You season 3 binge recap: Joe tries to survive his unhappily ever
Welcome to season 3 of Netflix's You! I wolf you all for taking this journey with me.
If season 1 deconstructed the myth of the perfect guy and season 2 revealed the dark heart of the perfect girl, season 3 now takes us inside the happily ever after carved out by these lovely snarling beasts. Let's recap!
Episode 1: "And They Lived Happily Ever After"
Suburban fatherhood doesn't sit well on Joe Goldberg (Penn Badgley).
For one thing, he's driving a Lexus around his new town of Madre Linda, which roughly translates into "Sweet Mother." The mothers in town are a lot of things, but sweet ain't one of them.
Then there's his perfect baby girl, who turned out to be a boy. (Little Henry was hiding his light under a bushel during the sonograms.) Joe's spent the first months of fatherhood convinced his son hates him, and it doesn't help that his mother-in-law's shaman says Henry's the reincarnation of her dead son. Glamma Dottie insists on calling the baby "Forty," which Joe despises.
And then there's new neighbor Natalie (Michaela McManus). Gorgeous. A reader. Married to a wealthy tech pioneer. With Joe convinced that Love's the wrong woman for him, Natalie represents a tantalizing option. He's Gatsby, and she's the green light at the end of the dock.
And she seems into him too. When Love (Victoria Pedretti) heads to her mother's after a fight, Joe takes Natalie up on her invitation to come over for a drink. She turns off the household security cams, and their conversation becomes increasingly intimate. But when she kisses him in her bedroom, he reluctantly declines for the sake of his family.
Good thing he did; Love came back home early, and she and Joe have hot married-couple sex.
Speaking of Love, she's not loving Madre Linda. Momfluencer Sherry Conrad (Shalita Grant) — whom Joe pegs as having Peach-levels of condescension, which doesn't bode well for her survival — introduces Love to her gaggle of awful friends.
They baby weight-shame her and give her stifling parenting advice, and then at a swank party at Sherry's, Love overhears them viciously gossiping about her.
The kindest person at the party turns out to be Natalie. She takes Love under her wing and advises her to just do her own thing, loud and proud. When Love confesses to wanting to open a bakery, Natalie the realtor says she has the perfect space.
But on the way home, Love lays into Joe about Natalie. Love knows him, knows how dangerous his obsessions can be to the target and to her own marriage. They agree that this fresh start means they won't have to do bad things ever again.
Joe bids goodbye to his Natalie fixation and bonds with Henry over Frog and Toad, and to his credit, Joe seems to want to protect Henry from the toxic childhood he endured.
Meanwhile, Love walks through the potential bakery space with Natalie. It's perfect, and in the basement is a perfectly placed ax, which Love perfectly places into Natalie's throat.
You see, while she was unpacking her mixer in the basement, she found Joe's hidden shoebox of Natalie trophies, including the panties he stole from Natalie's bedroom… and that he gripped in his fist while he made love to his wife.
So with Natalie dead on the basement floor, Love calls Joe and suggests couples counseling.
- Yes, the Quinn-Goldbergs are murderers, but they're also damn funny. Take Love innocently asking Sherry for the name of her famous mommy-blog, or Joe describing parenthood as Groundhog Day by way of Sartre. Their blades are sharp, but their wits are sharper.
- Further context for Joe's new neighborhood: Sherry had to post an apology video in August 2020 after she threw a party for her pals, all of whom were rumored to have gotten the secret vaccine made for the Queen of England. Awww, remember summer 2020? Terrible times, terrible times.
- Reader, I gasped when Natalie wrapped the cut on her hand with her expensive scarf. The rich really are different.
Episode 2: "So I Married an Axe Murderer"
Couples counseling: it works!
Joe and Love find themselves on Dr. Chandra's couch talking in codes about the stress points in their marriage. But what they're really talking about is the awful argument they had over Love committing a murder in the building where she just signed a three-year lease. Joe's internal grumbling as he disposes of Natalie's body is equal parts furious, funny, and self-pitying.
Things are tense at home post-counseling, so Joe heads to the library, where he charms librarian Marienne (Tati Gabrielle) into letting him visit the rare books collection in the basement. There, he uses Henry as a decoy to steal one, then checks another one out.
In his own basement repair shop, he fixes them both up, selling the stolen one to send money to Ellie and returning the checked-out one in a bid to get a library job. Marienne doesn't appear to fully buy into the Joe charm offensive, which makes me worry for her safety. Then again, if she did fully buy his act, I'd be just as worried.
Love's still struggling in Madre Linda. She's excited about the new bakery until her mother chastises her for being so impulsive. Next, she has a parking lot run-in with Theo (Dylan Arnold), a cocky gender studies major who doesn't let her baby or her marital status stop his slightly-too-aggressive flirting.
