Greta Gerwig’s Amy March famously told Laurie that she believes we have some control over who we love — “It isn’t just something that happens to a person.” Laurie and the poets and I (for what is a recap if not poetry??) disagree, but Joe is such an Amy. He’s decided that he is in love with Marienne and, therefore, will be unbothered by Love’s technically-sanctioned flirtation with Theo. But there’s no way that will last. I’ve lost sight of his endgame here — extricate himself from his marriage with Love in such a way that nobody gets hurt, emotionally or blunt-force traumatically? So he and Marienne and Henry and Juliet can all be a family? I feel like he’s losing sight of the part where he and Love could ruin each other’s lives the minute they don’t have spousal immunity. Everyone needs to spend less time heavily breathing outside their marriage and a lot more time talking to a lawyer.
I am delighted to learn that the library is having a swanky gala as a fundraiser, thrown by Sherry and conveniently catered by Love in a last-minute rescue situation, one that will require all our characters to get dolled up and collide. Does the show take advantage of this setup to do the most interesting, thrilling stuff? Eh, not really — the gala ends up being the decoy thing while the real explosions, literally, happen elsewhere. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
Over in Joeland, we are treated to a very boring day where Marienne has Juliet and Juliet’s glasses break, so they play family and get the glasses repaired together. We get it, Joe loves saving people and flirting with adults by cooing over children reading hardcover classics. I fully said “barf” aloud when Marienne said that her take on fairy tales is “screw princesses.” Like, wow, so original!!! What a sizzling take from a modern woman. She is as basic as Beck and not half as interesting as Love. She tells Joe that Ryan will be at the gala because Channel 3 made a “sizable donation.” This is his way of showing her he can hurt her even at work. Joe decides to ignore Marienne’s explicit request to stay out of her complicated entanglement with her ex. You all know how I feel about the way this show is dealing with domestic abuse and the handling thereof, so I won’t dwell on it here; I will simply re-up the general feeling, which is: ugh.
Joe stakes out Ryan at an Addicts Anonymous meeting and sizes up his whole day: Leaving Juliet with his mom so he can work out (I mean, yeah, people are allowed to have child care to tend to their health!) and generally sticking to a rigid routine, which Joe decides means Ryan’s sobriety is hanging by a THREAD. Unsurprisingly, Cary has a hookup for Adderall and other such substances. The best part of this entire sequence is Cary’s kid dealer, who donates all his proceeds to a mental health organization — “Oh, and I only take Bitcoin.” Joe proceeds to spike all of Ryan’s protein powder with Adderall for the morning and Oxy for bedtime, plus he swaps out his alarm clock batteries with near-dead sets from Henry’s toys. The vision: Mess with Ryan’s routine and trigger a relapse. But then Joe can’t stop himself from doing some light snooping, finding naked photos of Marianne in one of Ryan’s dopey books, and then jerking off to said photos in Ryan’s house.
While Joe, uh, runs errands, Sherry sees Love, telling her that she is “so HOT” and sending her a blog post to help her “tap into Joe’s fantasies.” But Love has other fantasies in mind: Theo. She lures him into the bakery basement and then asks him to find out what his dad has on her and Joe. It’s just that her parents are divorcing and her family is in the public eye, and “That is a major trigger for me,” she says, attempting to reach this teen by speaking like a parody of a zoomer. She starts to cry, and naturally, Theo comes around to helping her out even though he clearly finds the whole thing a little sketchy.
Glamma rolls up to watch Henry VERY late, super disheveled and drunk. Her now ex-husband got her “second act” vineyard out of SPITE. “I did everything I was supposed to do,” she tells Love. “This is what happens when you marry the wrong man.” She and Love argue, so Glamma leaves. Meanwhile, Sherry sends Love that “Hack Your Sex Life” post, which Love partially reads — she gets far enough into it to decide to dress up in a short little black number and play sexy housewife, which isn’t really Joe’s fantasy so much as his nightmare. (I love that his reaction to her come-on is to wonder, “Did she kill someone else? And is she trying to distract me?”) Because Joe is all spent from his session with Marienne’s photo earlier, he can’t get hard for his wife, who is mortified and now, according to Joe, another problem for him to fix.
Over at Matthew’s place, Elise, a young coder with facial-recognition software in her back pocket, is convinced to assist Matthew in his efforts to track down Natalie’s killer. He already has access to all the security camera footage in Madre Linda. Elise finds the whole thing very yikes and I wonder what Matthew would do with this information if he found it since none of this footage would be admissible in court. I guess he plans to murder the murderer?
