Warning: This post contains spoilers for season 2 of YOU.
YOU is back for a season 2 on Netflix, and Joe Goldberg (Penn Badgley) has a new home (Los Angeles!), a new name (Will Bettelheim!), and a new love (named Love!). We watched every episode to keep track of Joe’s latest obsessions — and body count. (Note: To keep things simple, we’ll be referring to Joe/Will as Joe, the real Will Bettelheim as Will, and Amy/Candace as Candace in all of our recaps.) Let’s dive in!
Episode 1: “A Fresh Start”
Once upon a time, Joe believed in love. He was brave, he was vulnerable, and so he won her the old-fashioned way. He did whatever he had to, whatever it took, for her. But he picked the wrong woman. So he made mistakes, because love had made him blind. Love became poison and eventually died. And now Joe has to heal from his broken heart and learn how to love again. But Joe can’t risk everything for love again – he tries too hard and it’s too dangerous. And so it’s time for him to make a fresh start – without love.
At least, that’s how Joe sees everything that happened back in season 1 of the Lifetime-turned-Netflix drama YOU. In the first few minutes of season 2, we get a delightfully dark, delusional recap of the events of season 1 via Joe’s signature narration that paints him as the romantic hero who’s just had some bad luck with love in the past. But he has learned one real lesson from last season: it’s too dangerous for him to love anyone again. The last two times resulted in one confirmed murder (Beck) and one attempted murder (Candace). So he has escaped off to his literal hell – Los Angeles – for a fresh start, under a new name, where hopefully Candace (Ambyr Childers) can’t find him (again) and he won’t be tempted to “love” again, “detoxing” from love while he gets cash and comes up with a plan for whatever’s next. His “addiction management” plans? Only 10 minutes of stalking a day. Because that will totally go well.
In flashbacks, we finally see what happens after that season 1 finale cliffhanger when Candace tracked Joe down in New York. She reveals she was fully committed to staying “dead” in a new town under a new name until she saw “Beck’s” book and realized that Joe “did it again.” She vows to destroy him, and so Joe runs out the back door… and just keeps on running, all the way to Los Angeles, the last place anyone would think to look for him.
That’s where he “Joes” his way into getting a job under the name Will Bettelheim in the books section of Anavrin, the Whole Foods-type grocery store that, yes, is “nirvana” spelled backward. It’s there that Joe meets and flirts with a woman named… Love (The Haunting of Hill House’s Victoria Pedretti). That’s just too perfect! He tries to resist the attraction, but she’s surprisingly persistent, helping heal his horrific sunburn and taking him on a food tour of LA that culminates in making an entire meal for him. They start to fall for each other, and she reveals she was married, but her husband got sick and died two years ago. Love says she sees that same kind of real love and loss in his eyes. If only she knew the real story…
The premiere also introduces more new characters like Joe’s new landlord and celebrity gossip reporter Delilah (Carmela Zumbado), her precocious 15-year-old sister Ellie (Jenna Ortega, who you may recognize as young Jane on Jane the Virgin), Joe’s boss Calvin (Heathers’ Adwin Brown), and Calvin’s boss Forty (fellow Heathers alum James Scully), whose parents own Anavrin. And when a mysterious guy named Jasper shows up at Joe’s new apartment, it prompts Joe to visit a storage locker… where he’s got the real Will Bettelheim (Gotham’s Robin Lord Taylor) locked in a replica plexiglass cage he built, showing his “addiction management” skills aren’t working as well as he likes to think. It turns out he’d actually been stalking Love for a while before they “met,” which is what led him to get the job at Anavrin and his apartment that allows him to spy on hers through a telescope. He’s back to his old tricks. Will Love end up suffering the same fate as Beck because of it?
Episode 2: “Just the Tip”
With an episode title as brilliant as “Just the Tip,” I’m as eager for my immediate future of watching this hour as Joe is for his distant future of growing old with Love. We get a flashback to the previous week when Joe arrived in LA on the same flight as a famous comedian Hendy (played by famous comedian Chris D’Elia), who Delilah hates because of an encounter they had when she was underage (which apparently happens a lot with him and underage girls). Joe immediately met up with the real Will Bettelheim to buy a forged identification. But since an airtight false ID takes years of painstaking work to build up, like Will’s, instead of buying papers he knocked out Will and assumed his identity. That brings us back to the present.
