Guinevere Beck walking into Joe Goldberg’s bookstore in “You” Season 1 was pretty much a cultural reset in 2018. She is one of the most unremarkable characters we have ever encountered, yet Joe’s obsession made her an object of curiosity. Joe Goldberg was never a hero, but we all rooted for him because the way he turned stalking into a literary art form made us want to be a part of his masterpiece. No, we don’t want this man anywhere around us, but he has become one of the characters that we idolize within the limits of celluloid, just like any other literary hero or, in this case, anti-hero. Every single thing we feel for this character is controversial, but his journey has been one that we cannot look away from.
‘You’ Season 1: Recap
As we said before, when Joe sees Beck in his bookstore, it is an obsession at first sight. Beck is an aspiring novelist with an unhappy home life and is in an unfulfilling relationship with Benji, who gives her a sense of validation, if nothing else. Joe has started stalking her, carefully keeping tabs on her every move and scouring her social media to understand the kind of person she is. He establishes himself as a potential romantic interest, though he finds that one of her friends, Peach, does not like him too much. Joe determines that the biggest hurdle in his relationship with Beck is Benji. We don’t understand what Beck sees in Benji, but we also don’t understand what Joe sees in Beck, so we can say that obsession can be quite blind. Benji runs a business making artisanal soda that is funded by his father. To get him out of the way, Joe kidnaps Benji and locks him in the cage in the basement of his store. Joe learns that Benji is allergic to nuts and comes up with his murder weapon: a drink with some peanut oil that is enough to kill him. Benji bargained hard with Joe, promising him money and tips to win over Beck. But Joe understands that Beck is in an extremely toxic relationship with Benji, one that does not rely on respect, reliability, or reason, which means that she would keep obsessing over and going back to him, no matter what. Once he knew that, we saw Benji become Joe’s first kill of “You” Season 1.
In one of the episodes, we see that Beck is estranged from her family after her father remarries, and her stepmother and children don’t get along with her. She blames her father for not taking more of a stand for her but still relies on him for financial support. Joe catches her in this moment of vulnerability and makes himself closer to her. Back in New York, Peach clearly hates Joe and wants him out of Beck’s life. Seeing that she has such a strong influence on Beck, Joe decides that she is his next target. He tries to kill her by attacking her in the park when she is out for her jog, but Peach survives that attempt. She doesn’t suspect Joe, but he understands that he might not be the only stalker in Beck’s life. He realizes that Peach has feelings for Beck and tells her as much when she is about to leave on a holiday with her friend. But Beck doesn’t believe him, which prompts Joe to follow them secretly. Joe’s obsession is unhinged, and he obsesses over their every move. During their stay, Beck starts suspecting that Joe might have been right, but Peach denies her doubts. However, after Beck leaves, one would think that Joe would breathe a sigh of relief, yet it gets more twisted because he is discovered by Peach. They get into a fight, which ends with Peach becoming Joe’s next victim.
Having lost both her best friend and the guy she used to have feelings for in such a short time, Beck starts going to therapy to deal with her loss, but Joe can’t leave her alone even here. He also starts going to her therapist, albeit with a different name for himself and the subject he discusses (Beck) in his sessions. He tries to follow Beck, but she catches on to him and is furious, which is also when he confronts her for the first time instead of just resorting to silent murder. She breaks up with him, which is when Joe does the first rational thing in the entire first season. He has listened to her tapes with Dr. Nicky and knows her self-esteem issues, so he decides not to fight the breakup. But this good thing doesn’t last very long because, three months later, Beck and Joe reconnect, and soon enough, they get back together. Joe breaks up with his current girlfriend, Karen, who warns Beck to watch out for a girl named Candace, who was Joe’s ex and still affects him a lot.
When Beck asks Joe about her, he tells her that Candace cheated on him but is now in some other part of the world, living her life. This is also when Beck admits that she did cheat on him with Dr. Nicky. Both of them decide to make a fresh start, but unfortunately, that is when Beck discovers the “momentos” he has been keeping of her, which prove that he has been stalking her. Before she can escape, Joe locks her in a specially designed soundproof glass cage that he had kept in his basement. He tells Beck everything, but he justifies it by saying that he is trying to protect her. Beck is horrified, but slowly she comes up with a plan. She pretends to understand him, and when he finally lets her out, she attacks Joe and locks him in the cage. However, Joe always keeps a spare key, with which he lets himself out and kills Beck before she can escape. “You” Season 1 ends with him publishing Beck’s novel, which alleges Dr. Nicky as her killer, for which he is arrested. Other than the suspicions of the investigating officer assigned to Beck’s disappearance, it looks like Joe has gotten away with it. He is also taking care of Paco, a kid in the neighborhood since Joe killed his abusive father to protect him.
“You” Season 2: Recap
It is safe to say that “You” Season 2 felt like a dimmer imitation of Season 1, with Love Quinn being a replacement for Guinevere Beck. “You” Season 2 gives us a look into Joe’s past, with us discovering that his first victim had been his father, whom he had killed to protect himself and his mother from abuse. Joe assumes the identity of Will in this season, though even that comes with him having to murder his namesake’s creditor. Something we have noticed is that Joe is very protective of children. Other than Paco in the first season, he kills Henderson, who his neighbor’s teenage sister was interning under. He did that because he needed to protect Ellie, as he had discovered that Henderson had a history of child molestation. Sadly, for Joe, it is Henderson’s death that leads him to lock Delilah, Ellie’s older sister, in his cage. She had discovered his entire apparatus and was taking pictures as evidence when he found her and locked her in. But the biggest twist of “You” Season 2 is brought on by Candace and Love. Candace was buried alive by Joe, and she has been seeking revenge since by trying to expose his true nature.
