The police are oh so grateful to Joe for his tip, which apparently checked out. They would love to hear about his other leads. They hope he’ll stay in touch. They’re his No. 1 fans. But as soon as Joe escapes one prison (the literal kind), he winds up in another: He simply must join Phoebe and her lot at Hampsie, her country house. Joe reasons that this puts him near his gang of suspects, but I find the people who aren’t on the guest list much more suspicious: Nadia and Rhys.
As “eat the rich” killer suspects go, Nadia makes the most sense — perhaps she’d been jilted by Malcolm as he committed more to Kate, plus she’s sympathetic to the cause of hating wealthy people. We already know she loves murder mysteries, and it would be very fun for Joe to be on the run from a woman. It gives the show a better bite, if you ask me. But Rhys could still be clinging to the rags part of his rags-to-riches identity, and maybe he has only ingratiated himself to this group of insufferable spoiled gits in order to more easily off them. It would be extremely funny to me if he thought that this was the optimal time to start committing a series of high-profile homicides, seeing as he wants to run for mayor and will soon be the target of tabloid intrigue and professional-grade oppo research. But just because something is a bad idea doesn’t mean Rhys wouldn’t pursue it! Phoebe and the rest are too dumb to be interesting contenders — except for Kate. I haven’t ruled her out! That’s my top three. Leave yours in the comments!
In other news, this episode is an entirely unnecessary 54 minutes long. This show is trying to murder me. But onward we go.
But first, some status updates: Adam is hemorrhaging money. His suit man, Robert (What is his job? Business adviser? Bank person? When I’m rich, I will have a suit man, too, and be able to tell you), is saying to Adam that he needs to pay his lenders, because his dad won’t be swooping in to save him anymore. And Kate is trying to get a message to a mysterious someone to whom she does not want to speak — that’s her dad, right? Again, I am a little underwhelmed by how we are recycling plotlines from the first season of this show. I know it was a Lifetime ago (See what I did there?), but some of us were paying very close attention, and if the object of Joe’s affection is a woman with daddy issues, it’s just Beck all over again.
Joe packs very normal stuff for the trip (hollowed-out book with the kill-people wire) and arrives at what he calls the “Downton Abbey vampire castle.” What bugs me about this scene is that we are supposed to believe that Joe is totally out of place, but his outfit almost makes sense. Why are these girls in heels? What’s Phoebe doing in Cher Horowitz cosplay? There’s a standard rich-people uniform for this sort of thing — Barbour jacket, riding boots — and none of the rich people are wearing it! (Roald’s quilted bomber is close, though.)
Gemma’s entire personality continues to be that she says offensive things. I feel like we’re getting the boring version of Kate Hudson’s Glass Onion character. She’s there to get another body in the room, either as a suspect or a future corpse, and either way, she’s not doing enough to justify her screen time. Why is anyone friends with her? What dirt does she have on them? Make it make sense!
On the estate, Joe has no Wi-Fi or cell service. He’s frustrated to be out of range from his new pen pal and stressed to be in such close proximity — adjoining doors close — to Kate, the “distraction” he can’t afford. They have a quick chat about not shagging in Joe’s bed. I’m sure that’ll be the end of that! Joe gets a note under the door inviting him to the Portrait Gallery. I love that he freaks out about absolutely every message he receives in this manner, when it’s obvious that Phoebe and her friends are just engaging in some Clue-style shenanigans.
We get a very weird scene in which Phoebe, who has decked out the Portrait Gallery in the style of Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet, tries to seduce Joe, because she senses that he’s honest or whatever? He amicably rejects her, and she quickly starts moping about how she doesn’t feel like she is Adam’s “everything.” Joe reassures her that Adam worships her. Later, Adam pulls Joe aside for advice (??) on proposing to Phoebe. Why are any of these people confiding in Joe at all? Aren’t they all each other’s best friends? And, I’m sorry, but I am finding it extremely difficult to be even a tiny bit invested in the romantic trajectory of Adam and Phoebe! The only good part about this is when Adam says he’ll never be without money, reminding me of the perfect “I will not not be rich” moment from Big Little Lies. Joe finds out that the real source of his invite to this weekend was, surprisingly, Roald.
Between those conversations, the gang plays croquet in matching white outfits (everyone but Joe got that style memo). Gemma makes one of the servants act as the croquet hoop. Kate can’t bear to look, but everyone else seems fine with it.
Joe walks in on Kate yelling at a security guy to leave her alone, so Kate follows Joe back to his room to tell him to stop spying on her. Good luck with that, Kate! Then she asks him for an exceptionally platonic favor — untangling her necklaces (Gossip Girl fans know about the powers of the nape of the neck). Sensual piano music. Soft glowy lighting. Tingly feelings. But no. It’s a bad idea. Paragons of self-control, these two.
