We begin with a twist: Beck gets the voice over!
I know it is technically sexist to comment on women’s voices but since we are analyzing the ways in which people who want to seem attractive to prospective partners are never not consciously arranging everything about themselves so as to appear in the most flattering light, it is my obligation as a recapper to point out that, no matter who she is speaking to, how she is feeling, or what she is doing, Beck always sounds like she just woke up from the most satisfying nap of her life. It’s the vocal equivalent of sexy bedhead.
That said, I’m all about this wannabe-Gone Girl POV swap, especially when Beck describes Joe’s came-too-soon face as “that ‘Trump just took Pennsylvania’ look” before she pivots to thinking about ordering food. The awkward silence is broken by the buzz of Beck’s phone: A text from someone she’s got saved as “The Captain.” (For those of us who have studied Penn Badgley’s earlier work, this should ring a very specific bell.)
The Captain, we learn, paid for the bed and Beck’s phone bill. Aha! I knew Beck couldn’t pay for that bed herself! (But still, if she’s so desperate for cash, why waste this hard-won jackpot on a bedframe?) It is strongly implied that Beck has a sugar daddy situation, which it turns out she does, but like, literally. Which makes this both more and less gross than initially insinuated. If you were meeting your estranged dad at a Dickens Festival, would you really go shopping for your outfit at a lingerie store? Would you refer to your arrangement as “whoring”? Would your aesthetic be ‘Victoria’s Secret pirate wench with Pinterest hair’?
But I digress. For at this juncture, Joe is spying on Beck’s texts and has no idea who the Captain is. All he knows is that this sexual debut did not go as planned, and he bails without saying goodbye.
Cut to Peach, talking shit about her other friends — “Annika wouldn’t know a good dick if you hit her over the head with it,” wow, okay — and encouraging Beck to practice self-love by ghosting Joe. Beck is distracted because everyone in her workshop called her writing “treacly,” which is just perfect. I want a crossover with Younger where Blythe gets a book deal with Millennial but insists on working exclusively with Charles because “I feel like Kelsey doesn’t appreciate my spare, incisive prose.”
Peach Salinger, who let’s not forget is a descendant through some unclear means of a one J. D. Salinger, advises Beck cool it with writing so much about her dad in these thinly veiled ways and find other demons to focus on. “I’m just saying, stop killing puppies. Write fresh!” Actually, I love that advice. Points for Peach. (Also, she’s a better friend than I realized if she’s out here reading Beck’s “treacly” rough drafts.)
Beck lies to Peach about her weekend plans, pretending she has some writers’ retreat to go to, and hypes herself for this sad motel with a mantra we would all do well to remember: Britney got through 2007 though, right?
Just as the Captain pulls up and we are about to find out his costume kinks, we are back to Joe. Joe, who has been spying on Beck from across the parking lot, is reliving his poor performance, moaning (not incorrectly) “I’ve reduced myself to an anecdote” and then, as he watches Beck report on the occasion to her friends, “My dick reduced to cartoon food items.” In my notes I wrote: Did Joe BRING Beck’s phone to her apartment?! Bold move buddy.
Anyway: The Captain is Beck’s dad. Beck has been telling everybody her dad overdosed and died. We eventually discover Beck’s dad overdosed and survived and ditched Beck’s family to start fresh with a Christian mommy blogger, and rather than divulge this painful humiliation to the world — and, let’s be real, because she wants to seem more interested and complex — Beck has been telling everybody that her dad is dead.
Now Beck grits her teeth through particularly degrading family rituals, like attending this Dickens Festival with dad’s do-over family, so the Captain will keep sending her money. The snotty teen daughter, who looks absurd but frankly is much more appropriately attired for this even than Beck is, “accidentally” lets it slip that her mom and the Captain are having a baby, which means no more money for Beck.
Back at the ranch, Peach is doing recon on her missing copy of Ozma of Oz, which she just knows Joe stole. She swings by the bookstore, which is important because she meets my hero, Ethan, who describes undeniable bombshell Shay Mitchell thusly: “Kinda hot, but that might just be a type thing.”
And then: Joe gets made at Dickens Fest! He smooth talks his way out of this by saying it’s something he does annually as a bookseller. That’s pretty clever, I must say. Beck buys it. I will also give credit to Joe — who is a psycho and a stalker and a murderer! #neverforget — for being self-effacing and quite charming about the other night. Beck’s spot then gets blown up when the Captain strolls right up to her and introduces himself as her dad, because clearly he did not get the memo that he’s supposed to be playing dead.
Beck explains her lie and Joe forgives and everybody goes to dinner in Great Expectations cosplay. As one might expect, it all goes sideways, with Christian Mommy Blogger accusing Beck of treating her dad like an ATM and Beck ranting right back, and Beck flees dramatically to a scenic gazebo, as one does.
“Do you want him dead” Joe asks re: Beck’s dad, and I am very intrigued by the idea of this show turning into a thing where Joe and Beck become hit-people together. But no, Beck just wants Joe to go and leave her ALONE with her issues and her 19th century strumpet dress.
The Captain finds her moping there and they have a pretty legitimate heart-to-heart, considering it begins with Beck informing him that she tells people he’s dead. (All of that feels extremely fact-checkable, by the way — the Captain is on Facebook! But I guess a perk of having self-absorbed friends is that none of them will ever dig into your past.)
That night, Beck cannot sleep. But she can write. She does such a good job that Blythe reaches out to say the story gave her chills and she is, I quote, “there for it.” Beck is there for this influx of validation, so she rushes to Joe’s (horrid, terrifying) apartment and goes, “They say girls with daddy issues are really good in bed,” which, ugh. The best part of this sequence is that Joe’s apartment is littered with all the stuff he’s stolen from Beck and he has to strategically distract her with his mouth while his hands frantically stuff all the evidence between couch cushions. But WHERE IS OZMA OF OZ? Inquiring Peaches want to know!
Speaking of Peach: She has one of those “I’m solving a mystery” berets, a la Blair Waldorf, and she has bedbugs! Even wealth cannot protect you from bedbugs. NOTHING CAN PROTECT YOU. I need to level with you, this is extremely real for me as I am coming up on the five-year anniversary of my bedbug invasion. (You can find that nightmare fodder here.) So now I feel deeply connect to Peach Salinger, which is not a sentence I ever saw myself writing but life can be funny that way.
Joe, somehow, slipped the book back on Peach’s shelf without anybody finding out. Do we think Joe picked up a bedbug on the way out? That’s what you get for breaking and entering.