Joe is a loner bookstore manager who becomes infatuated with a woman named Guinevere Beck and begins to stalk her to find out everything about her and hopefully make her fall in love with him. However, his obsession soon becomes out of control when he starts trying to control every aspect of her life.
Joseph Goldberg was the only child born into a dysfunctional relationship. He idealized his mother Sandy, whom he said was his home no matter where they were. His father was abusive to him and his mother. His mother frequently cheated on his father, often leaving Joe alone in public areas while doing so. His father would physically abuse him, such putting cigarettes out under his arms, trying to force him to confess his mother's infidelity. His mother would sometimes take Joe and leave his father, usually in the company of another man, but would always come back. She hid a gun in a closet where Joe would often hide and showed Joe, telling him that one day she would kill his father. But instead, Joe later used the gun to shoot his father, protecting his mother from his beating, killing him. His mom told him that he was a good boy who would never hurt anyone and was only protecting her. Shortly after, she turned him over to social services, telling him that being with her was not the best thing for him and he was put into a group home. While there, he was viciously bullied and bonded with a nurse who worked there who was in an abusive relationship and reminded him of his mother. He felt the need to protect her from her abusive boyfriend and blamed himself for not doing so when she later stopped coming to work. He tracked down his mother and went to find her, and it is revealed that she is now raising her new son. She tells him that she needed to start over.
As a teen, an older man named Mr. Mooney, a retired Soviet prison guard who owned a bookstore, took him under his wing. He took care of Joe and guided him, but would also abuse him in various ways that he saw as teaching Joe lessons he needed to learn and shaping him into what he believed he should be. This included locking Joe in a glass cage in the bookstore basement for periods of time until he could prove the lesson was learned.
Joe, now the bookstore's manager, tries to win over MFA student Guinevere Beck by manipulating everything and everyone around her. They first meet at Mooney's, the Lower East Side bookstore where Joe and his co-worker Ethan Russell work. Right after their encounter, Joe starts to obsessively find everything about Beck that he can through her social media accounts. He justifies his actions by stating that in order to pursue Beck, he wants to make sure that she is worth it and won't break his heart. He continuously implies that a similar instance occurred in the past with his ex-girlfriend, Candace Stone, who is presumed to be dead.
Meanwhile, Joe has a close relationship with his next-door neighbor, Paco, who has an abusive home life and who Joe lends books to as an escape. Joe has a soft spot for Paco, as he sees a lot of his childhood in him. As Paco's situation at home with his stepfather Ron, becomes increasingly abusive, Joe finds himself getting more and more involved. In response, Ron admonishes Joe's actions, stating that he is suspicious of him and warning him to stay far away from Paco.
Joe stalks Beck to Greenpoint, Brooklyn, where she gets drunk and reads her poetry to disinterested hipsters at an open mic night. Uncomfortable, Joe retreats to the New York City Subway stations, where an inebriated Beck arrives and falls onto the train tracks. He successfully saves Beck from imminent death before the train arrives. Later, it is revealed that he stole her phone while helping her. She replaces it and he is able to read her text messages synced to the cloud.
While spying on Beck, Joe discovers Benji Ashby, her current hook-up buddy and a pretentious trust-fund baby. Joe believes that Benji is an obstacle to his future relationship with Beck. Posing as a New York Times columnist, he tricks Benji into meeting him for an interview about Benji's soda company. He leads him to the bookstore basement, hits him over the head with a mallet and keeps him captive in the store's climate-controlled cage. So as not to raise any suspicions about Benji's whereabouts, Joe starts masquerading as Benji on his phone and social media accounts to keep up the ruse that Benji decided to travel somewhere remote without any notice. His ploy proves successful, as Beck, convinced, resolves to put Benji behind her. Joe is adamant about getting rid of Benji due to his knowledge of Joe's complicity in kidnapping him and stalking Beck, which poses a great threat to his future plans. Benji attempts to convince Joe that Beck does not truly like him, and is simply using him. He also insists that Beck is not worth the trouble and if Joe really knew her, he would not be ruining his own life by kidnapping him. He tells Joe that he does not even want Beck and that he can have her. Later he tells Joe the location of a video where he was complicit in the death of a friend as mutually assured destruction, so that Joe could trust him not to say anything about entrapping him and could let him go.
After a night at one of Peach Salinger's parties, Joe decides Benji is wrong. He also steals a rare copy of Ozma of Oz for Paco from Peach's library during the party, and he and Beck encounter an old friend of Joe's ex Candace, who tells him Candace's sudden disappearance after their break up had hurt her. Resorting to a final decision, he kills Benji by using his peanut allergy against him. After Benji dies of anaphylactic shock, Joe disposes of Benji's body and gives Paco money to buy the materials he needs to dispose of the body. Joe has a date with Beck, which is interrupted by Peach with a supposed medical emergency. He offers to drive them to the hospital, and Peach mentions a putrid smell in the car which is coming from Benji's decomposing body in the trunk. Joe drives home to retrieve the chemicals from Paco and is stopped by Ron and 2 other police officers. Given that the officers aren't aware of the chemicals needed to dispose of a corpse, he is able to fabricate a story that they are used for gardening. Ron protests, but is unsuccessful.
Joe and Beck officially start dating and he is introduced to her other wealthy Ivy League friends, Lynn Lieser and Annika Attwater. Peach Salinger is immediately threatened by Joe's new role in Beck's life, and tries to convince Beck to ditch him for someone better.
Joe and Beck have sex for the first time and he finished very quickly creating an awkward situation. Beck is texted by someone named The Captain and goes into the bathroom with her phone. Joe checks her old phone and sees the messages. Unaware of who The Captain is, becomes extremely jealous after Beck tells The Captain that she loves him. Joe assumes him to be a secret boyfriend of Beck's. Joe spies on Beck's messages, revealing that they're going to meet up at The Seahorse Motel. He follows Beck to the motel and quickly finds out that "The Captain" isn't a romantic interest, but her father,Edward Beck, who he believed to be deceased. Joe follows Beck to a Dickens' festival, and because of Peach's investigation and Ethan inadvertently revealing that Joe was also at the festival, Beck discovers Joe. Joe admits that he did follow her to the festival, but claims that he went there to apologize, not to spy on her. After a fight between Beck and her father's wife, Nancy Whitesell, Joe attempts to console Beck but it leads to an argument. They quickly make up however. Offscreen, Joe returns the copy of Ozma of Oz to Peach's library.
Joe joins Beck, Annika, Peach, and Lynn in one of their "girls' nights out" and is disgusted by how condescending and bland they are. Peach approaches Joe about her missing and now returned book in an attempt to profile him as someone willing to steal it. The day after, Annika visits Joe and Ethan at the bookstore and helps promote Mooney's on her Instagram and he encourages her to post an unflattering picture of her and Peach. Later that night, Joe surprises Beck with a lavish date across New York, however this gets interrupted as Annika calls Beck frantically over a leaked video of Annika making seemingly racist comments. Joe is immediately suspicious of Peach, believing she was the one behind the leak. Joe follows Peach to her office and notices her laptop, which he plans to steal. Peach comes to the bookstore and tells Joe to ready the bookstore for a party in order to introduce Beck to famous literary agent Roger Stevens.
Joe returns to his apartment and realizes Paco is reading a book about the prosecution of minors in New York state, putting together that Paco is planning to hurt or kill Ron. He gives Paco a book called The Count of Monte Cristo. Later that night, Joe and Beck are together at the party that Peach organized, where he steals Peach's purse containing her laptop and diary. He goes down to the basement but quickly discovers that her laptop is password-protected, prompting Joe to search her diary, in which he discovers an old polaroid of Beck in a bikini. Joe returns upstairs and overhears Roger Stevens and Peach planning to reject Beck from his agency. The day after, Joe meets up with Annika to talk about Peach in order to piece together Peach's laptop password. Joe gets called by Beck who tells Joe that Peach is in his apartment, searching for her stolen laptop. Peach accuses Joe of stealing her laptop, and Beck reveals that Peach had a stalker to Joe's relief, leaving him able to divert the blame from him. Joe tells Peach to use a tracking app for her laptop, to which she discovers that the laptop is back at her house. Joe follows Peach and breaks into her house, retrieving her hidden laptop. Joe attempts to use "Dalloway," the name of her dog, as her password, but is unsuccessful. Joe has an epiphany and decides to use Peach's nickname for Beck, "Beckalicious" which unlocks the laptop. Within a file named "GB," after Guinevere's initials, he discovers a large number of files full of images of Beck, both consensual and not. In the aftermath of Beck and Peach's massive argument following her sexual harassment by Roger Stevens, Beck and Joe are interrupted by a phone call from Peach who apologizes to Beck and also tells her that she has taken a lot of pills. The duo go to Peach's house and Joe reads her diary, where Peach wrote down all of the pills she took, Joe noting that the amount and type of pills she took wouldn't be "enough in her system for a light buzz, let alone an OD." He tries to convince Beck that the suicide attempt was an act, but Beck reveals that it wouldn't be the first time that Peach has attempted. He insists that Peach should go to the hospital, instead she gets Beck to stay the night with her. The day after, a frustrated Joe follows Peach to Central Park and impulsively hits her head with a rock. Joe returns home to see an unconscious Ron and Paco. Paco tells Joe that he slipped Ron a few sleeping pills. Joe saves Ron's life by forcing him to vomit. Upon awaking, Ron savagely beats Joe, which Joe takes as a "karmic beating."
