The Good Place: 3.07 The Worst Possible Use of Free Will
Whilst the rapid way in which The Good Place dealt with all of the reboots of Michael's neighbourhood was good for moving the narrative along, it did leave me wanting for more. This episode finally gives me that.
After Michael let slip that she and Chidi were in love in one of the reboots, Eleanor makes him give her back some of her memories from the afterlife. I like that they have added the possibility of this into the show. There is so much that we haven't seen from the group's time in the afterlife, and so much more that the group themselves do not know. Having the ability to show them aspects of that time not only means giving us, the viewers, more insight into the many different reboots, but also speeds up the process of the humans learning about themselves. This could lead to some interesting situations within the group, especially surrounding Jason and Janet's relationship.
This episode also served to deepen the dynamic of Eleanor and Michael's relationship. It has already been established that Eleanor sees Michael as something of a father figure, but also that they support each other in being better, while still accepting each other for who they are. Seeing their relationship blossom further, as they spend more time together, has been superb to watch and incredibly charming. These are two characters who, either by nature or nurture, were bad, even evil, but they now show the utmost care for each other. Of all the humans Eleanor is the one who Michael is closest to, possibly because they are so much alike. They both used to revel in, or be indifferent to, other people's misery, especially if they got something out of it. So seeing the two of them rehash the past and continue to learn from it is both fun and fascinating to watch.
The philosophy of this episode focused on free will, and the idea that denying it is just an excuse to blame other people for your actions. As is often the case with The Good Place, this argument is easily applicable to other situations. It never ceases to amaze me how this show manages to openly discuss philosophical and moral concepts without seeming preachy. While using comedy as a tool to explain more serious situations is by no means a new technique, I have never watched anything that is so direct about explaining the morals that it is trying to convey. This way of storytelling could easily have fallen flat on its face at the first hurdle, and yet the show continues to shine two and a half seasons in.
The one thing that I both did and didn't enjoy about this episode was that it was centred on Eleanor. Now, Eleanor has always been the main character and the de facto leader of the humans. But after how the past two episodes showed the other characters making amends with their loved ones, I want to see more of their backgrounds and learn more about them. Especially Chidi, who was the only one to not reconnect with any of his family in the process of trying to help people into The Good Place.
This being said, I do think that the next episode is going to cover one of the other things that I have been looking forward to for the past few weeks; how the group is going to affect change in the wider populous. And, in comically predictable fashion, they are heading to Canada to find the person who will be their template. Because Canada is just the root of all good in the world isn't it, eh?