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Recap / The Good Place S1E08 "Most Improved Player"

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"I'll tell you, but it doesn't make me look great, so don't judge me."

"What to do with Eleanor? Should I let her stay? Should I send her away? You think I should send her away? No, I should let her stay? Or no, I shouldn't let her stay because she doesn't belong here? Or no, I shouldn't let her stay even though she does belong here?"
Michael to Jason
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Michael interviews Eleanor, Chidi, Tahani, and Jason about Eleanor and Janet's death. After finally getting Eleanor's file from Janet (who is still re-learning things and had been only producing different types of cacti beforehand), he learns that Eleanor ruined a dress that belonged to her roommate Madison and lied about who was responsible, leading to a lawsuit that bankrupted an innocent dry cleaner owner, public humiliation of Madison, and Eleanor's personal profit via t-shirts insulting Madison. This leads to Michael calling the Bad Place to come pick up Eleanor. A train from the Bad Place arrives, bringing Trevor, a cruel and sleazy demon, to take Eleanor. After Chidi confesses that he killed Janet and that Eleanor is learning to be a better person, Michael and the others arrive at the train station to prevent Trevor from taking Eleanor. Trevor agrees to let the matter be discussed if he can continue to keep the other Eleanor Shellstrop, who was meant for the Good Place and is then led off the train.

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Tropes

  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: "Unless I can find a compelling reason to keep you here, you will spend eternity with murderers and arsonists and people who take off their shoes and socks on commercial airlines!"
  • Everyone Has Standards:
    • Even when Tahani is angrily accusing Eleanor of pretending to be her friend, she won't outright condemn her to the Bad Place. She also looks touched when Eleanor hugs her and sincerely says she was a good friend.
    • Michael doesn't even have to tell off Eleanor for the "Dress Bitch" incident. His expression of horror says it all.
  • Hope Spot:
    • Michael says he's looking for a reason to keep Eleanor because, despite her not belonging, she's his friend and has helped him. He fails to find a reason during his examination of Eleanor's moral character and calls a train to pick her up.
    • Due to Janet being down and unable to find Eleanor's file, Eleanor answers a questionnaire where it seems she'll pass. Then Janet finds the file, and Eleanor is forced to admit she doesn't belong in the Good Place after reviewing her past transgressions.
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    • After Chidi confesses to Michael about killing Janet and the ethics lessons, they both agree that Eleanor's Character Development needs to be taken into account. So Michael says they're keeping Eleanor in the Good Place until they figure out the mix-up. Trevor then says if Michael does that, they're keeping the "real" Eleanor Shellstrop, the woman who was supposed to be in The Good Place.
  • I Have You Now, My Pretty: Downplayed, but Trevor has this attitude towards both Eleanors.
  • Instant Humiliation: Just Add YouTube!: The flashback of this episode shows Eleanor exploited this. She "borrowed" her roommate Madison's dress and broke the back zipper, and rather than own up to it, she lied that the dry cleaners did it. Madison flipped out and sued the dry cleaners and drove them to bankruptcy, all of which Eleanor recorded and posted on the Internet, earning Madison the unflattering nickname "Dress Bitch". And to add insult to injury, Eleanor also secretly made and sold shirts with Madison's face and the "Dress Bitch" nickname pasted on them.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: The In-Universe Memetic Mutation of "Dress Bitch" deeply hurt Madison... but since she caused the dry cleaner to go bankrupt with her disproportionate and misplaced retribution, it's hard to feel all that sorry for her.
  • Mistaken for Profound: When Jason pricks himself with a cactus, Michael concludes that he is comparing it to Eleanor.
    Oh, of course. A cactus, on its own, intends no harm - it's only when we interfere that it becomes dangerous. I need to remember my own agency here.
  • Resurrection Sickness: After being shut off and subsequently rebooted, Janet spends a few days having to relearn all the knowledge of the universe. Also, she can only say her name and "hello", and spontaneously generates cacti.
  • Toxic Friend Influence: Granted, Eleanor by herself was hardly a saint pre-character development, but her friends from her life on Earth were definitely this, as they all enabled each other's worst impulses.
  • Was It All a Lie?: Tahani starts questioning if Eleanor pretended to be her friend, if Eleanor isn't supposed to be in The Good Place. She realizes that Eleanor wasn't pretending when the latter gives her a farewell hug and thanks her for being her friend.
  • Wham Episode: Eleanor is almost sent to The Bad Place, but Michael decides to keep her in The Good Place at the last second to try and determine how the system failed. In response, Bad Place architect Trevor reveals that if that's the case, then he gets to keep the good Eleanor Shellstrop.
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