Joe later receives a call from a hysteric Beck about Peach getting attacked at Central Park, who also reveals that Peach survived the attack. Joe goes to Beck's apartment and sees Peach, who tells Beck that Joe needs to leave, and Joe discovers plane tickets to Paris for both her and Beck. Outside of his apartment complex, he meets Paco's mother, Claudia, and she tells him that she owes him and gives him fudge brownies. Beck visits Joe at the bookstore and informs him of her and Peach's plans to take the weekend and go to her family's estate in Greenwich, New York. Joe follows them in Mr. Mooney's car and gets into a crash in the woods, suffering a severe forehead cut and concussion. He begins to become plagued by hallucinations of Candace in his concussed state. When Joe wakes up, he gets stopped by Officer Nico. Joe introduces himself as "Spencer Hewitt" and tells the officer a story about how he was robbed by a bunch of teenagers. Officer Nico tells Joe that he is going to run his plate, but in order to prevent that from happening, Joe pretends to be married to a wealthy doctor and offers Nico a spot on Edward Beck's boat. Nico allows Joe to leave. Joe believes he was successful in deceiving the officer, but as he drives away the officer takes note of the license plate.
Joe successfully breaks into Peach's estate and waits for the right opportunity to dispose of her. Joe attempts to stitch his forehead closed and find Peach's concussion pills, when he gets another vision of Candace. Moments after, he wakes up on the floor, revealing he passed out for several hours. Joe is forced to stay overnight as a result of getting trapped under a bed. Joe is forced to watch Peach attempt to take advantage of Beck. Beck confronts Peach because of this and furiously leaves the estate at the end of a confrontation to return to New York. Joe has another vision of Candace where they begin to have an argument, when Peach discovers Joe and hits him over the head. Joe wakes up to Peach standing over him, aiming a gun at him. As she realizes the truth behind Joe's sinister façade, he threatens her. Stating that he knows all her secrets and is willing to expose them, he taunts her before starting a fight. Joe attempts to run away but his leg is grazed by Peach's gunfire. As Peach approaches Joe, who is pretending to be dead, he trips her, wrestles the gun from her, and shoots her. He then frames her death as a suicide.
Beck is grief stricken in the aftermath of Peach's death, and around a month after, she tells Joe that she's returning to therapy, which threatens Joe's perception and role in the relationship - he wants to be the sole person she can confide in. Joe begins to become discouraged in his and Beck's relationship due to how cold she's been towards him. Joe hires Beck to work at Mooney's bookstore but both him and Ethan take notice of how terrible of an employee Beck is. Joe gets a phone call from Officer Nico, and Joe pretends to be Mr. Mooney, covering for himself. Joe first meets Claudia's friend, Karen Minty chasing off Ron with a metal baseball bat. In order to make up for her terrible performance, Beck plans a romantic date in the bookstore's basement, during which they talk about her birthday and what she wants. The day after, Joe and Lynn are talking inside of Mooney's and plan Beck's birthday party together. Despite Beck's wishes, they plan to throw a big party with the guests dressing up as their favorite literary characters. On his way to the party, Joe has another encounter with Karen Minty, who says that Beck is "lucky to have a man that cares." Joe, frustrated that Beck hasn't arrived yet, complains to Lynn that she won't answer his calls or texts, not knowing that Beck was behind him the whole time. Joe and Beck have another argument, as Joe says that Beck has been hard to read. When he asks Beck where she was, Beck tells him that her therapy session ran long and that she decided to go on a walk. Not convinced by her story, Joe asks Beck to just tell the truth. Beck stays silent and Joe demands to see her phone. She tells him that if he does that, there will be no trust between them. Joe ultimately decides not to and Beck storms off. They reconcile but their relationship is back to square one. Joe becomes increasingly suspicious that Beck is cheating on him with her therapist, Dr. Nicky. Joe starts to follow her when Beck claims to leave for class, but Beck discovers him and promptly breaks up with him. Joe begins having sessions with Dr. Nicky himself, posing as someone else and discussing his relationship issues with Beck claiming it was his relationship with a man. He initially plans to kill Dr. Nicky, but then concludes that he needs absolute truth first. Joe looks through Dr. Nicky's laptop and discovers an audio recording of one of Beck's and Nicky's therapy sessions. After listening, Joe comes to the realization that he's become too invasive in her life and that she just needs time away from him. Joe visits Beck and returns their "Everythingship" Scrabble board. After their relationship ends, Joe has a sexual encounter with and begins to date Karen Minty. In bed, Joe has another vision of Candace, asking him if he's going to leave Beck alone.
During their time apart, Beck relays to fellow student Blythe that she needs to focus on her work. Blythe forces Beck off of social media and Joe is no longer able to stalk her social media, which frustrates him. He continues a relationship with Karen Minty. Ethan tells Joe of his and Blythe's relationship and he is initially disapproving out of jealousy of their happy relationship. At night, Joe, Karen, and Paco are having dinner and Claudia joins. Karen quickly realizes that Claudia has relapsed. Joe and Karen go out to the streets of New York for froyo and run into Beck. Joe has flashbacks of his and Beck's relationship, and Karen and Beck have an awkward first meeting. Karen is rude towards her and ushers them away. Karen asks if that was the "Everythingship girl," to which Joe responds "Ex-Everything." Beck texts Joe and he initially ignores her, to Beck's dismay. Joe and Beck start texting again, and Beck starts sending Joe provocative pictures. A few days later, Joe and Beck help Ethan and Blythe move into their new home. Joe is surprised at Beck's arrival and notes the fact that she is trying to get his attention. Joe and Beck have a conversation in the storage area of the moving truck, toasting the "Joe and Beck Moving Company." Joe returns home to see Claudia collapsed on the floor and Karen taking care of her, Karen tells Joe that she needs a detox away from Paco, and Joe brings them down to the cage in Mooney's bookstore. Claudia wakes up in a panic, giving Joe flashbacks to how Benji reacted when he woke up, making Joe throw up. Joe offers Paco a place to stay in his apartment and lies to him, saying that Karen and Claudia are at the spa. The day after, Joe is working at the bookstore and is confronted by Ron. Ron attempts to intimidate Joe into telling him where Claudia went and Joe contemplates shooting him, but he's able to convince Ron that he doesn't know and Ron leaves.
Beck texts Joe to meet at a ferry and Joe cheats on Karen. They continue their relationship for several more weeks as Beck and Joe stop seeing Dr. Nicky. Paco confronts Joe and demands that he tells him where his mother is. Joe brings Paco down to the cage to see Claudia, where they reunite happily. Joe and Karen go to Blythe and Ethan's housewarming party where they both run into Beck again. When Karen tells Beck about how good of a guy Joe is, Beck begins to cry and excuses herself. After the party, Joe and Karen return to the cage to see Claudia off, having completed her detox. The next day Joe tries to "see the good" in Karen, but spontaneously breaks up with her. Later that night Joe runs to Beck's place and professes his love to her once again and they reconcile their relationship. Joe returns home to see that Claudia and Ron got back together. Paco screams at Joe and he runs off.
Joe wakes up from a nightmare that he's trapped in the cage, being forced to watch Candace kissing the disfigured corpse of Elijah Thornton. He screams Candace's name, but is relieved as he wrongly believes that Beck was asleep. In the morning they have a conversation which leads into Candace, who Beck has become curious about. In order to make sure that he doesn't get these nightmares again, he schedules another appointment with Dr. Nicky. This leads to a flashback to when Joe and Candace first met, him helping her get the band's equipment out of the van. Another flashback shows Candace and Joe together at Christmas, with Joe gifting her a first edition copy of her favorite book, Wuthering Heights. More flashbacks are similar to Joe's dilemma with Beck, where she was seen texting someone but refuses to show Joe who it is. Candace is seen in a restroom getting ready, and Joe asks if Elijah would be there. Joe suggests that he comes, but Candance refuses, leading Joe to follow her. The flashback montage ends with Joe placing the Wuthering Heights book on the discount aisle. Another flashback shows Joe's confrontation of Elijah. Joe tells Elijah that Candace is his girlfriend, to which Elijah claims that she never even mentioned him. Joe becomes enraged, pushing Elijah off of the roof. It's transitioned back to present day and Joe is seen burning the page with Candace's note.