Trying to be a good neighbor, Love then whips up a batch of sugar-free, gluten-free, joy-free lemon raspberry cupcakes to bring to a neighborhood birthday party.
The party's a nightmare. The dads are all micro-dosing, intermittent fasting, injaculating (google it—or on second thought, don't) jackholes, but Sherry takes the (keto) cake. She blithely tells Love, who's full of complicated grief over Forty, that losing one of her twins would be like losing both. Then she screams at Love when her children eat the cupcakes — raspberries have sugar, don't you know.
Y'all, I'm saving every drop of my concern for the librarian. Sherry gets what she gets.
As dreadful as the party is, it does clue Joe and Love into something even more dreadful: Natalie's husband Matthew designed a ring that monitors the wearer's biometrics and location, which means if it's still on Natalie's body in her shallow forest grave, it'll be easy to find.
They drag poor Henry to yet another crime scene, where Joe breaks bones to remove the tracking ring, and Love leaves it in a nearby public restroom. After that, they head to a construction site where concrete's about to be poured to dump Natalie's body, and that's when they have it out.
Love says that when Joe murders someone, he considers it a noble act, but when she murders someone, he treats her like she's crazy. And listen, she's got a bit of a point. Joe's as much an impulse killer as Love, but his reaction to her falls along the same stereotypical gender lines that say men are angry while women are irrational. Theo the uncomfortably friendly gender studies major would be so proud of Love's observation!
Joe shouts that he's going to have to be 100 percent into Love for the rest of his life to keep her from killing people, and Love fires back that Joe will simply kill her if she's not everything he needs her to be. Woof. I actually feel a little bad for these two murderers, who probably ought to get divorced.
Back at counseling, they discuss this latest blow-up with Chandra, who thinks they're being metaphorical when they talk about wanting to commit murder.
With some gentle prodding, she gets them to dig under the rage, and they both confess to a fear of abandonment if they reveal their true selves. Chandra recommends they start fighting side by side, as a team, and just like that, Joe's back in.
After a bout of intense sex, they promise to try to avoid killing for each other. It's… sweet? Joe then suggests they build a new cage in the bakery basement to help them control their murderous urges. But despite the newfound openness, they each hide a key inside.
Then A Fresh Tart opens for business! Adorable name, 10/10, would buy lots of cupcakes there.
But they're still concerned about what's happening at Natalie's house. Love takes cupcakes over and is surprised when Theo opens the door. He's Matthew's stepson from his first marriage, and Matthew (Scott Speedman) chases her off before the police arrive at his house.
- A+ job on this episode's title. So I Married an Axe Murderer is without a doubt Mike Myers' finest work.
- Love's fine with murder but pissed at Joe for using the Anavrin meat grinder to break down a body. Fair, fair.
- Hudson's guests all got iPads in their birthday party gift bags, so I'm over here wondering how to score an invitation to next year's soiree.
Episode 3: "Missing White Woman Syndrome"
The whole neighborhood's abuzz about Natalie's disappearance. It's domestic noir come to life, and Matthew's refusal to talk to the press about his missing wife makes him look guilty as hell. Naturally, Sherry and her crew eat this up.
But the Quinn-Goldbergs can't worry about any of that when they get the news that little Henry's sick with the measles. Joe is terrified and vows to be worthy of his son if he just gets better.
Love, meanwhile, has to call everyone at Hudson's birthday party to let them know that they've been exposed. Oof, how awkward for someone who's already new and an outsider. If that wasn't awful enough, Dottie arrives at the hospital to tell Love that she's bought a vineyard with the Quinn money, so Love's essentially on her own to keep the bakery afloat.
It's stressful, and it gets worse when local reporter Ryan Goodwin reports live from outside A Fresh Tart, identifying it as perhaps the last place Natalie was seen. This leaves Joe and Love with no choice but to frame Matthew, naturally.
Love waits at the hospital, where Theo shows up with dinner for her. He was at the bakery when she got the call about Henry, so he watched the shop while she was gone.
He now offers to be her part-time help while he hangs around waiting for news about Natalie, and Love accepts. Her creepy-man-radar must be totally off because I'm thoroughly skeeved out by the way he hugs her.
Joe, meanwhile, sets out to plant Natalie's bloody scarf at her house, but alas, he's also sick with the measles. He's feverish as he climbs Matthew's fence, hallucinating about being a child at the group home and lying about his mother getting him vaccinated.
He wakes up on Matthew's couch, having passed out near the Engler's trash. At first, he's freaked as an emotionless Matthew grills him about Natalie, but before long, he realizes that Matthew's truly worried about her.
The men commiserate about their children reflecting their sins back at them, and Joe realizes that Matthew's a good man whose stepson considers him a father. When he gets the news that Henry's going to be okay, he decides not to frame him. Love agrees, and they burn the scarf.
Joe also urges Matthew to make a statement to the press, and he finally does. He's restrained, but his concern for his missing wife bleeds through — and then he threatens to find and punish anyone who might have harmed his wife.