Turns out Will owes some money to Jasper, and since Jasper has never seen Will’s real face, that’s now Joe’s problem. Jasper cuts off Joe’s finger, keeping the tip hostage until Joe gives him the $50,000 that Will owes him. But it’s fine! As long as Dr. Dan stitches it back on in the next 10-12 hours, it’ll heal right back. And as long as Joe gives Will his meds, he’ll be able to fix the paranoid, delusional mental breakdown currently happening in his plexiglass prison.
At least Joe isn’t having problems with Love – they share their first real kiss. He is, however, having problems with seeing visions of Beck while on dates with Love. And he has to cancel a date with Love where he was supposed to meet her friends Gabe, Lucy, and Sunshine, because he has to go to a party hosted by someone who owes Will the money Joe needs to give to Jasper to get his finger back instead. And he lies about it on top of it all. That hole Joe keeps digging? It keeps getting deeper. And the “money” owed to Will is actually the off-brand Canadian bipolar meds he needs for his sanity, so he was actually just manipulating Joe into getting him his pills instead of fixing the Jasper problem. I really like Will!
Love confronts Joe about him lying to cancel their date, and she reveals Forty is actually her twin brother. She keeps pushing Joe to open up to her and he freaks out and yells until she leaves. He sees Beck again and has a full conversation with the hallucination. He then decides to take care of his Jasper problem by showing Jasper the real Will … and then killing Jasper with a knife he hid in his storage locker. He breaks down crying after, apologizing to the phantom Beck before she disappears. But then he visits Dr. Dan, gets his finger reattached, and what transpires next was so brilliantly disturbing that I almost lost my lunch.
YOU decides to smash cut a montage of Love cutting meat and cooking it interspersed with Joe cutting and dismembering Jasper’s body – while using Anavrin’s kitchen, which is definitely at least 14 different health code violations. I legit almost barfed. It was so disgusting! But so artfully done! I hated it! But I also can’t hate how well-done it was! The meat grinder moment alone deserves an Emmy. Ew. Joe then stops by Love’s place to apologize for yelling and admitting that he can’t love anyone after what happened with his ex. “I hurt her. I really hurt her,” he says. Love just won’t take no for an answer though. She seems almost too perfect for Joe – like his own personal brand of a manic pixie dream girl designed to undo all his coping mechanisms and break down his walls. She’s saying all the right things to counter his resistance, which of course is absolutely wrong for her safety and future. It’s just … way too perfect. I can’t quite put my finger on what’s so off about it all.
For now, they decide to be friends, and Love encourages him to write a goodbye note to his ex and burn it to close the door on that relationship. His note reads: “Goodbye, you.” And it’s out with the Beck and in with the Love, as he’s back to his old tricks of stealing panties and hiding them in a secret stash in his apartment so he can smell them whenever he wants.
Episode 3: “What Are Friends For?”
As if Love couldn’t be anymore seemingly perfect, she is now leaving Joe a daily special baked treat in his locker as he continues to fantasize about them finally doing something about their sexual tension. The real Will certainly wants them to do so. A bit jarring at first to see the red smears on his cell wall, but it turns out he and Joe are playing a game of Hangman. The answer is a place that starts with an M, but Joe hasn’t figured it out yet.
Meanwhile, Love is with her two friends Lucy (Marielle Scott) and Sunrise (Melanie Field, yet another Heathers alum) on the playground as they give her the “He’s just not into you” talk because they know that her baking stems from her romantic frustration. Even though things are certainly going smoother between Joe and Love than Joe and Beck, it’s a little hard to not wish Love would just heed her friends’ advice and give up on him. He certainly hasn’t given up on her yet, even if he has been good about taking it slow. The next item on his agenda to win her heart is to win over her pompous twin brother Forty. Turns out Forty had the smallest taste of success with a short film in 2012, but now just wanders around his parents’ grocery store in a kimono, telling himself it’ll help his creativity.
Forty would be one to frequent improv shows just as Joe of course would be one to needlessly be a dick about them. Henderson is the big surprise at the improv theater, with the smaller surprise being that he and Forty know each other. Only one episode after Delilah revealed her history with Hendy and already the show has eerily paired him with Ellie, her teenage sister.
As Joe is back in the storage unit with Will, continuing to fail at Hangman, he finds out that Will has a love interest of his own all the way in the Philippines, likely too far for Joe to kidnap and/or kill her. In his preoccupation with the crimes he is both committing and trying to prevent, Joe is oblivious to how much he’s taking advantage of Love and her buns.
After assuming Joe is in recovery (Murderers Anonymous maybe?), Forty gives Joe the idea to be the one that bakes for the baker. Again Joe loses to his ignorance, not realizing that his insanely sweet gesture of making Love her childhood treat (concoction?) of Challah bread, Nilla wafers, and hot cocoa is not something someone would do if they wanted to just be friends.
