Joe says Shirley Jackson wrote that suburbia is where people go to come apart. I say Joe, you’re from Brooklyn, and you were just as fucked up there as you are in Madre Linda.
We are treated to yet another flashback, just in case you were still wondering, Did something perhaps happen during Joe’s tender childhood to make him this way? Nurse Fiona “moved to Ohio,” which is presumably the human equivalent of “we sent the dog to a farm,” and Joe hates himself for not killing her shitty boyfriend. The only good part of this flashback is that when Joe says his mom hated him for shooting and killing her abuser, his friend suggests that Joe actually has no clue how his mom feels: “You’re making it up.” See, this is the kind of audience-surrogate shit I was talking about!!
But let’s do what I wish this show would’ve done and stay in the moment. Joe stashes his bloody shirt under the trash can of diapers. While Joe fantasizes about his escape with Marienne, Love declares: “I think it’s time for us to try for another baby.” Joe swears that he wants nothing more in this world. Can she tell he’s lying? I’m going to say … not yet.
Doesn’t Joe realize that leaving town with Marienne right now would make her the prime suspect in Ryan’s murder? Marienne eventually raises this concern via the cops who want to interview her, but I’m surprised it didn’t occur to Joe, given all the time he spends committing and then covering up his crimes. When Marienne calls Joe to say Ryan is dead, she immediately understands that this will blow back on her. Joe’s take: Let’s focus on the positive. Because this aspect of the show was designed specifically to torture me, of course Marienne is like, “I’m glad he’s dead.” Remember, whenever Joe does a bad thing for Marienne, even when it’s something she told (or would have told) him not to do, it is, deep down, something she wishes for because women don’t know what they want. Only Joe can see to her truest desires and realize them on her behalf.
Joe tells Marienne that he and Love are separating. Marienne invites him and Henry to get out of town with her and Juliet while the Ryan drama dies down — not suspicious at all!!! Joe, ecstatic, says he has to “tie up a few loose ends,” and then he looks down at the tarp hiding Theo’s body and sees it … twitch. With life! Can Joe kill Theo now that he just pinky-swore never to do a bad thing ever again?? He decides that he must save the teen who loved and fucked his wife. Joe tells Theo that Love fooled everyone, then gets him to a hospital.
In the cage, Sherry and Cary are (understandably) getting a bit heated over the thing where Cary accidentally shot Sherry in the ear. Cary goes, “I AM A FEMINIST,” and pushes back on the idea that he “shot” his wife: “I grazed you.” So Sherry picks up the gun and just shoots him! Like, not a graze. Definitely a shot in the leg. Incredible, this whole sequence. I hope she didn’t hit a major artery.
Back at home, Love is scrolling through baby names with her lipstick on and her hair done. I don’t want to encourage a string of homicides, but I can’t pretend it doesn’t really bring out Love’s best, aesthetically. But her reverie is destroyed when she takes out the diaper trash and discovers Joe’s bloody shirt.
At the bakery, Love overhears all the neighbors gossiping about Ryan’s murder and its possible connection to the Natalie investigation. Love puts it together: Ryan is Marienne’s ex, and Joe killed Ryan because he’s still obsessed with Marienne. She goes back downstairs where her captives are fighting about grazing. The way Sherry says “Heyyy” is just fantastic. Love is here for some girl talk: “Joe is cheating.” Sherry’s instant response is: “Love, kill him!” Joe was abusive, Sherry rationalizes. “Everybody will believe you! It’s always the husbands!” Her crazy eyes are phenomenal. She thinks she’s nailed it, but Love walks right up to the glass and accuses Sherry of being a “fucking monster.”
Having done the mitzvah of dumping Theo at a loading dock, Joe goes to Dante’s to pick up Henry so he can start his happily ever after with Marienne. Except Dante reports that Love picked Henry up hours ago. So Joe goes home to find Love cooking roast chicken — which is such a great choice: the dish to prove she’s an excellent cook and serve with very murder-y implements. She’s ready to have a little chat. Joe knows she knows. So the wonderfully tense question becomes: How does Love plan to kill Joe?
Love cannot believe that Joe was off killing for some other woman while Love (thinks) she killed a teenager for him. (Why don’t these seasoned homicidal maniacs make sure their dead bodies are dead before abandoning them in ditches and/or basements?) Joe doesn’t tell her that Theo is alive. Instead, he brings up James, the ex. And what Love did to him (murder). He says, gently as possible, that he wants a divorce. I write in my notes: Okay, but who gets the human aquarium and custody of the humans inside it?? Henry starts to cry, so Love leaves to take care of him, and while she’s away, Joe grabs the knife and holds it under the table.
Love returns to tell Joe that she took care of James while he was sick and then he didn’t want her anymore. But she didn’t mean to kill him. She dosed him with this paralytic — because she just wanted to talk! — but overdid it. But Joe doesn’t have to worry because now she’s letting it absorb through the skin … because it was on the handle of the knife! Did you guys watch Justified? If not, you should — it’s great (Margo Martindale and baby Kaitlin Devers, among other treats!), but for those of you who did, it’s all very “it was already in the glass,” right? “No one will ever love you like I do, Joe,” she says as he falls to the floor. “Something to think about while you’re lying there.” This show is so much more fun when Joe isn’t the craziest person in it.
