Eleanor considers Michael's belief that he is the neighborhood's problem and thus should abandon his experiment of an architect living in a neighborhood he designed (effectively meaning he would leave the neighborhood forever) as a win-win situation as Michael will get the retirement he so rightly deserves and needs and she will no longer feel the stress of getting caught by him as a fraud and the true cause of the neighborhood's problems. Chidi, on the other hand, disagrees, as Eleanor's reasoning is built on a lie. Eleanor concedes that she has to reconsider Michael's move after they all learn what retirement for a being like Michael means. It called the eternal shriek. It consists of a series of excruciating events listed below. Eleanor comes up with another solution to the resulting problem which would require a sacrifice. Chidi is conflicted by Eleanor's solution as he vowed to help her, but still feels the sacrifice is morally wrong despite it not hurting "anyone". Through the process, Chidi remembers back to a lie he said on Earth, one that consumed his inner soul as wrong despite, much like the sacrifice, its negative impacts were somewhat minuscule in the grand scope of life, and which conversely made its recipient happy.
First, the soul will be disintegrated, and then each molecule placed on the face of a unique burning sun. Then, the essence will be scooped out with a flaming ladle and poured over hot diamonds. Finally, the remains of the body will be eternally beaten with a titanium rod after the body is hung up like a piñata by the genitals with a string.
Eleanor has escaped being pointed out as the cause of the neighborhood's problems: Michael blames himself, and says he'll be leaving them, forever. An Architect isn't supposed to be in the community, and his presence caused the disasters. He asks Janet to call a train to take him away, the train is the only way in and out, and only Janet can operate it.
Chidi asks Eleanor what she did to make Michael come to this decision; she looks pleased with herself, she can stay and Michael will go, that's perfect. But Chidi says that's wrong, because Michael's wrong, because it really is Eleanor's fault, they've lied to Michael. Eleanor is unmoved.
In a flashback, Chidi is walking on campus, and meets Henry, a fellow lecturer. Henry is wearing an outrageous pair of red cowboy boots; when he asks Chidi if he likes them, Chidi lies and says "yes". Chidi is then troubled by his lie: "What have I done?"
Tahani's mansion is being decorated for a retirement party for Michael, helped by Jason, Chidi, and Eleanor, Tahani wants it to be a grand party. Michael happens by and announces the party is canceled, "retirement" for a being like him is not fun, it's eternal punishment of his soul and body, so it's called "the eternal shriek." Tahani starts over with the party planning, aimed at a somber mood.
Eleanor and Chidi discuss Michael's retirement, she was hoping it was a nice thing, but now it's a bad end to her problems. "Why do bad things always happen to mediocre people who are lying about their identities?" Chidi says she can either confess and save Michael, or continue to lie and leave Michael to torment. Eleanor comes up with a third option: continue to lie, but find a way to save Michael.
Eleanor asks Janet about the train, and, yes, only Janet can run it; when asked, Janet reveals that there is a shutdown switch for her hidden somewhere in the neighborhood, in case she malfunctions; press the switch and she will be destroyed. Looks like Eleanor has another win-win solution, though Chidi is unconvinced.
Chidi tries to express that killing Janet is a bad thing, but Eleanor says Janet is a non-human object, killing her is no problem, "the ends justify the means." Chidi says, anyway, if they kill Janet, they'll have to lie to everyone about it, and lying is still wrong.
Flashback: Chidi in bed with his girlfriend Allesandra, complaining about why he told Henry he liked his awful boots. She wrote her dissertation on Kant, which would seem to lead to avoiding lying, but she says that's not the end of it, sometimes people do things just to be polite, and maybe he could just confess his opinion to Henry. The next day, Chidi comes up to Henry in his Eschatology class, and surprise! Henry gives Chidi a box with his own pair of outrageous red boots, since Chidi loved them so much. Chidi continues to lie, saying they are wonderful.
