TOUGH DECISIONS ABOUND — With the help of Chidi (William Jackson Harper) and Tahani (Jameela Jamil), Michael (Ted Danson) faces his biggest challenge yet. Meanwhile, Eleanor (Kristen Bell), Jianyu (Manny Jacinto) and Janet (D'Arcy Carden) are faced with a monumental decision.
Eleanor Shellstrop is having a dream, and it's a memory of how she died, as Michael described in the Pilot: Eleanor in a store, picking up a bottle of Tequila, Margarita mix, loads of chips, a shrimp plate, taking her cart-load of food to the 10-items line. She's presented as having no life, planning to spend the weekend drinking and snacking alone. Outside, she is, as always, hostile to the guy from Clean Energy Crusades, who for once says he doesn't like how she treats him, and asks why she's like that. She doubles-down on her dismissiveness of him, and it is as she's doing this that she's hit by the shopping carts ....
Eleanor wakes, she's on the Train, with Jason Mendoza and Janet. She explains to Jason (who's forgotten) that they're going someplace that's not The Good Place, and not The Bad Place, but a Medium Place. Jason hopes there's a 7-11 on the way, so he can get some gum.
Judge Shawn has taken over Michael's office, and starts the case of Eleanor. The Bad Place has sent Bad Janet to present their side, which is that Fake Eleanor is bad, and her friends there (Michael, Chidi, Tahani, and Good Eleanor) are going to just say she's not so bad. Shawn regards Eleanor's stealing his Train as relevant. Michael argues that she stole the Train to voluntarily go to the Bad Place, so she's a good person... At this point a hard shell develops around Shawn: he only wants cold, hard facts, and retreats to a cocoon if he hears any feelings.
The Train has arrived at the station of "Neighborhood N/A", and they get off. (Oh, the Train is called the Trans-Eternal Railway.) The train stop is in the middle of an empty plain. Janet doesn't know where Mindy St. Claire actually lives, outside of her neighborhood she lacks her abilities. They walk, and after a few miles find a house, where surprise! Mindy is outside gardening, naked. All except Janet scream and hide their eyes.
Inside Mindy's house, Mindy (now dressed) shows the "welcome to the afterlife" recording she got when she arrived. It's presented by representatives from the Good Place and the Bad Place, and they say Mindy was half-and-half, so the two sides compromised and gave her a neighborhood in neither Place, but a Medium Place, by herself. Both Places contributed to her house (e.g., it has her favorite beer, but it's always warm). Throughout, Mindy is presented as somewhat bored with her existence there, she has her routines, but there's nothing special or particularly nice there.
Mindy has been there 30 years, and she explains her background to Eleanor, over drinks: she was a evil corporate lawyer, doing drugs and bad to her family, but one night (high on cocaine) she got the idea of a foundation that helped kids, improved the world, a long list of benefits... and the next day she woke up, went to the bank to start the foundation, tripped and died. But her sister found the plan and made it really happen, and a good question is whether Mindy got credit for those good things or not, which is why, when Mindy woke up, the two sides had been fighting over her for a long time. Eleanor says it's better than being tortured, and Mindy advises her, it's too late for morality, look out for your survival.
(Flashback: Eleanor is working at the drug company, when the other office workers surprise her with a birthday cake, it's her 29th, but frankly, Eleanor brought her own cake, and she can't get into the office cake, she doesn't want into the office scene, and brushes them off. She goes back to work. Glum faces everywhere.)
Judge Shawn continues the hearing, summarizes Eleanor's story, and asks if that's all. Michael says there was another one sent here by mistake, Jason Mendoza. The Judge will deal with Jason later. Eleanor's friends justify her presence in the Good Place by her learning ethics, developing in moral choices, and by voluntarily sending herself to the Bad Place. The Judge interrupts, he's somehow learned that Eleanor didn't show up at the Bad Place, she's missing.
The Judge takes them all to Eleanor's house to review her memories of her life on Earth, and now the system shows Fake Eleanor's life history, and the screen of bad events is overwhelming.
Fake Eleanor has settled in at Mindy's, and suggests they get a drink, but Mindy says she has her own routine. Eleanor is looking at a book, and it's one that Chidi gave her on ethics, and Mindy reminds her, to survive, she needs to toss out her experience in the Good Place and start over. So she puts aside the ethics book. Jason and Janet come in, after trying to figure out how to have sex, which they didn't, but whatever happened they're happy about it.