Love is, in my opinion, a little too confident about her dosing skills. After texting Marienne from Joe’s phone telling her to come over ASAP, she leaves Joe alone with the giant knife AND his phone. I can’t believe she didn’t take his phone!
Matthew still can’t reach Theo. But he sees Love drive away from the Quinn-Goldberg house and decides to pop over. They left a door unlocked, which I guess is the luxury of knowing the most dangerous people in the neighborhood already live with you? Matthew finds Joe and, through some tortured blinking-as-communication, learns that Theo is at the hospital. Because Matthew knows he’s dealing with multiple scumbags, he leaves Joe there to be tortured or killed by Love, or to torture and kill her in return, or whatever.
I love everything that’s going on with Cary and Sherry in the cage. He keeps pawing around at the edges because “the weak spot will reveal itself.” Sherry makes him stop, and they have a great conversation about how much they’ve always loved each other, even their pre-optimized selves. Sherry spots the keyhole in the door handle and realizes — FINALLY — there must be a key hidden inside. Cary was right; there is a weak spot. Sherry concludes that the weak spot is Joe and Love’s relationship: They don’t trust each other.
Love returns home to find Joe still on the floor. Again, if I were her, I would not be so cavalier about the placement of his body or his inability to regain movement. Marienne arrives, and Love tells her that the text from “Joe” was, in fact, from Love, the wife to whom Joe’s announcement of an imminent separation is breaking news. Though Love has that spiky tong thing (look, I’m not a chef) in the back of her jeans, Marienne has no clue how close she is to be a casualty of the Quinn-Goldbergs’ failed marriage. Love outs Joe as Ryan’s killer, and the horror starts seeping in. Then Juliet knocks because she has to pee, and Love says, Sure, use my bathroom, and I’m like, Marienne, you DUMB-DUMB, why would you BRING YOUR DAUGHTER INTO THIS HOUSE just to PEE go PEE in the YARD or your PANTS who CARES.
But upon seeing this daughter, Love wilts. She tells Marienne to disappear. “Ryan is just the beginning of what [Joe’s] willing to do.” Marienne encourages Love to do the same — to listen to the little voice in her head telling her that she deserves better. “That is your partner.” As someone who has been hard on Marienne for being a boring plot device where a person should be, I will say: That is excellent advice; thank you, Marienne.
Marienne and her daughter leave, and Love has a new vision: single motherhood. But just when Love goes to kill Joe in her favorite manner (throat-slitting), Joe springs to life and INJECTS HER with some heart-slowing shit she was growing in their garden this whole time! Very into the idea of literal suburbia being the cause of at least one death this season. (You can read more about wolfsbane on this list of “10 Plants That Could Kill You!”) Love sobs out her dying words: “We’re perfect for each other.” And her final blow: Henry will know that Joe is a monster.
While I understand that Love had to reach the end of her story here, I am so bummed she won’t be in the next season. I feel like we have maxed out on Joe’s whole deal, and it would be much more interesting to follow Love into her next crazy chapter. Think of the juicy flashbacks we’d get if we could see Love and Forty as little kids! With the au pair! And their psycho parents!
Now Joe has a problem: Supposedly he did everything he did for his son, whom he has now left motherless. So Joe decides to leave Henry in Dante’s care. Godspeed, Henry.
Joe writes a fake suicide note from Love that he sends out to the Madre Linda HOA listserv. In the letter, Joe-as-Love rips apart this neighborhood and pins everything on Love: the murders of Natalie and Gil, the entrapment of Cary and Sherry. And: the murder of Joe. To this end, Joe cuts off two of his toes (!) and bakes one of them into a chicken pot pie (!!!) and puts another in a little keepsake box next to evidence from all the other murders (!!!!!!!). Joe puts their wedding album in the oven, turns up all the gas burners, and torches it.
In voiceover, Joe tells us, “It worked. There was just enough half-charred evidence, including two toes.” Just in case you were wondering what the fuck was going on there re: toe-chopping. Love became a “bit of a folk hero,” he says, more famous than Beck. (Was Beck all that famous, though? I feel like nobody in Madre Linda ever mentioned her.) The important thing is that there’s an article about Love on the Cut, which is almost as good as an article on her being on Vulture. I’ll accept it.
Theo is in a wheelchair but gets picked up from physical therapy by Matthew, expressing emotions and being a good dad. Jackson and Andrew take over “A Fresh Tart” but rename it “Well-Behaved Women Rarely Make History,” ugh. New faves Cary and Sherry write a book called Caged and go around preaching about a “radical couples-therapy technique” that involves, you guessed it, their own version of the human aquarium.
Marienne is still the “you” in You, but Joe is saddened to learn that she took Love’s advice and vanished without leaving a forwarding address. Joe believes he is destined to find her and, given Marienne’s past reactions to Joe crossing every boundary she has explicitly asked him not to cross, maybe he’s right? He has followed in the footsteps of another delusional American before him and gone to find his beloved in Paris. Women of the world: Be on the lookout for an eight-toed man limping through Le Marais who swears he’s just looking for love.