Later that night in Joe's apartment, Beck confronts Joe about what truly happened to Candace. Beck indirectly accuses Joe of having something to do with Candace's disappearances and Elijah's death. Beck also brings up that Candace's brother, Jimmy Stone believes she's dead. Joe disregards Jimmy's theories, citing his mental health issues, and shows Candace's Instagram page confirming she was in Italy. Joe brings Beck to Mooney's house to reveal what he truly was doing for the 8 days he was gone after his split with Candace. As they enter the house, there's another flashback where Joe confesses to Mooney that he killed Elijah. Mooney demands Joe to give him his clothes and that as long as he never tells anyone, he will be fine. Joe introduces Beck to Mooney and says that he comes up to visit Mooney weekly. Joe tells Beck that he's the reason that Mooney is in the vegetative state that he was in, as he spent those 8 days wallowing alone and Mooney had a stroke and was left alone.
Joe brings Beck home then attacks Dr. Nicky in disguise as if he is robbing him. Joe takes his phone and goes through his phone calls and text messages with Beck, confirming his suspicions that Beck had been cheating on him. Joe contemplates killing Dr. Nicky, but says that he'll get what's coming to him. Joe confronts Beck about her infidelity and gets her to admit that he had been cheating on him when they were together the first time. Beck tells Joe that she truly loves him and Joe calms down, Joe forgives her and they reconcile. The day after Joe leaves the apartment leaving Beck alone. Joe comes back seeing Beck with a cut and goes into the restroom to get first-aid. He notices the broken piece of glass on the floor and the misplaced bathroom ceiling tile and realizes that she discovered his box of evidence which included Benji's phone and teeth. Beck tries to leave in a hurry but Joe slams the door on her. A flashback happens showing what happened between Candace and Joe, where instead of Candace saying that she loved him when confronted about cheating like Beck did, she screams at Joe that she never loved him and storms off.
Beck wakes up in the cage and Joe tries to calm her down, assuring her that she'll be imprisoned temporarily. Beck begs Joe to tell her that he didn't kill Benji or Peach, he tells her "if you knew what I knew" and Beck breaks down, confirming to her that he did kill them. Joe goes through Beck's phone to a panicking Annika and Lynn, posing as Beck, he pretends to be her going off to a writer's retreat. Joe returns to his apartment to retrieve evidence of Peach and Benji's wrong doings, he sees a horribly beaten Claudia in the back of an ambulance, he asks an officer about the whereabouts of Paco where the officer says she doesn't know. Joe returns to the cage with Benji and Peach's laptops. He shows Beck the video of Benji's friend accidentally killing a student and the stalker photos Peach took of Beck. Beck breaks down begging Joe not to hurt her. Joe tells her to calm down, and that she should appreciate her time in there.
Joe breaks up a confrontation between Paco and Ethan at the book store in which Paco attempted to steal the revolver under the register to kill Ron. Joe admonishes Paco for being dumb but tells him to crash at his apartment. Joe meets up with Lynn and Annika, pretending to be panicked and oblivious to Beck's whereabouts. Annika and Lynn tell Joe about how much Beck loves him, reassuring and validating Joe's feelings. Joe discovers about the P.I. hired by the Salinger family. Back in the cage, Beck begs Joe to use a normal restroom rather than the bucket he has provided her, and when he's just about to unlock the cage, he tells Beck that he's unable to, not fully trusting her yet.
Joe visits Claudia in the hospital to ask where Paco is, Joe criticizes Claudia about getting back with Ron, to which Claudia reveals that she has no choice but to stay with Ron as she could lose Paco if she doesn't. Ross the PI confronts Joe after his visit to the hospital. Ross asks Joe questions such as how he knew Peach and if he had ever been to her house in Greenwich. He proceeds to tell Joe that they had found an item that is being tested for DNA, Joe remembering about the jar that he urinated in and forgot back at Peach's house. The conversation ends with Ross giving Joe his card. When Joe tells Beck about this encounter, he tells her that Ross didn't buy a word he said. Joe and Beck have a conversation in the cage and Beck attempts to act like she loves Joe and is starting to understand why he did the things he did.
Joe rushes back home to save Paco in an altercation with Ron, and stabs Ron in the throat. He orders Paco to clean up the blood stains and he tells Paco their plan to get away with it. Paco asks if it was right to kill him, to which Joe replies that love is more important than all.
Beck is able to convince Joe to let her out by showing him what she has written, which details her affair with Dr. Nicky and implicating him in the crimes Joe committed and telling him they are going to be together. She stabs Joe with the typewriter key. Beck runs upstairs but finds the door locked. She pleads with Paco who hears her screams and comes to the door, but he does not let her out. Joe confronts Beck again and she hits him over the head with a mallet and steals his key but isn't able to find the correct key in time, Joe gets back up and strangles Beck to death.
Four months later it is revealed that Joe submitted Beck's posthumously released book the dark face of love. It's revealed that he framed Dr. Nicky for the murder. Joe meets Claudia and Paco as they prepare to move to California. Claudia is puzzled at Ron's sudden disappearance but credits it to Ron's shady lifestyle and Claudia thanks Joe. Joe speaks with Paco and he tells him that he'll miss him, Paco hugs Joe. As Joe is cleaning up the shop, he notices a new girl walking in that gets his attention. The new girl goes up to Joe, removing her hood and it is revealed that it is Candace, who is still alive.
After Joe is stunned by seeing Candace at Mooney's, she asks to continue their conversation in public to discuss their troubled history. Sitting in a cafe in New York, Joe appears to be in distress, wondering how Candace is alive. Candace fills in some of the missing details, including surviving the night that Joe almost killed her. Further taunting Joe, she states that she is aware of his complicity in Beck's death. Joe becomes increasingly alarmed and later asks her if he can go to the restroom before they continue their discussion. Candace is quick to discern Joe's true intentions, and rushes to the room but Joe has escaped from her grasp. In retaliation, Candace calls Joe, who picks up and gets a scorned reminder that he can't truly escape from her and that he will eventually get his comeuppance. After Joe hangs up and throws his phone to the ground in fury, he takes a taxi to the airport in order to catch a flight to Los Angeles.
After arriving at Los Angeles International Airport, Joe notices a public frenzy surrounding the famous stand-up comedian, Henderson. As he passes by, Joe manages to get his luggage from the baggage claim area and proceeds to the city. Sometime later, Joe encounters Will Bettelheim, a hacker from a Craigslist meeting. As Will suggests to Joe that he cannot fulfil his request to create an untraceable identity in a limited timeframe, Joe kidnaps Will and imprisons him in a plexiglass vault hidden in a storage facility that he rented. Using the kidnapee's name as a pseudonym, Joe secures an apartment and befriends the building manager and neighbor, Delilah Alves and her teenage sister, Ellie Alves. Later, Joe manages to find Ellie at a rooftop taking videos. Due to being anxious of his true identity being exposed, he demands her to hand over the phone for review. Joe tries to grab the phone from Ellie, resulting in the phone accidentally slipping from her grasp and falling down the building. She later chastises Joe, stating that she was committing to a filming project for homework. Later, he purchases a new phone for her and apologizes for his earlier behavior.
With limited funds, Joe searches for a job in Los Angeles and later, meets Calvin, the manager of a trendy family-owned, health-conscious grocery store, Anavrin for an interview. After persuading Calvin, Joe is hired as a clerk in the book cafe of the store. Upon leaving the interview, Joe encounters Love Quinn, a widow and spirited local who works in the kitchen and later, unknowingly meets her troublesome addict-riddled brother, Forty Quinn. Joe tries to talk to him, but is initially met with a sarcastic derision by Forty. Love comforts Joe and mentions that he doesn't have to worry about being fired. Soon after, she tries to make advances on Joe, but he initially resists, citing his contentious history with his previous partner. Later, Joe ends up at the DMV to acquire an ID card. After meeting with Love at the field office, Love offers to take him on a food tour of the city, including Anavrin, to get to know him. Joe finds himself attracted to the idea and agrees on the plan. Later, Love believes that their encounters are not mere coincidences but attributable to fate. It is later revealed that Joe in many instances manipulated the circumstances to get his job and apartment and secretly orchestrated his encounter with Love, in order to get closer to her.
