Spoiler alert: This post contains plot details from the Oct. 14 episode of YOU.
We knew Joe Goldberg was capable of violence. We even knew Joe Goldberg was capable of murder (R.I.P., Benji). But perhaps we didn’t realize just how far he was willing to go to have the “perfect” relationship with Beck until now.
At the end of episode 5 of Lifetime’s YOU — which is based on the 2014 book by Caroline Kepnes — Joe (played by Penn Badgley) learned that his murder attempt had failed: He’d hit Peach (Shay Mitchell) over the head with a rock, but she survived. And so, he did the only thing he could think to do: In episode 6, he followed Peach and Beck (Elizabeth Lail) out to Peach’s summer house, and after quite a bit of stalking, Peach discovered Joe. The confrontation led to a struggle. Peach shot Joe, but the bullet just grazed him. Then he returned the favor, and Peach wasn’t quite so lucky.
The episode ended with Joe staging Peach’s death to look like a suicide. He even wrote her a suicide note and everything. But for fans of the book, Peach’s death wasn’t exactly what they’d expected. In the book, Joe targeted Peach during one of her runs on the beach. He attacked her from behind, buried her head in the sand, and once again took a rock to her head. He then filled her pockets with rocks and dropped her in the ocean. As for why the show instead gave Peach and Joe a chance to confront each other, YOU showrunner Sera Gamble says, “As somebody who loves books and loves watching adaptations of books on television, I feel a certain responsibility to the book fans to both capture what they love about Caroline’s work and also surprise them and keep them on their toes. I think it’s part of the job of a TV show to make sure that we take a few twists and turns that you’re not expecting.”
Speaking to the confrontation between Peach and Joe, which again, was not part of the book, Gamble says, “We just really wanted to go there with these two characters. They’re such strong, classic adversaries. They both want the same thing and they’re standing in one another’s way, and all of the writers were just craving the most delicious showdown possible. It also gave you a deeper glimpse into both characters because Penn and Shay both just really came to play this season and brought so much depth and nuance to these characters. When actors are really on their game, it inspires the writers to give them challenging, fun material that shows them off.”
The confrontation begins when Beck leaves Peach on her own in the house, and Peach finds “Joseph” and knocks him out with the handle of her gun. She then jumps to the conclusion that Joe is there watching her before figuring out that this has always been about Beck. “Before Peach comes to the really deep understanding of what Joe’s motivation actually is, she first is like, ‘How long have you been obsessed with me?’ That’s really funny, but it’s also really indicative of where Peach is as a character,” Gamble says. “She is in a lot of denial about the depth of her feelings and connection and obsession even with Beck, and because of that she eventually puts two and two together, but she puts, like, two and six together first.”
But Peach doesn’t live much longer, which means that if Joe and Peach were adversaries, Joe won. “By the very end of the episode I think he feels like he made massive sacrifices, including having to resort to violence, which he feels is very unlike him and something he would be willing to do only for Beck,” Gamble says. “He feels that he’s won and he has helped Beck so much in her life. He’s cleared away the things that were harming her. That moment when she turns to him and she wants comfort from him, she wants him to stay, I think is probably, in terms of what he wants, the high point of the whole season for him.”
And yet, how will Joe and Beck’s relationship work now that there are no obstacles? Will they finally be able to just be happy together? “Moving into episode 7, the obstacles have been removed and they can have as expansive a relationship as they can manage,” Gamble says. “The immediate question that is raised by that is: Joe saw that relationship as potentially perfect, but there were these obvious villains standing in their way, and now that he has worked so hard to take care of that problem, he’s going to have to face what this relationship actually is when it has a chance to grow. That’s really when the truth of what is between the two of them starts to come out. Getting to have Beck is just the beginning; things get much crazier from here.”
YOU airs Sundays at 10 p.m. ET on Lifetime.