Before his awkward encounter with Love, Joe was asked to stay out of Delilah and Ellie’s issues with each other’s relationships to Henderson, but here he is again put in the middle of it after watching Ellie puke up what she said was a bad edible given to her by Henderson. There’s no indication that she feels something bad happened to her, but given Delilah’s history with the comedian, it’s hard not to assume the worst. Returning to his storage space prison, which has too much square footage to be at all affordable, Joe gets advice from his prisoner Will on how to hack Hendy’s “jerktop” (a.k.a. the laptop he keeps his porn on).
Love and Forty have a heart to heart over a tennis game, perhaps the show indicating that the twins’ names are sports-inspired. Forty makes good on his threat to his sister that he might be closer to Joe than even her, following Joe as he infiltrates an improv show to get an invite to Henderson’s house. The password is DICKS. Of course.
You’re the Worst’s Kether Donohue has a perfect cameo as Henderson’s agent who sweetly shatters Forty’s confidence with news that Forty’s talent and work ethic don’t add up to him having “It.” After Joe steals Hendy’s laptop, he returns to the party to find Forty drunk out of his mind, knife in hand, pitching his erotic celebrity rehab thriller to anyone who will listen.
Taking Forty home wins him major points with Love, leading to them having surprisingly kinky sex that her drunk brother can weirdly hear. The episode ends with the final revelation that Forty puked all over Henderson’s toy room, which seems like it could be code for an underage sex dungeon. Joe can’t kill him fast enough.
Episode 4: “The Good, the Bad, & the Hendy”
From the start of the episode, it’s clear that Joe grew up in a very violent household that affected him and his mother, but he is dealing with a much tamer domestic issue in the present. His relationship with Love has become adjacent to Laura Linney’s plotline in Love, Actually, where they can’t have sex because she keeps having to take care of her brother.
Joe can’t preoccupy himself with Ellie’s phone activity either after he learns that she’s onto him. The teen has found a loophole around the spyware he installed on her phone, allowing her to maintain her “internship” with Henderson. Joe does learn the comedian will be away from his house though, creating a perfect window of time to break-in and find proof that Hendy is a predator.
Joe visits his storage unit prisoner for help and poses a hypothetical about how he could let Will escape. The secluded Will doesn’t have an answer for that yet, but does provide the useful advice that any security sign meant to scare off intruders actually tells them exactly what frequency they need to break into the house. Joe gets his Bling Ring on and raids Henderson’s house until he finds a latch made of Charles Dickens books leading to a sex dungeon, in which he finds photos of Delilah and Hendy’s other victims under a tile.
Joe gathers up the photos and leaves them on Delilah’s doorstep hoping they’re the evidence she needs to expose Henderson, and heads off to brunch with Love and (surprise!) her three best friends. Joe manages to keep his cool, even though Love’s pals sound very much like anti-vaxxers, but when Forty walks in on the fun, he flips.
Next, we see Delilah sleeping with a friend with benefits, who may be a source, but is definitely a cop. He promises her that he’ll find out what she can do with Hendy’s lewd photos. A flashback finally confirms Joe’s mother was a prostitute who had boyfriends that would also physically abuse her young son.
Trying to give Delilah a gentle push towards writing the story that ends Henderson, Joe learns that she can’t use any of the photos because there’s no identifying information in them that ties back to the comedian. If that wasn’t enough, Ellie is now set to hang out with Hendy.
Joe is in a rush to save Ellie, so he can’t fully commit to hanging out with Forty like he told Love he would. Instead, he hypes up the brooding brother and sends him off on a red eye to the South By Southwest Festival to go pitch his movie. Back at the storage unit, Will finally makes his case on why his captor should let him go, saying that it’d be proof Joe is truly good.
On his way to saving Ellie, Joe receives a frustrated call from Love about how he should’ve notified her Forty was going to Texas without a sponsor so shortly after falling off the wagon. Now she has to go retrieve him.
Ellie finally convinces Henderson to watch her short film, but when she accepts his drink offer, the comedian is shown pouring drugs into the 15-year-old’s juice. Luckily, while Hendy is busy roofie-ing her, Joe sneaks in to roofie Henderson, and drag the predator into his own secret lair.
Joe — wearing a Henderson mask — gets the comedian to admit to his predatory nature, but not before Hendy gets into Joe’s head, coaxing him into taking off the mask so they can see each other for the monsters they both are. A fight between them ensues. Joe almost makes it upstairs, Hendy catches him, but is thrown down the stairs, and Joe now has to deal with another dead body in another basement. As Ellie awakes and escapes, Joe bleaches the floor and wipes the room of any evidence connecting him to the crime scene, including the dungeon’s Roomba.
