Who is Beck?
While YOU Season 1 Episode 2 ended on a dark note, Beck's elusive nature was at the forefront. Who is this woman? Who is she at the core?
Nearly everything about YOU's writing is so deliberate that Beck coming across unremarkable in YOU Season 1 Episode 1 felt purposeful.
Beck remains an utter mystery. She may be the co-lead, but even when there are scenes that are solely devoted to her, she's difficult to pin down. There was more of Beck this time around, but if anything, it highlighted how much of an unknown she is.
There were also a handful of moments where Beck was flat as a character. The others have a spark that stands out even in the shortest of scenes, but there were a few moments where it seemed as if Lail was playing it too close to the vest here.
Nevertheless; we need to know more Beck background because right now, she's an enigma and my feelings and perception of her character shifted multiple times throughout the hour.
So which Beck are you? The one I see, or the one Benji does?Joe Voiceover
What is with this series and adding just enough dimension to a character where even the "bad guys" are those we like, or understand, or possibly give the benefit of the doubt?
They have a way of getting into your head just enough to make you reconsider how you see a situation or a person. It happened with all of them: Joe, Benji, and even Professor Leahy.
The kid was right when giving his analysis of Frankenstein. Once again it was the show being self-aware AF.
We're wading through the mind of the monster; everything we're experiencing is through Joe's POV, and after a while, it's a matter of reacting to everything that takes place through his perspective.
Paco: It's cool how you get in the monster's POV. You understand why he does stuff. Almost like it's, um ...
Paco: Yeah, but then it's weird because he's bad but not all bad. I mean, maybe Dr. Frankenstein is the bad one for even making him, right?
Joe: Well, I think it's open to your interpretation.
It's the easiest to do that with Joe, but Benji was shockingly easy after a while too. In the first half of the hour, the guy was loathsome (with his gluten-free diet and whining) even when danger loomed over him.
But Benji wasn't quite what he seemed. For one, the guy was a lot smarter than some (especially Joe) gave him credit. He figured out why he was there in record time and was already making moves to appeal to Joe.
Benji's last-ditch effort of giving Joe the thumb-drive to assure mutual cooperation or mutual destruction was genius. It would have worked too, but Beck unknowingly thwarted Benji's plan with a kiss.
Benji admitted he was a fraud with his crappy artisanal soda that he didn't even like and all the other irksome things about him. Benji knew what type of person he was and what made him terrible. In the end, isn't that all you can expect from someone? You have to respect that.
Benji is the guy who recorded his friends assaulting and then killing a kid and went along with its coverup. He cheated on women, slept around, did drugs, and everything else.
Benji was awful, but he also was a straightforward person. That's why everything he was saying about Beck was enough to give a person pause.
We know Joe's version of Beck is warped because of the way in which he's getting to know her. We know we can't fully trust his version of her. Deep down he knows it too. Did anyone else laugh when he mentioned that she's not responsible for his feelings, or when he accused Benji of putting Beck into a box he created?
Benji: Do not tell me you're doing this because of Beck. She's not my girlfriend! You can have her.
Joe: Careful Benji. Not winning any points.
Benji: If you knew her, you would not be putting me in a cage. You're ruining your life over Guinevere goddamn Beck!
There is a strong urge to refuse or dismiss Benji's assessment of Beck because it's Benji. Should we though?
Benji not only knew Beck longer, but he knew her up close and personal. Benji's Beck is tangible. It doesn't mean that he knew her in her entirety, but compared to Joe, didn't he know her best? Is it possible that Benji is right about some of the things he said about Beck?
At some point, he didn't have a reason to lie. Joe, deep down, knew it, too. Benji got in his head real good.
The situation with Beck's professor, for example. It was grotesque but also complicated. One could write for an eternity about powerful men using their authority to get what they want. It was evident that Professor Leahy was a creep from the beginning.
His lecherous behavior was repugnant and made my skin crawl. Plus, everything he said about Beck's appearance and attire was ripped out of the playbook. It's everything we're trying to dismantle as a society when discussing sexual harassment.
No one is entitled to anything because of what a person is wearing.
Yet, we can't be so riled up over his behavior that Beck's particular role is an oversight. Beck isn't the young woman in a short skirt minding her business only to be harassed by jerks. She could wear whatever the hell she wanted, and Leahy didn't have a right to her or to touch her.
