How do I choose a favorite character discovery in this week’s installment of You? Is it that Benji accidentally did a murder during some extra-reckless frat hazing in a swimming pool? Is it that Professor Perv #MeToo’ed at least six other young women besides Beck? Is it that Ethan, by far the most intriguing member of the Youniverse (… I’m sorry) wants to “cook consciously for cosmology and body consciousness”?
Competitive contenders all, but I’m going to have to hand it to Beck’s equally improbably named friend: In You, Shay Mitchell plays a girl named Peach (!) Salinger (!!) “but she doesn’t like to talk about it” (?!?) and her actual relationship to J.D. is, thus far, not explained.
Here is what we know about Peach: She is rich. How rich? I like to measure wealth based on the amount of money that a person can just throw away without really having to give it any thought. Peach Salinger — I’m clearly going to have to use her full name every time I reference her, as one must with Peter Kavinsky or Jordan Catalano — scribbles off a check for Beck to cover first and last month’s rent and a security deposit in New York City. That is how rich she is.
We also know that Peach went to Brown and that every year she throws a party on the anniversary of her parents’ divorce. But enough about Peach Salinger for now! Have you forgotten — have you forsaken — BENJI, the artisanal soda-pop brewer and low-key cocaine addict? He is still trapped in the basement of the bookstore!
Joe takes his sweet time visiting his prisoner, first having a little chat with our stairwell urchin. He’s reading some book about werewolves that “the girls in my class can’t stop talking about,” because — in case you forgot from last week’s lesson — everything that girls like, and everything that is popular, is UNWORTHY GARBAGE. Joe gives this speed-reading 11-year-old an old-looking copy of Frankenstein (okay, but seriously, what does Joe have against paperbacks?) and tells him “it’s about a monster that’s not really the monster.” Wow, thank you for that stunning insight, Joe. Also, when I was this brat’s age I read the Wishbone edition of Frankenstein and it was perfect.
I know this isn’t the point, exactly, but where does the soda-bro pee? He’s in that glass box for several days. Not that I’m watching You for the incarceration verisimilitude but I just want you all to know I’m paying very close attention. That’s the kind of reader service I’m here to provide.
After hitting all the highlights of the Rich Terrible Guy tour — a plea to call a lawyer, a complicated list of dietary restrictions, a “do you know who my father is?” — Benji puts duh and duh together and realizes that Joe is the guy from the cab with Beck. Why didn’t Joe throw on a ski mask for this adventure? If he were nicer to Peach Salinger, she probably would’ve recommended fellow PLL alum Ashley Benson’s cinematic masterpiece, Spring Breakers, from which he would have picked up this criminal sartorial tip.
Joe isn’t exactly going full Stanford Prison Experiment on Benji. (Sidebar: Apparently everything we know about the Stanford Prison Experiment is wrong? And also the Marshmallow Test is a lie? Is anything real?) No, Joe tortures via pretentious insufferability, by quizzing Benji on the books Benji pretends to have read (I feel like Benji would have read On the Road though, no? Or would’ve lied about something a little druggier? Seems like a Fear and Loathing guy to me.) Joe also threatens to out Benji as a heroin user to investors in Soda Shack or whatever he’s calling his dopey product and, insult to blunt-force trauma, makes Benji do one of those blind taste tests of three kinds of sodas, promising him liberty if he can correctly identify his creation. Which, of course, he can’t.
In between Benji babysitting gigs, Joe finds time to take Beck on a date. He is thrilled that she replies “Looking forward” with a period to his inquiry as to whether or not they’re still on, even though that is the least enthusiastic reply there is that could still qualify as a yes. Beck is distracted on the date because Benji’s gone missing, so Joe solves this conundrum by swapping drugs for Benji’s password — which is the name of another woman. Do we believe that? Benji strikes me the kind of person who uses his birthday for all his passwords. Armed with Benji’s phone, Joe tweets and Instagrams in character so Beck goes back to thinking Benji is just terrible, rather than in imminent danger.
Benji insists to Joe that Beck has “branded the living shit out of herself.” This does not seem like the sort of thing Benji would take issue with, but of course it rattles Joe — pure of heart, horrified by branding, a Gen-Xer trapped in the body of a millennial.
