As you all know, I believe You can only achieve its full potential when it stops hedging and just goes FULL BATSHIT. Well, it took eight episodes into a ten-episode season, but it is finally happening!
Let’s get into this whole open-marriage thing. I am both stunned and not at all surprised that Joe, who hilariously refers to himself as a “serial monogamist” (he’s a serial killer), thinks that opening up a marriage is what you do to save a dying relationship. Of course, Joe — whose brain is warped from spending all its formative years having zero healthy social interactions and learning everything he’d ever know about relationships from books published before women had rights — cannot even get to the place of like, “Hey, that’s not for me, but I totally get how it could be great for someone else” with the not-exactly-revelatory notion of consensual non-monogamy. I wish we could spend more time with Love’s voiceover in episodes like this one because everything Joe wants to say and do is so obvious, and her deal is much more intriguing to me. For instance: She seems genuinely more excited about the whole thing, but is that just an act for her own nefarious reasons (her attraction to Theo, her strategic intimacy with Sherry) or is it real?
I thought Joe planned to open up the marriage just to have sex with Marienne with Love’s blessing, but apparently, what he wants to do is open up his marriage so it falls to pieces so that it is easy for Love to break up with him. I mean … I feel like we’re making this a lot harder than it needs to be, Joe! Joe’s lack of self-awareness is sometimes what makes this show so funny. Still, in situations like this, it is just deeply annoying to listen to him talk about how Love used to be a “free spirit,” and now his life SUCKS. It’s definitely because SHE is the problem, not because Joe is fully demented and insatiable.
Joe carefully brings up James, Love’s ex, now that he has it on good authority that Love killed him. All Love reveals is that James got cold feet about having a baby, that he “used his sickness as a shield” so she could never really express anger toward him. Joe’s response to this, internally, is, uh, oh yeah, you definitely killed this guy. Love decides that swinging “isn’t me,” and Joe amends that to “it isn’t us” because he has already forgotten the lessons of therapy and how “we” is individuality erasure.
Is anyone surprised to know that Joe entered Marienne into the illustration contest behind her back? I hate when things like this happen on shows, and the person who had her boundary totally violated just decides not to be mad about it. This is a red flag, Marienne!!
Love waffles on the marriage-opening thing and goes back to Joe to say that she wants to be FUN and WILD and let’s be real, don’t Cary and Sherry seem so much more interesting now that we know they swing? They talk about their fantasies and decide to talk to Sherry and Cary. I absolutely love how prepared they are for this whole arrangement, complete with an NDA (even though, as I understand it, NDAs are v difficult to enforce). Am I very grossed out by the way Sherry and Cary feed each other baked goods? Yes. But do I love how speedily they abort this whole mission when they can sense that Love and Joe aren’t in a solid enough place to swing? Also yes. And: Extra points for the way Cary says, “a bisexual man is a truly optimized man.”
There’s a whole thing with Marienne’s custody hearing and Joe being a character witness that I’m going to mostly ignore because (1) it’s boring, and (2) you know the drill, she is going to get her hopes up and then the judge will rule against her so that Joe is “forced” (chooses of his own free will) to do “something” (murder) to Ryan to “save” (ruin) Marienne and Juliet’s lives. Back to the fun stuff: Love and Joe trying to spice up their “dull” (FULL of homicides) relationship.
Love tries a little role-playing scenario in the yard that becomes real when Theo, wearing a Jason-Sudeikis-at-the-Emmys-style tie-dye hoodie, throws a football right by her, thinking her come-hither was for him. Theo realizes that Joe is watching them, and he leaves, and I write in my notes: THEO SAVE YOURSELF FROM THESE PSYCHOS, PLEASE. Joe, who tells us he feels nothing watching this, pretends to be jealous so Love will be turned on and they can be WILD. Love decides this one orgasm means she and Joe are on solid ground; let’s text the sitter and do this thing!
Theo figures out a way into his dad’s office and sees the full surveillance setup. Though I initially thought he was horrified by his dad spying on the whole town, it appears he is MORE horrified by the video capturing Joe punching the wall very close to Love’s face. Matthew tells Theot that he is looking into Love because she’s connected to Natalie “and to you.” Theo cannot stand for this slander and screams that NONE of this will bring Natalie back. Matthew responds by telling Theo to pack his shit and go back to his mom’s.