The next day, Love takes Joe to the fish market and then kisses him. Moments after, he begins to picture Beck. Paranoid at the thought of being haunted by a vision of his deceased ex-girlfriend and terrified of repeating the same mistakes that doomed his previous relationship, he tells Love that he isn't ready to move forward and start a new relationship just yet. Love respects Joe's decision and later invites him to a small brunch with her friends. Joe bails on the invite and conjures a quick lie, citing that Forty requested his help with some tasks at the store. Later, Joe corresponds with a man named Jasper Krenn, who is after the real Will Bettelheim for owing him money without giving adequate documentation and a foolproof alias for disappearing. After Joe manages to secure the funds by selling a fake first-edition book for cash, he finds Jasper outside Anavrin. When Joe reveals that he has the $3,000 in cash up front, Jasper states that he owes him more than that. Joe promises him that he will deliver the $50,000 by the end of the day, but is met with a surprising response. Jasper pins Joe down and severs the tip of one of his fingers. Joe bleeds uncontrollably while Jasper explains that if Joe can stop the bleeding, he'll have about 12 hours to get his fingertip reattached. Prior to leaving, Jasper mentions to Joe that he will keep the fingertip in a cooler of ice as ransom. He further adds that he would exchange it with Joe as soon as he receives the funds. Will instructs Joe to go to a house party at San Fernando Valley in order to retrieve the rest of the cash from a man named Rufus.
Before heading to the party, Joe rushes to the lunch gathering and spies on Love and her friends: Lucy Sprecher, a Hollywood agent, Sunshine Darshan Cummings, Lucy's partner, and Gabe Miranda, Love's closest confidant, who works as an acupuncturist at his private clinic. Love later realizes through a conversation with Forty that Joe lied to her. When Joe arrives to the party, he notices a few familiar guests including his neighbor, Delilah, and Henderson, the comedian he saw earlier at the airport. After a short conversation with Delilah and Henderson, Joe tries to locate Rufus. After finding Rufus, Joe is met with much dismay as the man he was looking for, offers him a bag of pills instead. Soon after, Rufus mentions that he has been dealing some off-brand Canadian meds to Will for his bipolar disorder. After discovering the truth, Joe attempts to threaten Will and states that he would gladly hand him over to Jasper if he tries to mislead him again.
During the night, Love goes to Joe's apartment and confronts him. As a result of his existing injury, Joe begins to slowly hallucinate and sees a ghost image of Beck again. Love questions Joe's intention on canceling her lunch invite and then reveals to him, that she uncovered his lie through talks with her brother Forty. After Love pushes for Joe to open up to her, he quickly freaks out and yells until she later storms out in fury. Afterwards, Joe quickly goes back to the storage facility with the intention of luring Jasper there. After his plan succeeds, he successfully kills him with a knife. During the process of wrapping his body with plastic sheets, he sees another vision of Beck again, this time inside the plexiglass vault. He apologizes to her and then leaves the facility to drive to St. Henry's Medical Center, an after-hours clinic, but not before storing Jasper's corpse in the trunk of his car. After Joe's finger is re-attached, thanks to a quick reconstructive surgery from a microsurgeon, Joe travels to Anavrin, in order to dismember Jasper by cutting, grinding and then, disposing the remnants of the dead body at a dumpster. He later travels to Love's place, with the intention of apologizing to her regarding his earlier outburst. After they reconcile and decide to just be friends for the moment, Love attempts to encourage Joe to write a goodbye note to his ex-girlfriend and burn it in a barrel, to close the door on that relationship. Back at the apartment, Delilah tells Joe she was drugged and raped as a teenager by Henderson.
Over time, Joe tries to resist his growing attraction to Love. During a conversation, Love discusses Forty's failing efforts at screenwriting and filmmaking. Eager to help her brother out from a rut, he befriends Forty as a distraction. At a stand-up party, Joe catches Ellie hanging out with Henderson and promises to protect her from the predator, having already secretly installed a control chip in her cell phone that he purchased for her earlier. Trying to uncover Henderson's crimes, Joe infiltrates a party at the comedian's house and manages to successfully steal his laptop. During the party, Forty tries to pitch his own project but has a tumultuous meltdown. Afterwards, Joe assists Forty and later calls Love to take care of her brother. The two then share a sexual relationship. After helping Will by giving him the meds that he received from Rufus, Joe has him go through Henderson's stolen laptop, but finds nothing. Subsequently, he learns from Forty that there is a secret room in Henderson's place, which harbors enough evidence for police to investigate the comedian for his illicit activities.
Joe's burgeoning relationship with Love is challenged by Forty's constant need for reassurance and emotional dependency. Meanwhile, Joe tries to juggle with another dilemma, this time, navigating Love's inner circle of friends. Much to his surprise, he discovers that they're different and more friendlier than he expected. Later, Joe visits the storage unit and inquires Will on a hypothetical scenario involving his potential release from the vault. In the process of answering the question, Will leaves a useful advice to Joe that allows him to enter Henderson's apartment without tripping the security system in place. After Joe successfully enters Henderson's house, he discovers the secret room, containing Polaroid photos of unconscious women, including Delilah under a tile. Later, Joe discovers that Ellie has disabled the chip on her phone and is heading right to Henderson's house, where the comedian plans on spiking her drink with GHB. Unbeknownst to Henderson, Joe manages to spike his drink too. When Henderson wakes up in the secret room, Joe removes his blindfold and interrogates him. He continues to torture Henderson until he confesses about the photos. After Joe becomes impatient with his excuses, he takes off the mask in a fit of rage. Henderson finally recognizes him. As Joe turns his back on him for a moment, Henderson uses the opportunity to break the chair and dash ahead for the stairs. Joe later grabs him but accidentally knocks him down the stairs, killing him. After Ellie awakes and leaves Henderson's place, Joe attempts to clean up the murder scene. On the way to his apartment, he is confronted by Delilah’s cop friend, David Fincher who catches him red-handed for jaywalking, but lets him go with a warning. Back at the vault, Joe frees Will after he promises him, that he will disappear and will not report him.
As Forty returns back to town from a film festival at Austin, he tells Love that he met an attractive woman named Amy Adam, who turns out to actually be Candace. Later, Love invites Joe to a wellness retreat organized by her parents for their anniversary. Forty is accompanied by Candace now posing as Amy, who accidentally tracked Joe down after seeing him in an online video of Forty's collapse at Henderson's house. Candace remembers her history with Joe: she had tried to leave him after the break up, but he tied her up in the back of the van and took her into the woods to a spot where they had spent time together before in a delusional attempt to convince her of their love and rekindle their relationship. He even packed a picnic for them of her favorite things. During an attempted escape, Joe had injured her by mistake and, believing that he had killed her, had buried her alive in a shallow grave. Shortly after waking up, she tried to file a report at a police station to have Joe arrested. She was unable to do so, for lack of evidence. After hearing of Beck's death and being forced to rebuild a life in a new city, she vowed to get revenge against her ex-boyfriend for the abuse she endured. During the group activities, Joe is pushed to the limit by the presence of Candace, along with Love's dysfunctional family dynamic. After Forty has another breakdown and Love confronts her mother, she later confides in Joe about Forty's sexual assault in his childhood. During the moment, Joe opens up about the sufferings of his father's physical abuse in his early childhood years. With secrets out, Joe and Love feel closer than ever. Soon after, Joe tells Love that he loves her.
On the last night of the retreat, Candace warns Joe, that the truth will come out, reiterating again that he will get his comeuppance. Later, it is revealed that she has convinced Forty to write a script based on Beck's novel. Shortly after, Joe is notified of an update surrounding Henderson's case. Initially filed as a suicide, police now suspect Henderson's death was a murder. Days later, Joe attends Henderson's funeral along with Love, her brother and friends. Afterwards, Joe is seen following Candace down the street. He later ditches his stalking efforts, as he assumes that an undercover cop is discreetly surveilling him. Later, Candace attempts to sneak into Joe’s apartment but Delilah's quick presence puts her plans to rest. Through flashbacks, Love is seen to be interacting with her deceased husband, James Kennedy at Anavrin. In the present, Love becomes suspicious of Candace's behavior. As a result, she hires a private investigator to follow her. Joe decides to sneak in Candace's temporary Airbnb accommodation to eliminate her. Meanwhile, Candace enters Joe's apartment again but meet Love who discovered her troubled story thanks to the investigator. Candace exposes the whole truth about Joe's past, including his fake identity and his attempts to kill her. After leaving Candace's place, Joe heads back to his apartment. Moments later, he is confronted by Love and convinces her that he left New York to escape from Candace's wrath. He falsely attributes all of her accusations against him as mere lies designed to torment him. Although relieved to hear Joe's side of the story, Love later leaves him anyway, but Forty insists that Joe keep his job at the store. Back at the apartment, Joe comforts Delilah, shocked that Henderson's transgressions will never be made public due to his infamous passing. After bonding over a shared moment, they have a short-lived fling.