It was never about her attire or anything else, but is it fair to ponder her behavior?
One of Joe's first observations was that the professor wanted to have sex with Beck and that she was smart because she let him believe that he would.
Onnika and Beck's friends bragged about using their good looks and hoo-has to help them out and mentioned that using feminine wiles in grad school is a rite of passage. They encouraged her to "ovary up."
Benji: You see this hardworking writer chick. How can you not? She's branded the living shit out of herself across the internet.
Joe Voiceover: I want you to know if I wasn't about to be late to see you I would beat this guy bloody for the way he talks about you.
Benji: I'm telling you, this is her thing. Right now, she's got on red lipstick, and she's getting ready to work her professor hard for that A.
Benji's play-by-play of what Beck planned on doing was eye-opening. Had Beck been deliberately manipulating and exploiting Leahy?
Leahy is a despicable man whose behavior is abhorrent. There is no way you slice it where he isn't wrong being a man in his position and with his power flirting, harassing, or sleeping with a student.
Leahy's wrong goes without saying, and the fact that Beck could blackmail him with the accounts of seven other women speaks volumes. Leahy being wrong isn't up for debate.
But if Beck intentionally exploited Leahy's behavior and planned to use her charms to get what she wanted out of him, then that makes her more of an opponent than a victim.
There's a distinction between going along to get along and putting up with unwanted advances because you feel powerless versus taking advantage of his behavior to get what you want.
Did Leahy see through her mechanizations and outmaneuver her?
Leahy firing Beck is wrong because he retaliated because she didn't sleep with him. It's just striking how muddled the situation is because was Beck any better if she had questionable motives of her own?
Of course, our impression of Beck is now influenced by Benji.
Benji proved to be reliable to some degree regarding Beck. He called the situation well when Beck took Joe to the party. Benji figured out the same thing about Joe that we did: Joe is classist. He has a disdain for the rich.
Beck is smart, and a woman who could read Joe enough to figure out which doughnut suited him. There is nothing about Joe that would give her the impression he would enjoy a Salinger party. So Joe was right to wonder why she did it. It added weight to what Benji said about her using him to give off a certain image.
She bailed on him the second they passed the threshold. Status is important to all of Beck's friends. When Joe point-blank asked her about it, Beck pivoted the conversation and made it about the surface level Beck who wants to fit in.
The party did bring Joe and Peach together, and that did not disappoint. The passive-aggressive "Joseph" and "Peaches" name game was worth a snicker or two.
Peach: Now Joseph ...
Joe: Just, just Joe.
Peach: I'm going to have to borrow our friend here, so make yourself at home. Everyone here is friendly. Brown people don't bite. [Pauses] Alumni? Where'd you go?
Joe: I didn't.
Peach was staking her claim in her own way. Did you see how her entire world crumbled in the split second Beck forgot about her party? As suspected, Peach can see right through Joe and vice versa. Their scene in the library was brief but intense, and one of the best of the night.
That brief appearance by Maddie scratched an itch too. So, Joe's old girlfriend Candice mysteriously disappeared to Italy without a word. She's dead, right? Talk about piquing someone's interest; tell us more about Candice!
Joe's scenes with Paco are fantastic too. That flashback with Mooney shows why Joe is so taken with Paco. He sees a lot of himself in the kid. While the flashback was too "tragic backstory," Joe's relationship with Paco does humanize him.
Joe: I'm sorry.
Paco: It's OK.
Joe: It's not OK to yell
Paco: Grown-ups do it all the time.
Joe: Grown-ups are assholes. Some people used to Yell at me too, you know? And I don't want to be like them.
Joe was decent enough to apologize to the kid for yelling at him when he almost saw imprisoned Benji. That's something he didn't have to do. Of course, killing Benji via using his peanut allergy is something he didn't have to do either. I feel bad for the guy.
The things he'll do for love, right?
Over to YOU, how do you feel about Beck? Has your impression of her changed at all?
Was the first introduction between Joe and Peach everything you imagined? Do you feel bad about Benji? How long before Paco discovers the sinister side of Joe (or Benji's phone?)
Hit the comments below, and if you missed the first installment, you can watch YOU online here via TV Fanatic!
Jasmine Blu is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.