Just when Joe thinks he is finally home, Delilah’s cop friend catches him red-handed, but lets him go with a warning and a new set of (Henderson’s) headphones. Riding a lucky break, Joe takes a chance and lets his name-counterpart out of the storage prison, but is soon to feel the heat again when the episode ends showing Love and Forty back from SXSW with Candace, who’s posing as a girl named Amy.
Episode 5: “Have a Good Wellkend, Joe!”
It’s time for Joe to meet the parents. Love’s mom and dad are renewing their vows during a “Wellkend” retreat, but Love is freaking out both because her parents are hard to please and because Forty is on the verge of spiraling after Henderson’s death, which has been ruled a suicide. Love and Joe come up with a signal to use during the weekend: the ASL sign for “I love you,” but “in a friendly, platonic way,” Love tells Joe, who is dying to say it for real. Joe assures Love he’s “good with parents,” without divulging it’s because he’s fully researched hers.
Meanwhile, Ellie discovers the stash of kiddie porn her sister’s been hiding. Delilah reveals it came from Henderson’s house and that he’d also drugged and took snaps of her when she was underage. But Ellie is struggling to accept this version of Hendy that doesn’t match the man she knew, and she tells her sister she doesn’t believe it since there’s no photo of Delilah in the bunch.
Over in the woods, Joe is indeed doing good with the parents, until Forty shows up and introduces his new girlfriend, an indie film producer named Amy Adam (an Enchanted nod to the source material), who is actually Candace. The exes play it off like they are meeting for the first time, but quickly take jabs at how fake the other’s name sounds. In flashbacks, we start to learn more about what exactly Joe did to Candace. In this case, tie her up, take her to the woods, and knock her unconscious when she tries to escape. Present-day Joe gets her alone to ask how she found him. Turns out she saw him in a viral video of Forty making a drunk fool of himself at Henderson’s party. She tells him she is there to protect the Quinn twins from him.
The next day, everyone gathers for some kind of wish manifestation circle that involves standing in the center, stating your goal, and getting a hug. For Candace, that hug comes via her assaulter and she flashes back to digging her way out of the ground after being BURIED ALIVE! by her ex — the one currently embracing her. The fact that she is enduring this trauma to try to prevent it from happening to another woman is extraordinary. She runs away to her yurt and pulls a knife on Joe. But he’s in full gaslighting mode. “You don’t want to protect them, you want to hurt me,” he says, challenging her. But she’s not like him. And we are reminded — as Penn Badgley so often insists himself — that Joe is not the good guy here.
Later, Love tells Joe she has some suspicions about Candace. “I agree she’s the worst. Get rid of her now,” he replies. “That’s aggressive,” Love scoffs. But she’s got another problem when Joe mentions that Forty ordered Taco Bell, which turns out to be his relapse food (yo quiero crack), and she flies off the handle when Joe calls her overly obsessed (pot, meet kettle!). But Love was right. Joe finds Forty getting high and drags him to the vow renewal ceremony where the addict ends up causing a huge scene.
Soon we learn the reason Forty is such a mess and Love is so protective. Love reveals to Joe that when the twins were 13, Forty was in a sexual relationship with their 19-year-old au pair, which he didn’t realize was abuse. The au pair, Sophia, was fired and killed herself, and Forty found the body. Joe reveals his dad hit him a lot as a kid. With secrets out, Joe and Love feel closer than ever as they tell each other those three magic words: “I wolf you.”
Back in civilization, Ellie steals the photo evidence that Delilah’s cop friend wants back and heads to the movies with a purse full of pornographic pics. Delilah tracks down the teen who says she now believes Henderson was a creep. Ellie convinces her sister to destroy the photos and it’s hard to tell if she’s being sincere or trying to protect Hendy. But Delilah believes Ellie when she says nothing could make her see her sister any differently, which is what really matters to her now. The sisters flush the polaroids — including the one of Delilah — down the toilet.
We learn that Candace tried to report her assault/attempted murder, but the police officer didn’t believe her and warned her it would be more hassle than it’s worth. (If only Merritt Wever and Toni Collette were on every case.) So this is why Candace is going after Joe — who is still trying to gaslight her by saying the whole burying her alive thing was “an accident” — on her own.
Forty announces he’s now in A.A. and keeping himself busy adapting a book Candace found. That’s right, Beck’s posthumous book! Oh, and the police now think Henderson was murdered. Joe runs through his Arya kill list in his head: “Benji, Peach, Beck, Ron, Jasper, Henderson.” And Candace assures the group that whoever did it won’t get away. “Murder has a way of following you.”