After breaking up with Joe, Love begins an affair with Milo Warrington, her late husband's best friend. Joe tries to get into online dating via a book lover app but is disappointed with his lack of success. Intent on finding more information about Love's new partner, Joe stalks Milo on his hiking trek but later runs into Gabe. He recommends Joe an acupuncture treatment at his clinic to which Joe agrees to. At the clinic, Joe undergoes a very emotional and spiritual experience as part of the treatment. Later at night, Delilah thanks Joe for suggesting that she write an article about her experience with Henderson. After walking across an alley with a couple of drinks, they decide to engage in sex. Shortly after, the police arrested the two for lewd conduct in a public place. As Fincher refuses to help them, Joe successfully manages to get Forty to use his connections to get them out of jail. Later, Milo tries to take his relationship with Love to the next level, but she appears to grow increasingly indifferent to his affections. Forty then starts a fight with Milo involving Joe and angering Love. Fincher's suspicions of Joe's involvement in Henderson's death lead Delilah to investigate his apartment, finding the keys to the storage facility. Going there she starts taking pictures but is surprised by Joe who saw her through the cameras. He locks her and cuffs her in the vault but promises to let her go the next day when she safely leaves town.
Later, Forty sets up an elaborate self-abduction scheme by locking himself, Joe and Ellie in a hotel room to fix his script. Joe is uncomfortable with Forty's antics and struggles to leave before Delilah's automatic handcuffs free her. After Ellie suggests rewriting the script from scratch, Forty gets frustrated and jumps out of a window, running off to a bar. Joe later tries to calm him, before being drugged unknowingly with LSD by Forty as a way to stimulate the creative process. Meanwhile, Love finds Joe's farewell letter. Returning to the hotel, Joe runs into Love in the hallway. He slowly realizes the effects are beginning as she tells him she would like to have lunch with him the following day then she is hustled away by her mother Dottie. He envisions Dottie as a demon dragging Love to hell and that he needs to rescue her, but tries to remind himself it is a product of the acid . Joe starts having intense hallucinations of his child self.
Back in the hotel room, Forty is obsessively immersing himself in creating the script of Beck's story and getting into the mind frame of her to understand better. He initiates a role play, with himself as Beck and tells Joe to be Dr. Nicky. Joe is confused and horrified in his current state and deeply affected by Forty's incredibly accurate portrayal of Beck's reaction to "Dr. Nicky", and her reaction to him when she was in his cage comes rushing back to him. He begins to strangle Forty in a mildly delirious rage but is brought back to reality when he knees him in the groin. As Joe breaks down sobbing on the carpet, Forty tells him he was impressed with his level of commitment to the scene and comforts him- adding that there is a safe word they can use to leave the room.
Joe then finds himself in the hotel bathroom, unsure of how he got there or the amount of time that has passed. He goes in and out of hallucinations, seeing his hands covered in blood and trying to determine if it is real or not. Grocery bags and items around the room suggest he had left and come back and he tries to piece together what he may have done. Forty confirms Joe had left, but tells him he does not know what he did or how because he had remained at the hotel and felt very good about the progress he had made delving into Beck's story.
Joe gets a call from Love who tells him she refuses to tell him goodbye and wants to be with him and he proposes they leave LA together. He then slips back into hallucinations, envisioning his mother telling him that he can't have a happy ending and that he can't change and sees himself covered in blood again. He hurries to Forty for assurance that it isn't real, and is overwhelmed when he instead tells him he has come to the conclusion that it was not Dr. Nicky who murdered Beck, it was the hardly mentioned boyfriend she wrote about, who killed her in a crime of passion and framed Dr. Nicky. He decides to murder Forty, until he confesses to him that it was he who killed the au pair when he was young, out of jealousy and rage. Joe comforts Forty, telling him he was just a kid and that he is forgiven.
Joe wakes in the morning and hurries to get to Delilah and set things right and is horrified when he finds her dead in the cage right as her timed handcuffs release. Confused, Joe believes he didn't kill Delilah, as he promised to let her free, as he did with Will. He tries to recall the events of the night before and what may have happened. He begins to question the possibility of Will having been the one to kill Delilah, as he was the only one who knew about his cage. He calls the number he has for Will and finds that he is in fact in Manilla with his girlfriend.
At his apartment, Love comes to see him and tells him she needs some time to consider leaving LA. Ellie interrupts their reunion, asking if Love's presence means Joe is no longer "screwing her sister", reveals to Love he had been tripping on acid the night before, and says she is concerned for Delilah because she found a threatening note to her she attributed to her article about Henderson. Joe wonders if some crazed fan had followed Delilah to the cage and killed her for revealing Henderson. Upon finding a large bruise on his back, Joe recalls Calvin hitting him the night before when he had gone to Anavrin, mistaking him for a theif. He heads over to ask Calvin what had happened, but runs into officer Fincher outside the apartments looking for Delilah. Joe tells him he is concerned for her because she had been being harassed by some of Henderson's fans. He considers Fincher may be a suspect himself, but when he tries calling Delilah's phone, which is in his own pocket, he realizes it is unlikely.
Calvin tells him he had been completely out of it the night before and had left the alarm on which prompted him to come to the store himself. He says Joe had been ranting about the peaches being angry with him and needing cheetos, which Joe recognizes he would have been trying to get for Delilah and that he must have gone to see her. Calvin also reveals that Forty had been at Anavrin with him when he had been there. He questions if he would have gone to the storage unit if Forty was with him.
He goes to Forty's house to discuss what had happened, and is greeted by Dottie who says she knows about what Forty confessed to him and thanks him for being there for him. Joe tells Forty he is foggy about the events of the night and asks where they had gone after Anavrin. Forty confesses to him that when Joe had wanted to go see Delilah, he had contacted Candace and left Joe alone and went to sleep with her. Frustrated, he leaves to attend to Ellie after Love calls him and says she is panicking believing something has happened to her sister. After comforting her. Joe returns to the storage unit, still trying to understand what had happened.
While there, leaning over Delilah's body apologizing to her for what has happened, he is ambushed by Candace who had figured out his location because of a video Forty had sent her the previous night that showed Joe in front of the storage facility in the background. She locks him in the cage and messages Love from his phone to come to the storage unit as soon as possible. While waiting, he questions himself and what he is, if he had done this to Delilah and recognizes that regardless, it is his fault. He decides maybe this is what he deserves. Love arrives and Candace presents her with the situation, telling her she wanted her to see before contacting the police. Love emotionally pleads with him to tell Candace he did not do this, but he confesses that everything is true. He apologizes to Candace and tells her she is not crazy. That he had done everything she said, and thought he was doing it for the best reasons, for love, but that he had not really known love before. He says he had intended to change and be the man she deserved but that he wasn't able to, and had killed Delilah because she found out about what he had done to Henderson. Love emotionally runs out of the unit followed by Candace.
Joe remains locked in the cage, now questioning all of his actions and how things may have been different if he had a different upbringing. He recalls when he had shot his father as a child and his mother assuring him that he was a good boy and would never hurt anyone- that it was just a terrible accident. Then, he retrieves the spare key he had hidden in the cage and slides it out under the door away from him, admitting to himself that he belongs in a cage.
Love then returns alone. He asks her what happened to Candace, which she replies she has taken care of it. She says that Candace was crazy, she was going to hurt him, and that she fixed it and they can be together now. Joe tells her this is not her fault, that everything about him was true, he had killed all of those people and it is all his fault. She responds that she had not killed Delilah, she had. She also confessed that she had been the one who had actually killed Sofia, the au pair by slitting her throat to protect Forty. She states it was better they believed it was Forty, because her family would cover it up and coddle him. She says that she had become somewhat obsessed with Joe herself and had used her parents PI to look into him after Candace left. She had devoured Beck's book front to back and everything else she could find about it and decided that Beck hadn't deserved him. It is revealed she had found his cage considerably earlier on and found him to be more passionate and devoted than she had realized. She explains she had followed him and discovered Delilah in the cage and had taken care of her to protect him- because they are soulmates. She says they can frame Ellie for Henderson's murder, use the Quinn's family lawyers to get her out of it, and position Delilah's death as a suicide, so that he is never connected to any of it. Joe tells Love that she is crazy and she leaves, with him remaining in the cage.
Love returns and gives him a muffin she has made, at his hesitance to eat it, she is offended he may believe it is poisoned and he assures her it is his close proximity to a dead body and pleads with her to open the cage, which she immediately does. Joe grabs her throat and intends to stab her with the handcuffs he had used on Delilah, but she reveals she is pregnant. She says that she understands if he can't love her anymore or doesn't want to, and he replies that he does want to.
