Before we get into this recap, I need to say that a friend to whom I was recently describing this show immediately put together that the twins’ names — Love, Forty — make a tennis pun. And now that we’ve met Love and Forty’s douchey rich parents, that this is intentional seems even more plausible to me. So kudos to all of you who figured that out on your own! In my defense, for a while I thought they were saying “Fordy” like, short for Fordham or some other rich-guy-sounding name.
This episode is one of the first and only times our fair series allows us to have access to information and experiences about which Joe knows nothing. As she sneaks her way into Joe’s new inner circle, Candace is — as you might expect — triggered by her proximity to a man who kidnapped her, abused her, thought he killed her, and buried her (!) without confirming for sure that she was dead (rookie mistake). Candace crawled out of her own grave and emerged, covered in schmutz, to have an excruciating interaction with a well-intentioned but ultimately unhelpful female police officer, who explained just how flimsy and convoluted the legal system is re: intimate partner violence, obtaining an actually useful restraining order. “He thinks you’re dead. You want some really off-the-record advice? Stay that way.”
It is interesting that we’ve reached this pop-culture moment where the baseline expectation is law enforcement is more likely to botch a gender violence case than handle it with care (see also: Unbelievable), and that women have no choice but to just get justice on our own terms, with our own hands. It fits in with other survivor-turned-vengeance-girl narratives, from Lisbeth Salander to the Jennifer terrorist collective of Dietland to the late, could’ve-been-great Sweet/Vicious (RIP!), and the new Carey Mulligan movie where she pretends to be incoherent at bars so she can find out which “nice” guys would, given the opportunity, rape her, and attack them instead. I’m not entirely sure that the tone of Candace’s backstory — the gloomy lighting, the genuine terror — is clicking with the arch, over-the-top world of the rest of the show. But I’m intrigued. Tell me how this is all working for you in the comments!
The whole gang is getting together so Love and Forty’s parents can renew their vows at something insufferable called a Wellkend. Everyone is staying in yurts. Dottie, Love’s mom, hits on Joe in the “truth yurt” and basically forces him to get high with her. A wolf, which is Joe’s id (?), SNARLS at him in a way that reveals his soul is a heap of garbage. Everyone takes turns standing in the middle of a circle to talk about the lifelong dreams they want to fulfill, like “make an indie movie” or “travel to Italy.” All guests wear these clothes that look like the exact midpoint of “rich people pajamas” and “religious murder-suicide cult.”
Love warns Joe that her parents are terrible. Joe is sure this won’t be a problem. For some reason, Love thinks that her boyfriend of 20 minutes is equipped to navigate the complex, incendiary relationships among all of her family members. Joe’s efforts to do impossible things — resolve a broken bond between a father and son, for instance — all come to nothing. It does not help that Forty can’t make it through the weekend without asking his dad for $100,000.
Also, Love is shockingly inappropriately dressed for an event that’s clearly supposed to have a Goop-y aesthetic. Everything else she has worn so far on this show would make more sense than the conservative black shift dress she rolls up in, but I guess we are supposed to tell right away that she does not belong here.
This white linen nightmare-scape is where Joe learns that Candace is Forty’s new girlfriend. “Will Biddleheim, what a great name!” she says. “It almost sounds made up.” “I was just thinking, Amy Adam. How un-Googleable,” Joe replies. Candace’s cover is that she’s an indie film producer. As she and Forty explain what they’re working on to the parents, Forty’s dad literally walks away in the middle of his son’s sentence. It’s all very Succession.
Candace reveals to Joe exactly how she found him. I’m not sure why she would give away all this intel; seems like it would make Joe more insane to not know where he’d slipped up. But she does the thing that insecure bad guys do and tells her mark just what she came for: to protect Love’s family from him. But alas, the seams of Candace’s scam start to show when she doesn’t recognize the name of one of the biggest talent agencies in the business.
Back in the yurt, Love is reading her tarot cards and accuses Joe of being “off” all weekend. Then she flips out that Joe didn’t IMMEDIATELY alert her when Forty ordered Taco Bell, which is what he “always” does before he relapses. Is that … a thing? Feels like product placement. Joe blurts out that Love is too obsessed with her brother, which is a true thing that she did not want to hear, and our doomed couple has their first fight.
During the vow renewal, which Love is officiating, Love does the thing where she starts the prepared speech but then she just can’t do it so the THROWS it away and speaks from the heart. Joe can tell that Love is really talking about him, a guy she has been dating for approximately a month, and not her parents, who are in fact the focus of this ceremony. Then Forty, who is high, arrives to make an ass of himself. Dottie hisses in her daughter’s face that her only job was to keep her brother safe. Honestly I feel like that was Dottie’s job, but okay! “You disgust me,” she says, and Love in turn calls her a “fucking hypocrite” and then Dottie smacks her across the face! Forty collapses in tears and buries his face in his mom’s cleavage. In my notes I write wow everybody in this family touches each other in ways I do NOT like.
Joe reveals to Love that his dad hit him. I wonder if Joe is going to tell Love some of the actually awful things he’s done because he mistakenly believes she will accept him as he is, but he keeps all the worst stuff to himself. Love word-vomits the full story of the au pair, who was 19 when the twins were 13 and abused Forty, who considered the experience his “first love.” When the parents caught Forty and the au pair together, the au pair was fired (makes sense) and then she killed herself … and Forty found her body. The parents paid off anybody who could’ve made a thing out of it, but it never gets discussed and clearly Forty has never recovered.
Then Joe and Love have a sickening (to me) conversation about finding another way to say they love each other because they’re not ready to say it, but they are ready to be deeply annoying to me, their one true recapper, so they say “I wolf you,” and I vomit and then curl up on my couch to die.
Joe finds Candace sipping Champagne and informs her that he’s not afraid of her anymore, because he wolfs Love or whatever. He insists that he never tried to kill her. Candace says she’s the one who isn’t scared, because all she has to do is wait for Joe to screw up. What are the odds she ends the season in the storage locker?
Back home, Joe finds a postcard from Will in Manilla. WHAT THE FUCK, WILL? GET AWAY FROM HIM IN ALL THE WAYS. DO NOT MAINTAIN CORRESPONDENCE WITH THIS PERSON.
Forty and Candace pop over to Anavrin to announce their new project, no offense to the one Joe helped Forty come up with, Bang Marry Kill. It’s just that Candace brought a book to Forty’s attention that he really clicked with, by a one Guinevere Beck.
While Joe is away, there’s a whole thing with the Polaroids and Delilah and Ellie back in L.A., but all I think you need to know is that (1) even though Delilah had this valuable evidence, she did nothing to protect it, not even taking the baby step of having photos of the photos on her phone, and (2) she tells Ellie that she was one of Hendy’s victims and Ellie eventually believes her, but (3) they still decide that the best course of action, without consulting any of the women in the photographs but just by assuming they know what’s best for all these strangers, is to destroy the Polaroids instead of giving them to the cop who is looking into Hendy’s death, which — fun times for Joe! — is now being investigated as a possible homicide.