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[S3E8] The Worst Possible Use Of Free Will UPD

Eleanor invokes the philosophy of Determinism, which asserts people have no control over their actions, arguing that she didn't choose to fall in love with Chidi because Michael chose for her. Michael says that he didn't; he put them together to torture one another, not fall in love. Eleanor retorts that everything in her life has been determined by her upbringing, genetics, and environment; even in her afterlife, everything was determined by something else, in this case Michael. She comes to the conclusion that there is no such thing as free will. The library closes so they head to a diner called The Sandy Spoon. Michael tells her that he'll prove to her that she made a choice. He finds a memory from the very first attempt, showing her how she stood up and confessed to everyone that she didn't belong in the "Good Place". Michael explains that she chose to sacrifice herself in order to ease Chidi's pain. This wasn't him manipulating her; she ruined his whole plan, and she was constantly doing things he didn't anticipate, even though he knew everything about her as a person. He even complained to her about it once in Reboot #445.

[S3E8] The Worst Possible Use of Free Will

Michael admits that he tried to script Eleanor's whole afterlife but she kept made choices that he never saw coming, illustrating that she does have free will. Eleanor still doesn't believe him and wonders if there are greater forces at work guiding their actions. Michael gets fed up with her and pours his glass of iced tea over her head. Eleanor is shocked and angrily asks why he did that and he says because he has free will and she was being annoying. He scolds her for using determinism to rationalize that the feelings she had for Chidi aren't real, pointing out that this is a classic defense mechanism of hers, as she hates being vulnerable. Michael tells her that he's going to use his free will to go pick up their friends from the airport.

The Soul Squad reunite and Eleanor apologizes to Michael, admitting that he was right about her stubborn refusal to accept that she had free will. He accepts her apology and apologizes for having poured iced tea on her head. Eleanor notes that she's realized that maybe they are the freest in the galaxy because they actually know what happens in the afterlife, and this has gotten her to think that the Soul Squad needs to think bigger and bolder to reach more people. Michael agrees and tells the gang that they are going to Canada.

The concepts of free will and determinism have plagued humanity for centuries. People of faith grapple with how their choices can be their own, if an omnipotent deity (or deities) governs all existence. Rationalists struggle with the idea of making choices when the endless variables of reality seem to predetermine their paths. Whether your approach is spiritual or empirical, free will is pretty much the Mount Everest of the endless ontological range that is moral philosophy.

It is at this point where The Good Place season 3, episode 8 levels up to direct philosophical debate mode. Eleanor goes whole-hog on determinism, whipping out both the spiritual and empirical arguments against her own free will in a remarkably concise summation of the problem.

Last week, Wally finally got his Kid Flash powers and Cisco lamented learning that Flashpoint caused his brother's death. Both of this figure into tonight's story. As the team decides to try and temper Wally's expectations about his speed, a satellite detects an incoming meteor. Barry heads to investigate and it turns out to be an alien craft. A swarm of creatures that look like a cross between stereotypical green men with Xenomorph teeth run out leaving Barry stunned. Lyla arrives with ARGUS and informs the team that they have known about these Dominators since the 1950s (presumably something we will see first hand in the Legends of Tomorrow chapter of this saga). The aliens sent a message claiming they come in peace but will not attack if we don't but when four ships appeared they feared the worst. Knowing they have to do something to defend the planet, Barry calls in Team Arrow. Rescuing Oliver and Diggle from being shot by Vigilante, he explains what is going on. Thea decides to suit up to fight aliens because, well, they are aliens. Felicity comes, too, and they also use Oliver's connections to send a message to the Legends.

But the fractured team has another challenge to face. While Oliver can deliver a pep talk to get Barry back in fighting mode, the rest of the team realize the President was bait. A Dominator kills the POTUS and brainwashes the heroes who head back to STAR Labs to fight Flash and Green Arrow. What works with this showdown is it takes away free will which plagued CIVIL WAR and DAWN OF JUSTICE and actually turns out heroes into bad guys, temporarily. Barry forces Supergirl to follow him back to the factory where the Dominator device is working and he coaxes her into destroying it, saving the heroes. Barry's selfless act regains the trust of the team and as they recoup to face off agains the aliens, most of them are teleported into the sky, including Oliver Queen.

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