The two of them attend her friends' wedding where Forty shows up manic and tries to speak with Love stating she is in danger, but Gabe refuses to let him in and contacts his sober coach. Joe decides that he can't be there to protect their child if he isn't there, and tells Love that he does still love her. She receives numerous text messages from Forty indicating he knows the truth about Joe and the two of them rush to Anavrin. Love asks Joe to wait in the car while she speaks with Forty. He sees Ellie outside who tells him Forty is saying he is a murderer and she is scared, demanding to know where her sister is. He assures her he did not hurt Delilah, but she is not coming back, that the Quinn's are evil and powerful and she needs to get away from them for her own protection. He gives her money and tells her to run away and he will send her money to help her. He then enters with Love and Forty, trying to calm him down but Forty pulls a gun on him. She tries to talk him down, telling him if he hurts Joe he will never see her or Joe's child she is pregnant with. He tells her that she is crazy if she believes she would be a good mother. Forty puts the gun to Joe's head and insists he get on his knees as Love pleads for him to stop. As Forty is about to pull the trigger, he is shot and killed by officer Fincher, who had followed Ellie and came upon the situation.
Fincher began to suspect Forty for Henderson's murder, the Quinn's used their money and influence to shut down the investigation, and Joe and Love moved away from LA. Seemingly, they have found their happily ever after- But almost immediately Joe begins to develop an infatuation with their neighbor.
Season 3 finds Joe and Love living in the suburb of Madre Linda, married and giving birth to their son, Henry Forty-Quinn Goldberg. Joe was expecting a girl and was disappointed when they had a boy instead. They fall into the routine chaos of parenthood, and Joe struggles to bond with Henry. The stress as well as difficulties coping with the loss of her brother, Love struggles emotionally. She recognizes and acknowledges the lack of bonding between Joe and the baby.
Joe,gives in to obsessive interest in the married neighbor, Natalie. After following her to the store, she catches him masturbating in his car and jokingly gives him condoms- which further ignites his interest and investment.
Love makes an attempt to reconnect with Joe but is hurt and offended when he doesn’t reciprocate,taking Henry to Dottie’s. Joe takes advantage of the time by getting closer with Natalie. The two of them kiss. Conflicted, Joe stops her short of undressing him and goes home. He is surprised by Love coming home early, and admits to having a drink with the neighbor. He channels the energy from his encounter with Natalie and has a passionate experience with Love.
At a neighborhood party thrown by mom influencer, Sherry, and her husband,Love overhears Sherry and her friends trashing Love’s family, including her brother Forty who is referred to as a “crack head” and his supposed suicide. Natalie overhears and whisks her away, explaining to her that they are terrible people. She reaches out to Love and comforts her, seeming to bond with her. Then, ends up offering to have Love look at a place she is listing as a real estate agent after Love mentions her dream of owning a bakery. Love appreciates the gesture but quickly recognizes Natalie’s insincerity when she makes a point of stating neither Joe or Love have been to her house. She confronts Joe and they argue about his involvement with Natalie, questioning if he Is obsessed with her.
While going through some boxes,Love discovers a hidden box of Joe’s containing Natalie’s panties, bloody scarf, and used tampon.
Love sets up an appointment with Natalie to view the space for the bakery.She signs the lease, requests to see the downstairs, follows Natalie down, picks up an ax and chops Natalie in the neck with it. Joe meets love there, discovers what she has done and they try to put together how to cover it up. Joe put Natalie’s body in her car, uses her phone to indicate she was going out towards the state forest, and buried her there in the woods.
After discovering that most people in the neighborhood, including Natalie, wore rings from Mathew’s company that monitored, among other things, their vitals and GPS location, the two of them dig up Natalie’s body to remove her ring which they leave in a nearby restroom. They then move the body to a construction site where it would be covered with concrete. Love, concerned that Joe’s forethought into local body disposal may have been in preparation to kill her, panics and says she is afraid if she isn’t enough for him, he’ll kill her.
They connect in couples therapy when they admit and acknowledge they are both terrified that if someone saw the real them, they'd abandon them. Joe is able to see the soft, maternal side of Love again. Seemingly, they reconnect in their relationship and find happiness in each other again. Love tells Joe that she would kill for him, and he tells her he would kill for her as well, but promise to each other they will never have to do so again. They agree to create a "time out" space in case of problematic circumstances in the future, and together build Joe's cage in the bakery basement. Each secretly hiding a key within the cage.
Love is overcome with anxiety and fear as Natalie's disappearance is discovered and looked into. Joe assures her repeatedly that they are in it together and it's going to be okay if they continue to act normal.
Joe begins volunteering at the library where he feels comfortable while Love gets the bakery going. While there, she receives an unexpected call that Henry is sick while talking to Theo, the son of Natalie's husband Matt. He closes the bakery for her to rush to the hospital where Henry has the measles. When Sherry reveals to the media that Love was the last person to see Natalie, she and Joe decide that leaning into the suspicion of the husband, they should frame Matt using a bloody scarf Joe had saved.
While trying to complete their plan and plant the scarf on Matt's property, Joe starts to drift in and out of reality and hallucinations. He wakes up on Matt's couch unaware of how he got there. He is very sick and concludes he also has the measles. After talking to him a while, he decides that Matt is a grieving husband and that he can't follow through with framing him. Love later agrees that it's the right decision.
Gil, one of the dads from the neighborhood comes into the bakery and apologizes to Love, informing her that his unvaccinated children had been sick with the measles and had infected Henry at a birthday. He adds his views on vaccinations. As he is leaving, Love hit him in the head with a large rolling pin, knocking him out. Joe brings him to the cage and greets him when he wakes up, trying to smooth things over and assure he isn't going to report the incident. Joe isn't convinced and doesn't release him, keeping him locked in the cage and monitoring him with Henry's baby monitor.
Joe searches for mutually assured destruction they can use against Gil. He connects with the librarian, Marienne, when she realizes she had misjudged him as someone from a privileged upbringing and that they had both been in the foster system. This softens her from her usual rigidity.
Love hires a PI to dig up something on Gil, and finds that his son has sexually assaulted multiple girls and his wife had paid off their families. They expect him to agree not to report them in exchange for keeping the secret, but instead he hangs himself in the cage.
Now stuck with his body on their hands, Love comes up with a plan to clean up the mess of his death and Natalie's. She takes part in a search for Natalie led by Sherry and accompanies Theo. She separates for a few minutes to plant the ax used to murder Natalie with Gil's fingerprints in the forest where they were searching. She and Theo return to the bakery and bond over similarly dysfunctional family situations and she shares about her brother Forty. When he tries to kiss her she rejects him.
Joe takes Gil's body and stages the suicide scene at his home for his wife to come across, with a suicide note taking responsibility for Natalie's death.
Six months later, Love and Joe express to their marriage counselor that their relationship is doing very well and they are happy. Although, Joe is struggling internally with boredom. He continues volunteering at the library and has developed a bond with the librarian Marienne.
Theo returns from school and Love defends him several times to Sherry and Joe, prompting Joe to become suspicious and look for signs Love may be involved with him. He finds several charges for ubers near Theo's school and confronts her. She admits he had contacted her several times while drunk and she called him an uber, reflecting her caregiving relationship she had with Forty in his addiction. He pushes, and she admits Theo had previously kissed her but nothing happened- Joe loses his temper.
Joe later goes on a guy's camping trip in the woods with Cary and some of the other men in their group. He is very put off by Cary's enthusiasm and intensity. He is reluctantly inducted into their rituals of embracing their inner beasts. Cary leads Joe into the woods to hunt and captures a squirrel, insisting that Joe kill it. Joe refuses so Cary kills and says if Joe has an issue, they should fight it out, punching Joe in the face and demanding he hit him. Joe loses his cool and hits Cary, then shoves him over an unseen ledge, knocking him out. He drags him back to camp thinking he may have killed him, and begins to give him CPR. Cary wakes up and rather than exposing Joe as a psycho, as Joe expects, he embraces him and welcomes him into their tribe. Joe breaks sobbing before joyously accepting the tribe aswell.
Later, Joe purposely disables the bakery alarm as an excuse to leave Love at home and stalk Marienne and shortly after he breaks into her home to investigate her more. She comes home unexpectedly leading Joe to hide under her bed and watch/listen as she prepares for what he assumes is a date which irritates him.
Joe delves deeper into his budding obsession with Marienne. When she leaves work early, he searches her office for evidence of what she is doing and finds information that she is a recovering drug addict and has been charged with child neglect and endangerment. When her ex shows up at the library and things get heated, Joe who has been in the basement, intervenes but contrary to his expectations she lashes out at him.