Roald steals Phoebe away for a predinner swim, and Joe uses this time to snoop in Roald’s room. The guy travels with his watch collection. Not sure if that makes him a psycho killer, but it’s not, like, the most normal behavior. Joe looks through Roald’s camera roll and finds a lot of creepy upskirt photos of Kate. Joe used to steal dirty underwear from his unsuspecting crushes’ homes, but this is a bridge too far for our valiant, changed man!
In the morning, Kate sits next to Joe at breakfast. She could’ve sat anywhere! Meanwhile, Gemma is still harassing the employees. This is confusing to me — not least because Phoebe, the group’s supposed “girl with a heart of gold,” is the host, so doesn’t she have the power to tell Gemma to stop abusing her staff? Isn’t Phoebe the one who treated Vic “like family”? A little character consistency would go a long way here! Kate confides in Joe that she actually “despises” Gemma. Roald can tell, to his dismay, that Kate and Joe are getting close, especially when she blows off his tennis invite, so he leaps at the chance to go hunting with Joe instead. Just a couple of dudes and their rifles shooting formerly caged birds out of the sky.
During this lovely bonding excursion in the woods, Roald tells Joe that he and Kate have known each other since they went to the same Rhode Island boarding school, which Kate got shipped off to back when her mom was suicidal. Roald has always looked out for Kate, and he always will, okay?? Having established that, Roald drags Malcolm as “a taker, a liar, and a joke” and calls Simon a “black hole.” Joe notes, to himself, that Roald is a “seething ball of rage.” Roald aims his rifle at Joe, but before he can … I don’t know, up and kill this guy he barely knows, Kate intervenes.
She accuses Roald of being a bully. He accuses her of having a thing for “lost little boys.” Roald thinks he is Kate’s equal and that they belong together. This is all very “I’m the quarterback, and you’re the head cheerleader, so we have to be a couple” for two people who, I take it, are supposed to be, like, 30. She’s not interested in playing out that particular fantasy with him, because she swears that they are different. Maybe Kate killed all those clowns? She does seem to hate basically everyone she knows.
Time for yet another wardrobe change. How did Joe know to pack this outfit? Or did Phoebe provide him with a suit? Of course, Joe is “hopeless” at putting on cuff links, because he and Kate need to have another moment when they can be within nuzzling distance while he thinks intensely about her earlobes. This time, the only thing they can stop themselves from doing is kissing on the mouth. So much for self-restraint! And I know this isn’t the point of this scene, but Joe’s curly hair looks great.
Dinner chatter is all very chill and lighthearted — Roald asks Joe, the normie representative, if he “resents” the rich. Joe has the audacity to say he is happy with his life, then Gemma suggests that Joe/Jonathan is the killer, seeing as people didn’t start dropping dead until right after he showed up. I’ve been hard on her this whole time, so I’ll give her this: Accusing Joe of having a whole “bargain-bin Colin Firth thing” is very funny. But this is all cut short when Phoebe pretends to be dead in the arms of her put-upon staff, announcing the onset of a murder-mystery party. Apparently, this is a Hampsie house tradition, but to keep it up (considering the context) is quite the choice! Joe cannot believe they are doing this unironically, and neither can I.
Although Joe was hoping to use this time to go back to Roald’s room, he runs into Kate instead, who confesses that her dad is the biggest baddie of them all: Tom Lockwood (extremely fake-sounding name), a corporate raider who helps CEOs cleanse their records of sexual-assault allegations, keeps cancer in kids’ drinking water, etc. She hates him, but she’s his favorite daughter and their estrangement did not stop him from sending security, against her wishes, to guard her at this house. “A killer is the perfect excuse for him to protect me — a.k.a. get in my life.” Sounds familiar!
“My story isn’t as exciting as yours,” says the man who murdered his wife, faked his own death to get out of a shitty marriage, and fully abandoned his son in Madre Linda. Joe believes we can be whoever we want. Well, yeah, I mean you would think that now, wouldn’t you? Joe reminds himself that he cannot fall in love.
Phoebe catches Adam hitting on one of her employees, while Roald catches Joe going through his stuff again. Roald accuses Joe of being the killer, then shoves him out the window. Joe lands in a bush. Roald was not aiming to kill. How on earth did Joe think he wouldn’t get caught pawing through Roald’s things? He’s getting sloppy.
Joe hears what he thinks is a real scream, and he bolts back into the house, bellowing Kate’s name like a madman. He finds her standing over the dead body of Gemma, holding a knife, and looking awfully despondent. Maybe this will be the thing that finally makes her cry?