Michael's going-away party happens, and Tahani tries to congratulate Michael on a job well done, but Michael is just grumpy about all the human things he'll never get to do for the first time, and walks out.
Janet, Chidi, and Eleanor are walking on the beach; Janet says there have been twenty-five generations of Janets, each an improvement in wisdom and social abilities. Chidi tries to impress on Eleanor on how Janet is a living, growing individual, but Eleanor doesn't care, they're all dead anyway. Janet leads them to the shutdown switch, a red button, and tells them they can just press it to kill her. She sees Chidi's reluctance, and goes out of her way to say she's not human and cannot feel pain, but as a fail-safe, as they approach the switch, she will beg for her life.
Eleanor asks who should do it, her or Chidi, it seems a coin-toss to her. Chidi says he'll do it, it'll be worse if a bystander does it. He approaches the switch, and Janet pleads for her life, and he can't do it, though Janet reminds them, her pleas are an act. So Eleanor tries to hit the switch, and likewise is stopped by Janet's pleas for mercy. Suddenly Jason is there on the beach, sees the button, and (having no idea what it is) goes to hit it. Chidi leaps to stop Jason, and accidentally brushes the button. Janet dies.
Eleanor is consoling Chidi on what they did, when they hear a voice from above: "Attention, I have been murdered," which repeats, and is heard by all the neighborhood. Chidi asks what they should do, and Eleanor switches gears, this was all Chidi's fault, they need to flee "his" crime scene. They run from the beach.
Back in the center of town, Chidi, Eleanor, and Jason try to look calm. Chidi is over-stressed, but Eleanor hasn't a care in the world.
We see Janet in a coffin, there's a sort of memorial service happening for her, and Michael is grumping further, Janets are never murdered, but here on his watch she gets murdered. As he is complaining, Janet sits up: "Hello Architect, please enter your 4-digit PIN." Looks like a new Janet has been created. Michael puts in his birth year: "0000". Janet is active, but has none of the old Janet's memories. Michael has to get Janet reloaded with data, so he says his retirement is postponed.
Back at her house, Eleanor is pleased, everything worked to her advantage, now Chidi and Jason just need to keep quiet about it forever. Chidi looks uncertain about this...
Flashback: Chidi visits Henry in the hospital, Henry has an aneurism, he has a 50-50 chance of surviving surgery, so Henry says now is the time for Chidi to say anything he has to say. Chidi stumbles a bit, not ready to speak, and notices Henry's awful red boots; Henry says they are the only things that bring him comfort. With a lead-in like that, Chidi obviously can't say the boots are awful, so he just affirms that he's here for Henry.
Flashback continued: Henry is back in his room after surgery, he's right as rain, and Chidi revs himself up and says "I hate your boots," he's been haunted by his lie that he liked the boots, and he wants to come clean. Henry says this is why everyone hates Moral Philosophy professors.
Back to the present: Chidi says he can't live with the lie about killing Janet, he'll confess, it's awful to live with a lie. Eleanor says it's easy to live with a lie, she once pretended a terminal illness to meet a guy: "A victimless crime." He rethinks, OK, he won't say anything, just because he promised to help her, though this will eat him up inside forever.
At an evening neighborhood gathering, Michael tells the gathering that someone killed Janet, and it was probably related to the other disasters they've had, and so the problems are not all his fault. He asks anyone with information to tell him. Chidi is very upset about this. Eleanor sees this, stands up amidst the crowd and says, "Michael, the problem in the neighborhood ... is me. I was brought to the Good Place by mistake. I'm not supposed to be here."
- 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
- This episode attracted 3.79 million viewers when it first aired.
- In S01E01, Eleanor tells Chidi his "English is amazing", then Chidi says he is actually speaking French, and that The Good Place translates his speech into English for Eleanor. This strongly implies that he did not speak English while alive, or at least not as fluently. In S01E07, a flashback to his life on Earth shows him speaking fluent English, without an accent, to an Australian man. The fact that the other man speaks with a non-American accent implies that they are not being "translated" like in The Good Place.