Saturday, February 18, 2017

The Good Place 1.10: "Chidi's Choice"

“Catch you later, silly billy. Ugh, love has made me a nerd!”

I have mixed feelings about “Chidi’s Choice.” On the one hand, it was a nice way to ease back into the show after the winter hiatus, as it really focused on the characters. It provided a good re-introduction to everybody, for sure. On the other hand, not much actually happened. When we last left our friends in the afterlife, there was a serious question as to whether or not Eleanor would be able to stay with her new friends and continue on her journey towards becoming a better person. There is a real threat that Eleanor, who we’ve gotten to know for nine episodes already, could face eternal damnation. She’s never been a great person, but it’s not like she’s a murderer either, and she has genuinely been trying to improve herself, so I think the creative team wants us to root for her. The stakes are big, and an episode that mostly focused on the characters sitting around and thinking, with not much changing by the end, wasn’t exactly what I expected.

You may recall that when we last left the Good Place, Tahani had discovered the “Bud Hole” and Jason’s true identity. She’s pretty disgusted by Jason, and she’s furious that she’s been deprived of her “true” soulmate. Jason even admits that Chidi painted the ballerina painting that Jason gave her and that his own idea was to give her a photo of a comedian who does impressions. This makes a lightbulb go off in Tahani’s mind. Could Chidi be her true soulmate? She rushes off, leaving Jason to mope in the Bud Hole. Janet keeps bringing him things to try and make him happy, like wings from the new restaurant that the owner of his favorite restaurant (that closed) just opened. Jason really appreciates Janet catering to his every whim (it’s what she’s programmed to do, after all), and he tells her that he thinks he loves her.

The big plot happening right now is, of course, that the gang is all awaiting the arrival of Shawn (Michael’s boss), who is going to decide whether or not Eleanor can stay in the Good Place. “Real Eleanor” (aka the Eleanor who was supposed to go to the Good Place instead of our Eleanor) and this kind of adorably chill lawyer named Bambajan are working on Eleanor’s legal case, which Michael and Chidi are supposed to work on the ethical argument for letting Eleanor stay. Poor Chidi is indecisive as always. He can’t even decide if he wants to work on a white board of with pen and paper – the stakes are just too high. We’re treated to flashbacks of Chidi’s indecisiveness throughout the episode. First we see him as a child in Senegal wasting an entire school recess trying to pick another kid for his soccer team.

Real Eleanor and Bambajan are interviewing Eleanor to try and get as much information as they can to help her case. The conversation moves in a productive direction when Eleanor starts talking about how she has been taking ethics lessons with Chidi. She mentions Chidi repeatedly throughout the interview, in fact. Due to this, Real Eleanor suspects that Eleanor is actually in love with Chidi, and Eleanor eventually comes around to the idea and admits that she may indeed love Chidi. She rushes home and declares herself to Chidi, but Chidi doesn’t have time to respond before Tahani busts in and does the same thing, only she does a “Notting Hill” style “I’m just a girl” declaration. Eleanor has to admit that Tahani did it better. Chidi, however, since he can’t make decisions and all, runs away as quickly as he can.

Upon discovering their mutual affection for Chidi, Tahani and Eleanor argue at first. Eleanor, however, eventually says that she doesn’t want to give up on their friendship over a guy. Who would have thought Eleanor would have such maturity? I guess Chidi is having a positive influence after all! They decide to do a girls’ day of bonding activities – they each get one choice. Tahani decides she wanst to watch a Britcom called “Deirdre and Maude,” which is about two friends, one refined and one not. It’s pretty clear that Tahani sees herself as Deirdre. For Eleanor’s activity, she puts cheap hair extensions in Tahani’s hair, and the two seem to actually have fun with that. As they chat, Eleanor starts to wonder if Jason is actually her soulmate, since they’re both the misfits and have a lot of other characteristics in common. Janet stops that line of thought, however, when she arrives and announces that she and Jason are getting married.

Chidi runs right to Michael and asks him about the accuracy of the Good Place soulmate algorithm. What does the fact that he was paired up with “Fake Eleanor” really mean. Was he supposed to be with her? Real Eleanor? Somebody else (read: Tahani)? Chidi’s indecisiveness rubs off on Michael, who gets frustrated and can’t give Chidi a good answer. The two go out for frozen yogurt (of course), and Michael tries to get Chidi to choose one of the women by just going with his gut. This really isn’t natural to Chidi, and Michael points out how much pain his indecisiveness caused Chidi in his life. We see flashbacks to his best friend getting engaged. He doesn’t want Chidi to be Best Man because he thinks it will be too stressful on Chidi. Chidi eventually convinces him, though, and the whole thing is a disaster, with no bachelor party planned and countless other details still pending. As the two men stand outside talking through the latest decision point, an air conditioner falls on Chidi, killing him.

Jason and Janet do indeed get married, and the wedding is rather awesomely tacky and absolutely perfect for the bride and groom. Eleanor calls Jason “Tragic Mike,” which I found amusing. As Jason and Janet dance together at the “reception,” Tahani and Eleanor sit at the bar and mull on the nature of true love and soulmates. Real Eleanor stops by to check on them, and Chidi arrives soon after, bemused that he has run into his three “favorite yogurts” all at once. Before Chidi can make a choice, Eleanor and Tahani both turn him down. I found Eleanor’s reasoning especially interesting. She thinks she loves him in a best friend and savior kind of way, not in a romantic way. I’m not so sure, really. Anyway, the three women all leave before Chidi can say anything, and understandably, Chidi is a bit incredulous.

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