Joe hopped off a plane at LAX with a dream and the ghost of the ex-girlfriend he strangled to death lurking at the edges of his consciousness, sporadically haunting his waking hours. He wasn’t supposed to find love, as in the feeling, or Love, as in the person, and I guess we aren’t supposed to be sure which one Joe is referring to when he is talking to himself endlessly, as is his wont. Point is: Things are escalating with love and Love, to the point where she grabs and kisses Joe in a fish market. This is excellent counter-programming for cuffing season! Finding love is a bad idea; everyone just keep to yourselves.
Joe looks up from this kiss and hallucinates Beck, barely snapping back into it to hear that Love wants him to meet her friends. Already? Good lord. Back at Anavrin, Forty — the douche-y guy whose parents own the place — tells Joe he has a killer idea for how to improve the books department: By playing movies on a loop. Joe escapes this particular hell and throws himself into another: meeting Jasper.
But first, perhaps you’ve been wondering how Joe met-cute with Will, the man whose identity he stole and who is currently being held captive in a plexiglass prison that Joe somehow had the means and ability to construct, by himself, even though he left New York in a hurry with virtually no capital? In the most romantic of places: Craigslist. Will is one of those guys who can help you come up with a whole new self and/or get you out of town, should you hope to never return. Joe wants the kind of rock-solid fake identity that allows a person to go to Mexico and then, when he thinks maybe Candace is finally ready to talk to him again, travel back to New York. Will says those identities take ages to cultivate, sloppily dropping that his own “self” took a decade to construct. Will Biddleheim is no one, and yet he is the man before Joe; he is a shell person that any other person could just occupy, like an abandoned storefront. Just as Will, awfully dopey and trusting for someone in his line of work, tells Joe, “You’re lucky you’re a white dude. No one ever suspects shit when it’s a white dude,” Joe raises a cinderblock on high and brings it down onto the back of Will’s skull.
So now Will’s in a cage that Joe is sure would make Mooney proud. Will tries to reason with Joe: He needs his meds. But Joe has a more pressing concern: the money Will owes Jasper. Will says it’s $3,000. Joe makes a counterfeit classic novel, sells it, and thinks he’s solved his problems, but this is … not how things go. Jasper swings by Anavrin and Joe gives him the $3,000 only to learn that his tab is more like $50,000. To quote Felicity Huffman: rut roh! Just to make sure he gets paid on time, Jasper pulls a knife out of his back pocket and JUST CHOPS OFF JOE’S FINGERTIP, LIKE AN ENTIRE KNUCKLE WORTH OF FINGER!!! Jasper stashes this severed fingertip in a bag of ice that he brought for exactly this purpose (wow gotta say, I do appreciate a planner who thinks of everything) and reports that as long as Joe gets him his money in ten to 12 hours, Jasper will return his finger and then this amazing surgeon should be able to stitch him back together.
Fortunately for Joe, there’s a guy named Rufus who, according to Will, owes Will $50,000. That the number is exactly what he needs should have been a flag as red as the blood gushing uncontrollably from his hand — it’s like one of those movies about how the kids need exactly $5,000 to save the rec center, and then there’s a dance contest one town over and the prize is $5,000 — but Joe doesn’t clock it. He is too distracted by the fact that he has to miss lunch with Love’s coven.
Here, Joe makes a classic lying mistake — too many details, telling on himself — but swings by just long enough to lurk and spy on Love’s friends. I personally would have prioritized getting the $47,000 between me and THE REST OF MY FUCKING FINGER, but this is Joe we’re dealing with. The friends are: Lucy, an Instagram poet who marches for LGTBQ rights and “represents all the Jennifers and some Kates”; Sunrise (eyeroll), Lucy’s partner, a stay-at-home-mommy blogger to a toddler named Candle (ooookay); and Gabe, a pansexual acupuncturist and Love’s best friend. Joe is worried that every single person at the table wants to have sex with Love. But his full-body hatred for them goes away when they are genuinely supportive of Love’s hard-won ability to open her heart after losing the guy she thought was her soulmate.
