If you haven’t watched season 1, this review will be filled to the brim with spoilers.
Joe Goldberg (Penn Badgley) meets Guinevere Beck (Elizabeth Lail) during a chance meeting at Mooney’s Bookstore, where he is the manager. After this meeting, he begins stalking her, rationalizing it as his way to make sure she won’t break his heart like his last girlfriend did. Soon, he finds out that she is in a messy on-and-off again relationship with a guy named Benji (Lou Taylor Pucci), whom he subsequently kills after keeping him hostage in a glass cage underneath the bookstore. This is the first of many kills this season, and he rationalizes all of it in the beginning by claiming that he was doing everything for the well-being of Beck.
In this season he kills:
-Peach Salinger (Shay Mitchell); Beck’s wealthy best friend that Joe learns is also obsessed with Beck, and during a confrontation, he shoots and kills her and proceeds to frame it as a suicide.
-Elijah (Esteban Benito); We see in a flashback that he kills Elijah for sleeping with Candace, Joe’s then-girlfriend. Though Elijah explained that he had no idea that Candace was with someone.
-Ron (Daniel Cosgrove); He’s the abusive boyfriend of Joe’s neighbor Claudia (Victoria Cartagena), whom Joe kills when he comes home to find that Paco (Luca Padovan) has attacked him with a bat and is now in danger of the repercussion.
-Beck; When she finds out that he is a murderer, he keeps her in the same cage he kept Benji, hoping she will come to see that he did everything for her. She doesn’t, and he kills her and uses her manuscript that explains everything that happened–including the murders, to frame Dr. Nicky (John Stamos) for everything.
I was hooked from the first episode, there is undoubtedly something unnerving about Joe’s character. Fun fact, I work in a library, specifically in archives, so I enjoyed whenever he talked about the process of preserving books. He is a serial killer, but what makes him even scarier is the way that he sees it all as necessary for his end goal. That end goal originally being to win Beck’s affection, only to shift to his survival by killing Beck and framing Dr. Nicky. We learn about his upbringing, and how he got to be the manager of the bookstore, by showing how Mooney (Mark Blum) used to lock him in the glass cage when he did something that was deemed wrong. These scenes can cause us to feel sympathetic, but at the end of the day, he’s still a murderer.
This show also highlights the role of social media in how effective it can be as a tool in stalking people. Joe was able to find out about Beck, what her interests were, and more specifically, where she was. He takes this a step farther by stealing her phone and using it to read her conversations in order to stay up to date with what Beck was up to and what she thought of him.
Let’s talk about Beck for a moment. By no means, did she deserve to be killed but she wasn’t free of flaws herself. None that reached the extent of Joe’s flaws, but she did gaslight him when he accused her of cheating with her therapist even though she was. When they broke up and he started dating Karen Minty (Natalie Paul), Joe was actually happy and without the urges to commit homicide but Beck grows to miss him and subsequently works to come between their relationship. It takes two to have an affair but she definitely played a part in initiating it. I didn’t like Beck all that much, but I felt for her the entire time because she was so blissfully unaware of Joe’s true nature.
This show grips the audiences’ attention and keeps it, and manages to show the main character as more than just a serial killer, he is a broken human that never got the psychological help that he needed to deal with the cards that life has dealt him. Though, this doesn’t excuse his actions. I really want to emphasize that; just because he himself was mistreated, does not mean we should disregard the fact he has killed people.
What did you guys think of season 1? Have you guys watched season 2? That’s next on my list.