I’m always fascinated by what couples do and don’t discuss. Of course, you can never fully know another person, and no amount of questioning can change that fact, but you’d think by the time a couple gets married, they’d make sure to cover some crucial basics. For instance, Joe has no idea how Love dealt with Delilah and Candace’s bodies. Doesn’t that seem like something they would’ve talked about? Isn’t the idea that Joe is “safer not knowing” mitigated by the fact that they are now married and can’t be compelled to testify against each other?
Here’s another thing: If Love has already dealt with two dead bodies, single-handedly and in rapid succession, why is she so out of her depth here trying to handle just one measly corpse? Unless she didn’t deal with them all by herself? Do we think Glamma “Let’s Pretend This Murder of the Sexually Abusive Au Pair Was Just a Suicide by Throat-Slitting” Dottie lent a manicured hand? That would go a long way toward explaining why Love is allowing Dottie, who I thought she essentially hated, to be so present in her life (I mean, girl, you’re rich you don’t need free child care) and also why she hasn’t told Joe, who would be extremely not cool with it.
Joe and Love are in couples therapy, and it’s got strong “we’re going for the series premiere of The Sopranos” energy with the cutting back and forth between their euphemistic description of their woes (Love “broke a vase” because “sometimes I get passionate”) and what actually happened (axe murder).
Joe brings Henry to the murder scene and, look, I don’t like to be team Joe, but what was he supposed to do? Get a last-minute babysitter? How would he have explained why he needed to be out by himself at that hour? It is very funny that Love scrambles for the moral high ground at every turn amid this shitshow she’s made — every time Joe tries to shout at her, she’s all “don’t wake the baby!” — and how she tries to spin being bad at getting away with murder like it’s a good thing because it proves she didn’t “plan it like some psychopath.” I meannnnn if you’re going to be a murderer, isn’t it better to have a plan? This is not her first rodeo, people. It is her fourth rodeo, for everybody keeping score at home (that’s me, I’m keeping score). Penn Badgley’s delivery of “YOU SIGNED A LEASE FOR OUR CRIME SCENE” is just A++.
Perhaps contradicting what I just said re: premeditation being the way to go, homicide-wise, it’s not not disconcerting how well Joe operates under this particular pressure and how quickly he arrives at a solution for this conundrum: Take Natalie’s body to a state forest half an hour out, bury her in the woods (it’s all very “Pine Barrens” … is this entire episode laced with Sopranos references just for me?) and plant a false trail using her phone and some carefully timed texts. I am enjoying how disgusted Love and Joe are with each other when they are both so awful. Joe believes each time he’s killed someone, he’s done so as part of some chivalric quest in the pursuit of true love — therefore, he’s not a real murderer, unlike Love, who he deems a psycho. Meanwhile, Love believes only a psycho would be able to so methodically off so many people (and that’s only the people she knows about!), whereas she, a healthy non-murderer, just gets impulsive sometimes because she’s so protective.
“This isn’t me, though,” Joe says to himself as he buries yet another woman in the woods. He decides that when he’s done cleaning up after Love, he will take Henry and run. I see Joe does not understand that this would empower Love to file kidnapping charges and sue for full custody. I feel like if you’re going to do this thing where you break a million laws, you should maybe study the laws? Or skim them? The best part of this stretch is that Joe discovers, via Natalie’s phone, that she referred to him as “the boring neighbor” in a text casually deliberating whether or not she’d sleep with him.
While Joe takes care of Natalie, Love leaves Henry with Glamma, who is (rightly) worried that Love is having another one of those “episodes.” Apparently, Love signed this lease assuming her mom would help her out with it — but without talking to her mom first? Ahem, “Quinn family finances are in flux right now”! (Also, wouldn’t there have been a more thorough vetting process before Love could sign said three-year lease?!) Then Love goes to the grocery store where she is hit on in the parking lot by a suspiciously cute teen named Theo, a.k.a. Natalie’s husband’s stepson from his first marriage, though Love doesn’t know this yet.