Next thing you know, the police get the call that Natalie's Vital Ring has been found, and when Joe stops by the next day with thank-you baked goods, Matthew's as cold and curt as before.
Oh, did you think this episode would end without an attempted murder? Think again! When Gil, the man Joe privately referred to as Mormon Neville Longbottom, stops by the bakery to confesses that his daughters were the ones who gave Henry the measles, Love takes a rolling pin to his shaggy anti-vaxxer head.
- Love, baby, Gil paid with a credit card! Slow your roll!
- If episode 1 was all about Fitzgerald, episode 3 belongs to Harper Lee, although I strenuously object to Joe comparing himself to my No. 1 literary crush Atticus Finch.
- If Missing White Woman Syndrome sounds familiar, it's because the Gabby Petito case recently reintroduced it to the public discourse. And it's amusing to think just how much more aghast Marienne and her employee Dante should be about Joe not being familiar with it, what with him being a major contributor to the phenomenon. As a sidenote, Marienne's correct in her argument that the outsized coverage given to missing rich white women sends a message about who's worthy of rescuing. But another interpretation is that the excess media attention can fuel the belief that white women occupy "safer" places in society, which makes their disappearances seem more shocking, thereby tacitly normalizing it when non-white people go missing. Either way, it's a real media trend, and one I'm glad You brought up.
- For the record, neither carrots nor chia walnuts belong in cupcakes. I said what I said.
Episode 4: "Hands Across Madre Linda"
How do you solve a problem like Gil? You frame him for the murder you committed and call it a day.
Since the anti-vaxxer isn't dead, Love drags him to the cage while she and Joe figure out what to do. How that tiny woman got Gil downstairs and locked up is beyond me.
Joe, adamantly resolved not to kill anyone else, decides to blackmail Gil into silence (even though his comments about Henry's natural immunities post-measles do seem like a bludgeoning offense). I will say, even though Joe's frustrated with Love, it's nice to see them taking Dr. Chandra's advice to work as a team.
But Joe doesn't have any luck finding dirt on Madre Linda's answer to Ned Flanders, who's eating well in the cage at least. If you've got to be locked up, do it in a bakery.
They catch a break when Love hires her dad's investigator to look into Gil's background. What at first looks like a cheat-to-get-your-kid-into-college scandal is actually hush money Gil's wife paid to the survivor of their son's sexual assault. Gil's horrified to learn about this, especially because this woman wasn't their son's first victim.
Pretty great blackmail material, right? Unfortunately for the pair, Gil hangs himself in the cage, but Love swiftly pivots to a new plan.
It's one that hinges on the Committee to Find Natalie Engler's search of Redwood State Park, where Natalie's ring was found. Love encouraged Theo to join the search party, so she's with him as Sherry gives a performatively emotional speech in her orange safety vest with #NatalieComeHome printed on the back of it.
During the search through the woods, Love ditches Theo to plant the ax she used to kill Natalie, with Gil's freshly applied prints on the handle. While she's gone, Theo overhears Sherry being absolutely awful about his dad, and he goes off on her.
Love gets him to back down and apologizes to Sherry, which causes Theo to storm off. She eventually takes him back to the bakery, where they talk about strategies for dealing with press attention. It's cozy, and Theo tries to kiss her. She rebuffs him just as he gets a text from Matthew: the searchers found the murder weapon.
As this has been happening, Joe's hauled Gil's body to his house to stage his suicide in the front hallway, leaving a typed note apologizing for having an affair with Natalie before murdering her. And again I ask, how strong are the Quinn-Goldbergs? Getting Gil's literal deadweight into place must've taken some serious muscles, or at least serious physics.
As Joe's staging the scene, he flashes back to the nurse who was kind to him in the group home. As she tends his post-fight wounds, that obsessive light comes into his eyes, and it's clear we're seeing the first of Joe's many lifelong fixations with the perfect woman.
We see that look one more time this episode at the library. Once Joe disabuses Marienne of the notion that he grew up rich, she rapidly warms up to him. She offers to give him Gil's slot as a reader during story hour, and suddenly Joe recognizes it. She's flirting with him.
His internal monologue warns him that this is bad, and buddy, we are aware.
- How nice of Joe to make sure Gil's wife kept the daughters out of town so they wouldn't have to see their father's body. Wait, is "nice" the word I'm looking for?
- Bless this show for mixing the dark with the comic. Gil's stuttering attempts to describe "rough style" sex is basically what The 40-Year-Old Virgin was based on.
- So Theo's headed back to college. Something tells me he'll be back soon enough.
Episode 5: "Into the Woods"
Joe didn't go to the woods because he wished to live deliberately, but that's what happened anyway.
