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This is icky moral territory to wade into at any time, but especially in an era when terrible men are newly exposed every day, and asking viewers to spend a 10-episode season trapped inside the brain of one feels like a tall order.
And, to be sure, plenty of critics and viewers have been turned off by the way doesn’t let you escape “being” Joe in some ways, because it makes his point of view the only one: Anytime someone tells him the truth about what a monster he is, it’s portrayed as an unfortunate setback. The ways that Joe stalks Guinevere Beck (Beck to her friends, played by Elizabeth Lail) are largely connected to her social media use.
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.
For a brief moment — one day, really — he’s able to finally see Beck as a human being, instead of a sidebar in his own story.
But its genre-hopping and its trashier elements are very much intentional.Nothing matters as much as his actions, which include stalking, aggressive and abusive control, sexual assault, and murder.