Why the Season 2 Finale of 'YOU' Is Exactly What Joe Deserves
This story contains major spoilers for Netflix's YOU Season 2, including a detailed discussion of the end.
Season 2 of Netflix's -- formerly Lifetime's -- YOU concluded with all the pulpy, complicated joy we've come to expect from the show. There was a huge twist! A marriage and a baby! A cliffhanger! More murder! A cop named David Fincher!
The second season embodied everything audiences love about YOU, right down to the darkly fairytale ending that sees Joe and Love expecting a baby together, moving into a home, and Joe rekindling some of his more obsessive tendencies in the final scene. Does the ending work for YOU? For us? For anyone? Do Joe and Love deserve each other? Does Joe deserve love? Love? Forty? Thrillist staffers Emma Stefansky and Anthony Schneck discuss what the show got right, and whether Joe is a good boyfriend (he is).
ANTHONY: Emma, you and I agree that YOU is the perfect show, and I suspect that Joe Goldberg will go down with Don Draper and Tony Soprano as one of television history's greatest male antiheroes. But the ending to Season 2 was a bit of a surprise if you didn't see any of the glaringly obvious foreshadowing along the way: Love is also a stalking, obsessive, lovesick killer, which makes her perfect for Joe. Was this the kind of satisfying ending you were looking for?
EMMA: Yes, this is exactly what I was hoping for from this show, if not from a Season 2, then certainly further down the line. When the reveal finally happened, when Love locked Joe in his own aquarium of death, I couldn't help but feel like I'd just witnessed a bit of a shark jump to have Joe meet his match so early. But then, in the last moments of the finale, we learn that Joe is nowhere close to done, even if he's moved to the comfy suburbs with his femme fatale: Through a crack in his fence, he glimpses his next target, faceless and reading a book in the sun, the perfect blank canvas for Joe to project all his fantasies on. THAT's what excites me the most -- not that Joe will inevitably go on another obsession-induced killing spree, but that he'll also be tangling with Love, a woman just as (if not more) messed up than he is. Because, as we learned from Candace, it's not just the objects of his obsession that drive Joe to do the things he does -- it's also the ones he left behind.
What do you think? Given what we've learned about Love's secretly psycho personality, do she and Joe deserve each other?
ANTHONY: They might be the most perfectly matched, deserving couple of all time, fictional and non-fictional. We should offer a caveat here that murder is bad, since we don't want to get canceled on the third day of 2020, and if your partner is a murderer -- ESPECIALLY a serial killer!! -- you should strongly consider breaking things off. Carefully.
But for Joe and Love? They're practicing unconditional love and radical acceptance on a level never before seen. Not only do they accept and embrace the other's faults, but there's a true parity. They've both murdered, but they don't really want to hurt anyone, except when they get really, really mad and/or they risk having their secrets exposed. When it became clear they were actually going to start a life together, I immediately thought they embodied the ideal recommended by a Psychology Today blog from 2016 that I for some reason have stored away in the temperature-controlled glass cage of a subconscious -- it recommends unconditional love on the order of a loyal dog to make a marriage work! So this is going to work, despite Joe's obsessions… I think. I hope.
Online, though, the debates and the memes rage. IS Joe a good partner? The obvious answer is: No, he's a serial killer. But! This is the internet! We don't like obvious answers for content reasons. As a boyfriend/husband, how do you rate Joe?
EMMA: I think going on the record and saying that the serial killer from Netflix's Lifetime-iest show is TV's most perfect boyfriend is a great way to kick off the next 12 months, so that's what I'm going to do. I would date Joe Goldberg. If you've ever hung out with me in a bar after a couple glasses of wine and heard me talk about my no-good, dirty rotten exes, you'd swear I had already dated Joe Goldberg. He's the perfect encapsulation of what makes men like him so dangerous and so alluring: He's very smart (intelligence is hot), he's charming and knows a lot about books (the thinking man's movies), and he would do anything for the people he cares about, including and not limited to stalking them, their friends, their former lovers, their employers, their family members. He's obsessed with his girlfriends -- who doesn't want a boyfriend like that??
