Each season of You gives fans another glimpse into what made Joe Goldberg into the obsessive murderer he is today. In Season 1, viewers saw how his bookkeeping tutelage under Mr. Mooney instilled in him an unhealthy need to keep things perfect and pristine, and Season 2 revealed that as a child, Joe shot his mother’s partner (possibly his own father) due to his abusive treatment of her. Season 3 took the flashbacks even further, introducing someone named Nurse Fiona who is still important to present-day Joe in You.
Spoiler alert: This post contains light spoilers for You Season 3. All of the flashbacks in Season 3 (except one in the finale) take place in the orphanage Joe was raised in after his mother abandoned him. It’s this time period that motivates much of present-day Joe’s actions in Madre Linda, from wanting to ensure his son Henry never felt the loneliness he felt then to bonding with his new love interest Marienne over their shared childhood experiences. While his time in this group home was bleak, there was a bright light for young Joe, and she was a caring nurse named Fiona.
Joe’s flashbacks show that he was constantly bullied while in the orphanage, but Nurse Fiona’s office was his one safe space among the chaos. However, that safe space was soon tainted by a familiar demon. During one of his visits, Joe noticed Fiona’s boyfriend Travis being aggressive with her, triggering the painful memories of how his mother was mistreated by her partner.
The reemergence of this abuse almost pushed Joe to the same end as before. When Travis was leaving Fiona’s office one day, Joe saw an opportunity to push him down the orphanage’s staircase and murder him, but he held back. Shortly afterwards, however, Joe saw the police clearing out Fiona’s office, claiming that she had disappeared to Ohio. But Joe was convinced that Travis had taken his aggression too far, and he blamed himself for not taking the opportunity to murder Travis first.
The dark flashbacks provide a lot of insight into Joe’s thought processes as an adult. Not only does it show what was presumably his first unhealthy fixation on a woman in his life (after his mother), but it also explains why he is so nonchalant about murdering people he considers bad — he doesn’t want to feel that deep shame and regret he felt about not pushing Travis down those stairs again. Oh, Joe… you really need to find yourself a good therapist.
You Season 3 is in Netflix now.
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