Episode 6: “Farewell, My Bunny”
Kathy Griffin is giving the eulogy at Henderson’s memorial, attended by Love and all of her besties for some reason. Candace is now calling Forty “bunny,” her old pet name for Joe, which is causing her ex to alternate between thoughts of wanting to off her (again) and wanting to be a new man (who doesn’t kill everyone). Love’s friend Gabe announces he’s spotted the “coveted third totem,” pointing to two women wearing the same dress and the friends all freak out. Love explains they have a theory that Los Angeles has seven totems and once you find them all you are officially an Angeleno — and can never leave.
The totems include:
- A rollerblader in booty shorts
- A “ghetto bird” a.k.a. a police helicopter
- Two starlets wearing the same dress
- A pack of coyotes
- A dog in a stroller
- An off-brand superhero out of context
- A palm tree on fire
Love tells Joe this totem No. 3 sighting counts for him too. He’s disgusted at the thought of being stuck in L.A. forever, and also isn’t feeling great about being stuck at this memorial for a man he killed. He’s not confident that he covered his tracks enough this time since cops will work harder to solve a murder case involving a celebrity.
The next day, Joe is following Candace down the street when a man in a janky Robin from Batman costume passes by (totem No. 6). Then Joe sees what he assumes to be a plainclothes cop looking for him and ditches his stalking mission. He stops by Delilah’s apartment, where he finds her freaking out after burning her hand on a curling iron, and they share a moment as he helps her run cold water over the burn. Joe decides to spend time with Ellie after observing that she needs some attention. Joe’s sweetness comes out when he’s with the sisters, especially Ellie, which is reminiscent of how he was with his young neighbor Paco last season. But by now we are well aware that Joe takes everything too far, even when he truly seems to have someone’s best interest at heart.
While lurking outside Candace’s Airbnb later, Joe sees the cop again. As he hurries away, he spots a police chopper (totem No. 2) and hears the howls of a pack of coyotes (totem No. 4). He heads back to Anavrin, where a woman in booty shorts rollerblades past him (totem No. 1) and sees Love talking to that same cop. When he goes inside, Love is upset that he’s late, but not that he is also a murderer using a fake name, so he’s in the clear and confronts her about the cop, who turns out to be the family’s private detective she’s hired to look into Candace. Worried that following Candace will reveal his own secrets, he scolds Love who agrees to call off the PI.
Now Joe can go after Candace himself. As he sees it, she is “living on borrowed time,” so he packs a goodie bag of duct tape and rope and breaks into her place, but quickly gets taken down and hog-tied by another woman. Meanwhile, Candace sneaks into Joe’s apartment to find Love sitting at his kitchen table with the file the PI dug up. Candace tells Love who Joe really is and what he did to her and Beck, and that she only came here to protect Love, who doesn’t seem to be totally buying it so Candace slips her photo proof.
Joe, who is freed after telling Krav Maga lady that he was just there for a prearranged BDSM fantasy with Candace, returns home to find Love baking cinnamon buns with a kink of her own. He takes a bite and gags. She reveals she used salt instead of sugar. “Sucks being lied to, huh?” she says, equating a surprisingly salty treat to telling a lover you’re an entirely different person. Joe comes clean about his name and says Candace is a crazy ex who is the reason he left New York. And Beck? She was just a woman he went on one date with who posted a photo of them together to make her own ex jealous. Love seems to believe him, but still breaks things off. She goes back to Anavrin to sad-bake and think about the time she learned her husband was dying and had kept it secret from her for two months.
Joe is heartbroken but also taking this breakup well in that he hasn’t killed anyone. Walking home, he passes a dog in a stroller (totem No. 5) and decides to go back to loving Love from a distance. He visits Delilah, who is working on her big Henderson takedown, but it’s not going so well. Joe comforts her and they make out. He tries to stop, but she tells him she just wants to feel good again and so does he. Joe goes for a post-coital donut and thinks about how he needs to get the hell out of this town when he sees a group of people holding their phones up to film a palm tree on fire (totem No. 7). He realizes there’s no fighting it, he is officially an Angeleno now, and decides to stick around for a while.
Episode 7: “Ex-istential Crisis”
Fresh off of his night with Delilah, Joe wakes up contemplating his next move after Love dumped him and with Candace seemingly out of the picture. Spying on Love, he discovers she is hooking up with someone new already.