Six months after Gil's death, Love has happily assimilated into the Madre Linda life. The bakery's a success, Sherry's her BFF, and she looks radiant. Joe, meanwhile, is bored to death and obsessed with his lawn. He doesn't have any friends, and he's having performance issues in the bedroom.
The only time he comes close to letting himself off the leash is with Marienne at the library. She pulls him into his office to sketch him, and he fantasizes about kissing her and taking her bracelet as a trophy. But he pulls himself back.
That night, Sherry and her husband Cary (yes, Sherry and Cary) come for dinner. While Sherry smack-talks Theo, Cary (Travis Van Winkle) cajoles Joe into going camping with him that weekend. Just in time, too, because when Theo shows up on their doorstep with some flimsy excuse, Joe immediately picks up on the weird vibe between his wife and the teenager.
When he learns that Theo kissed her and she's been sending Ubers to pick him up when he's drunk, it leads to a wall-punching fight. So off Joe goes on the camping trip with the guys, prepared to hate every moment.
Cary's an alpha nightmare, insisting that the group strip to the waist and only eat what they kill. It's all very Iron John, with Cary bellowing, "Fire is life!" (Excuse me sir, but as we all know, it's football that is life.)
It gives Joe flashbacks to being bullied by the boys in the group home, and when Cary takes him on a hunt and insists that Joe kill a squirrel, things get physical and Joe accidentally pushes him over a tiny little cliff.
Joe hauls Cary's body back to camp, but Cary says he's fine thanks to his decades-long use of glutathione. (I'll save you the google; it's an antioxidant.) But rather than expelling Joe from the group, Cary embraces him, and Joe finds himself weeping at finally being accepted.
In Madre Linda, we learn that Love drew a line with Theo: no more emails, only Ubers. Although he's disappointed at how much she's changed, she still bails him out after he's arrested for DUI on an electric scooter.
He convinces her to go on a scooter joyride, and when they tumble off, he confesses that he's flunking out of college because he can't stop thinking about her. This time Love's the one who kisses him, and they have sex on the muddy ground.
When she returns home, she learns that her mother tried to FaceTime her as Henry took his first steps, and Love collapses. Dottie knows what's going on and says this is Love's pattern. She tried to fix Forty and then Joe. Now she wants to fix Theo, which could destroy her family. Love texts Theo and breaks it off.
The day of Henry's first birthday party, Joe returns filthy, limping, and brandishing his-and-hers crossbows. He hugs Love and apologizes for everything, then flashes back to the group home nurse witnessing him deciding not to push one of the bullies down the stairs. She compliments him for being different from the bully, and they agree to look out for each other. Why do I have a bad feeling about the end of the nurse's story?
The marital sex is successful that night, after which Love gets a call that the bakery alarm is going off. Joe offers to check it out. While he's gone, Love overhears Theo getting a noisy bl--job in the backyard. Ah, a teenager's revenge.
Meanwhile, Joe rigged the alarm to give himself some stalking time, and he follows Marienne home, swearing things will be different this time.
- Although Marienne describes Joe's look as "Patrick Bateman meets Venetian gondolier," his vibe by the end of the episode is much more Dexter Morgan, who realized he needed to let his dark passenger out on acceptable targets. But something tells me Joe's not going to have Dexter's self-control.
- Who's taking bets on whether those were Chekhov's crossbows?
Episode 6: "W.O.M.B."
We'll get to the Quinn-Goldbergs soon enough, but first… Marcia, Marcia, Marcia! OG desperate housewife Marcia Cross pops up as a woman who works with Matthew and wants him to stop investigating his wife's death. The neighbors will hate it, and Love, she warns, has "the most litigious father this side of Republicans whining for a recount, except Ray Quinn? He wins." Queen Jean!
But Matthew's convinced there's more to Natalie's death — fair, as I'm sure he doesn't believe for a minute that she was cheating with Gil — and Theo's alarmed when he learns how closely his dad's looking into Love and the rest of the Madre Linda bunch.
We get to hear Love's internal monologue this episode, and if she's not as dryly funny as Joe, she's just as twisted up. She might be pregnant, she's taken to texting Forty's number to confess her sins, and when she's in bed with Joe, she's picturing Theo.
Then again, Joe's picturing Marienne. He's escalated to prowling through her apartment, touching all her pretty things, and when she comes home early, he has to dive under the bed. Aww, I love a Joe stalking near-miss!
In short, nobody's happy when Love arrives at Dottie's winery for the Women Optimizing Motherhood and Business summit. (W.O.M.B., naturally.) Dottie swiftly guesses that Love's pregnant, wants to know who the dad is, and brags about a possible new grandchild on IGTV.
Love explodes and blames Dottie for everything wrong in her life, but Dottie shoots back that Love's just spoiled and bored. After their blowup, Love reaches under her skirt and finds blood. Pregnancy crisis over, she grabs a bottle of wine and gets roaringly drunk in the amazing soaker tub in her room.