Joe rushes back to the library after a call from Marienne because the sprinkler system malfunctioned and ruined some of the books. She apologizes to him for her reaction earlier with her ex. She reveals to Joe that she and her ex had been addicts and she drove with her daughter while she was high and got into an accident, seriously injuring another driver and endangering her daughter leading to her ex gaining custody and having her arrested. She tells him she is now trying to fight for custody and if she could she would run away with her daughter to France, where she was born. Joe is endeared by her talking about her daughter, and when the sprinklers malfunction again soaking the two of them, they make out passionately under the water.
The following day, Joe gives Marienne a letter of resignation to distance himself her, because he is worried that Love would kill her if she discovered their involvement. But she refuses and insists he stay, the two of them share another kiss and Marienne insists they can't continue- before they immediately kiss again.
After Theo tells Love his dad has been using neighborhood surveillance to obsessively search for clues about Natalie's death, including looking at her and Joe, she discusses with Joe the idea of leading Theo on to get any information they can. He agrees because it will keep Love distracted and allow him to pursue Marienne- who continues to insist they can't maintain their relationship but they spend more time together, going on a stroll around town with Henry and her daughter Juliette. When her ex calls, she panicks and tells Joe she can't afford for him to find out about them and they have to back off of eachother. This leads Joe to stalk Ryan, her ex, to find a way to bring him down.
In an attempt to derail Ryan's sobriety, Joe buys a large amount of adderall and sneaks into Ryan's house, mixing it in to his protein powder. Unfortunately, unbeknownst to Joe, Ryan hasn't been sober all along and is unphased by the additional stimulants.
At an Alice in wonderland themed fundraiser at the library, Love and Marienne meet for the first time, to Joe's displeasure. Ryan confronts Joe about stalking him at recovery meetings and suspects it's about Marienne, warning him to stay away from her.
After Dottie kidnaps Henry while drunk and takes him with her to burn down her vineyard she has lost to her husband in the divorce, Love vows never to see her again and has Joe drive her to a rehab facility. Dottie tells Joe she believes Love killed her first husband.
At the library, Marienne tells Joe that Ryan knows they've been spending time together and threatened to use it against her, adding that she doesn't want to be a homewrecker and they need to end things.
Love discusses Sherry's proposition of swinging with Joe, thinking it could possibly rekindle some passion in their relationship, feeling Joe has lost interest in her although she has reservations that they are not solid enough and that it isn't really her. Joe entertains the idea, seeing it as a sure fire way to destroy their relationship, in a way that would not be his fault, allowing him to move on with Marienne. He manipulates the situation to make it seem that it is completely Loves choice and decision, including rejecting her attempts to connect with him and making her feel insecure and boring then pretending to be jealous and possessive over her flirtation with theo, even though he did not care. They eventually decide to contact sherry and cary to initiate their encounter.
While engaging in swinging with them, Sherry begins having sex with Joe and he fantasizes about Marienne. Love, watching, realizes he is doing so (just not knowing who he is thinking of) and uses the safe word. She breaks down telling Joe she could tell he was thinking of someone else and they argue downstairs. An emotional Love blurts out that she killed Natalie for Joe and is overheard by Sherry and Cary upstairs. A fight ensues but Love and Joe are able to overpower them and put them in the cage.
The following morning, Joe appears in court for Marienne as a character witness but quickly realizes that Ryan is friends with the judge. Joe tracks Marienne down to a liquor store where she is struggling after receiving news the judge ruled against her and Ryan planned to move away with their daughter. Joe comforts her, including sharing with her that he killed someone as a child because they were hurting his mom. He says he plans to end his marriage and the two go to her house and have sex. When she tells him she is going to leave Madre Linda and follow her daughter, he is resolved to get rid of Ryan. He stalks him and attempts to inject him with drugs he found in Cary's suitcase but Ryan catches him and attacks him instead, leading to Joe stabbing him repeatedly in the chest, narrowly missing being witnessed. He takes his bloody clothes and hides them in Henry's diaper genie so Love doesn't see them.
After Love confesses to hurting Theo, Joe goes to the bakery to clean up the mess and gets a call from Marienne telling him Ryan has been killed during a mugging. He tells her he and Love have agreed to separate and they make plans to leave town together with Juliette and Henry. When he goes back to tending to Theo, he finds that he is miraculously still alive. He puts him in the back of the car and uses some of the drugs from Cary's suitcase to knock him out again then drops him off outside of a hospital.
Love discovers the bloody shirt in Henry's diaper genie and soon puts together that Joe killed Ryan and was having an affair with Marienne.
Joe goes home to find Love has prepared them his favorite meal and she confronts him about Marienne. In turn he confronts her about her exhusband James and tells her they don't need to repeat the past. He says he wants a divorce and for them to coparent Henry. When the baby wakes up crying, she leaves the room to check on him and Joe grabs a large knife from the table, hiding it. She comes back and admits that she did kill James accidentally with aconite she had intended to temporarily paralyze him with but had given him too much. As Joe loses function, she reveals that she had coated the knife with it as well and that when he grabbed it as a weapon, it had absorbed through his skin. She texts Marienne from his phone to meet him. Marienne is shocked when she arrives to find Love inviting her in and is apprehensive but Love insists. She tells Love Joe told her they were separating which Love tells her was a lie and that Joe is the one who killed Ryan. As Love slowly advances on Marienne, her daughter Juliette comes in the door asking to use the bathroom. Love abandons her intentions to kill her and tells her to take her daughter and run.
After they leave, she decides to kill Joe, but he stabs her in the leg with a needle injecting her with a lethal dose of aconite. As she slowly dies, he tells her he had known she'd been growing it in the garden and had been preparing himself. He had also taken an adrenaline pill from Cary's stash as a precaution earlier which had counteracted the paralytic.
Joe decides to leave Henry with Dante, the blind assistant from the library who has been unsuccessfully trying to adopt with his partner. He drops him off on their doorstep and writes a letter as Love taking responsibility for Natalie and Ryan's deaths. He then he cuts off his toes to stage his own death before burning the house down.
In the final scene, we see Joe in Paris, vowing to find Marienne.
"At the end of the day, people are really just disappointing, aren't they?"
"The most valuable things in life are usually the most helpless. So they need people like us to protect them, ya know?"
"Uh, Beck, who the fuck is this?"
"I've seen enough romantic comedies to know that guys like me are always ending up in jams like this."
"All books add up to one essential truth, which is, if your IQ is above a certain number, life is pretty much unbearable." (quoting Mr. Mooney)
"The first step to fixing something is to know that no matter how destroyed it seems, it can always be saved."
"You cast her in a role that isn't her, and you trap her in it." said to Benji about Beck.
"I know what it's like to be in love with you, Beck. This is not what love looks like. This is not how love behaves. This is the work of a sick mind. Let's call it what it is, perversion." Inner monologue after finding Peach's obsession with Beck.
"I want to give you a life this grand some day, god knows you deserve it. Minus the unwanted pressure from an obviously unstable obsessed person of course."
"How dare she invade your privacy like that?! It's perverse."
"Turns out, it is like the movies. The second it's over, all you can remember is the stuff that made you fall in love. Blazing through your mind, this romcom montage made of the sweetest poison. I'd never felt this way before, where you love the bad things about someone just as much as the good. Maybe even more. "
"Love is not a strong enough word. Sometimes it scares me, to love someone so completely and not have them love you back."
"Face candace? I'd sooner slam my nuts in a door. But anything to stop screaming her name in my sleep. "
"Who knew sharing my darkest secrets would make me feel so light?"
"Look at what you've done to me. You dig into my past. You dissect my life. You make me out to be this monster, someone who could hurt people, who could do terrible things. But who is the monster here, really? Who?" To Beck after confirming her affair with Dr. Nicky.
"I knew you'd be scared, that's why I had to protect you from the truth. Now I have to protect us from the world. Evidence, evidence is all I need to prove to you I'm not some sicko. I'm your protector. You'll see."
"I know this is a lot, honestly I'm terrified sharing all this with you. But if we're being honest, your life has been better since you met me. You just didn't know how or why, until now. Beck I love you. And loving someone means you'll do anything for them."
"You don't understand, I would never hurt someone I love. "
"I emptied the bucket, in case you ever doubt what I'd do for love. "
"He was my Mr. Miagi, if Mr. Miagi was a Soviet prison guard."
"If you see this as a prison, that's all you're gonna be, a prisoner. If you see it as an opportunity for introspection and growth, voila, we have a future together. You say you're a writer. I fell in love with a writer. Maybe you should be writing. "
"One thing i learned from my time in the cage, never let yourself panic. No matter how bad it is, you have to find a way to stay calm and keep your wits. "
"Im not a killer. I didn't plan any of this. If i was some premeditated cold blooded monster, I wouldn't have missed anything to come back and bite me in the ass like this."
