I’m very into Sherry and Cary as foils for Joe and Love. Their relationship is easy to mock, but they do seem to be strong in all the ways the Quinn-Goldbergs are weak: They communicate, trust each other, support each other’s separate interests, have (probably) never committed any felonies. Sherry’s whole strategy here is, I think, pretty brilliant, and her ability to stay cool in this bananas crisis is earning her a lot of points in my book. The fact that Joe thinks he still has a leg to stand on when he can think things like “I have some absolute fucking weirdos in my basement” is WILD.
Joe and Love are dividing and conquering their latest hostage situation: Joe will clean the house, and Love will handle the Conrads. While cleaning, Joe finds a gun in Cary’s luggage. We get more dull and pointless flashbacks to the Queen’s Gambit Tranquilizer Den For Separating the Weak from the Merely Abandoned — nurse Fiona’s wrist is in a splint, Joe wants to rescue her, but he fails yet again — which are extra unnecessary now that we’re in the final stretch of the season. We get it, sad childhood, new demons, same as the old demons, blah blah whatever. Keep us where the action is!
Marienne, as expected, got bad news at the custody hearing and is sitting on the curb of a liquor store, considering breaking her sobriety. Joe abandons the much more pressing task of cleaning the crime scene and goes to Marienne, the woman who has told him many times to stay out of her life. Joe, ever the empath, can tell that Marianne is embarrassed. No shit, Joe. Marienne reports that Ryan and Juliet are moving to New Jersey because Ryan got promoted. Joe takes this opportunity to confess that he killed someone — the abusive boyfriend who hurt his mom. Marienne immediately absolves him for this childhood indiscretion. Joe knows that Marienne would NEVER do anything like his terrible, horrible, slut of a mom. Time to have sex at Marienne’s house. In my notes I write: Marienne, I’ll deal with you later, but Joe, you canNOT be doing this in the middle of the attempted double-homicide cleanup day!!!
This is the other thing about the Joe/Marienne plot that is so infuriating to me: Marienne sets boundaries, Joe crosses them, and rather than this violation being a turnoff, she is ultimately happy that he did what she told him not to do. His every transgression brings them closer together, totally validating Joe’s worldview, which is that women mean “yes” when they say “no” because they deny their true feelings, or they don’t know what they need as much as HE knows what they need. Of course, that is how Joe feels. But for the show to make Marienne behave as she does — she isn’t mad that he followed her here or entered her in the illustration contest — provides no audience surrogate, no pushback to Joe’s way of seeing things. It makes it seem like the show is cosigning Joe’s actions, rather than just agnostically documenting them or positioning itself against them.
Back to our captives: Love’s attitude toward them is extremely funny to me, as is Sherry’s management of it. (Victoria Pedretti’s delivery of “What’s up with him?” as she eyes Cary is just perfect, as is her accusation that Cary is “acting fucking weird.”) Sherry, who is a genius, wriggles into a soft place in Love’s vulnerable heart by asking her if she’s holding up okay and if she’s written that letter to the Ashman school counselor yet.
Theo meets Love at the bakery (regular floor, not prison level) to tell her all about the security footage and how his dad kicked him out. He’s going to leave town, and — cue Carly Rae Jepsen — he wants her to run away with him. “I love you,” he tells her, and says, “Look me in the eye and tell me that your husband is not a violent man.” Which Love, of course, can’t do. I like that you can tell Love is seriously considering this option, like maybe it is the best way out of her current predicament. It probably is! Theo suggests Love use the security footage to threaten Joe even though it’s not admissible in court (FINALLY, someone knows how the justice system works! Yeah, it’s this teen who never goes to class but whatever!) I wonder if Love is planning an exit separate from Joe where she frames him for everything? Surely Joe is planning the same, and now it’s a race to the finish.
Cary is doing loud chanting and holding planks because he is “seeking a state of readiness,” lol. The way Shalita Grant says, “Well, I’m in a cage. And you’re planking.” Incredible. Sherry advises Cary to use everything at their disposal, by which she means their relationships. Then Love returns to use Sherry’s face to unlock her phone. Love reports that Sherry will be posting to her blog that she’s “going to be off the grid learning how to make placenta teas.” So Sherry goes full ego manipulation, leveraging her closeness to Love and their alliance as women in a cruel world. As Sherry hoped she would, Love cracks. They start talking like they’re sharing goss over wine. “Theo Engler tried to convince me to run away with him today,” Love says, and Sherry is like, “Is it super-gross that I think that’s kind of hot?” Perfection. I’m so proud of Sherry, you guys. Love also shares that Matthew has been stealing surveillance footage from all over town to find out who killed Natalie, and Sherry offers up the brilliant idea of outing Matthew on her blog, pinning the whole thing on the men so the women can go free.