The Judge and Eleanor's friends review various horrifying things that Eleanor did in her life: crashing a party, screaming at waiters, flirting with kid rock. Michael realizes this isn't going anywhere, and Chidi interjects to say that Eleanor has changed, the old Eleanor was pretty bad, but she changed, she worked, and she got better, and it was real self-improvement. Tahani says she also helped Eleanor by friendship. The Judge announces his ruling: her progress doesn't offset her actions on Earth, she deserves the Bad Place. About Jason, the Judge hasn't seen any evidence about him, oh, but he's from Florida, so he belongs in the Bad Place too. Nobody knows where Fake Eleanor is, so the Judge uses Bad Janet to speak to them.
At Mindy's house, as Jason and Janet are talking about sex positions, suddenly Janet's mouth opens and the Judge's voice comes out: the Judge has found Eleanor and Jason to belong in the Bad Place, they must return to the neighborhood, or Tahani and Chidi will go to the Bad Place instead. They have 4 hours.
Good Eleanor says that Tahani and Chidi don't deserve this, but the Judge says they admitted helping the two criminals, "one of whom was a DJ."
Learning that Chidi and Tahani will go to the Bad Place, Jason is thrilled: "we're off the hook!" Eleanor is crushed. Eleanor packs up her stuff and says they have to go back, Chidi and Tahani are their friends, but Jason is, as usual, clueless. Mindy also says, she wouldn't go back for them; look, Eleanor can go back, get sent to the Bad Place, and never see her friends again; or she can stay here, be safe, and never see her friends again. Eleanor is unmoved, she cares about her friends.
Eleanor, Jason, and Janet go back to the Train, but Janet won't start the Train until Jason says so, and he doesn't want to go back. Eleanor presses on him, she's scared of the Bad Place too, but they can't abandon their friends; Jason wants to just stay here and live a Medium life. Eleanor says she spent her whole life acting like Mindy does now, concerned only with her own life, and that was enough, now that she's dead she realizes she was a nightmare. Jason asks how she became like that, and she tells about her parents...
(Flashback: Eleanor as a teenager, at her Dad's house to celebrate her birthday, and she's enticed her Mom there by lying that she had Wrestlemania tickets. Her parents are divorced, and both seem quite unpleasant and self-centered, neither even remembered it was Eleanor's birthday, so she has emancipation papers for them to sign. Now she'll be truly independent, as she's been for years. We then see her having birthday cake, in her own apartment, alone.)
Eleanor says she spent her life using her parents' bad parenting as an excuse for her selfish behavior, and it's time to stop. Jason goes along with it, the Train starts.
Eleanor and Jason rush into her house to turn themselves in, but they're seconds too late, Chidi and Tahani have surrendered. The Judge rules that all four of them have done bad things, so they all deserve the Bad Place; the Bad Place expects two people, he doesn't care, they can decide which two of them go.
- Kristen Bell as Eleanor Shellstrop
- William Jackson Harper as Chidi Anagonye
- Jameela Jamil as Tahani Al-Jamil
- D'Arcy Carden as Janet/Bad Janet
- Manny Jacinto as Jason Mendoza
- Ted Danson as Michael
- Adam Scott as Trevor
- Tiya Sircar as The Real Eleanor
- Marc Even Jackson as Shawn
- Maribeth Monroe as Mindy St. Claire
- Leslie Grossman as Donna Shellstrop (flashback)
- Allyn Rachel as Betsy (flashback)
- Jailene Arias as Vanessa Garcia (flashback)
- Tom Beyer as Doug Shellstrop (flashback)
- Sarah Casolaro as Google Crosby (flashback)
- John Hartman as Joe (flashback)
- Avery Hayes as Young Eleanor (flashback)
- Mele Ihara as Beadie
- Georgia Mischak as Yoga Woman (flashback)
- Seth Morris as Wallace (flashback)
- Original broadcast audience: 3.93 Million
"My Way" by Frank Sinatra plays over the opening scene, depicting the moments leading up to Eleanor's death. Showrunner Michael Schur explained that the song is "a paean to the idea of selfishness, it's a man celebrating his lack of empathy, and so that was the song we picked for the soundtrack for her selfish life".