YOU is coming back to Netflix for season 2 on Dec. 26, and we can’t wait for all the bloody goodness. As the recent trailer showed, murderous bookseller Joe (Penn Badgley) has relocated to sunny Los Angeles for a fresh start. He adopts the name “Will Bettelheim” and finds a new love interest (or is it target?) in a beautiful woman named Love (The Haunting of Hill House’s Victoria Pedretti).
We also see the return of Candace (Ambyr Childers), Joe’s ex-girlfriend who he thought was gone for good.
With season 1 being a maze of twists and turns, you may not remember all the details. EW has the rundown on the first installment’s key characters and details so you can be all caught up in time to binge 10 more episodes of romance, intrigue, and vengeance.
Season 1 recap — meet the characters
Joe Goldberg (Badgley) is a bookstore manager in New York City. He’s smart, witty, and charming. The only problem? He’s a murderer with a hero complex.
Joe meets Guinevere Beck (Elizabeth Lail), an MFA student with aspirations to become a great writer. She’s also smart, witty, and charming, but full of self-doubt and pain. Joe falls for Beck.
He begins stalking Beck on her social media accounts and physically following her. He kills people standing in the way of him and Beck — namely, her best friend Peach (Shay Mitchell), who was in love with her and despised him; and Benji (Lou Taylor Pucci), Beck’s douchey ex-boyfriend.
Soon, Joe and Beck begin dating. However, she begins seeing a therapist named Dr. Nicky (John Stamos) to cope with Peach’s death, which threatens Joe. Beck also grows suspicious at Joe’s aversion to discussing his ex-girlfriend, aspiring musician Candace (Childers). Candace seems to have disappeared from the world without a trace, and Beck’s investigation yields nothing more.
In the penultimate episode, Beck discovers a box hidden in Joe’s bathroom filled with valuables belonging to Peach and Benji. There’s also a necklace belonging to Candace, and Beck concludes he also killed her. Joe finds Beck in the bathroom with the evidence, and locks her in the vault underneath the bookstore.
What happened in the YOU season 1 finale
In season 1’s gruesome finale, Joe kills Beck (although it’s not shown on screen) after she nearly escapes from his clutches.
One of Joe’s victims that Beck doesn’t find out about is Ron (Daniel Cosgrove), the stepfather of Joe’s young neighbor Paco (Luca Padovan). Ron was abusive to Paco’s mom Claudia (Victoria Cartagena), and Joe killed Ron after the latter’s abuse sent Claudia to the hospital. Because Joe protected him, Paco is loyal to the end and doesn’t save Beck when she’s crying out for help.
Four months later, Joe hasn’t been found out as he framed Dr. Nicky — with whom Beck had an affair while with Joe — for all of his own murders. Paco and Claudia move to California. All seems well … until a very-much alive Candace visits Joe at the bookstore, telling him they have unfinished business to talk about.
Joe’s season 1 body count: 5
- Elijah, Candace’s lover whom Joe killed after he discovered the two were having an affair
What makes Joe tick (and what could be his downfall)
We learn in season 1 that Joe feels protective of Paco because he also came from a difficult home life, which might be further explored in the second installment. The show hints that Joe was neglected by his birth parents, and later he is taken in by Mr. Mooney, the owner of the bookstore. Mooney imparts a love of reading onto Joe, but he’s also abusive, locking the young boy in the same vault that Joe uses in the future.
Perhaps because of what he experienced as a child, Joe sees himself as a hero who needs to save others from the suffering he endured. He’s most attracted to broken women, which is why he dumps girlfriend Karen Minty (Natalie Paul) in season 1 — she’s too normal and self-assured, plus he’s still hung up on Beck, who’s fragile and insecure. Karen really dodged a bullet there.
So for the next chapter in Joe’s story, be on the lookout for anyone struggling or in danger. He will probably weasel himself into their life as a way to prove himself the knight in shining armor. But as season 1 proved, Joe’s help could end up being more dangerous than good.
Joe’s weakness — besides the whole killing people thing — is that he’s too rash and gets sloppy when he’s cornered (exhibit A: the urine jar). So it’s very possible that Candace isn’t the only element from season 1 that could come back to haunt him.
Season 1 elements that could return
Speaking of downfall, there are still loose ends from the first season that could turn up in season 2.
- Joe’s previous murders: Surely people found it weird that Beck, Beck’s ex-boyfriend, and her BFF all died within a short period of time?
- The private investigator: Peach’s wealthy family hired a PI to look into her death, and he seemed really skeptical of Joe’s alibi. It could be only time before the PI pops up looking for Joe.
- The urine jar: Joe leaves behind a jar of his urine in Peach’s home after killing her (not a sex thing; he just couldn’t hold it in). Joe even wonders if urine contains DNA. As it turns out, it rarely does, but he still may have left his fingerprints on the container. It wasn’t mentioned again on season 1, but don’t count out the clue.
- Paco and Claudia: With Paco and his mom in California, it doesn’t seem crazy that their paths could cross with Joe.