With this episode’s title, I initially expected it to be all about Tahani and getting to know a lot about her. While this episode did explore Tahani’s character a little bit, it was more about Eleanor’s perception and suspicion of her.
The episode kicks off with Chidi giving Eleanor an ethics lesson to be interrupted by Tahani dropping by to give Eleanor a plant. After she leaves, Eleanor and Chidi argue over Tahani’s personality and intentions. Later, Eleanor visits Tahani and brings her a basket of pears, believing it is a better gift, only for Tahani to tell her that pears are a symbol of bad luck in Chinese culture and throws them in the trash without a second thought. When Tahani makes a comment to Eleanor about her desire to help others in the neighbourhood so she feels like she belongs in the Good Place, Eleanor immediately suspects her of sending the note. When Eleanor returns to her home and shares her suspicion with Chidi, insulting Tahani in the process, the plant starts to wilt.
Later Eleanor and Tahani visit the other residents to see how they are, finishing their day with tea at Tahani’s house. When Tahani leaves the room to start her apparently long and detailed beauty routine, Eleanor snoops around, eventually finding her diary and taking it home. When Chidi finds out and Eleanor tries to justify her reasons for taking it, the plant bursts into flames. Chidi tells her that the plant is a manifestation of her selfishness and treatment of Tahani, and also suggests that she wrote the note to herself as a manifestation of her guilt. Eleanor admits to Chidi that good people make her feel insecure.
While Eleanor is with Tahani, Chidi is with Michael and Janet. Michael wants Chidi to take up a hobby as he spent his life exploring ethics and philosophy. Michael tries to get Chidi into cartography, journalism and arc welding, while Janet is exploring different personality traits at Michael’s request switching from colloquialisms to trivia tidbits to overt sexuality (his suggestion to be friendlier took a wrong turn) to being cruel and distant. Chidi eventually tells Michael that he wants to continue working on his book, however Michael tells him that his overly long book is convoluted so Chidi asks Michael to be his advisor. Chidi later tells Eleanor what happened and she tells him that Michael doesn’t know everything and he should be proud of his efforts.
Eleanor returns Tahani’s diary and overhears her crying. When she goes to see her, Tahani confides in her that she’s upset Jason won’t break his vow of silence to talk to her, and asks Eleanor if she knows what it feels like to be in paradise and something not be quite right. Eleanor comforts her and tells her that they both belong here.
The next day, Eleanor wakes up to a hug from Chidi and it’s revealed that Eleanor’s comforting talk with Tahani resulted in the plant blooming. She also runs into Tahani and Michael, where Tahani tells Eleanor that Michael asked her to be his assistant but turned the offer down to focus on her relationship with Jianyu, so she recommended Eleanor. Michael tells Eleanor he would like her to be his assistant to help him figure out what’s wrong with the neighbourhood, which puts her on edge. She comes home to find another note saying, “we need to talk, meet me tonight, town square.”
Eleanor goes to the town square, trying to convince herself that a note was a manifestation of her guilt like Chidi suggested earlier, to find Jianyu waiting for her. He finally speaks aloud and tells her that he doesn’t belong in the Good Place either.
Overall I felt this episode was an improvement on the previous one. While the episode is named after Tahani and we may not have gotten to know everything about her, we got to know her a little through Eleanor. Both Eleanor and the viewers realise that while Tahani is at times a little snobby and condescending, she is not a bad person, and similarly to Eleanor, she has own struggle in the Good Place. The flashbacks again perfectly contrast Eleanor’s slowly continuing growth in the Good Place with the static selfish person she was when she was alive, this time with her pointing out to her boyfriend that bad things in the world are impossible to avoid, which is a valid point, until it is undermined by her revealing to him that she read his emails to his father about dumping her. Interestingly, while Eleanor stole Tahani’s diary, it’s never explicitly stated if she actually read it before returning it.
We also see Eleanor continue to grow as she gets to know someone else in the Good Place and goes out of her way to comfort someone else. Another mystery is added in the reveal that Jianyu is not supposed to be there either. On another note, Janet’s altering personality and ultimately going back to being herself after reading a self-help book Michael gave her, was a great running gag.
-Tahani Al-Jamil means “congratulations, beautiful” in Arabic.
-Chidi spent 18 years working on his book.
-Chidi’s book is 3,600 pages.
-Christopher Columbus is in the Bad Place.
-Chidi never named his dog and when it ran away he posted signs saying it responds to long pauses.
Hints of the Season 1 Finale twist:
-Jianyu reveals to Eleanor that he is not supposed to be in the Good Place either.
-Tahani’s misery over Jianyu’s refusal to break his vow of silence.