Back at Anavrin, the new guy and Love are getting cozy while Joe watches from afar. Forty shows up and informs him that her new paramour is none other than Milo Warrington (Lethal Weapon’s Andrew Creer), the Aussie best friend of Love’s late husband, James, who spent “two years traversing Asia so he could sprinkle James’ ashes all over the Himalayas, and now he’s back traversing Love’s vagina, again, because he does that periodically.” Turns out, Forty isn’t a fan.
Joe later overhears Milo (who is clearly supposed to be a Hemsworth brother lite) telling Love that instead of traveling to Bali for 10 months, he wants to stay and for her to be his girlfriend, which she seems kind of iffy about. Joe decides to stalk Hemsworth Lite while on a hike, and encounters Gabe in the process, who convinces Joe to try acupuncture and questions him in the process. Joe gets surprisingly vulnerable with Gabe, prompting another flashback to his childhood, to the day his mom decided to leave his abusive father. Joe breaks down in tears.
Back at Anavrin, Ellie shows up and convinces Joe and Forty that she should be their new intern on the film they’re working on, which Forty just put out a press release about, much to Joe’s chagrin.
Later, Delilah shows up at Joe’s apartment to inform him that her story about Henderson is going to be published in Variety. She thanks him for encouraging her to write it, the two go on a walk to get whiskey, open up to one another, and have sex in an alleyway. This catches the attention of the police, though, and the two wind up in jail. Oops. Joe panics, and he calls Forty to get him out. Forty comes through, and on their way out the cop recognizes Joe from the night of Henderson’s murder, but it’s unclear if he made the connection. Delilah and Joe agree it was fun but they should just be friends. Later, Forty and Hemsworth Lite get into it over Love, and Forty gets punched. Joe breaks things up.
The cop, whom Delilah refers to as “Finch,” calls her and it’s clear he’s on to Joe. She shrugs it off at first but then plays detective, sneaking into his apartment and finding the keys to the storage unit, where she discovers his creepy cage and takes pictures of it. Just as she’s leaving, Joe walks in. She pleads with him to think about Ellie being alone and before we see what happens, we’re back to the flashback scene from his youth. He won’t get in the car to disappear with his mom and some new guy. The episode ends back at the storage unit, where Delilah finds herself locked in the cage, pleading with Joe. He tells her he needs to “make some arrangements” but he wouldn’t do anything to hurt her or Ellie. He asks her, “Can you trust me?” Cut to black.
Episode 8: “Fear and Loathing in Beverly Hills”
We’re back in the cage, with Delilah pleading and bargaining for her life like so many others have before her. Joe promises her he won’t kill her, but he needs to make arrangements to leave town before he lets her out. He sets a timer (and timed-release handcuffs) for 16 hours, at which time Delilah will be free, and he will have left the country. Who wants to bet this doesn’t go according to plan?!
At Anavrin, Love is with her friends. She confesses that she was just using Milo/Hemsworth Lite and she misses Joe. They convince her to go after him, just as he’s slipping a goodbye letter in her locker. Forty finds Joe and tells him that apparently director Kathryn Bigelow is interested in their film pitch based on Beck’s book. As a “parting gift” to Love, Joe agrees to help Forty.
With 14 hours left, Joe and Forty get kidnapped by two guys in suits. Forty then reveals he hired them to kidnap them and lock them in a hotel room so they could finish their script. But if Joe leaves, they will shoot him, and to make matters worse, they have his passport and his other getaway stuff.
As their recently hired intern/writing assistant, Ellie shows up to help, but she convinces Forty that the script needs a lot of work and Forty jumps out a window to avoid the guys holding them hostage (and to avoid more criticism), and Joe must follow with under 13 hours left on the clock. At Anavrin, a devastated Love has read Joe’s letter, and her mom shows up to make amends.
Joe catches up with Forty at a bar, but things take a bizarre, dark turn for the worse when Forty kisses a newlywed(?) and reveals he laced Joe’s drink with a heavy dose of LSD. Then things get… trippy.
While high, Joe hallucinates that he sees his younger self, Candace, and his mom. At one point, Forty convinces him to roleplay as Beck to understand her perspective more in the script. Things end with Joe choking Forty/Beck, but Forty gets him to stop before it’s too late. Then, Joe is in a bathroom with no idea how he got there, and his hands are covered in blood. Was it real?
Joe calls Love, who says she forgives him for the lies and just wants to be with him, and the two plan to run away together. Afterward, Forty informs Joe that he figured out Beck’s story: it was the ex-boyfriend who killed her and framed Dr. Nicky. Just as Joe is about to kill Forty, Forty confesses that he figured it out because he did the same thing, not because he’d made the connection with Joe. Forty killed the au pair out of jealousy when she fell for another guy. The two hug it out, and at some point fall asleep.