It’s date night at the Quinn-Goldberg residence! It would be at the Conrads, but they’re redecorating. (“Elon’s decorator is brilliant, but he’s so slow.”) The Conrads have many suitcases that we will soon learn are full of a bunch of interesting pharmaceuticals and sex toys. Joe’s absolute horror at seeing a smattering of vibrators and dildos is so funny to me. Joe! Grow UP. This is very much someone whose entire concept of sex is like, reading Jane Austen novels where having your fingers brush against a lady’s gloveless hand is basically third base.
Sherry and Cary have all these rituals to get in the zone, including full-body shimmies for “total liberation.” Their safe word is “hakuna matata.” Joe watches Love and Sherry dance and is suddenly reminded that he loves his wife.
The men go off to one room where Cary shows off his caboodle of meds, offering Joe a pill that “boosts testosterone like a mofo.” Then Cary strips completely and jerks off into a mirror: “If you don’t want to fuck yourself, how is anybody gonna want to fuck you?” Joe is saved from this encounter by a phone call from Marienne, who says that Ryan sent an anonymous email out to all her contacts with those explicit photos of her, an EXTREMELY fucked up thing to do that Joe is rightly outraged by. (That said, California has decent nonconsensual pornography/cyber exploitation laws, so maybe Marienne would have a case?) Marienne tells Joe: “The thing about being married is they know you so well they can use it for the rest of your life.” Joe should say that shit in a MIRROR. Marienne could use a friend right now, but alas, Joe is in the middle of an orgy. Is it an orgy with four people? Or just a foursome? Cary takes Joe’s phone to put it in a vault downstairs. Oooooh boy.
The couples reunite, and Love is so much more into this than Joe, but everybody is just powering through. I appreciate that Sherry asks multiple times if something is wrong — for someone who started the season seeming totally self-absorbed and mean, she is at least being empathetic and paying attention here — and Joe says he’s just not used to having an audience. So Sherry tells him: Look at your partner. And Joe’s mind wanders to a deeply boring fantasy where Marienne is literally wearing a white dress under the library’s construction paper butterfly tree. Are you KIDDING me? Love’s happiness melts off her face, and she shouts HAKUNA MATATA and bolts.
Love, of course, can tell that Joe is thinking about someone else. Joe denies it, but things escalate until Love shrieks: “I KILLED NATALIE FOR YOU!” A beat and they wait, in horror: Did the Conrads hear them? They return upstairs with a meat hammer hidden behind Joe’s back. Sherry has a tell of touching her elbow when she’s lying. Time to feel them out.
Sherry and Conrad pretend they’re ready to get right back in it, but Sherry hugs her elbow, and BOOM, we are in a real-life Hunger Games! Love grabs a knife while Cary sprints downstairs. Joe stabs him with some broken glass pieces. They both pick up those arrows from the hunting trip. In the end, Joe bashes Cary’s head until he is unconscious, and Love strangles Sherry until she passes out. I am very curious to know if any or all of this was caught on by a surveillance camera playing on a live feed in Matthew’s office. The whole sequence is INSANE and precisely the kind of thing You should be doing all the time!
Joe and Love put the Conrads in the human aquarium and then have the best sex of their lives. (Well, Joe did take that testosterone.) Joe is horrified to make the extremely no-duh discovery that their love language is violence.
Joe is scrubbing blood out of the car at five in the morning when a drunk Matthew moseys by. He wants Joe to know, he thought he heard someone scream. Joe says it was just “harmless shenanigans,” but I think Matthew is ONTO him.
Love has apparently forgotten all about how Joe was thinking of someone else during sex, also with someone else. She is too busy thinking about how she put her best friend in a cage and doesn’t know what she’d ever do without Joe, the only person who can help her commit this seemingly endless string of assaults and homicides. Joe is like, oh shit, that reminds me I have to go to a custody hearing, lol.
He returns to the bakery, and they check the baby monitor, where we see Cary and Sherry pacing around, banging on the glass. The bad news is, it’s not clear how they will get out of there alive. (Will they find one of the hide-a-keys?) On the bright side, Love has never been more in love. And what’s more important, you know?