Forty appears to her, promising that he lives on inside her, and Forty reminds her that he's her soulmate, not Joe. Then he sings her to sleep in the plush bed.
The next morning Love confides in Sherry, who scoffs at the idea of effortless soulmates. She decided Cary was her person, and she works to make it happen.
With that, Love says goodbye to Forty and deletes his contact. Then a knock on her door reveals Theo. She drunk-dialed him at 4 a.m., so he arrives with the disturbing news that his dad's investigating her.
Now let's check in on Joe, whose snooping has revealed that Marienne's an addict who's been charged with child neglect, endangerment, and abuse.
When he overhears a fight with her ex-husband, he charges up from the library basement. It's Ryan Goodwin, the Channel 3 reporter from earlier this season, and Scott Michael Foster plays him with all of the smarm but none of the charm of Nathaniel from Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.
When Marienne yells at him for white knighting, Joe realizes that this is yet another example of his mommy issues. He congratulates himself for this well-duh diagnosis, but comes running when Marienne summons him to help with the library sprinklers malfunction.
She explains that she's a foster kid too and says Ryan got full custody of their daughter after she was charged with a DUI when Juliette was in the car. Since then, he's used his clout and white-man privilege to smear her in the courts unfairly.
Joe's moved by her story, and when the sprinkler overhead goes off, they share an indoor kiss in the rain.
This brings back a memory of Nurse Fiona, who has finger-print bruises on her arm, and a boyfriend who brings her a bouquet of carnations and baby's breath, which everyone knows is the worst bouquet. When Joe calls her on the cycle of abuse that she's in, she coldly tells him to go play with the other boys — as in the bullies she knows full well are terrorizing him. Poor Joe (and in this case, I'm not saying that sarcastically).
Joe realizes he's putting Marienne in danger and tries to quit. But they end up kissing, so Joe pivots to protecting Marienne from Love.
Love, though, is focused on Matthew's investigation, and when she suggests "pretending" to be into Theo to get more information, Joe agrees, hoping that'll distract her.
Hey Joe, hey Love: as the ad for my ex-husband's law firm says: Life's short. Get a divorce.
- Of course, Dottie's new venture is named Casa Gaia Vineyard, and of course, she and Sherry have become fast friends. But Love's guest room looked amazing.
- As horrifying as it was to see Theo pull a Say Anything with a boombox outside of Love's house, I loved her outrage when he referred to it as a romantic gesture from her generation. "First of all, I'm not that old."
- More Marcia, please!
Episode 7: "We're All Mad Here"
Honestly, poor Theo. Who wouldn't be confused about Love ignoring your texts and then intentionally undressing in front of her bedroom window? She hints at problems with Joe and asks Theo to find out what his dad has on them. It feels a little obvious to me, but Theo agrees to look into it.
And there's a lot to find out. Matthew asks a young hacker on his staff to use her facial recognition algorithm so he can sort through an avalanche of security footage. She does, and Matthew immediately starts looking into Love's movements. The hacker also tells Theo that Matthew isn't doing well, which is pretty clear to everyone at this point.
While Love's pretending not to enjoy stringing Theo along, Joe and Henry are spending the day with Marienne and Juliette. When she gets the news that Ryan's presenting a big check to the library at the upcoming gala, she complains that it's a power play, and Joe decides it's time to tackle the Ryan problem.
He follows him to Narcotics Anonymous and starts to hatch a plan: he'll dose the fitness junkie's protein powder with Adderall in the morning and Oxy at night, and he'll tamper with his alarm clock and flatten his car's tire to mess with his rigid schedule. Boom, sobriety gone.
Joe pays a hyperverbal high schooler who only takes Bitcoin $1,237.37 for the drugs and goes to work. While snooping, he finds Ryan's stash of naked Marienne photos and can't resist taking some, umm, Joe-time.
It's unfortunate timing because he comes home to a glammed-up Love who, inspired by Sherry's advice to spice up their marriage, reaches for Joe's zipper. But his tank is empty, and Love's left feeling awkward.
But hey, Joe's plan works, and when Ryan's day spins out of control, he immediately decides to get hammered.
Love's a ball of stress because Sherry recruited her to cater the library gala, and when Theo shows up to tell her that he hasn't learned anything useful from Matthew, she cries and kisses him. He's uncomfortable doing that in her house but quickly gets over it.
That night, Joe and Love are headed to the gala, but not before Dottie rears her chaotic head. She's been drinking nonstop since her ex got the vineyard in their divorce, and she doesn't take it well when Love says she found another sitter for Henry for the evening.
At the gala, Joe watches nervously as Love and Marienne meet, then as an ebullient Ryan arrives with a big check. Dante says Ryan's never actually been sober; there are always drugs in his protein shake, and Joe realizes he wasted $1,237.27 on someone with a sky-high tolerance.
