Beck and Joe have reached a very special stage of dating. It’s part–BuzzFeed personality quiz (Which Old Movie Will Charm Your Date the Most?), part-casual recon (“Sooo, what exactly happened with your ex?”), and — my personal favorite! — part-conning-the-guy-who-wants-to-have-sex-with-you-into-doing-manual-labor-and-driving-you-places.
Now, I don’t want any of you to get the idea that I have ever murdered a person and/or made a dead body disappear. I am a corpse-disposal virgin. But even I, a rookie in this department, know that Joe is doing a terrible job. Joe has just left Benji’s decomposing body in the basement of the book store for three full days. I know that place is soundproof, but are we really supposed to believe it’s smell-proof? Isn’t Joe concerned about the mortis getting all rigor-ed? It’s a full 72 hours after slipping our artisanal soda-bro that fatal peanut oil that Joe decides to start researching how to get rid of a body? I don’t even believe in coming to class if you didn’t do the reading; Joe did a homicide before even a cursory search through an incognito window at a public library?
But of course Joe does not want to Google, lest he be caught — even though, as I just pointed out, it wouldn’t be that hard to cover those online tracks. No, Joe turns to the works of Stephen King and Gillian Flynn for guidance, because I guess his disgust for popular fiction ends where his desperation begins. Joe doesn’t have the stomach to destroy Benji’s teeth — point: Amma — so he buys himself even more time by stocking the basement with humidifiers.
Let us leave Joe to meet my new favorite character, a female twist on the Guy in Your MFA. Her name is Blythe, and she seems like she was designed in a lab to torture the chronically insecure Beck, by which I mean, she is actually talented and a high priestess of the humblebrag. (Now that Beck’s out from under Professor Screw My Students, she has to attend a workshop with her fellow MFAs, one of whom is Blythe.) Blythe calls social media “the next great genocide,” and says things like “I actually separated from my parents for a while and did some modeling in Tokyo? My hair is super-unique there,” and “My worst fear is to be unremarkable.” I love that Blythe’s aesthetic is aggressively ordinary, even as she markets herself as The Most Fascinating Girl in the World. I don’t know that long, wavy hair with honey-blonde highlights really screams “subversive” but, as the Pope would say, who am I to judge.
Joe, who has a virgin/whore complex for the ages, can’t believe that Beck, his sacred, his only, his gentle doe-eyed lamb-girl (she is all the softest woodland creatures), the one who he tells us in voice-over is “worth waiting for” — remember, good guys only have sex with worthless women! — is swiping across Tinder and doing Satan’s mambo with an endless parade of New York randos. “I can’t get rid of every guy in New York,” Joe whines to us, as Beck and a bartender break her bed.
Distraught over Beck, Joe focuses on his burn-Benji-burn mission, and he ropes the staircase stray into running all the incriminating errands for him. (Joe gives the kid a typed list, which I take to mean Joe wrote this out on a typewriter, which is just … extremely on brand.)
Beck, meanwhile, leaves her MFA workshop with an assignment but “in no mood to write.” I find it hilarious that we are supposed to be rooting for Beck to make it as a writer — or at least, we’re supposed to believe that writing is her passion, the one thing she moved to New York to do and be and blah blah whatever — and yet we never, ever see her actually make any meaningful effort to, you know, write. Even Carrie Bradshaw hunkered down at her laptop at least once an episode!
Joe lures Beck out of the apartment by asking if she’ll go furniture shopping, and instead of doing the only thing that will really address her insecurity (that is, writing the story that will shut up the Blythes of the world), Beck flings herself at the distraction.
Joe picks Beck up in Mr. Mooney’s cherry-red Buick and off they go! Beck lingers over a red ladle which Benji told Joe was part of her kinky sex thing (I kind of thought we were past thinking that sort of predilection was soooo out there, just as a post–50 Shades society, but apparently we are to be scandalized by Beck’s proclivity for some light utensil play). Beck skims Blythe’s short story, already filed to the class ahead of schedule, and wails, “It’s brilliant!” Beck has not started hers. It’s due tomorrow. GEE BECK IF ONLY THERE WERE SOME WAY YOU COULD FIND THE TIME TO WRITE YOUR STORY.
