Did any of you ever read Ella Enchanted? It is a children’s classic, highly recommend. The gist is this girl was cursed with forever obedience, and one of her ways of subverting the curse was to just take people literally — so if somebody said, “Hold this bowl, Ella,” she’d do it while running in circles around the kitchen. It was my first lesson in the difference between obeying the letter of the law versus the spirit of said law, and it also comes to my mind now, as I am grappling with my feelings toward You.
You technically did what I asked it to do — get Beck and John Stamos to hook up, reveal Joe’s deep dark secret to be something other than “he murdered Candace” — but it did it very much in not in the way that I meant, and so I am even more frustrated than I was before.
Joe and Beck are back together, but their snuggles are disrupted by Joe’s subconscious. He screams himself awake thinking of Candace. After her oh-so-casual breakfast questioning of Joe re: Candace, Beck, duly unsettled by Karen’s warnings, begins her own little Spotlight-style investigation into this mystery of Joe’s past. A big part of what makes this frustrating is that this information is READILY available, takes almost no effort to find, but still brings Beck to a bunch of (literally) dead ends.
While she Nancy Drews it up on Instagram, Joe goes back to his wildly unprofessional therapist, who is taking a volatile personal call while Joe is sitting right there. Where did they find this guy? I hope some of this is covered by insurance. Anyway, Stamos tells Joe, “We are the architects of our own dreams,” which is very Ivanka, and that Joe needs to address his unfinished ex-business before it eats his soul alive or whatever.
So now we finally get those long-awaited Candace flashbacks. Okay, so I haven’t seen Jaws (I know, I know, also this is relevant, I promise!) but as I understand it, the deal is that the shark is actually scarier before you see it, when you’re just hearing the whole duuuun dun thrumming and your imagination does the rest. Well, Candace was a LOT more interesting before I actually got to know her.
She could have been anyone! She could have been Joe’s secret half-sister who went insane when she discovered the true nature of their Flowers in the Attic-y relationship! She could have been a criminal mastermind who fleeced Joe for all he was worth and then tore off to Italy to scam a new mark! Make her a descendant of the Romanovs! Instead, she’s just a collection of stereotypes with red lipstick on, which, remember, is the color of HARLOTRY in the world of You. If we’re supposed to believe she’s got a monopoly on Joe’s psyche, she should at least get a personality, no? “Promiscuous musician” is not a personality. Being in a band called Heathcliff’s Misery (extreme eye roll) is also not a personality. She and Joe never seem all that close even when they are together; he doesn’t realize she never loved him, as she’ll later shout in his face, but everyone else who ever saw them could’ve clued him into that fact. Her cheating is so flagrant, it’s like she didn’t care whether or not she got caught. This is the woman Joe is still obsessed with?
Apparently! Because as Beck discovers, Joe was wrecked when things ended with Candace. Though I take it we’re to think that what really messed Joe up is that, in a fit of rage, he shoved Elijah — the requisite skeevy record exec who, quite plausibly, says he had no idea Candace had a boyfriend because she literally never mentioned Joe — off a building to his death. Joe fled the scene of this whoopsie to the home of Mr. Mooney, abusive bookshop proprietor, where he hid out for a week until it all blew over.
Joe methodically takes apart two copies of Wuthering Heights so the dedication page from Candace’s copy ends up in the garbage and a different, whole copy goes on the discount pile, for symbolism reasons.
Beck follows the Candace bread crumbs first to Ethan, who advises her to let this go (bad advice!), and then to Maddie, the mutual friend from Peach’s Parents Got Divorced Party (#neverforget), who confirms that Candace was having sex with the label guy who signed her and then “ghosted everyone she knew” when she ran off to Italy. Candace has no family save for a brother, Jimmy, whom Beck tracks down at the Hartley Psychiatric Center — but instead of giving me those creepy Radley vibes I was holding out for, Beck just gets a receptionist who tells her Jimmy died six months ago.
A good rule of writing for a show like this should be: Think of the most bonkers, incredible thing that could happen, and then do THAT thing. Don’t tiptoe up to the thing — Jimmy thinks Candace is dead, but he was institutionalized by Candace and nobody believes him but also nobody has heard from her in a year! — only to have that thing resolve itself, off-screen, with an anti-climactic phone call.
