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Recap / The Good Place S 4 E 09 "The Answer"

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"The greatest works of modern philosophy are emotional. They make an argument about how the world is and ought to be. There is a great mind at work in here, but where is the heart? Where are the guts?"
Professor Radja

While Gen is distracted searching through the Janet army's respective voids for the device that will reboot existence, Eleanor convinces Michael to restore Chidi's memories, believing that he may be the best person to come up with a new solution for the afterlife. As Michael goes through the process, Chidi is made to remember not just his time in the afterlife, but other important events in his life where he tried to find "the answers".

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Tropes in this episode include:

  • Adorably Precocious Child: Chidi, naturally. He put together a whole presentation to convince his parents to not get a divorce when they began hitting a rough patch.
  • Adult Fear:
    • Having an anxious child prone to stomach ulcers before he even hit puberty. Chidi mentions that he was even referenced in medical journals for his unique condition.
    • Chidi witnessed his parents on the brink of divorce. He did a 55-minute presentation on why they should stay together since his anxiety didn't allow him to just beg for his parents to not split up. Michael reveals that for Chidi's parents, they realized that they were making their son's anxiety worse by fighting and decided to go to counseling for his sake.
  • An Aesop: You can't find the one logical answer or right decision that decides everything. Trying to do so will alienate others in your life. You have to remember to feel and decide on what you want.
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  • Arc Words: "The Answer" is brought up during most of the memory scenes. Even in the ones where it doesn't, it usually comes back to having an answer. The episode ends with Chidi having decided that Eleanor is the answer.
  • Bestiality Is Depraved: Chidi was convinced that Esmerelda's ravens are her soulmates and not him, describing her with them as "sexually charged."
  • The Bus Came Back: Uzo appears in the flashbacks of Chidi's life, having not appeared since he ended his friendship with Chidi in the new timeline.
  • Butt-Monkey: The flashbacks in the episode further cement how unlucky Chidi was in his lifetime because of his indecisiveness.
  • Call-Back:
    • One of Chidi's flashbacks shows his arrival in the first version of the neighborhood, at the same time as "Everything is Fine". A later flashback follows on from Janet and Jason's wedding at the end of "Chidi's Choice". The next has a recap of Chidi and Eleanor's conversation in the bar brawl in "Don't Let the Good Life Pass You By", and the Big Damn Kiss from "Janet(s)". The last is an additional moment from the end of "Pandemonium"
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    • The end of Season 1 involved Eleanor writing a note to herself to find Chidi after Michael wipes her memories. Chidi wrote a note to himself that Eleanor is the answer.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • Michael makes the fridge in Chidi's apartment generate almond milk, with "extra film" for his tongue.
    • Michael brings up the junk food chili Chidi made in "Jeremy Bearimy", comparing it to how Chidi's mind might end up after his memories are restored.
    • In the Season 2 finale Chidi mentions his brain always sounds like "a fork in a garbage disposal". A flashback in this episode shows that he did accidentally get a fork in the garbage disposal when he was trying to mend his relationship with an ex-girlfriend.
    • During a flashback, Chidi is seen wearing the ugly boots from "The Eternal Shriek". In another, Chidi's parents say Professor Lindeman was a fool to abandon Chidi—Lindeman was mentioned in the same episode as having "said he was going out for cigarettes, but then he just left his tenured position at the Sorbonne."
    • During another flashback, we see Chidi being introduced to several different soulmates, one of them being Tahani, the same way we saw a montage of Eleanor's fake soulmates, including Tahani, in "Dance Dance Resolution".
  • A Day in the Limelight: This episode focuses on Chidi's life and relationships before his death, some flashbacks set during the various reboots, and his side of his and Eleanor's relationship.
  • Dumbass Has a Point: When Chidi asks Jason in the flashbacks how he came to the decision of marrying Janet so quickly, he offers some genuine advice of sometimes just doing what you want on the spot instead of continuously stressing over each decision, because you don't know how long you will have to reach it.
  • Evil Is Petty: During the first version of the fake Good Place, Michael asked Chidi if he wanted to talk in the waiting room or in his office, purely to mess with him.