The evening's interrupted when Love gets a call that a drunk Dottie grabbed Henry from the sitter. Glamma has him on her lap as she hits a drive-through and then heads to Casa Gia to torch it. Big yikes!
Love furiously cuts Dottie out of her life, and the next day when Joe drives Dottie to rehab (rich white women don't go to jail for arson and DUI, silly!), she warns him that Love's husband was in remission for his cancer when he died — after asking Love for a divorce. And yeah, somehow Joe's only now considering that Love could be a danger to him. Oh, Joe.
Also, Ryan noticed Joe noticing him and is now using his day with Marienne against her in court. She ends things with Joe, as she's trying to be a better person with only above-board, honest relationships moving forward.
Love then offers Joe a different kind of relationship: Sherry and Cary have an open marriage and are interested in swinging with the Quinn-Goldbergs. Joe's not interested but tells Love he's glad they're talking through decisions as a couple.
And we end with Matthew in his lair watching them leave the bakery together on the security cams that are all over Madre Linda.
- Joe, a young Gregory Peck? I don't see it, but it does play into his Atticus Finch fantasies.
- Bless Sherry for assuring Love that the catering gig will be "just like riding a Peloton."
- Gotta say, Joe apologizing with a new Le Creuset full of Donut Pal donuts would work on me. All of your murders are forgiven, sir.
Episode 8: "Swing and a Miss"
Listen, we all knew swinging with Sherry and Cary Conrad was a bad idea, but who could've predicted just how bad?
First, let's check in with Theo, who's trying his best to reach his dad, even cutting the WiFi to encourage Matthew to get out of his office for a bit. When Matthew makes a taco run (and yes, this is the third episode where somebody's mentioned tacos — was the writing staff having a collective craving?), Theo sneaks into his office and watches security footage of Joe punching the wall during his earlier fight with Love.
Matthew catches him and warns him away from the mother next door who's married to the guy with anger issues. Theo shoots back that Matthew needs to let Natalie go, and Matthew kicks him out of the house. Awww, these two don't deserve any of this. Probably. You never know with You.
Joe, meanwhile, has been helping Dante prep Marienne for Friday's custody hearing. He agrees to be a character witness, even though she's peeved (but secretly pleased) that she's a finalist in a book imprint's illustration contest that he entered her in without permission.
Okay, everybody hydrated? It's time for some Quinn-Goldberg-Conrad sexytimes.
Joe the serial monogamist (snort!) has no interest in an open marriage, but he sees how Love's turned her dead first husband into a villain when she talks about him. Not wanting to meet the same fate, he agrees to a night with the Conrads as a way to nuke his already rocky relationship without getting murdered.
Sherry and Cary arrive with literal suitcases full of sex toys and performance enhancers. Sherry and Love quickly pair off, leaving Joe with Cary, who prefers to get things started by masturbating to his own image in the mirror. Yep, Cary's a Cary-sexual. (Given his body, I… kind of get it.)
Joe gets pulled away by a call from Marienne, who's horrified because Ryan sent her nudes to everyone in her contact list, including the book editor involved in the illustration contest.
She asks him to come over, but Cary confiscates his phone and they head to the bedroom, where Joe can only make it through sex with Sherry by picturing Marienne.
Love uses the safe word and pulls him downstairs to loudly accuse him of thinking about somebody else. She knows his patterns, after all; didn't she kill Natalie for him?
Well, that's a big ol' oops. Listen, Love, I defended you earlier against Joe treating you like an irrational woman, but can you at least meet me halfway by not shouting about your murders with other people in the house?
Suspicious they've been heard, Joe grabs a meat mallet and they creep upstairs. At first, the Conrads try to play it cool, but Sherry rubs her elbow — her tell that she's lying — and the jig is up.
The crossbows! I called it! Cary sends an arrow Joe's way, and Joe chases him into the backyard. Resolved that Henry's not going to grow up in the system, Joe lets an arrow fly, slowing Cary enough that he can bash him with a rock and drag him back inside. Love, meanwhile, subdues Sherry, and into the bakery cage they go.
Forget new partners; what really gets the Quinn-Goldbergs going is violence, and they have a hair-pulling, face-licking encounter against a concrete wall, the best sex of their lives.
Afterward, Matthew finds Joe scrubbing blood, which he claims is fruit sauce, out of his car upholstery. Joe chalks all the screaming up to drunken shenanigans, and Matthew's scornful disbelief would be a bit more ominous if he wasn't drinking at 5 a.m.
Back inside, Love's grateful to have such an understanding husband, but said husband slips away to testify at Marienne's custody hearing. Although it goes well, Ryan and the judge are clearly quite chummy, and Joe realizes the system's rigged.
With the furious Conrads awake in the cage and Love more committed to their marriage than ever, Joe's got some planning to do.
- Although I love the Conrads' all-business NDA, they picked a hilariously bad safe word. I mean, hakuna matata? Timon and Pumbaa would never.
