Previously on You, Joe (Penn Badgley) proved a peanut allergy real, and his love true. But is the object of his affection into him? That's what new episode "Maybe" explores.
It’s funny: Cut out all the murder and stalking, and You might as well be a successor to HBO’s Girls. New York City is the wild, wild west of dating, and in "Maybe," Joe (Penn Badgley) realizes that Beck (Elizabeth Lail) has not yet hung up her cowboy hat. He learns (upon following Beck and her friends to a bar, careful to get only close enough to overhear their conversation) that Beck is still hooking up with dudes on Tinder. Joe, after all, is only a "maybe," Beck tells Peach (Shay Mitchell). This is confirmed when Beck goes home with the Warby Parker-wearing bartender, whose aggressive thrusting ends up breaking her bed.
Obviously, Joe’s hurt. He’s been all-in with Beck since they locked eyes at his bookstore. Beck losing interest is just as stressful for Joe as the fact that Joe still has Benji’s (Lou Taylor Pucci) body rotting in the rare books’ section of the store… the two things literally take equal weight in his mind.
But Joe? He’s such a nice guy, that even his creepiest actions are explained away. After all, as Joe points out in the episode: We only believe what supports our worldview.
Case in point: Joe decides to enlist Paco (Luca Padovan) to go shopping for things needed to disintegrate Benji’s body, and when Paco’s stepdad (who is convinced Joe is up to no good) learns that Paco is on this disturbing errand run, he calls the cops. Joe shows the policemen his urban garden, which just so happens to need all the same things he is going to use to get rid of Benji. To the police, Joe is the nice, neighborly guy giving the neglected son of a drunk some extra sandwich money. Joe, once again, wins this round.
But will Joe win Beck’s heart? It’s touch and go. After the bartender breaks Beck’s bed, Joe takes her shopping. They bond when she tells him about her father’s red ladle, the one he used to make her pancakes on the “good days” when his addiction didn’t rob Beck of a dad. Eventually, they start kissing in the furniture store — but when Joe tries to get aggressive, the way Beck says she wants from her Tinder boys, Beck shuts him down. Turns out, she doesn’t want to get arrested because Joe went down on her in a CB2.
That’s the issue Joe’s having this whole episode: All of his big swings are sort of… misses. It’s a lot like an episode of Girls in that sense. It’s cringey, but relatable, to see Joe struggling to connect with Beck. If he didn’t just kill her ex in cold blood, we might even be rooting for him to just make something work.
Beck, for her part, can’t figure out how to make her writing work. She joins a new MFA group, where she meets pseudo-celebrity student Blythe (Hari Nef). Blythe is the worst, and it is delicious to watch her make an insecure Beck squirm. Blythe assumes, quite pointedly, that Beck is from New Jersey when Beck is actually from Nantucket.
Blythe, despite her awfulness, is the golden child of the MFA program. She gladly accepts the compliment that she is Raymond Chandler reincarnated. (He died in 1988, the year of her birth, so, you know.) An essay Blythe wrote about a dead crow sends Beck into a downward spiral: Will Beck ever write anything as beautiful? Beck’s insecurities over her own writing takes a toll on Beck’s not-quite-a-relationship with Joe.
Also taking a toll? Peach, whose strong dislike for Joe may actually stem from an affection for Beck that goes well beyond friendship. She insists Beck would never be happy with a bookstore owner. Beck needs someone to take care of her… which sounds a lot like Peach herself. Was Peach’s "bladder flare-up" just one way for Peach to steal Beck’s time away from Joe? If Peach isn’t in love with Beck, then she just doesn’t like sharing her toys, which is definitely weirder.
Joe and Beck eventually have an honest conversation, where she gets to the root of their issues: Beck likes Joe, but still doesn’t know him. To fix this, Joe takes her down to the now-Benji-free rare books’ section, and tells her that these books are the most important thing to him. Sure, he could introduce her to his friends, but… BOOKS!
If we didn’t know Joe was total bullshit, it would be very romantic. Since Beck is unaware of all of Joe’s murderous tendencies, she falls for it. She invites him to her place, and Joe shows up with a box of pancake mix. Joe thinks that Benji is wrong about Beck being into kinky sex and random hookups… Beck, per her story about her father, just wants someone to wake her up with breakfast.
Beck proves a girl can want to get laid and eat oodles of breakfast carbs. Wearing a bright red bra, Beck seduces Joe into her newly-built bed. This is it! The lovers can finally consummate their romance!
Unfortunately, it’s a blink-and-you-might-miss-it moment. Joe may be a psycho killer, but oof… embarrassing. That is not how this love scene went in his head.