals. That's the work that needs to be done. It's a completely new path to self improvement. It's different from the norm but still treated as valid. Eleanor gives Tahani the freedom to run with this idea. Meanwhile, she is pushed past her breaking point with Chidi because she doesn't want him to suffer. She can see just how stressed out he is now that he has the responsibility of covering for Jason once more. It's a familiar construct but still effective in ensuring the philosophy classes are up and running. That's the point of all of this. Michael can make any problem disappear with a simple flick of the wrist. It means Jason once again doesn't get to enjoy his special motorcycle. He believes they are simply destined to explode in his face. But that also showcases Chidi's love and resilience. He may be facing ethical dilemmas without truly being aware but it's torture for everyone else as well. They see the value of it and accept that they have made things worse for no good reason. This remains a very tentative hold on how to save the world. But Eleanor feels strong about everything because she has Michael's support no matter what. All she has to do is allow herself to feel angry despite understanding just how noble Chidi's sacrifice was. That's important character work that makes the audience much more likely to root for the two of them to reunite as soon as possible.