Joe wakes up with 1 hour and 20 minutes left on the clock. He races to Delilah, only to find her dead in the cage in a pool of her blood. Welp, guess we know where that blood on his hands came from.
Episode 9: “P.I. Joe”
If you’ve watched Supernatural or The Magicians, then you know YOU showrunner Sera Gamble loves to play with genre and refuses to adhere to one set structure. Thankfully, she’s brought that flexibility over to YOU, which helps keeps things interesting. Episode 6 was cleverly structured around the satirical L.A. totems, and episode 8 was a trippy race against the clock. Now, the writers flip the switch yet again in episode 9, which is basically a whodunit that builds to a pretty amazing twist.
Picking up immediately after episode 8, “P.I. Joe” finds our homicidal romantic spiraling as he stares at Delilah’s bloody corpse. He can’t believe he could kill Delilah because he planned on letting her go (for Ellie) and, more importantly to Joe, if he did do this, then it means he’s not worthy of Love. And that last part can’t be true, so he sets about trying to figure out who could possibly have killed Delilah — even if it turns out to be him.
Basically, “P.I. Joe” is forcing Joe to confront exactly who he is and what he’s done for L/love throughout his life; from what happened to Candace and Beck, to him killing his abusive father to protect his mom when he was younger. At the beginning of the season, Joe thought he could relocate to Los Angeles and simply move on from all of the murder back in New York, but here he’s realizing that’s not possible as he’s forced to admit to himself that yeah, there’s a chance he killed Delilah in an acid trippy haze.
In his mind, he runs through a list of suspects. First, he starts with Will, who, as it turns out, is actually safe and sound in Manila with his wife. From there, he briefly considers Delilah’s patrol cop suitor but rules him out, too. Eventually, he makes his way to Forty’s home in order to find out exactly what happened when they left the hotel room to get moon juice last night. Forty reveals that Joe made their driver drop him off at the storage unit facility because he wanted to see Delilah (Forty assumed that he was just booty-calling her). Apparently, while Joe was doing that, Forty FaceTimed Candace and met up with her for sex.
As the evidence pointing toward him as the murderer starts piling up, Joe heads back to his apartment because Ellie, who is hanging there with Love, starts freaking out over Delilah’s disappearance. When Joe arrives, he finds Ellie breaking things in the kitchen and crying about how everyone in her life leaves her. She blames herself, which is heartbreaking since both we and Joe know she’s definitely not responsible. Yet again, Joe is forced to confront the destruction his pursuit of love has wrought.
Meanwhile, Candace pays Forty a visit and congratulates him on finishing his script. When Forty pushes her away yet again, Candace doubles down and points out that Forty’s an idiot for not realizing that he inadvertently solved Beck’s murder with his script and that Joe is the murderer. But by this point, Joe has done a good job of convincing everyone that Candace is nothing more than a crazy ex-girlfriend and Forty orders her to leave. “What is it about Joe f—ing Goldberg? Why is it that no one can see him for what he is?” Candace frustratedly wonders. The answer is obvious: the patriarchy. YOU gets at how we’ve all been conditioned to dismiss women like Candace.
Things start to turn around for Candace, though, because as she rewatches a video Forty sent her the night before, she notices Joe walking toward the storage facility in the background. Determined to find the evidence to take Joe down, she heads there, finds Joe in the prison, and locks him inside. From there, Candace uses Joe’s phone and lures Love to the storage unit so she can finally see the man she loves for who he really is.
When Love finally shows up, Joe has his come to Jesus moment (kind of). He confesses to murdering Delilah and Henderson and trying to kill Candace. “I thought I was doing it for the best reasons, for love,” he says. “But it was never really love. I never knew love until I met you.” However, this isn’t a moment of redemption, because Joe still doesn’t completely grasp how terrible he’s been; he’s still concerned with this meaning he’s not worthy of Love and not the fact that he’s a serial killer. So after Love runs out of the unit crying, Joe decides to accept responsibility for what he’s done and pushes his secret key through one of the air holes.
Meanwhile, Candace chases after Love and winds up getting stabbed in the neck by Love! As Candace bleeds out on the floor, Love returns to Joe, picks up the key he discarded, and tells Joe that she took care of it. With that, YOU pulls off quite the last-minute twist and confirms my suspicions about Love. We’ll have to wait to see how the show explains this big move in the finale, but I think it works.