Meanwhile, Beck alerts her friends to the drinks-and-poetry night she got coerced into having with her skeevy professor. It’s a mini Sex and the City situation, where our Samantha stand-in brags about banging her bio professor for an A and encourages Beck to “ovary up,” while fake Charlotte says Beck should report him. Peach Salinger, a Carrie, makes this entire thing about her and whines about Beck’s failure to remember the party she always has to “distract myself” from the anniversary of her parents’ divorce. (Beck is not a Miranda. The only Miranda on You is Ethan.)
In an extremely predictable turn of events, the professor — after holding up his ring finger, pointing to his wedding band, and telling Beck “I’m safe! You really have nothing to be nervous about” — gets all handsy under the table, a come-on to which Beck reacts violently, a rejection that sends the professor on a rant about Beck’s “blow-job eyes” and how, gosh, she seems really edgy, probably for the best if he just releases her from the TA position.
Joe, who is spying on this whole encounter from a spot at the bar, is startled when Beck calls him to console her after it all gets gross with her adviser. “I’m starting to think I’m like, some kind of magnet for dudes with serious issues,” Beck tells the man who has her hookup buddy trapped in an ice locker. She invites him to the Peach Salinger’s Parents Got Divorced party, and even though Benji warns Joe that Beck is just bringing him for “texture” (which is so mean and hilarious and probably true), Joe gives it a chance.
Beck stops talking to Joe within seconds of arriving, so Joe loses himself until he comes to in the only room that deserves him: one that is full of leather-bound books that are older than he is. This is where Peach Salinger finds him, and messes with him by calling him Joseph. (He trolls her by calling her “Peaches” which I admit made me giggle.) Peach Salinger is suspicious of the oh-so-fortuitous circumstances of Beck and Joe’s meet-cute, which makes me like her a little more. Joe responds to this aggression by stealing Ozma of Oz, and I spend the rest of the party wondering how exactly Joe kept a large, hardcover book hidden, on his person, for the entire time he was at Peach Salinger’s place.
Also, I love that Beck tells Joe she stole that dress so she could fit in, when it’s really just the dress equivalent of the same drapey, Madewell-style clothes we have seen her wear in all the other scenes on the show and it does not help her “fit in” at all. (But also, people at that party were wearing jeans! She could’ve worn whatever.)
Near the end of the party, Beck and Joe run into some old friend of Candice’s — she who shattered Joe’s tender heart before this fine began — and just as the shit is getting juicy, Beck, who has zero self-preservation instincts, cuts off the revealing conversation. So, get guessing: What do we think went down with Joe and Candice that had her fleeing to Italy, in the words of the friend, “so suddenly”?
Joe gives the stairwell urchin Ozma of Oz. The child’s eyes widen with wonder and fear, for he cannot keep this treasure in his home. “Ron,” he says, voice thick with dread. Ah yes, Ron! The abusive man who reserves his homicidal rage for classic lit! Joe explains that this petite pseudo-orphan can stash the book in a loose ceiling tile in the bathroom. “Like a secret hiding place,” the boy says. I reply, aloud: “It’s not like a secret hiding place. It is, literally, a secret hiding place.”
Beck goes back to Professor Perv and threatens to out him as the serial sexual harasser he is, which I guess works, so good for her! (Just considering the results of #MeToo reveals are, well, mixed, I’m surprised the professor folded so fast.) To thank Joe for encouraging her to use her teeth (not in a sexual way) for this matter, Beck brings Joe a donut, which she presents as being Joe in pastry form. I audibly “ugh”-ed at her description of this donut. Though just hours ago she was calling him a friend, she lunges across the bookstore counter to kiss him.
Flush with the confidence only a make-out session and a plain glazed donut can provide, Joe brings Benji his latte order, spiked with peanut oil. Benji drinks it and promptly dies on the floor.
Joe hides Benji’s phone, which he’s been using to keep up the ruse that Benji is just fine, in his bathroom ceiling. Lots of interesting decision-making here. I guess the moral of the story is, if someone who seems unhinged has kidnapped you and is holding you in a temperature-controlled, soundproofed, underground prison, don’t tell them your allergies. Especially not your deathly allergies. And always password-protect your devices.