The next day, Love is freaking out over burnt almonds — or maybe something else is bothering her??!? Theo bops over to say he’s super sorry, but he couldn’t find out what his dad has on her. But also, he is very distracted by how much he wants her. Love gets all sniffly again, sobs a little about how she used to have her shit together, and then, of course, she and Theo are having sex in her kitchen.
Joe thinks his plot to send Ryan off on a no good, very bad day is working — Ryan tells his BFF that he’s “calling in sick so we can get blessed” — and, high on this perceived success, goes home to lavish his wife with gifts and apologies. Love confesses that she thought Joe wasn’t attracted to her anymore. Joe is going to focus on Love so that he can be with Marienne. Sure!
Glamma calls about coming over to babysit Henry during the gala, but Love tells her not to bother; she already got a sitter. Glamma is drunk, hurt, and furious. She screams that her daughter is a LITTLE BITCH and sets her own plan in motion.
At the gala, Love is dressed like Alice in Wonderland, but Marienne is ORIGINAL who loves WHIMSY so she goes as the red rose itself. Sherry is, naturally, the queen. Joe thinks he is “watching his own execution,” but Love and Marienne get along just fine. Then Ryan rolls in. Joe is shocked, but Dante reports that Ryan has — twist! — never actually been sober. “That AA stuff is for show. There’s drugs in his smoothies.” (To this, I wonder: Wouldn’t the court mandate regular drug testing in a custody case that hinged on the sobriety of both formerly addicted parents?) Alas, Ryan is un-dosable! And he is onto Joe. I am shocked that Joe doesn’t play scandalized and say, like, I’m married I would NEVER betray my wife! But he just stands there.
Sherry basks in her successful gala before getting to the point with Love; the point Love missed because she didn’t read the rest of the article Sherry sent her: “Hot wife is a term for women in open marriages.” Sherry! YES! I HAVE BEEN SAYING THIS!! Sherry and Cary are polyamorous, and they “would love to take our relationship to a new level.” See, I KNEW Cary wanted to make out with Joe during their little CPR session in the woods! I feel so vindicated!! Before Love can respond to this, she gets a message from the babysitter: Glamma came and picked up Henry. Which was definitely not supposed to happen.
Cut to Glamma, wasted, with Henry on her lap in her car, picking up some food in a drive-thru from someone who should probably call child services but instead is going to take a cool $300 to give a lighter to this shitfaced woman who assures her, “He’s not a baby, he’s the reincarnation of my son, Forty!” Glamma took Henry, gasoline, and the lighter to the vineyard and TORCHED IT.
As I’ve mentioned before, I do not believe You is the kind of show where Henry would actually be killed, so there isn’t so much suspense here, though I wondered if Glamma would make it out alive. She and Henry return home unscathed. Love tells her that she can sleep there tonight and that Joe will drive her to rehab in the morning, but she can never see Love or Henry again. Glamma wails that Love will lose EVERYTHING one day too, and see how she likes it!!
Glamma gets into the car with Joe, probably viciously hungover. I wonder if she will tell Joe that Love is having sex with Theo, but she does me one better: “How much do you know about Love’s first husband, James?” YES, HELL YES! Here’s how Glamma tells it: When James got sick, he and Love were already on the rocks. After he went into remission, he asked for a divorce, “And the next thing you know, he was dead.” Glamma doesn’t have any proof of this, mind you. “Just a mother’s intuition.” I KNEW IT, I FUCKIN’ KNEW IT!!! Just a recapper’s intuition, baby! Glamma leaves Joe with a warning: Love knows no loyalty. Joe realizes the obvious: He’s been so worried about Love hurting Marienne he forgot that Love could just up and murder him.
Back at the library, Marienne is having a meltdown because Juliet told Ryan that she and Joe spent the day together — wow, okay, her kid’s a snitch, not cool — and Ryan threatens to use it in the case. Which is a little odd to me. He has no proof of an affair. Joe and Marienne are colleagues at the library where he, Ryan, dropped the kid off, but okay! Marienne tells Joe that lying is bad for her recovery and she can only be in an honest relationship. I wish Joe would take the L, but we know that’s not his style.
Joe then heads to the bakery, where Love shows him the blog post and tells him about Sherry and Cary’s invitation. Joe is all I cannot believe this loophole is falling into my lap. He assures her that they can do ANYTHING together; they will figure it out as a team! They leave the bakery arm-in-arm, right under the path of the security camera, whose feed is playing on Matthew’s computer screen.