"Sometimes, we do bad things for the people we love. It doesn't mean it's right, it means love is more important. "
"There isn't a line in the world i wouldn't cross for you. "
"In the end, you couldn't love me. And I'm at peace with that now. Because I loved you the absolute best that I could. I gave you what you wanted. I feel good about that. I helped you become the writer you so wanted to be. "
"Once upon a time I believed in love. Sure, I had been hurt before. But I'd learned from that and I wanted to fight for a fresh start. The real thing this time."
"I was brave. I was vulnerable. I won her the old fashioned way. I tried to do everything right, for her. I knew you have to do anything for love. So i did. I did whatever I had to. Whatever it took. But she did not trust me."
"I picked wrong, I made mistakes. Love had me blind. And that love turned to poison. And when love dies, it really hurts. The bottom line is, she couldn't love me back and our love died."
"I can't love again. It's too dangerous. The only fresh start, is a start without love. "
" I'm closing my heart like an out of business bookstore, and I'm here for the moment where everyone is too into themselves to ever connect with another person."
"I know there's a side of me I let get out of control, now control is everything."
"In my dreams, Beck's alive. She forgives me for everything I did. She apologizes for everything she did. She says 'don't worry, candace is gone forever. ' But then I wake up and remember."
"Hello, you. No, fuck, no. I'm not doing that."
"I bet any place is beautiful, if you stop running for one second. I just want to stop running, Love. I want a home."
"My home is you. " young Joe to his mom.
"I can't wait to tell our story to our kids. I know it's just begun, but it's how I've always been. Even as a kid, one glance form a girl and I was trying out my last name with hers."
"I've learned some hard lessons. Fools do rush in. And I've been the fool more than once. If I'm honest, i saw red flags. I explained them away. I wanted love so badly."
"It's been said that dreams are illustrations from the book our soul is writing. So why do I keep dreaming about my childhood? Dr. Nicky would say I have unprocessed feelings about my parents didn't take very good care of me. But now you do, in so many ways. You make me kinder, more selfless. You make me feel good. So good, I forget what darkness resurfaced in my sleep. I lose myself in you. Find myself in you. When I'm with you, we are the only two people on the planet."
"The only joke is me pretending that keeping a man in a cage is helping me be a better person."
"Whatever you need, Love. These people may pretend to be real, but you and me really are."
"I don't hurt people, especially women. Especially when they're out of their minds."
"Who you really are, the dark, it's not a burden. You don't have to push that away from me. As far as I'm concerned, we will stay us, no matter what."
"I don't think I've ever been in love before. It's been infatuation. This is it. Accepting you're not perfect and loving you more for it."
"Call me whatever you want. Call me Will. You can call me Joe. Call me that fucking liar. Call me in the middle of the night. Call me happy, sad, sick, for favors, for sex, for a laugh, for a cry. Just don't ever stop calling me. I've never loved anyone like this before."
"It's weird the things you consider doing when you're broken up with. I considered stepping in front of a car the other day so you would look at me."
"Why does he have to be a pscyhopath? Maybe he is a man who would do anything for love." - to Forty, who is trying to understand Dr. Nicky, Beck's supposed murderer.
"I think I finally understand what Beck went through. It is a lot to process. What did Beck do in this situation? Right, she pretended to love me. All I ever wanted from Beck was to be seen. Really seen, and accepted. You see me, even the parts I am ashamed of. You're asking me to see you, to love you. I don't know what to feel, Love. But I know what to do. It isn't hard to convince somebody you love them if you know what they want to hear."
"How can I judge anything you have done, when it's not so different from the things I've done? But if I let myself forgive you and just be happy with you, with all the light and good that comes with your dark, what kind of father does that make me?"
"Is that what we are? Soulmates? Is this what real love is? Knowing and accepting anything?"
"You want to know the truth? I killed Henderson, and I don't feel guilty about it. What I am is all that stands between you and people that are worse."
“I never thought to wonder what happens after boy gets girl. We know, "and they lived happily ever after " fade to black, roll the credits. I should have asked more questions, because I've been in some harrowing situations in my life. But for this, I need a map.”
”Me, a boy, and his mom. Who's usually great, but occasionally murders people with her bare hands. What could go wrong?”
”It's incredible, the urge to protect. I feel it in my bones. I would do anything for him. What I don't feel is connection.”
”The thing about trying to keep a human infant alive, you can't afford to think too hard about who you're in the trenches with. I'm in the trenches with a woman who jokes about stabbing someone in the eye, and is actually perfectly capable of it. I don't let myself think too hard about who love is. What she is. My job is to be a good husband, so I can be a good father.”
”Are you flirting with me?”
”I can't just walk out of this web. The spider has my child.”
”Are you flirting with me or inviting me to join fight club?”
”The real problem with my marriage is my fucking wife.”
“I will be burying bodies until I'm 70 years old! Because if I'm not 100% into you all of the time, you will keep killing people!”
”Can you be a good father, when you're a bad man?”
"This is fine, it's normal. It's fine. And if I feel like it's not, maybe I'm the problem. "
"Let go of the squirrel, you're hurting it."
"I can't remember a time when i didn't long for someone that totally accepted me, the bad with the good. Why is it that a person who will do that always comes with a cost?"
"I don't deserve her. She's making me food so I'm nourished all weekend and here I am counting the minutes until I can follow you. "
"I'm not the type of guy going around sticking my nose in."
"The spark our marriage needed doesn't come from swinging. Our love language is violence. "
"I have some absolute fucking weirdos in the basement."
"I thought I knew what love was. Beck was a child. And Love fooled me into believing she someone she wasn't. The only thing I'm thankful for is she brought our son into the world and led me to you. "
"I don't feel bad about this. It's not like what Love does. She's crazy, impulsive. "
"Oh fuck. I'm gonna need more tarps."
"What a mess my wife has made."
Season 1 (10/10)
- The Last Nice Guy in New York
- The Captain
- Living with the Enemy
- Amour Fou
- You Got Me, Babe
- Bluebeard's Castle
Season 2 (10/10)
- A Fresh Start
- Just the Tip
- What Are Friends For?
- The Good, The Bad & The Hendy
- Have a Good Wellkend, Joe!
- Farewell, My Bunny
- Ex-istential Crisis
- Fear and Loathing in Beverly Hills
- P.I. Joe
- Love, Actually
Season 3 (10/10)
- And They Lived Happily Ever After
- So I Married An Axe Murderer
- Missing White Woman Syndrome
- Hands Across Madre Linda
- Into the Woods
- We're All Mad Here
- Swing and a Miss
- Red Flag
- What Is Love?
- Status: Ex-girlfriend
- Started: Living with the Enemy
- Ended: Everythingship
- Started: You Got Me, Babe
- Ended: Bluebeard's Castle
- Status : Late wife
- Started: What Are Friends For?
- Ended: Farewell, My Bunny
- Started: Love, Actually
- Ended: What is Love?
- Status: One kiss/ended/deceased
- Started: And They Lived Happily Ever After
- Ended: And They Lived Happily Ever After
- Status: Current obsession
- Started: Hands Across Madre Linda
- Ended: What is Love? (one-sided, currently pursuing)
- Relation: Neighbor
- Relation: Neighbor
- Relation: Co-worker
- Relation: Neighbor
- His father - Fatally shot pre-Pilot.
- Elijah Thornton - Pushed off a ledge pre-Pilot (shown in a flashback scene in Candace).
- Benji - Purposely inflicted an allergic reaction in The Last Nice Guy in New York. His dead body was later cremated in Maybe.
- Peach Salinger - Shot dead during struggle in Amour Fou.
- Ron - Stabbed in the neck in Bluebeard's Castle.
- Guinevere Beck - Murdered in Bluebeard's Castle. Revealed in Just the Tip, to have been strangled.
- Jasper Krenn - Stabbed in the stomach with a knife in Just the Tip. His body is dismembered in the Anavrin kitchen and put through the meat grinder.
- Henderson - Pushed down the stairs in The Good, The Bad & The Hendy.
- Ryan Goodwin - Pushed off a ledge in Red Flag, stabbed four times in the heart when this failed.
- Love Quinn - Fatally poisoned with wolfsbane in What is Love?.
- Ron is the only character who sees through Joe, knowing something is wrong with him (aside from Peach, who only suspected him because she was jealous over Beck).
- Joe's hypocrisy is shown in the episode Amour Fou, when Joe calls Peach Salinger a "stalker" and "creep," failing to realize that he himself are those things. He also says Love is crazy when she killed Natalie, when he has done similar things but justifies them as protection.