The title of this episode — the eye-roll-inducing name is “Everythingship” — should have warned me. I should have been prepared. But after last week, I was allowing myself to feel something extremely 2008: hope. Hope that this series was going to embrace its inherent absurdity and willful ridiculousness; hope that, given the choice between something kind of logical but 100 percent boring or something questionably possible but definitely compelling, You would always veer toward the latter like Joe’s stolen/inherited car at that tree. But alas, 2008 was 10,000 years ago and the dominant emotions of 2018 are existential dread and disappointment.
So I regret to inform you that You introduces a bunch of potentially exciting, juicy developments in this episode, only to abandon them for beigey, blah efforts at almost-realism.
See, Joe thinks Beck is cheating on him with her therapist. It is very important to note here that her therapist is John Stamos, with a beard. Knowing as we do that Beck has a deeply unhealthy relationship with her own dad (remember she refers to accepting money from him in exchange for time together as “whoring”) and has, as Peach accurately noted shortly before she was murdered (RIPeach), “a desperate, unhealthy need for attention,” this seems like an insane but also plausible in the You world turn of events. Plus: John! Stamos! BEARD!
But no, it’s just Joe’s dopey insecurity gnawing at his barely existent soul. In reality, Beck just needs “space” because her best friend just died by suicide (or so she thinks) and is feeling smothered by Joe’s obsessive, performative always-there-for-you deal.
In order to see how Joe and Beck’s relationship has taken the extremely basic trajectory from “super into each other” to “eh, not really feeling it anymore,” we are forced to watch this insufferable couple be couple-y to better grasp how far they’ve fallen. (Beck gives an Instagram of them the caption “The #joeandbeck dream team,” so.) All the while Joe details the bliss he once felt with “Ronaldo” to John Stamos. John Stamos both records these sessions and gets stoned during them, which is a biiiiiit of a red flag, no?
Beck got fired from her yoga instructor job because she fell asleep while she was teaching a class. Again, this reminds us that Beck is mediocre, at best, at everything she does, but Joe does not see it that way. And because Joe is about as good at dating as he is at committing murders (not very), he thinks the solution to this problem is to hire Beck himself. So now he is her boyfriend and her boss, even though he should know, based on all available evidence, that Beck is a trash employee. As Joe tells it, this “did force me to confront some slightly careless aspects of his [Ronaldo a.k.a. Beck’s] personality,” like how the biggest part of Beck’s job is to put books on shelves and she can’t do it.
Let’s give the floor to Ethan, shall we? “Beck is terrible, Joe. She’s always late, she leaves the register open, she doesn’t know how to organize by genre.” (LITERALLY BECK IS GETTING HER MFA RIGHT NOW BECAUSE SHE WANTS TO BE A WRITER AND THE GIRL CAN’T ORGANIZE BOOKS BY SUBJECT MATTER?! FOR THE LOVE OF BLYTHE.) Joe, Ethan explains, is “caught up hard in the tilt-a-whirl of punani,” which, depending on your taste in boardwalk attractions, is a very good thing or a gross nightmare. “But shitting where you eat just leads to confusion and E. coli.” Can we nominate Ethan for the Nobel Peace Prize for this glorious hunk of wisdom?
When Joe confronts Beck about her horrendous work performance, she whines at him that he promised the hours would be flexible and she’d have time to write. Joe points out she is not, in fact, writing. “Thinking about writing is a part of the process!” she wails. She has been having vivid dreams about Peach — Joe probably feels threatened by this — and anyway, “the only good thing in my life right now is therapy.” Sidebar: How does Beck afford therapy?
The sheriff who pulled Joe over in Greenwich calls the bookstore, by the way, but Joe speedily concocts a cover story to align with his first cover story and it seems like that will be the end of that. Unless/until they find his piss in a jar. Love me some pee-centric suspense!
Realizing that she is being awful, Beck throws a candlelight dinner for Joe in the basement of the bookstore where she is not supposed to be and where any one of her candles could turn these priceless pages to ash. She explains her grief with a convoluted metaphor about a Little Mermaid sleeping bag that got fungus.