Episode 10: “Love, Actually”
One of the best things about YOU’s first season was its sense of inevitability. As season 1 unfolded, subverting rom-com tropes and diving deeper into Joe’s toxicity, it became clear that the season had to end with Beck’s death. That’s the only way it could’ve ended if the show wanted to make its point. While season 2 has a different shape than the first season, it has captured that feeling because everything that happens in the perfectly-titled finale feels, well, inevitable.
As I (as well as co-recapper Sydney Bucksbaum) mentioned above, I was immediately suspicious of Love at the beginning of the season. Unlike Beck, she seemed so intent on being in a relationship with Joe. Every time he pulled away, because he wanted to take things slowly, she pushed forward even harder, ignoring Joe’s wishes. In other words, she was basically Joe-ing Joe. And the finale actually reveals the true extent to this.
The episode begins with Love basically recapping the entire season from her perspective. She starts out by revealing she killed Forty’s rapist au-pair, which leads into an explanation of how the broken Quinn family made her want to create a family of her own. Once her husband died, though, she thought she’d never be able to — that is until she saw Joe at Anavrin. From there, she did everything she could to make this work. Then once the Candace drama went down, she investigated Joe and learned about everything that happened in New York. She saw the real him and fell deeper in love because of what he was willing to do for love. When Delilah discovered his secret, Love took matters into her hands and killed her for them because she’s pregnant with his child.
Joe is stunned and disgusted by this revelation because it shatters what he thought he knew about Love. The thing is, he didn’t actually know that much about her. He was just simply projecting his own fantasy of the “perfectly imperfect girl” onto her instead of acknowledging that she’s actually a person with her own interior life that he couldn’t be privy to. If he wasn’t so consumed with this imaginary version of her, he may not have missed the warning signs that have been there the entire time. In the same way that season 1 deconstructed the idea of the “nice guy romantic lead,” season 2 has done the same for the perfect girl. Joe got exactly what he wanted — the perfect woman who would accept every part of him — and he hates it.
YOU loves to play with perspective. Joe’s limited view of the world also partially hid this twist from the audience, too. Sure, I had my suspicions at the beginning, but I definitely forgot about them as the season went on because we see most of the show’s world from Joe’s viewpoint. In hindsight, though, the show dropped many breadcrumbs for us along the way. First, there was the fact that Love is a baker. Her preferred method of killing is slicing people’s throats, which is very Sweeney Todd. Then, there was the deliciously twisted and Hannibal-esque montage, which juxtaposed Joe dismembering a body as she cooked him a delicious meal. My favorite hint, though, is the “I wolf you,” which was their replacement for “I love you.” A wolf is a predatory animal, and these two are definitely very predatory when it comes to romance.
Once Love reveals she’s pregnant, Joe feels almost compelled to stay with her because he wants to be a good father since he had such a terrible childhood. Love eventually frees him from his cell, and both of them attend her friends’ wedding.
Meanwhile, Forty takes a trip to NYC and meets with Dr. Nicky, who confirms what Candace told him: Joe killed Beck. Forty returns to L.A. determined to protect his sister from Joe. After being barred from the wedding, Forty summons Joe to Anavrin. Love tags along and actually goes inside first, hoping that she can calm her brother down. She’s wrong, because it turns out that Forty has always known how messed up his sister is, too, and it has been eating him up. It’s unclear if he actually knows she murdered the au-pair, or if he just had a weird sense about her. (I wonder if this is why he globed onto Joe early on and made jokes about him hooking up with anyone else). Either way, learning she’s pregnant with Joe’s baby doesn’t decrease his desire to kill Joe. Thankfully, Officer Fincher arrives and shoots Forty before he can shoot Joe.
With Forty dead and a baby on the way, Joe feels even more compelled to stay with Love because she “needs him.” As we find out via a time-jump, Joe views their relationship as a prison of his own making. Earlier in the season, Joe collected all of the L.A. totems which meant he could never leave, but he definitely couldn’t predict just how trapped he would feel. Anyway, he’s prepping for her to give birth and to be the father he never had. Hopefully, things go better than they did with Paco or Ellie, whom Joe told to leave the city after Delilah died and frequently sends money to.
That being said, though, Joe is already looking forward to his freedom. As he heads out into the backyard to read, he catches a glimpse at their next-door neighbor. “But that’s not how destiny works is it? This is just beginning. Because this is where I had to be, exactly where I had to be to meet you,” he says, peering through a crack in the backyard fence. “I will figure out a way to get to you. See you soon…neighbor.” Nothing ever ends and the cycle continues because Joe still hasn’t found what he’s looking for.