Chapter 34: The Worst Possible Use of Free Will is the 8th episode of Season 3 of The Good Place.

Plot[edit | edit source]

Michael helps Eleanor recall forgotten events from her past with Chidi, causing Eleanor to fixate on the philosophy of determinism.

Summary[edit | edit source]

Eleanor and Michael arrive at a public library in Arizona. Eleanor wants Michael to give her back her memories of being in love with Chidi. She needs to see for herself because she thought she was incapable of loving anyone. Michael hands her some earphones and connects her to the machine that will help her remember her memories from the afterlife. However, he warns her the experience will be intense and it needs to be taken slowly, as the restoration process will have adverse physical side effects. Just simply recalling an innocuous encounter with Vicky and Bambadjan causes Eleanor's hair to burn off and her teeth to come loose (though she's back to normal after twenty minutes).

After she recovers, Michael shows her memories from Reboot #119. Eleanor watches her interactions with Chidi. One memory has her sitting with Chidi as they study philosophy. Another has Chidi, Eleanor, Jason, and Tahani at the neighborhood meeting where it's Pick-a-Pet Day. Chidi has trouble picking between two puppies. Tahani chooses a mirror centaur that takes on its owner's appearance. The centaur, T'Hania, is a more vain version of Tahani. Chidi finally decides to take the black puppy but when he returns to claim it he finds that both puppies have already been adopted. Chidi is forced to chose from the leftovers so he chooses an owl. Back at home, Eleanor is excited about her new pet iguana but learns that Chidi's new owl attacked him and scratched up his arm. She tells him to just ask Michael for a dog but Chidi is stubborn and says no. Eleanor helps bandage his arm. She suggests that she talk to Michael for him. Chidi is grateful and the two of them smile at each other.

Michael pulls the earphones out of Eleanor's ears. Eleanor is upset at the interruption but Michael tells her that the rest of the memories are boring. Eleanor suspects that Michael doesn't want her to see something. She takes the earphones back and demands that he show her more. Back in Eleanor's memories, Eleanor asks Tahani if she can ride her centaur but Tahani says that T'Hania is very particular over who she allows to ride her. Michael walks over and Eleanor asks if it's possible for Chidi to swap his pet for a puppy. Michael says sure because this is The Good Place. But he goes on to tell her that he may want to wait because tonight at the party they're going to be able to transform into their pets for a few minutes. Michael asks Tahani if she'll host the party at her mansion. Tahani says of course.

Eleanor then loses her iguana. Chidi suggests that they ask Janet to find it but Eleanor is worried that that'll cause them to realize that she isn't the real Eleanor. She sends the group ahead to the party while she looks for the lizard. Chidi returns to help Eleanor's search but she's on edge so she accidentally pushes him into the water when he says hi. After he dries off, Eleanor asks why he isn't at the party. He tells her that he would rather be with her. Eleanor says that he's amazing and then leans in and kisses him. Michael tells Eleanor after that they were inseparable. They later realized that they were actually in the Bad Place so they used Janet's train to escape to the Medium Place. Eleanor watches as she says "I love you" to Chidi and he says it back before pulling out the earphones. Michael says that that's the story and asks if they can go now. Eleanor asks how it ended and Michael says that it ended with him rebooting all of them. Eleanor asks him to show her how this happened.

Eleanor and Chidi returned to the Bad Place to confront Michael, asserting that no matter what he throws at them, their love will conquer all. Michael tells them that their love isn't genuine because he orchestrated all of it to happen before he snaps his fingers to reboot the experiment again. Eleanor removes the earphones and Michael apologizes for how cruel he was in the past, swearing that he's changed. Eleanor tells him that she isn't mad at him; she's just sad because for a moment, she thought she was capable of love, but in reality, Michael had manipulated her into falling in love with Chidi. She brushes it off and asks Michael if he wants to get some burgers. Michael asks her how she came to the conclusion that she's incapable of love when she just watched herself fall in love.

Eleanor invokes the philosophy of Determinism, which asserts people have no control over their actions, arguing that she didn't choose to fall in love with Chidi because Michael chose for her. Michael says that he didn't; he put them together to torture one another, not fall in love. Eleanor retorts that everything in her life has been determined by her upbringing, genetics, and environment; even in her afterlife, everything was determined by something else, in this case Michael. She comes to the conclusion that there is no such thing as free will. The library closes so they head to a diner called The Sandy Spoon. Michael tells her that he'll prove to her that she made a choice. He finds a memory from the very first attempt, showing her how she stood up and confessed to everyone that she didn't belong in the "Good Place". Michael explains that she chose to sacrifice herself in order to ease Chidi's pain. This wasn't him manipulating her; she ruined his whole plan, and she was constantly doing things he didn't anticipate, even though he knew everything about her as a person. He even complained to her about it once in Reboot #445.

Michael admits that he tried to script Eleanor's whole afterlife but she kept made choices that he never saw coming, illustrating that she does have free will. Eleanor still doesn't believe him and wonders if there are greater forces at work guiding their actions. Michael gets fed up with her and pours his glass of iced tea over her head. Eleanor is shocked and angrily asks why he did that and he says because he has free will and she was being annoying. He scolds her for using determinism to rationalize that the feelings she had for Chidi aren't real, pointing out that this is a classic defense mechanism of hers, as she hates being vulnerable. Michael tells her that he's going to use his free will to go pick up their friends from the airport.

The Soul Squad reunite and Eleanor apologizes to Michael, admitting that he was right about her stubborn refusal to accept that she had free will. He accepts her apology and apologizes for having poured iced tea on her head. Eleanor notes that she's realized that maybe they are the freest in the galaxy because they actually know what happens in the afterlife, and this has gotten her to think that the Soul Squad needs to think bigger and bolder to reach more people. Michael agrees and tells the gang that they are going to Canada.

Meanwhile, Shawn has built an illegal doorway to Earth. He frees Vicky from her cocoon, sends her through the doorway and he, Val, and Glenn follow her through.

Cast[edit | edit source]

Kristen Bell as Eleanor Shellstrop
William Jackson Harper as Chidi Anagonye
Jameela Jamil as Tahani Al-Jamil
D'Arcy Carden as Janet
Manny Jacinto as Jason Mendoza
and Ted Danson as Michael

Recurring Cast

Marc Evan Jackson as Shawn

Guest Starring

Bambadjan Bamba as Bambadjan
Tiya Sircar as Vicky
Jama Williamson as Val


Josh Siegal as Glenn
Todd Aaron Brotze as Scott Fupple
Lynette DuPree as Laverne

Trivia[edit | edit source]

  • This episode was previously titled 'The Lizard and the Owl'.
  • Although the episode implies that the library scene takes place in a public library, it was actually shot in an academic library because it uses the Library of Congress' library classification system instead of the Dewey Decimal system.
  • The library the episode begins with is ‘Tostitos presents a Public Library brought to you by GoDaddy’.

Gallery[edit | edit source]

Good Place Crew.jpg
Bad Place.jpg
Eleanor and Michael.jpg

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