Sunday’s YOU finale brought Joe and Beck’s twisted fairytale to its logical-yet-unbelievable conclusion, laying the groundwork for a new — and somehow even more complicated — tale of tragedy.
A quick recap: In what I initially believed to be the darkest display of Stockholm Syndrome since Beauty and the Beast, an imprisoned Beck re-wrote her story to paint Dr. Nicky as the jealous lover who murdered her friends to get closer to her. This was enough to earn Beck’s release from the cage, but her freedom proved short-lived when Joe murdered her after a failed escape attempt. All Joe had to do then was pass along Beck’s cage-written manuscript (with a few edits) to Blythe, who helped turn it into a best-seller, resulting in Dr. Nicky’s arrest. The end. (Right?)
(Wrong!) In the episode’s final moments, Joe once again took notice of a pretty young woman entering his bookstore. In a nod to the pilot, he examined her every move, implying to the audience that he had found his new Beck. Only it wasn’t a “new” young woman at all. It was… Candace! Stepping into the light and removing her heart-shaped glasses, Joe’s very-much-alive ex-girlfriend told him, “I think we have some unfinished business we need to talk about.” (Gasp!)
Below, executive producer Sera Gamble tells TVLine about some of YOU‘s major book-to-screen changes in Season 1, why she was tempted to change the ending, and what we can expect from Season 2:
TVLINE | As you were working on Season 1, who did you think about more often, book readers or newbies?
I always think of both. If you haven’t read the book, the show should still make complete sense. When you’re adapting a beloved novel, it’s good to think of the fans of the book as people who deserve a special little reward. Little treats along the way. Iconic moments the book is known for, but also surprises and twists that they don’t see coming. We consciously talk about shocking people who read the books, changing things enough that you go into that final episode wondering if we’re going to do things the same way that Caroline [Kepnes] did in the novel.
TVLINE | Were you at all tempted to make Beck’s ending less brutal?
It’s always tempting. When you write characters, you tend to fall in love with them, so you want them to stick around. All appearances to the contrary, we are not a writers’ room full of sociopaths. Part of the job of telling this type of story is hardening your heart against any type of sentimental impulse. The point of doing a show like this is telling that brutal story, and the brutal story is the one where he actually kills her.
TVLINE | One major change is Candace’s arrival at the end of the finale. What went into that decision?
We always knew that Candace would factor heavily into Season 1 through flashbacks, constantly pushing the idea that Joe had been with someone before Beck and done the same things to her. He talks about how she broke his heart in the first episode, and as you get to know Joe, you think you know what that means. So we wanted to do something surprising. The idea came up early in the process that we would reveal Joe had the wrong idea about what happened to her. It was an irresistibly shocking last moment for the first season. And we do like a cliffhanger.
TVLINE | As much as you can say, what does Season 2 look like? I know Joe moves to Los Angeles in [Kepnes’ follow-up novel] Hidden Bodies.
We’ve been in the writers’ room for a couple of weeks now, and we’ve been talking about what it means to do a season in Los Angeles. For Season 1, New York was instrumental in telling this particular love story — and whenever I say “love story,” it’s a little bit in quotes, of course. There’s a very particular romantic feeling that comes with being in New York as a young person, especially without a lot of money. You’re young, free, you’re struggling and you’re trying to find a kindred spirit. Los Angeles is a completely different vibe. I’ve lived here since I was 16, and one of the classic truisms about living in LA is that you’re surrounded by former New Yorkers who f–ing hate it here. So we started the writers’ room for Season 2 by being like, “Joe moves to LA and he completely hates it. Let’s talk about how much fun that is.”
TVLINE | Will Season 2 remain as faithful to the second book as Season 1 did to the first, or are you using this Candace twist to spin a totally new story?
I think it’s somewhere in between those two things. There’s a lot of great story in the second book that we’re going to be able to do, but in our way. Even though some of the changes we made in Season 1 seemed small at the time, they were fundamental. Every little change we make to a character is a butterfly flapping its wings and causing a hurricane in Season 2. We’re servicing slightly different masters than the second book did in some cases. But Caroline has laid this amazing groundwork, so the philosophy has always been to remix as needed in order to retain the spirit of the original story.
TVLINE | If Beck was the “you” of Season 1, who’s the “you” of Season 2?
If you’re asking if Joe is talking to someone in particular when we hear his thoughts, yes, he is. But I can’t tell you who that is yet. [Laughs]
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