Spoilers ahead for You season 1. Though it's been over four months since Netflix’s new series You first premiered (on Lifetime, the series’ original home), the internet is only just now discovering how insanely addictive the dark stalker drama truly is. And as new fans discover the series, important questions are piling up, including what actually happened to Mr. Mooney on You (you know, the kinds of questions that have nothing to do with the pain of fighting an attraction to Penn Badgley's creepy, murderous Joe Goldberg).
To refresh your memory, the mysterious Mr. Mooney is the owner of the bookstore in which Joe works and is often referred to without being actually shown in present day. Flashbacks peppered throughout late season 1 episodes reveal that Mooney (played by Mark Blum) is actually to blame for how twisted Joe has become in his adult life, because of the way he raised Joe during his teen years. Mooney’s idea of mentoring the young boy was actually just mental, and physical, abuse. He often locked Joe in the glass room in the basement of the bookstore for days on end to teach him the value of books (which is definitely where Joe got the idea to imprison Benji and, later, Beck in that same place) and when Joe killed his first victim (the man his ex-girlfriend cheated on him with), Mooney consoled Joe by saying, "Some people deserve to die." The duo had a full-on Dexter style relationship, minus the ethical code that at least kept Dexter from murdering innocent people. (Technically, Beck can actually thank Mooney for her entire season 1 ordeal.)
When Mr. Mooney was finally revealed in the present day in episode 9, "Candace," and it was, in a word, shocking. Not only was the angry old man still alive, but he was also severely physically disabled. Joe confessed to Beck, in what seemed like an emotional moment at the time, that Mr. Mooney had a debilitating stroke that left him paralyzed and mute. And that’s where things get murky: It’s pretty convenient for Joe that the man who knows so many of his dark secrets can’t walk or talk. And the element making the whole thing even murkier? The way Joe tells it, he was the one to find Mr. Mooney after the stroke.
With Joe, everything is suspicious, but what actually happened to the man who raised him? Among the many theories about Mooney’s story is the idea that Joe attempted to kill his mentor and failed. It’s possible that Joe decided that Mr. Mooney knew too much about his crimes and that Joe did something to make sure the old man could never turn Joe into the cops or even kill him in order to prevent Joe from killing again.
It’s also possible that Joe could have attempted to take Mooney’s life for more selfless reasons. Many fans on Reddit believe that Mr. Mooney was a serial killer himself, who passed on his skills, knowledge, and code to Joe. There’s also the simpler theory that Mooney is also just an old-fashioned sociopath that Joe saw the need to stop in his tracks. And at this point, both theories are super plausible.
But there are reasons the theory that Joe attempted murder and failed might not hold up: With the amount of responsibility Mr. Mooney has in creating Joe, it would make sense that Joe might not be able to bring himself to actually kill the only real family he's ever known. But that doesn’t mean Joe couldn’t have purposely left Mooney paralyzed and unable to talk. If that’s the case, we have to ask what he could have done that would paralyze someone but wouldn’t rouse suspicion from doctors or police. (Did he poison the old man or push him down stairs? Or perhaps he went for his old favorite, the knock-someone-on-the-head-with-something-heavy routine.)
It’s also entirely possible that the sinister clues around Mooney are misdirection and that Joe really did have nothing to do with his injuries. Mr. Mooney could have actually simply suffered a stroke like Joe says, and while Joe was off chasing his ex-girlfriend Candace, he left Mooney on without aid for two days. This less dramatic theory could explain why Joe visits the old man once a week — Joe could feel guilty for neglecting Mooney and feel some responsibility for his situation.
We’re left to theorize for now, but with You back in production for season 2 thanks to a renewal Netflix, fans are hopefully that much closer to more insight into Joe's mysterious mentor. That said, there’s also a strong possibility the story is steering away from his New York life: Season 2 is based on Hidden Bodies, author Caroline Kepnes' sequel to the hit first novel, and will follow Joe moves to LA and to find love (or at least his idea of love) again. However, showrunner Sera Gamble did hint to The Hollywood Reporter that “there's a lot more to explore about Joe from earlier in his life. Those are the things we're starting to get into for season 2,” which could mean that the truth about Mr. Mooney will finally come out.