  • Fridge Horror: In-universe. Both Chidi and his parents have spent years telling the story of when he, as a small child, prepared a lecture to convince them not to get divorced. Eleanor points out that the event is actually kind of disturbing: at the age of eight, he considered himself personally responsible for keeping his parents' together. The fact that his efforts seemed to work, and that his parents applauded him for it, reinforced the message, giving Chidi an outsized sense of responsibility, and an excessive faith that study and analysis could solve anything. That event very likely contributed to the crippling levels of pressure and anxiety that defined much of his life.
  • Internal Reveal: Michael admitted to Chidi that he made up the soulmates bit and he doesn't think pre-destined soulmates exist, but he thinks people can become soulmates by forming a connection and working at it.
  • Jerkass Realization: Michael says that it wasn't Chidi's presentation or details that saved his parents' marriage; it was that the act itself made them realize that they were putting their anxious son through a traumatic ordeal by letting their marital problems get in the way of being good parents.
  • Like Father, Like Son: Chidi, like his father, is very bookish and got involved in his work.
  • Little Professor Dialogue: As a child, Chidi gave a presentation to his parents, speaking like a college professor.
  • Nightmare Fetishist: One of the fake soulmates Chidi was paired up with was a demon named Esmerelda, a Large Ham and Goth woman who carries around knives, has various pet ravens and associates rivers of blood with birthday parties during charades.
  • OOC Is Serious Business:
    • Eleanor in previous reboots and timelines would always step aside if Chidi was in a relationship or interested in someone else. In the Esmerelda reboot, she kissed Chidi while he still believed Esmerelda was his soulmate because she could see he wasn't happy with the bird lady.
    • Having absorbed all of the Character Development he had gained and lost over the last four seasons, Chidi is visibly the most relaxed he has ever been, having found sublime in the fact that there is no one true answer.
  • Overcrank: Nearly the entire episode takes place in the space of time it takes Michael to snap his fingers, with extreme slow-motion shots of Jason spilling his drink, Janet conjuring a margarita, and Tahani and Eleanor looking horrified.
  • Parents as People: As acknowledged by Eleanor in a previous episode, Chidi's parents have done some unfair things to him. This episode shows that they did none of it intentionally, however (certainly much more than what could be said of Eleanor and Tahani's Abusive Parents). They also put in the effort to get past their own issues, with their love for Chidi himself being their prime motivation to patch things up.
  • The Power of Love: Chidi spent all his life searching for the answers to the universe's biggest questions. He's even written an incredible Doorstopper in an attempt to convey his ideas on this subject, one so thick that an immortal demon like Michael gave up halfway when he tried to read it because it was so twisted and convoluted. And then he fell in love, for the first (if not last) time ever, and suddenly his scholarly musings are no longer the closest things he has to "The Answer." If the episode ending's any indication, this may well be the key to literally saving humanity, too.
  • Running Gag: Janet startling someone by bing-ing into existence comes back in the flashback to Chidi's first day in Neighbourhood 12358W.
  • Straw Vulcan: Chidi's general train-of-thought and the indecisiveness that plagued him in life is the belief that everything has a logical explanation and can be critically researched and discovered, leading to a crippling fear of failure out of lack of foresight. The many people he has known in his life - friends, girlfriends and his college professor - are frustrated by his lack of personal opinions and pathos, Chidi insisting that what he wants is irrelevant compared to objective truth.
  • Stupid Question Bait: When Michael first introduces Chidi to Janet, he is given the opportunity to ask her anything. In natural Chidi fashion, he panics over the idea of what his first question would be, whether it should be massively important or if it is stupid. He blurts out asking what the biggest fish is.
    Janet: The whale shark.
  • Umbrella Drink: Jason makes himself his favorite drink, the Duval Ditchwater, made of equal parts Midori, Coffeemate and actual ditch water.
  • Workaholic: Chidi's father apparently spent long hours at work, which put a lot of strain on his marriage. Thankfully they ended up realizing how stressful this was for their son and so they went to marriage counselling to patch their relationship.
  • Whole Episode Flashback: The majority of the episode is composed of Chidi's flashbacks of his life (both on Earth and in the afterlife).

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