A chilled-out Chidi? It’s a rare sight indeed, but get ready to see a less anxious version of the infamously uptight ethics professor when The Good Place returns on Thursday (NBC, 9:30/8:30c).
Chidi and Eleanor finally declared their love for each other in last month’s winter finale, and the newly official romance has helped Chidi unwind a bit. “There’s a kind of clarity, I think, that’s a major thread of Chidi’s arc for the next few episodes,” star William Jackson Harper tells TVLine. After everything he’s been through this season — remember the marshmallow Peeps chili breakdown? — Chidi’s “brain has been broken,” Harper points out. He’s “been put through the wringer, so there’s nothing left to do but focus on the task ahead of [him], and the people that matter to [him], and the person that matters most is Eleanor.”
Chidi “always has had an attraction to Eleanor,” Harper says, but he also “fights a lot of his impulses. He’s always in a state of paralysis.” (Yes, we’ve seen him struggle just to choose between two hats.) So their mutual profession of love helped Chidi shed some of his psychological baggage: “I think when you finally give yourself over to the thing that you actually want… it does calm you down, I’d imagine.”
Plus, that aforementioned breakdown, which saw Chidi tumble into a nihilistic downward spiral after learning he was bound for the Bad Place, also plays a role in Chidi’s newfound ease, Harper thinks. “It’s an amazing moment when you realize that certain things just don’t matter… it sort of just makes you latch onto other things. And for Chidi, it’s latching onto his friends, who are fighting against all these eternal forces to make things right.”
On paper, Chidi and Eleanor are complete opposites — but Harper thinks their very different dynamics are actually what make them a great pair. “Eleanor is just so resourceful and smart without knowing it, and I think that’s a huge turn-on for Chidi,” he notes with a laugh. “Nothing is studied or learned” with Eleanor, he adds. “It’s just gathered knowledge from being a person, and he has a deficit in that department.” Likewise, “Chidi is kind and openhearted and a little bit more sincere than she is.” But that doesn’t mean they’re going to stop mercilessly teasing each other, though: “Obviously, they have to annoy each other” at certain points… “and there are going to be some great jokes about it.”
Good Place fans: Are you onboard with a Chidi/Eleanor romance? Tell us where you stand in a comment below.