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Chili Con Peeps: The Worst Person of the Week on ‘The Good Place’

Faced with apparently irreversible doom, one usually stable member of the Brainy Bunch suffers a debilitating (and shirtless) existential crisis

NBC/Ringer illustration

Fork yeah: The Good Place is back. This season, as we follow the show that is so devoted to understanding what it means to be good and bad, we will be applying the NBC comedy’s own standards and practices in determining the Worst Person of the Week. The weekly winner — well, “loser” is probably more accurate — will be judged by their ethical choices rather than any subjective measures. Think of us as another Shawn, only less into encasing traitors in slimy cocoons. At the end of this ethical exercise, we’ll also hand out episodic awards for more frivolous things. Let’s jump into Thursday night’s episode, “Jeremy Bearimy.”

The portal has been opened, and this week The Good Place’s quartet of humans are caught in a seemingly inescapable bind. Michael tries his best to explain away with they saw at the end of last week’s episode—reminder: a mind-blowing, interdimensional gateway to the afterlife, located inside Tahani’s Heirbnb wine cellar—by saying he’s “Special Agent Rick Justice,” a member of the FBI’s paranormal task force. Somehow, it takes only a matter of minutes for Eleanor, Chidi, Jason, and Tahani to call bullshirt. No offense, Michael, but Rick Justice is no Bert Macklin.

Thus, Michael is forced to give the humans the whole spiel—essentially recapping The Good Place off-screen—and explain that they will no longer accrue “Afterlife Points” because the judge’s experiment on Earth has been corrupted. (Though, to be honest, the experiment was already tainted, thanks to Michael and Janet’s incessant meddling.) “So sorry for eternally dooming you,” Michael adds—a casual mea culpa considering the existentially terrifying stakes.

The Brainy Bunch are, understandably, quite shook, especially when Michael uses a whiteboard to explain that the reason they were tortured for 300 years in the Bad Place despite very little time passing by on Earth is because, while Earth time is linear, afterlife time moves in a “Jeremy Bearimy.” In other words, time loops back around and goes in a bunch of different directions, but when looked at on the whole, the timeline of the afterlife weirdly looks like someone writing out the name “Jeremy Bearimy” in cursive English. What particularly grates Chidi about this is the floating period of the “i,” which Michael explains represents “Tuesday, and also July.” And you know what? That kinda makes sense.

Ted Danson as Michael standing next to a whiteboard that reads “Jeremy Bearimy” in cursive All screen shots via NBC

If merely trying to comprehend this highly conceptual, highly ridiculous explanation of the universe is overwhelming for an audience member, imagine how the Brainy Bunch feels. They were just told they were killed, resurrected with a second chance at making it to heaven, and then irreversibly doomed to an eternity of torture, no matter what they do with their remaining years on Earth. This week’s Good Place is basically an existential crisis generator.

Which brings us to our Worst Person of the Week, who is, shockingly, our resident philosopher, Chidi. Everyone in the group handles Michael’s horrific news differently: Eleanor spends the day copping free drinks at a bar by lying about her birthday—not great, but she does do the right thing and return someone’s missing wallet instead of stealing it; Jason and Tahani start giving away money on the streets of Sydney. But Chidi just turns into a pit of despair. He walks straight into some sprinklers after quoting Nietzsche (“God is dead”) to a pot dealer. He cooks a giant pot of chili and fills it with Peeps and M&Ms [vomits]. He takes off his shirt. (A quick note: Eleanor was right when she said that Chidi was an oddly ripped dude. He might be the most indecisive person in the world, but damned if he hasn’t been committed to biweekly bicep curls.)

Chidi standing shirtless in the grocery store

But being a complete mess isn’t what makes Chidi the Worst Person of the Week. What does is the way he spreads his ennui to impressionable minds like fertilizer. Speaking to his philosophy class, he tells them the three primary ethical foundations set down by philosophers—virtue ethics, consequentialism, and deontology—are all “hot stinky cat dookie.” “The true meaning of life,” he continues, “the actual ethical system that you should all follow, is nihilism. The world is empty; there is no point to anything, and you’re just gonna die, so do whatever. And now, I’m gonna eat my marshmallow candy chili in silence, and you all can jump up your own butts.”

First off: Damn, my freshman philosophy class was never this spicy! (Not referring to the chili.) And second: What the fork, Chidi? Though it’s perhaps a consolation that he didn’t straight-up tell his students about the Good and Bad Place—and that there’s a very slim chance they’ll be going to the former—he is placing his own suffering onto others. That’s just blatantly unethical stuff from a guy who’s been preaching ethics for two-plus seasons.

Meanwhile, the other humans this week practiced virtue ethics (Tahani anonymously donating millions of dollars to the Sydney Opera House), consequentialism (Jason and Tahani giving money to strangers on the street), and deontology (Eleanor returning the wallet to a nice Australian man). Regardless of which ethical code you agree with, those three spent their first day in the face of their bleak reality by trying to better other people’s lives. That’s just good karma. Whereas that candied chili is a truly abominable sin.

By the end of “Jeremy Bearimy,” Eleanor suggests that everyone—including Michael and Janet—should set their focus on helping other people be good. Even if they can’t get into the Good Place themselves, at least others might stand a chance. It’s a great idea for a group that’s grown remarkably since the series premiere. It also means The Good Place itself is going through another narrative reinvention, as is the cyclical nature of a series that’s continually blown up its premise and sent its protagonists on a new course toward potential salvation. After this latest shakeup, it’s imperative that Chidi track down all of his traumatized philosophy students and atone for his own nihilistic rant. Though he shouldn’t feel the need to apologize for blessing us with those abs.

And now for some weekly awards.

Best Restaurant Pun:

Exterior of a bar called Drinking Nemo

Not only do you get a free drink on your birthday at Drinking Nemo, but I spotted a delectable tower of onion rings next to Eleanor at the bar. Five stars.

Best Newspaper Headline:

Tahani and Jason standing in front of a newspaper headline that reads, “Biffo blotto bludger turns tall poppy with fazzo frothie biz”

Seriously, why did the journalism department shut down?!

The Most Jason Quote: A tie between “My cousin once hired me to do crowd control for his off-brand SeaWorld—well, technically, it was just a bunch of kiddie pools full of jellyfish, and instead of a killer whale, they killed a whale,” and “In Jacksonville, I got a flu virus named after me because I kissed a bat on a dare.”

The Worst, Most Traumatic Chili-Related Quote: “Dip your paws in my chili. Scoop your little mittens right in the stew.” Again, Chidi had a bad week.

Most Understandable Banking Practice: When Tahani tries to transfer all the money in her account to Jason—who also asks the bank if it can put the $131 million pounds on a GameStop gift card—the teller says he can’t, especially since they’re “technically supposed to shut down the bank if anyone from Florida even walks in.”