When Joe goes back to check on Delilah after locking her in, he finds that she is dead. Candace finds Joe standing over her body and locks him in. She immediately calls Love to show her proof of Joe’s crimes. But when Love arrives, she slashes Candace’s throat. Victoria Pedretti saved a very poor second season with her act of the sincere madness of Love Quinn in the last episode. Love reveals that she was the one to kill Delilah to keep her quiet. She goes on to reveal that she always knew everything about Joe, but she agreed with his actions since “you protect the people you love.” Joe is horrified since this is not the image of Love he had in mind. Love tells him that she killed her and Forty’s (her brother’s) nanny as a child because she had been sexually abusing her brother. However, she had staged it in a way that Forty ended up looking guilty because that is when her parents would try harder to make it all go away. In fact, not just the past, but Love has a plan for everything. She says that she will make it look like Ellie killed Henderson, but then her family’s lawyers will fight the case to protect her. Delilah’s body will come with a suicide note, and with Henderson’s actions coming to light, she will look like a hero. Joe clearly doesn’t like the taste of his own medicine. Yet, he convinces Love to let him out of the cage, and when she does that, he attacks her. But he is unable to kill her as Love spills the most shocking revelation telling Joe that she is pregnant with his child. As we have seen, Joe has a soft spot for children, and he finds himself unable to harm Love.
However, the biggest hurdle is yet to come: Forty. He has started realizing that Will, aka Joe, is not quite the person they think him to be, and he rushes to warn Love about it. When he points a gun at him, Joe is ready to accept whatever happens, but at that exact time, the police come and shoot Forty. Love frames him for Candace and Henderson’s murder, while Joe lets Ellie know what has happened to her sister. He gives her money and tells her to escape before Child Protective Services takes her in. As for this very twisted couple, Joe decides to commit to his life with Love, and they move to California. Love is heavily pregnant, and Joe, while being the committed husband, has still not let go of his obsessive and stalking tendencies.
“You” Season 3: Recap
A husband with a wandering eye and a wife trying to get over her depression and her choices while having an affair with the neighborhood teenager—sounds like an episode of ‘Desperate Housewives’? But what if the two are people who thrive off their murderous tendencies? Then their world becomes a lot more complicated.
The first episode of “You” Season 3 moves fast by showing us that the couple is struggling to fit in with their new surroundings. Yet, that doesn’t stop Joe from finding his next obsession, their neighbor Natalie. His obsession really knows no bounds because he steals some of her items as momentos and kisses her before she stops them from going any further. When Love discovers the items, she is furious and kills her in the basement of her new bakery. Unfortunately, the dead woman’s husband, Matthew, starts suspecting something is wrong with the neighbors right away. Before much can be done about it, both Henry and Joe contract measles. Love discovers that it is due to Gil, an anti-vaccination neighbor who had refused to vaccinate his daughters, that this had happened. Love is furious and knocks him unconscious. The couple lock him in the glass cage in their basement. They don’t want to kill him, so they look for some dirt in his past that they can use against him. They eventually discover that his son is a sexual predator, but this news devastates Gil enough that he hangs himself in the cage. Joe and Love frame him for Natalie’s murder and make it look like that he was guilty because of which he killed himself. All of this is pretty much an ordinary hiccup for the couple if only they had worked to keep the peace.
Love starts an affair with Theo, Natalie’s son, while Joe starts stalking Marienne, his new boss. She is a recovering drug addict who is fighting for the custody of her daughter with her ex-husband, Ryan. As Joe’s obsession with her grows, Love discovers that Matthew has been illegally surveilling the neighborhood, and she starts seeing Theo again to keep tabs on his father. Meanwhile, Love’s friend Sherry reveals that she and her husband Cary want to try “swinging” with Love and Joe. Joe agrees, hoping that this will enable him to find cause for separation from his wife. But it all backfires when Love confronts him about her suspicions that he is interested in someone else. She reminds him about how she killed Natalie for the sake of their marriage. This conversation is heard by Sherry and Cary, who are locked in the basement by Joe and Love. The murderous mishaps of the couple continue when Joe kills Ryan after the latter catches the former stalking him. This murder also ends Marianne’s custody battle, which is a step toward Joe getting to be with her. Additionally, when Theo comes to meet Love with the backup of the deleted footage, he spots Sherry and Cary being held hostage. Before he can do anything, he is knocked unconscious by Love.
Technically, Joe should have been willing to go along with Love’s plan, but he seems to be plotting something of his own. He takes Theo to a hospital and asks Love for a divorce. But she injects him with a poison that completely paralyzes him. Having discovered that he is in love with Marianne, she plans on killing her but has a change of heart when she sees her daughter. Instead, Love warns her about Joe and tells her that he has murdered Ryan. She returns to Joe with the intention of killing him, but he is smarter than that. He injects her with the same drug she used on him, effectively rendering her unable to move. Love knows her fate, but she gets a last word in. She tells him that their son deserves better parents than them. Joe heeds her advice. He leaves Henry with his colleague, Dante, and returns to his house, where he cuts off two of his toes and sets his house on fire. Joe has staged a scene where it looks like Love has killed herself after killing him. He also fabricates a note that blames her for all the murders in the town.
At the end of “You” Season 3, we see that Henry is in safe and sane hands with Dante and that Sherry and Cary have become more famous due to the publication of their ordeal. Even Matthew and Theo are getting closer. Joe is off to Paris, likely to find and stalk Marienne. He is free of the shackles of his “perfect match” and can finally return to doing what makes him happiest—stalking and killing.