In therapy, Love says that she is struggling with new parenthood because Joe is emotionally checked out. The therapist tells Love to stop saying “we” because “’We’ is codependence masquerading as love,” which, lol, wait’ll you find out about Forty. Love hates that everyone accuses her of being impulsive and that nobody GETS her. Joe admits that the only reason he is still in this marriage is for his son, who he does not actually like because he wanted a girl. I write in my notes: Couples therapy is bananas; imagine if the person you were talking shit about in therapy could interrupt and tell their version of the story??? I would die. The therapist gives them a “reflective listening exercise” as homework.
Joe goes to the library to steal a rare book and plant the seed that he will get a job there tending to these aged volumes. Honestly, all the library stuff is super-boring — blah blah, Marienne is really an illustrator, she has BIG DREAMS in this small life — but Tati Gabrielle is cool, and I hope she gets juicier stuff to do as the season unfolds.
Time for Andrew and Jackson’s kid’s birthday party. (Joe: “The only thing worse than a party is a rich kid’s party.” Hard agree.) Of course, even these supposedly soooo progressive Bay Area parents have the most gender-normative set up at these events, where all the wives cluster around food prep and all the men talk about ejaculating and do light construction. Love baked cupcakes that no one will eat. Sherry’s kids bust into them, and Sherry throws a fit about their sugar levels (“They’re not allowed to eat fruit”). Joe learns that Matthew made these “vitals” rings that report real-time data on your blood sugar levels and other, you know, vitals, and “We all wear them,” which means NATALIE was wearing one when her vitals went kaput.
So off Love and Joe go to dig up the body — is now a good time to note that this episode is a rude 51 minutes long? — and they fight the whole way, and I have to say it’s almost as boring watching them bicker as it was watching them go through those zombie motions of parenting drudgery. Natalie’s unearthed body is toothless, which freaks out Love, which I guess means she didn’t remove Candace or Delilah’s teeth … probably won’t be a problem! Joe has to break Natalie’s finger to get the ring off. A lesser recapper might balk at such gruesome content, but I wrote all about that time they broke a woman to fit into a suitcase on The Americans, so I say: bring on the body horror, baby.
On the way home, they stop by this spot on the edge of town where cement is being poured, and Joe says they can stash Natalie’s body in the foundation and no one will ever find her. Love is a little edgy about how Joe just had all these ideas about where to dump bodies. Okay, but you do need to dump a body! I just feel like now is not the time to complain about this … it’s a feature, not a bug, honey. Anyway, she shrieks into the night, “WHY DON’T YOU LOVE ME ANYMORE,” and points out that Joe would’ve killed her if she hadn’t been pregnant. They are both very afraid that the other might kill them for the crime of not being 100 percent obsessed with you all the time.
Good thing we’re going back to therapy! The therapist says that intensity is a good sign because she thinks all this stuff about “being crazy” and “I want to kill you” is a metaphor. She gets Joe to see that beneath his violence is fear that they will abandon him if someone sees the real him. This is hilarious because the violence IS the real Joe, and in fact, the reason people leave him is that they don’t want to get murdered. Then comes something that did not land for me: Love has an identical revelation, that she too fears being seen because she thinks anyone who gets close to her will abandon her. I mean … does that track with anything we’ve learned about her so far? Her and Forty’s lives were totally entwined! Her mom is still all up in her shit! She has never had space from anybody who cares about her. Also, I am not convinced her husband died of natural causes, just FYI.
The therapist is thrilled that these two people realize they are terrified of being alone. I write: These are full psycho killers who should be kept in solitary. Then she introduces the revelatory concept that Joe and Love are a TEAM fighting for the same thing. Is that thing just a fuckton of manslaughters? Yes, but it’s enough to make Joe decide he is suddenly in love with Love again, who is “radiantly maternal” and down for “primal” sex. The parenting montages are warmly lit now. Nothing says happiness like the Valencia filter. They both say “I would absolutely kill for you” to each other, and I write in my notes: THIS IS NOT THE PROBLEM! We already knew this about both of you!! They promise to try not to make the other person do more murders, but the season is young, so I think we all know that promise will be as broken as Natalie’s finger.
Love opens her bakery. Joe gets a library job. The police pull up at Matt and Natalie’s house. Joe and Love need a “safe space,” so naturally, they build their human aquarium in the bakery’s basement. They each hide a key inside without telling the other. I’m not sure how they expect this to help them not wind up in a situation where they have captives who they’ll have to kill? Excited to see how they spin this one to their therapist.