- Interesting that Theo sees Joe as a creep. What's unclear right now is whether it's jealousy talking, or if that observation goes deeper.
- So help me, if Dante is harmed at any point this season, I'll riot. From the sound of it, he and his husband are having enough trouble with the adoption process, so they don't deserve any more drama. Protect this man!
Episode 9: "Red Flag"
"I have some absolute f---ing weirdos in the basement."
Joe's assessment at the top of the episode kicks off a tense 47 minutes as he tries to stay ahead of his wife and their enemies.
While Love figures out what to do with the Conrads, Joe cleans the house, finding a gun in Cary's suitcase. He makes a Chekhov joke as he tucks it into his waistband, bless him.
When Marienne goes MIA, Joe finds her on a curb in front of a liquor store. The judge ruled that Ryan can move with Juliette to New Jersey, and she's close to giving up.
Joe pushes for more intimacy with her by confessing to killing his father to protect his mother. Then he says he and Love are separating, and they go to Marienne's apartment to have sex.
Love, however, has learned from Theo that Matthew's been hacking surveillance footage all over town. He begs her to escape Joe and leave town with him.
Instead, she visits the Conrads in their cage, and when Love tells them about Matthew, Sherry suggests that she blog about what a creep he is.
Then Sherry overplays her hand, referring to Love's marriage as fatally broken. Love doesn't like hearing that and sends the gun Joe found into the cage. The new plan is that whichever shoots the other one will be released, or they can die together in their perfect marriage.
Wow. But at the same time… maybe not the worst idea? And honestly, it's impressive how long the Conrads hold out before they start debating which would be better to survive for their kids.
The blogging plan works, though. The town goes into an uproar over Matthew's surveillance, and Jean shows up to reinforce how ridiculous his theory is that Love killed Natalie, planted her ring, and staged Gil's suicide. Oh, if only she knew!
She encourages Matthew to just accept that Natalie had secrets, and he reluctantly agrees to wipe all the drives
Meanwhile, Joe is devastated to hear that Marienne plans to follow Ryan and Juliette to New Jersey and decides that Ryan has to die. He takes some of the tranquilizer from Cary's supply of sex accessories, but Ryan senses he's being followed and attacks Joe first.
In the end, Joe knocks Ryan over the edge of a parking garage, but the dude survives. That's two for two in terms of super healthy guys surviving fairly serious falls courtesy of Joe.
Left with no choice, Joe stabs Ryan in the chest, settling for a mugging-gone-wrong scenario.
And now we get to the tensest moments of the whole season so far. Theo has his own copy of Matthew's Joe-related footage, and he discovers video showing Joe opening the trunk and getting into Natalie's car.
He tries to reach Love and goes to the bakery, where the muffled sound of a gunshot attracts his attention. OH MY GOD, THEO, DON'T GO DOWN THERE.
He breaks down the door to the cage room and finds Sherry holding the gun on Cary. (He tried to shoot his way out of the cage against her advice, and the bullet ricocheted and hit her ear, understandably jacking up the spousal tension.)
The Conrads beg for Theo's help, insisting that both Joe and Love are involved in Natalie's murder. Theo finally agrees to search for a key upstairs, and that's where Love finds him.
This next scene is almost too heartbreaking to re-live. Theo doesn't even try to lie to the woman he loves and begs her to flee her murderous husband with him. Dylan Arnold is outstanding in this scene, his face telling us that he knows the truth but desperately wishes he didn't.
When Love asks him to leave town and never come back, he agrees and turns to leave, almost as if he's accepting whatever she chooses to do next.
And what she chooses to do is slam a fire extinguisher against his skull and throw him down the basement stairs.
So as we head into the finale, Joe's committed to ending his marriage, but Love knows he's been lying to her. Plus, they've got three people in the basement, one of whom looks dead, and a grieving husband out for revenge on the loose. Nothing Joe can't handle, right?
- How funny is it that Love and Joe are both horrified about Cary bringing a gun into their home? And it was the one time he really, really needed it, too.
- You know, I'm actually a little proud of Joe. He made it almost nine episodes without actually killing anyone. Let's see how the body count ends up after the finale…
Episode 10: "What Is Love?"
Friends, this is how you end a season and wrap a story arc. Let's gooooo!
Joe's feeling good about his future. He and Marienne are escaping to France together, as she's always dreamed of doing. All he needs to do is deal with Theo's body and sneak away from Love.
Problem, though: Theo's not quite dead.
He comes to as Joe wraps him in a tarp, sadly asking why Love would do this to him. God, this poor kid. Joe feels the same way and dumps him and his head wound at a hospital.
Now we come to the most uncomfortable roast chicken dinner in history. Love found Joe's bloody shirt and put two and two together when she hears about Ryan's death.
She asks about Marienne, and Joe's silence is the confession she needs. She says that she killed for him because he was too sensitive to handle it, and she's furious that he's willing to kill for Marienne.
