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Joe couldn’t win Beck back after a late-in-season breakup or the show would risk contradicting itself.But he also couldn’t handle knowing Beck was living her life without him in it while remaining the same character we’d followed all season long. (I later learned this is how the Caroline Kepnes novel , which the series is based on, ends as well.) That didn’t make the moment when Joe finally did kill Beck any easier to watch, even for someone like me, who enjoys audacious twists.(She slept with someone else while their relationship was in some gray, undefined territory.) She lets him know that even if she was making mistakes in her life, at least it was And all the while, we remain squarely in Joe’s point of view.When Beck tricks him into letting her out of her (literal) cage, it’s by flattering him, by insisting that he definitely knows what’s best for her, and even though I knew she was trying to fool him, ’s insistence on presenting this scene with Joe goggles fully on gave me a brief moment of wondering if the show had lost its mind and really was going to push Beck back toward her stalker and abuser.And that’s just his first course of action; from there, he slowly eliminates threats to his dominance over her heart, convinced that he’s protecting her from people who don’t want what’s best for her (like he does).Even when he commits murder, he frames it as chivalric.Just how many rom-coms kinda are built atop a foundation of a guy wearing down a girl’s defenses until she just gives in?
In the season’s fourth episode, “The Captain,” he follows her to a meeting with a man he assumes to be her secret lover.But even in “The Captain,” Joe’s voice works to dominate the proceedings. ’s first season, I had a sudden realization: The only way the season was going to make sense as a story was if it ended with Joe killing Beck, just as he seemed to have killed Candice, the girl he dated before Beck, who mysteriously disappeared.By episode’s end, when the two have a more mutually satisfying sexual encounter, Beck’s voice has been crowded out once again. Without Joe finally killing the woman he “loved,” ’s underlying skepticism about the stories we tell about men and women wouldn’t achieve the resolution it required.He wouldn’t classify the long list of false pretenses their relationship began under as coercion, or equate the ways that he tries to “protect” Beck to being abusive and controlling.The trick of is that because we’re stuck in Joe’s head and because he’s so dead-set on living out his perfect rom-com fantasy, we are forced to constantly question our assumptions about the rom-com fantasy’s mode of storytelling.