That said, it is fun to watch Beck go from stalkee to stalker, and as the information she discovers about Joe becomes more and more chilling, her choices make less and less sense. If you think there is even a, let’s say, 25 percent chance that your boyfriend is a murderer, why would you go to his apartment, totally alone, without telling anyone else where you’re going? Why wouldn’t you insist on the meeting taking place in public, with at least one friend by your side? Didn’t Beck want to at least swipe a gun from Peach’s abandoned belongings for this adventure? I say if you have a hunch your boyfriend is a murderer, at the VERY least, you spend the night at a friend’s house.
But no, Beck goes to Joe’s place having taken zero precautions, and Joe proceeds to gaslight her. Candace changed her name — BECK, RED FUCKING FLAG — and Joe shows Beck her new Instagram, which is as basic as her old one. (I love that the real alarm doesn’t go off for Beck until she puts this together: “Who moves to Italy and doesn’t post any pictures?” Uh, Beck: Women who are trying to not be found by their insane exes!)
Beck’s heart knows that Joe could never homicide. Joe admits he never went to Italy and then he takes Beck to Mr. Mooney’s place, where Mr. Mooney has conveniently suffered a stroke that leaves him incapable of speech. (100 percent chance Joe pushed him down the stairs, right?) In a flashback, we see how Mooney encouraged Joe to feel no remorse for his extra-unnecessary killing because “men, they go off to war, kill people, every day, then come back and get on with their lives.” I mean… I guess?
“Who knew sharing my darkest secrets would make me feel so light?” Joe asks in the narration, to which I say, out loud, “Umm, everyone.”
At this point Joe declares that he knows something crucial: There IS no Emma Fox from Brown. He attacks John Stamos, forces him to unlock his phone, and his darkest fears are realized. They were having an affair! Which, okay, I have SO many questions. First up, why take something as not-relevant-to-the-story as Claudia’s relapse and give it approximately a thousand hours of screen time while Beck and Stamos’ client-therapist sex-sessions get the speedy-quick SuperCut treatment? Also, once Beck started screwing her therapist, she kept seeing him for therapy? She didn’t think like, Huh, this guy has no boundaries and maybe I should get my actual mental health care from a better provider?
Joe word-vomits his horror at Beck, trotting out his classic virgin-whore hangups (“He’s been DEFILING you!”) and I write in my notes, WHO WILL WIN THE TUG OF WAR FOR JOE’S FRAGILE SOUL? The sincerity with which Joe asks. “Are you or were you ever fucking your therapist?” with his veins doing that Keri Russell pop out of his forehead! Beck confesses but she swears it’s over, and she says the magic words — “I love you” — enough times to make Joe cry-smile and hug her again. At this point, I am concerned for everyone involved.
While Joe fetches breakfast after his first dreamless sleep in weeks, the stairwell urchin pops over to (1) Commit to his thing of not talking to Joe and (2) Let Beck know that you can hide things in the loose ceiling tile in the bathroom. AND. BECK. FINDS. EVERYTHING.
The shit he stole from her apartment, including her underwear. Peach and Benji’s phones. A LITTLE JAR OF TEETH. Big year for hiding your murder victims’ teeth. One more makes a trend! (Also: This is why you always take your phone with you when you pee! For this very specific but dangerous emergency!)
Joe quickly realizes something is off, and it’s here Beck’s desire to maintain the appearance of everything being cool totally does her in. BITCH, RUN. Don’t try to seem polite! When Joe slams the door on her, I admit: I gasped.
We are back where we should have realized we were headed all along: Beck is trapped in the soundproof book dungeon. She is screaming and no one can hear her. And because Blythe made her get off social media, no one will even find this absence suspicious!! How long will it take her self-absorbed friends to figure out she’s MIA? Will the “douchey guy” (Lynn’s words) that Peach’s family hired to look into her death be her savior? Or — my fervent hope, my only prayer — is Ethan the knight we’ve been waiting for?