Then Beck lays a girlfriend trap so classic — nay, iconic — they should chisel it in marble and display it at the entryway at the Museum of the Girlfriend. She tells Joe she really, truly does not want him to do anything for her birthday. Friends: I laughed so hard. I had to pause the episode. I had to stand up and stare at the ceiling as tears formed in my eyes as I said, to no one in particular, “He is so screwed! He will never recover from this!”
Right on cue, Joe sees Beck’s friend Lynn, who informs him that whole point is to pretend you don’t want anything because you’re a cool girlfriend not a regular girlfriend and then you watch your boyfriend show up in some thoughtful, above-and-beyond way, and you go “you shouldn’t have!” but you don’t really mean it.
“She wants low-key!” Joe insists, blind and helpless. “Dude, Beck’s a Sagittarius,” Lynn says. “She craves attention.” She advises a party where everyone comes dressed as their favorite literary character, which I think is a mean thing to do in this situation because if it’s going to be a surprise, then Beck will be the only person at her party who isn’t wearing a costume. But anyway, she convinces Joe: “Would you rather do something and be wrong or do nothing and be wrong?”
Lynn also says, “If I bury my sorrows in any more booze and boys I’m going to get syphilis — again.” Bless you, Lynn.
Joe dresses up as Ernest Hemingway because of course he does. Beck shows up 40 minutes late because of course she does. Ethan and Blythe have this immediate romantic connection which I did not see coming but I can get behind it. But back to our lovebirds: Beck arrives just in time to overhear Joe calling her “selfish” and “rude,” which she is! But she is in no mood for constructive criticism. “I said QUIET and SMALL,” she whisper-yells. Beck does not even have a good alibi. She pretends to have forgotten her own birthday. Also she is already drunk.
Joe demands to see her phone and Beck calls his bluff: “If you do this, it means there is absolutely no trust between us, and if we don’t have trust, we have nothing.”
She leaves before the cake is served but is at Joe’s place in the morning with an apology donut. Joe caves and hugs her. But it’s all ruined now, and these kids have gone from being that annoying, boring happy couple to that annoying, boring, sad couple that bickers over what takeout to get. Joe cannot get visions of Beck and the therapist out of his mind, so he tails her when she says she’s going to class. He sees her put on red lipstick which as we know is code for HEATHEN MOUTH. And then he gets caught. Beck dumps him right there in the street.
John Stamos the bearded therapist responds to this information by saying there are “two people” inside Joe, a hopeless romantic and a betrayed, helpless soul, and he gives Joe a doodle illustrating this point. Joe’s like, thanks but no thanks! Like literally every man on Earth who definitely needs therapy, Joe believes he could not possibly benefit from therapy.
After Stamos heads home for the night, Joe breaks into the office. Really, the therapist doesn’t password-protect the laptop where he apparently stores recordings of all of his sessions?? Come on now, You. Joe listens to Beck’s sessions and learns that the explanation for their breakup is as dull as she is: “The more you want me, the less I want you,” Beck says she would tell her boyfriend were he sitting right there beside her. “I’m hiding what a complete, ugly mess I am.” Are you, though?
Joe realizes the error of his paranoia and makes the valiant, if totally unnecessary, step of bashing in her phone with a mallet. (Just wipe it clean and sell it!) He is very dramatically letting her go. He admits his jealousy, paraphrases her therapy session back to her, and walks away. He returns to therapy after all, which is not a bad idea, though I’m not sold on Stamos’s credentials, since this session involves talking about how he lost his virginity to “Hungry Like the Wolf.”
Joe returns home, all moody and dejected, to find Karen in the hallway. God, this hallway. Karen is friends with the stairwell urchin’s mom, and Ron is back in the picture so she’s been prowling around with a baseball bat trying to keep her friend safe. She sees Joe’s broken heart yet intact cheekbones and just flings herself at him. After they have sex, she says, “I love you, Joe” just to fuck with him. This is the best part of the episode.
Then hallucination Candace returns! “Are you going to leave Beck alone, or will she end up like me?” Clearly the show wants us to think that Joe killed Candace. Do we? I kind of think it would be more interesting if she were alive, but was completely insane in some spooky Gothic horror-y asylum somewhere that she could break out of to stalk Joe, and then the predator becomes the prey?? But also, maybe she’s just dead in a ditch. And not even in Europe. Just like, a regular American ditch.