And can I just say: If we are to believe that Beck is broke, why the hell is she going to a bougie-looking furniture store to buy a solid wood bed? Wouldn’t she just put a mattress on a boxspring and call it a day? Or maybe — maybe — spring for a cute headboard from Wayfair or Ikea? No way in hell does this girl swing into some Restoration Hardware–looking joint and drop close to a thousand dollars on a bedframe. Just … no.
In quite the bold effort to cheer Beck up, Joe tries to go down on her at the furniture store, and what starts as a strong makeout session ends with Beck whisper-shouting that she doesn’t need Joe to get her arrested for public indecency, thank you very much.
Back at the bookstore, Joe’s humidifiers have overloaded the system and now the power is out. Ethan, who is listening to Enrique Iglesias and wants to bone up on his Spanish, calls Joe to tell him they’re going to break into the basement to fix the fuse box, and miraculously Joe convinces them to wait until he gets there and not solve this pressing problem.
As I predicted, Benji is deteriorating and the smell is rancid. So, Joe puts Benji in the trunk of the car. And then he just leaves him there as he goes about his day/life!
As you’ll recall, even though Joe’s attempts at a public quickie horrified Beck, these lovebirds are still in the stage of dating that involves getting a guy to help you do tedious, exhausting labor, and that bed isn’t going to put itself together. So Beck is still texting him. They make the bed, they lie in it. (Is the least realistic part of this episode the idea that a couple will somehow grow closer after spending hours assembling furniture?) Beck wonders, “Am I ever going to write anything that amazing?” I write in my notes: I don’t know Beck, you never write anything at all so you’re not exactly increasing your amazingness odds!
Beck’s version of the red ladle story is more PG-13 — her dad, the addict, made pancakes with them until he OD’d — and everything is going great for Joe until Peach barges in. She has interstitial cystitis, she can only drink fancy alcohol, it’s a whole thing, and as Joe valiantly tries to drive the girls to the hospital, Peach correctly notes the “putrid aroma” wafting out of Joe’s trunk and bolts out of the car. At the hospital, post-treatment, she essentially accuses Joe of being too poor to date Beck (an interesting conclusion to draw, considering Joe’s ride) and Beck gets all pouty and offended.
When Joe gets home, the police await him. Ron found the shopping list Joe gave the stairwell urchin which, as Joe points out, is “straight out of Body Disposal for Dummies.” Joe comes up with a speedy-quick cover story about a garden and also tips the police off to fact that Ron is a neglectful, dangerous guardian. Two birds, one murder!
I guess Joe dealt with Benji’s teeth during some offscreen time, because he drives the body into the woods somewhere and burns it. Beck calls during this process and Joe, a total dum-dum, answers instead of letting it go to voice-mail. He loses his cool at his beloved. Ruh-roh.
Beck, again the least-sympathetic aspiring writer to grace our screens in quite some time, is (1) so late to class she missed the entirety of Blythe’s critique and (2) did not finish her story in time, or really at all. She offers to read aloud this half-page of a thing she managed to get out before running in the room. Blythe wants her to know, “I have this facial autism thing where I can’t hide what I’m thinking.” (That’s not even Blythe’s best line from this scene! Earlier, after some sycophantic classmate calls her Raymond Carver reincarnated, she says, “I was born in ’88, the year he died, so weirdly enough, you’re not the first person who has said that.”)
Scarred by the experience of being held accountable for totally failing to do any of her assignment, Beck rushes into Joe’s waiting arms at the bookstore. She is afraid she sounds “so millennial” and, as a millennial, I find that offensive.
Beck is realizing that she knows negative nothing about Joe. She’s never seen his apartment or met his friends. So she follows him into the basement. BECK. Has the star of this Lifetime show never seen a Lifetime movie?! Anyway in the basement Joe tells her some obnoxious drivel about how this rare book dungeon is his real personality. I swear I nearly vomited when he started just listing the ingredients of books: “Paper, cloth, leather.” Beck, RUN. Like Clark telling Martha she’s welcome at his place whenever, Joe says Beck can come to his apartment anytime.
But instead of taking him up on that offer, Beck invites him over to her place yet again, so she can answer the door in a red bra — red, like the ladle and the Buick, is the oh-so-subtle color of sex and sin — and put that new bed to good use. And then Joe comes almost instantly. Great work, everybody!