Last week on You, Joe (Penn Badgley) pulled out one final romantic gesture to win back the heart of Beck (Elizabeth Lail) — and, shockingly, it worked! But if you were hoping that Joe and Beck would finally ride off into domestic bliss together, well, you’ve been watching a very different show.
What a rollercoaster of emotions the penultimate episode of the season is. Last week, Beck was shook by the words of Joe’s recent ex-girlfriend, Karen (Natalie Paul). The jilted woman warned Beck to be careful, lest she end up like the mysterious, maybe-she’s-in-Italy Candace (Ambyr Childers).
Beck doesn’t see this as a warning that Joe might be a psychopath: She thinks that Joe is still in love with Candace, which is why he’s calling out her name in his dreams. Really, Joe is just remembering the most significant parts of their relationship. These moments include their meet-cute outside of a music venue where singer Candace was performing; Joe gifting Candace a first edition copy of Wuthering Heights, her favorite novel; Joe learning that Candace was sleeping with an A&R guy named Elijah; and Joe being the most Joe by shoving Elijah off a rooftop.
What exactly happened with Candace? Well, that’s still a mystery.
Beck’s best gal pals Annika (Kathryn Gallagher) and Lynn (Nicole Kang) remind Beck that Joe is actually good for her and to stop self-sabotaging. Beck (being an insecure millennial with access to the internet) does not listen to them, and goes on her own, Joe-like spiral into Candace’s online life. She soon puts pieces together that are quite unsettling. Candace’s brother (now dead) was convinced Joe killed Candace. Her Instagram has not been updated in a year, which is weird for someone who is supposedly traipsing around Rome. And, most damning, everyone is convinced she cheated on Joe with her music rep, who, as we know, is mysteriously dead, too.
Beck confronts Joe with this information, and he’s quite hurt that Beck suspects him of serial murder. No one likes being called out on their bullshit! Joe, however, doesn’t bust out an evil villain monologue: He calmly provides evidence that Beck’s findings have got it all wrong. Candace does have an Instagram, just under a different name. (Photoshopped? Probably!) Her brother was mentally unstable and thought Joe was a Russian spy. Candace did break Joe’s heart by cheating on him, that much is true — but all the rest is a narrative that a paranoid Beck made up in her head.
Beck apologizes to Joe for suggesting he killed his ex-girlfriend (look, I know that Joe probably did, and has killed other people, but how the hell do you come back from that accusation?) and Joe takes Beck to see Mr. Mooney (Mark Blum), the owner of the bookstore who has since only been seen briefly in flashbacks.
Mr. Mooney had a stroke, which Joe feels guilty about: He was too busy pining over Candace to visit his one-time guardian, and didn’t find him after the stroke for two days. Seeing Joe’s relationship with Mr. Mooney (clearly meant to evoke Paco/Joe vibes) warms Beck to her beau even more, and they go home ready to start over.
Except… there’s just one more thing. That person Beck was texting, with the “fox” emoji in place of a name? There is no friend from Brown named “Emma Fox.” If you were suspicious that John Stamos would roll out of bed just to play Joe’s therapist, well, good news: He’s also playing the therapist having sex with Beck. Which Joe only finds out when he mugs Dr. Nicky for his phone.
Honestly? I am hurt, not because Joe deserves any amount of romantic happiness, but because Beck lied to me. An audience member! I really thought that Beck only had eyes for Joe! How dare she make him feel crazy when she was doing the very thing he accused her of?
Now, I’d like to point out that Joe is a monster, and therefore I don’t really care how many girls have cheated on him. (Though it is kind of a lot?) It doesn’t excuse Beck’s behavior, but it really, really doesn’t excuse Dr. Nicky’s behavior, who, as far as we know, was still seeing Beck regularly for therapy sessions… while also sleeping with her?
I actually find this a little confusing. Last week, Beck and Joe had a delightful dual therapy montage where it seemed that Dr. Nicky was, in fact, giving Beck relationship advice. Did they end their relationship before this point? Was Dr. Nicky telling Beck to stop sleeping with Joe, but continue sleeping with him, her therapist?
Anyways. Joe is understandably devastated and asks Beck why she would do such a thing. Could this be the end of Beck and Joe, and likely Beck’s life?
Nope: In fact, this moment only brings the couple closer. Through tears, Beck tells Joe that she has never felt love like this before, and was therefore afraid of it. Beck and Joe are Beck’s OTP, basically. And Joe? Well, Joe is totally sold. It’s the complete opposite of his interaction with Candace, in which he told her that he didn’t care she cheated on him, as long as she still loved him. She said she never loved him, and ripped up her first-edition copy of Wuthering Heights. If Joe weren’t crazy, the scene would be kind of sad.
But things are far from sad with Joe and Beck! Joe isn’t dreaming of Candace any more. He is, instead, waking Beck up in the morning with the promise of takeout waffles. (Sidebar: Waffles are never good when you get them to-go.)
Beck is so giddy over her new honest relationship that she texts her gal pals lots of heart-eyed emojis, and everyone is generally supportive of their love. Then, Paco comes to the door — he’s still mad at Joe, but wants to give him back a book he borrowed. Paco forgot he left it “in the ceiling,” above the toilet in the bathroom… the place Joe said was good for hiding things.
Beck, ever the curious cat, figures that Joe probably has a few things he hides in his own bathroom ceiling. She’s right. In Joe’s secret box (which he absolutely should have locked, but whatever) she finds items including: Her underwear, Benji’s phone, Peach’s phone, Beck’s old phone, a bloody tampon, and, most unsettling, a necklace that Candace was wearing in an old Instagram photo.
It’s at this moment that You finally becomes what it always was underneath the surface. Beneath the romantic comedy tropes (which were particularly prevalent in the previous episode), You is very much a story about predatory “nice guys,” who feel entitled women. Because Joe looks like Penn Badgley and talks like a character out of an ‘80s rom-com, it’s easy to forget that he’s the threat in every room.
Beck tries to make an excuse to leave, tries to put that box back in the ceiling, but it’s too late. Joe knows that Beck will never see him the same way ever again. It’s all over for them.
Like I said last episode: The real romance might be between Joe and that rare books cage, because that’s exactly where he throws Beck in the final moments of the penultimate episode.
Joe’s two loves, together at last. But for how long?
Looking for more theories, recaps, and insider info on all things TV? Join our Facebook group, Binge Club. The community is a space for you to share articles, discuss last night’s episode of your favorite show, or ask questions! Join here.