Plus, in the second season, he makes it very clear that he's working on himself! As you said, he doesn't want to be a killer -- though he will kill, if he absolutely needs to. If external circumstances drive him to murder, so be it. It's his victims' own fault, really, for sticking their noses where they don't belong (sorry Delilah, though, technically, she's Love's victim as a byproduct of Joe's self-improvement). He can't control what has to happen then!
I do feel like it's worth mentioning that I am partly joking and am indeed extremely self-aware and normal. Penn Badgley, bless him, has done everything he can possibly do to convince people to stop fantasizing about dating Joe, not that any of it is working. It just doesn't help that there are so many seeds of a healthy, rewarding relationship here. He'll do anything for Love. Anthony, as a lifestyle guru yourself, do you think following your significant other to her insane parents' "Wellkend" is the ultimate test of true love?
ANTHONY: First, I can attest that you've never dated anyone half as good as Joe Goldberg because, 1) You're still alive, and 2) One of your ex-boyfriends was really into Slipknot, I think? No way Joe sinks to that level.
As for the wellness weekend, it might be the best episode of the season, and from personal experience I'll say it's pretty difficult to make it through one of those retreats without resorting to smoking crack, which is what Forty does. Who brings crack to a Wellkend celebrating two wellness lifestyle legends' marriage?! New-age L.A. wellness nuts, that's who! This episode embodies the show's perfect, oxytocin-inducing mix of over-the-top and incredible nuance. You have a wolf. You have a truth yurt. You have Candace, as Amy Adam (not Adams!), being pressured into hugging the guy who buried her alive. You have Love's horny, menopausal mom making Joe smoke weed. Through it all, Joe goes out of his way to calm Love before her speech, invent cutesie little inside love-babble, and collect Forty just in time to catch and ruin the ceremony. Love should've married him on the spot, and outside of getting his finger chopped off (and maybe the 11-hour acid trip), it's the most pain he's endured for showing her he's worthy.
And he is worthy, right? What are some other things we Love (hahahahahaha) about Joe?
EMMA: I think the one thing that makes Joe more than just an easily categorized villain is his affection(?) for young folks. In both seasons of this show, his violent misdeeds have been tempered by subplots involving kids he goes out of his way to look out for -- in this season, it's the 15-year-old Ellie, who unknowingly places herself in the lions' den of predatory comedian-actor-personality Henderson (Chris D'Elia), despite the warnings of her own older sister. Joe inarguably ends up saving her from one kind of trauma, while also getting to murder a guy he's decided he simply doesn't much care for. It's pretty much a microcosm of how he lives his life by engineering situations in which he makes himself feel heroic by committing horrific crimes. He's a complex guy! Does his protective streak absolve him? No! But it makes him more that your run-of-the-mill gross, creepy bad guy. He's not gross or creepy at all! He's a modern-day Dracula, luring his victims with his charm, molding himself to be exactly what he thinks they want, and convincing himself he's just trying to do his best, like all the rest of us.
ANTHONY: You're right, and it's his concern for his future child with Love that prevents him from killing her in his cage that he expertly moved on short notice from New York to Los Angeles. Joe has a heart, and hope for the future. He's not willing to destroy for destruction's sake.
Will his new relationship last? The ending sows the seeds of his next obsession, but couldn't this be yet another opportunity to deepen what's already the deepest relationship he's ever experienced? What if Joe and Love stalk the neighbor together, and teach their daughter to stalk just like Mommy and Daddy? Keep in mind that neither Joe nor Love has murdered anyone while they're dating them, so we'd have to witness the demise of a perfect, loving, accepting relationship before either of them could off the other. Season 3 is going to be a lot of fun.
As a final note, Love is also the perfect girlfriend/wife. I would murder someone to try her baking.
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