Rufus is at “a party, at noon, on a Tuesday.” The delivery of this line! The pure disdain! Multiple people at the party mistake Joe for John Mayer. I am dead. Joe spots a celebrity: Hendy, a comedian. “Ethan loved this guy,” Joe says, and I realize how much I miss Ethan. I hope he’s doing okay! Also at the party is Delilah the landlord, who is edgy around Hendy, for reasons Joe does not bother to suss out. He finds Rufus, who is basically off-brand Jeremy Renner, in the basement listening to Air Supply. And what does this gent have for Joe? A bag of meds that Will needs to manage his bipolar disorder.
By the time Joe gets back to the cage, Will’s in a bad way, as can happen to a person suffering from bipolar disorder who is also the victim of blunt force trauma to the head and is currently being imprisoned by a psychopath in a glass cage inside a storage unit. Will is too out of it to even want his meds, even though Joe pouts, “I went to the Valley for you!”
Love comes by Joe’s place to catch him in his lie: Forty, his alibi for missing lunch, is her twin brother. Which means she is also an Anavrin scion. Joe keeps saying this is a terrible time. Love can tell that Joe was really hurt by the last person who dated him because Love has no clue who she is dealing with. Joe hallucinates Beck again and yells in Love’s face. I think yes, maybe now Love will see you for who you are: a man who cannot control his anger around women, and should never be near or alone with one ever again.
Back at the ranch (homemade jail cell inside the storage unit), Jasper is here! Joe has brought him here, because Jasper, like Will, is a real dumb-dumb for someone in such a nefarious industry. Joe reveals his true identity as Jasper marvels at the whole situation. “So you put him in a Hannibal Lecter thing, yeah?” he says. “I suppose you realize you need psychiatric help.” Then Jasper, in a real pots-and-kettles situation, comes at Joe with a knife again, but this time Joe is prepared and in a neat hybrid of self-defense and premeditated murder, STABS Jasper in the gut and kills him right then and there.
Beck’s ghost pops up to just point out to Joe, like no judgment or anything but, that’s yet another murder on his conscience. She reminds him, via visual aids, that he strangled her to death. As I felt during last season’s finale, I am not really here for milking the abuse of Beck for shock or entertainment value, and I’m not sure what we gain from seeing all the bruises on her neck aside from more torture porn.
Joe gets put back together again by Dr. Daniel, bops over to Anavrin to take out some damning security cameras, then goes home to dismember Jasper before putting him through a factory-grade meat-grinder that he has access to for some reason? Is that in Anavrin? Also, he has a wall of saws and knives and other such torture devices. He should really be wearing a shower cap because there’s no way his hairs didn’t get into the evidence. Anyway, he chucks all the ground-up body parts into dumpsters. Goodbye, Jasper.
Then he goes over to Love’s place. (This was not shown in the episode but I have to believe, nay, pray, that he showered first.) He sort of tries to explain to Love that he is the one who hurt his ex, not the other way around, and that Beck did not know what risks she was taking by being in a relationship with him. Love says she can take care of herself; I say murders by intimate partners are on the rise. But, like Joe sobbing at the already-vanished Beck ghost, Love cannot hear my cries. She says they can be friends and I burst out laughing. Then she says that she really hurt James (the husband) too, and again I say: I really, really, REALLY hope that she killed him.
Because Joe’s trying to make amends for his shitty day, he hits up Delilah in the laundry room. Delilah reports that Henderson had seemed to really be looking out for her when she was working as a stripper, trying to be a screenwriter, and then he drugged her beer and sexually assaulted her when she was 17 years old. She wants to write the big Hendy exposé but no one will talk to her, because all the victims are young women of color, they’re all strippers, and don’t think it’s worth the risk. This is why she doesn’t care about all the scumbags she writes about now. To Joe, she goes on, “You nod as if you’re somehow not one of them … You act nice, because you’re not. And I may not know what kind of bad you are, but I got my radar the hard way. So stay the fuck away from me and my sister.” I LOVE HER.
Joe goes home to Will, his only friend, who he has successfully conned into taking his meds by crushing them into a green juice. Will was so out of it, he says, “At one point, I thought I saw you murder a guy.” In addition to a little light homicide, Joe also stole a pair of Love’s underwear out of her laundry basket. Old habits!