Every time Joe thinks he’s falling in love, he becomes the most annoying person in the world. He takes a brief break from watching Marienne sleep to see the ten thousand missed calls and texts from Love on his phone. When Marienne wakes up, she says she’s moving to New Jersey to be close to Juliet, which crushes Joe’s spirit even though technically he wanted her to be a Perfect Mom Who Would Do Anything For Her Kid. Joe decides there is only one solution to this conundrum: “Ryan has to die.”
When Joe gets home, he finds that Love has ripped out their Nest doorbell. She tells him all about Matthew’s hacking of the security cameras and how she blogged about it as Sherry before posting that Sherry and Cary fled to an undisclosed location amid this awful violation of their safety and privacy. The whole town is in an uproar and — finally! — a phalanx of lawyers are scrambling to cover up Matthew’s illegal dealings. As they embrace, Love spots the gun in Joe’s waistband. Her response is, “these people are so much more fucked up than I thought,” and then she VERY quickly goes to, “We can make it look like a murder-suicide; it worked before.” Wow, okay, do not pass go, do not collect $200.
Over at Matthew’s, Theo downloads all the security videos onto a USB. Matthew’s lawyer asks him to walk her through what exactly is haunting him. Matthew explains that something seems off about the footage where Natalie (who we know is Joe in Natalie’s coat and hat) is driving away from the bakery. She tries to level with him: Natalie was a flawed person with secrets. And now she’s dead — time to let it go. So Matthew erases all the data and smashes the monitors for good measure.
With Love, Sherry continues trying to turn everyone against Joe. She drags him for cheating on Love and for “letting you fix a marriage that never worked in the first place.” But this allegation hits Love in the wrong spot, and she spins around to leave a GUN in the little goodie box. “New rules: One of you takes this and shoots the other, and I let whoever lives out.” YES. Insane. Perfect. I wish this show had been this bonkers all season!!
The thing is, Sherry is right: Joe is leaving Love alone to deal with this problem while he is stalking Ryan in his stalker-killer uniform. I like that Joe isn’t as smart as he thinks he is and Ryan catches him. But in the ensuing struggle, Joe manages to shove Ryan over the ledge of a parking garage. The fall doesn’t kill him, so Joe’s gotta get down there and stab him with an X-Acto knife FOUR TIMES. He swipes Ryan’s wallet (I assume to make it look like a violent mugging) and skedaddles. Joe doesn’t feel bad about his murder because Ryan was “real evil,” and Love is “crazy and impulsive,” whereas Joe is just a good soldier ridding the world of people he dislikes or finds inconvenient. If Marienne puts this together and STILL decides she likes Joe, I will riot.
Meanwhile, Theo goes through the footage that Matthew was obsessing over, and he catches something his stepdad somehow missed: a shot of Joe, out of disguise, getting into the driver’s seat of Natalie’s car. I thought he would call Matthew with this information, but he calls Love as fate would have it. And then he goes to the bakery. Without calling a cop! Or telling anyone! THEO, DROP A PIN!
Cary has anxiety shits in a bucket (to Sherry, “I don’t know how you’re so regular without any soluble fiber”). Tensions are escalating as they argue about which parent would be better for their kids, survival-wise. Cary then decides he can try to open the door by shooting it, even though DUH, the bullet ricochets and ends up getting Sherry’s EAR. But the sound of the gunshot did one good thing: It got Theo’s attention. Sherry shouts the truth through the cage door to a stunned Theo, and I write in my notes: OH MY GOD THEO YOU CHILD CALL 911 GOOD LORD. But instead, he tries to find a key all by himself, which takes just a little too long because Love comes back.
She sees Theo has the key, and he tells her that he knows what the Conrads said is not true. Love is too calm now, which does not bode well for Theo. Theo swears he has footage from the day of Natalie’s disappearance that proves Joe killed her and that Love doesn’t have to keep protecting her terrible husband. Love tells Theo to leave Madre Linda, never come back, and never see her again. That sounds like a great deal to me! But Theo is a dumb dumb. Love promises to let the Conrads out “the second you leave,” a blatant lie. As soon as Theo’s back is turned, she knocks him out with a fire extinguisher. In her sloppy effort to get him down the stairs, she loses control of his body, and it tumbles so hard that it smacks against the cement wall. Blood pools all around his body. RIP Theo? Maybe! But on this show, I say never say die until you’ve got the body in the ground, and sometimes not even then.