Joe then says five dangerous words: "Love, I want a divorce."
Henry's cries break the tension, and when Love leaves to settle him down, Joe grabs the carving knife. But Love dosed the knife handle with aconite, the paralytic she used to kill her first husband. Joe wouldn't be immobile on the floor if he hadn't grabbed the knife in the first place. Clever girl.
Love unlocks his phone, texts to ask Marienne to stop by, and leaves to deliver a cupcake order.
While she's gone, Matthew breaks in looking for Theo. At Joe's frantic blinking, he unlocks his phone to see a search for a hospital. He runs out to find Theo, leaving Joe in Love's clutches. Dang, okay, this show officially has me rethinking the wisdom of facial ID.
When Marienne arrives, Love invites her inside for an adult conversation. She accepts, unaware that Love's got a carving fork behind her back.
Marienne — who really does seem like a good person, maybe the best person Joe's fallen for — says she should've known Joe was too good to be true and urges Love to listen to that little voice in her head telling her she deserves better too.
Love instead tells Marienne to take Juliette and run. Joe tries to convince himself that Marienne was only playing along to escape, but here's hoping she's already booking a one-way flight to Paris.
Once Marienne's out of danger, Joe reveals that he's been a step ahead of Love the whole time. When he realized she was growing wolfsbane, a.k.a. aconite, in her garden, he researched antidotes and downed one before dinner. This means he's able to inject Love with the lethal dose of aconite he prepared for her earlier.
With her dying breath, Love warns him that Henry will know what he is, but he's prepared for that too.
The final flashbacks of the season show Joe learning that Nurse Fiona "moved to Ohio," but he knows she's dead and blames himself for not doing more to get her away from her abuser, including pushing him down the stairs. But he didn't want Fiona to hate him the way his mother did. With this in mind, he tracks down his mom, who says she made too many mistakes with him and needed to start over with her new son, Jacob.
Poor little Joe. It doesn't excuse a single thing he's done, but it does shed a little light on the why's of it all. In the end, he leaves Henry on Dante and Lansing's doorstep, not wanting him to end up in the system.
In the bakery basement, the cage is somehow bringing Sherry and Cary closer together (despite the fact that she did shoot him in the leg as retribution for the ear ricochet). She says she's only ever wanted to be good enough for her golden boy, and he says he loved her from the moment he saw her. When he starts to drift off from blood loss, she slaps him, and he mumbles, "sexy."
That's when Sherry has a brainstorm: Joe and Love didn't trust each other, so they would've hidden a key in the cage. She tears through baking supplies that neither of them is willing to eat until she finds it, and how dare this show make me care so much about these two?
Okay, back to the Quinn-Goldberg residence, where Joe's moved on to the final stage of his plan. He drags Love's body into the kitchen and puts the aconite syringe in her hand, then composes a suicide email from Love to the Madre Linda HOA, confessing to killing the adulterer, framing the antivaxxer, getting rid of the reporter, and locking up the couple that tried to sabotage her.
Next, and I'm gagging as I type this, he CUTS OFF TWO OF HIS TOES, putting one in "Love's" box full of victim trophies. The other goes into a chicken pot pie he's prepared. He slides it into the oven, turns on the gas full blast, sets their photo album on fire, and gets the hell out of Dodge.
With that half-charred evidence, Joe's declared dead, and Love becomes the Mrs. Lovett of Madre Linda, more famous even than Guinevere Beck.
In the aftermath, we see that the town's bounced back just fine. Matthew wheels Theo out of the hospital post-physical therapy, the two laughing together. Good for them.
Dante and Lansing are excellent fathers to Henry. Joe left a letter expressing his wishes that they raise his son, and "nobody says no to a man who got turned into a pie." Dottie even yields custody.
Andrew and Jackson take over the bakery, rebranding it as Well-Behaved Women and selling Insta-friendly shirts, and Sherry and Cary ride their captivity to fame, writing a book about cages as radical couples therapy. They're giving TED Talks now.
In short, life in Madre Linda continues, while Joe — now going by Nick, last name presumably Carraway — is in France. Marienne's vanished, but he'll search the world for her if he has to.
And you know what? I believe that he will.
- There it is, You fans. This was a tight 10-episode story, with threads from the earliest episodes curling through later ones to draw a noose around Love and Joe that only one of them managed to escape. Intriguingly, the show leaves things so open that Joe could be up to almost anything in season 4.
- Is my memory of the previous seasons hazy, or were these the most likable supporting characters in the show so far? Marienne, Dante, Theo, Matthew in his own way. Heck, even Sherry offering Cary the single pastry Love brought them was an act of kindness in its own way.
- While I read the first two books, I haven't picked up the third, which I understand is quite different from what we just watched. Regardless, this was a wickedly entertaining season of television, and I'm glad you all came along for the ride with me. Until next time!