‘You’ follows romantic psychopath Joe Goldberg on his search for the perfect partner. He has a habit of falling obsessively in love with women upon their first meeting, after which things start to get messy. Anyone that Joe thinks will come between him and his current muse is swiftly put to death by our hero. Leaving a trail of dead bodies in his wake, Joe finds himself grudgingly living with his wife in season 3.
Joe’s tenuous relationship with women and his habit of justifying murders to get close to them is partially explained by his childhood and relationship with his own mother. We get some much-needed glimpses into his days in a foster home, where a certain Nurse Fiona becomes the center of Joe’s focus. There is a lot from his past that Joe sees in the kindly nurse from ‘You’ season 3. Could she be his mother? Let’s dig in and find out. SPOILERS AHEAD.
Is Nurse Fiona Joe’s Mother?
In the flashbacks from season 2, we see young Joe being taken to a foster home after committing a crime. In season 3, glimpses into his childhood continue and describe the time he spent in the foster home. Surrounded by bullies and generally indifferent adults, Joe finds solace in the kindly nurse Fiona. As one of the few people that seems to understand him, the young protagonist feels especially drawn towards the nurse and lives with the constant worry that she will abandon him.
The lines between the nurse and Joe’s mother Sandy begin to blur when he notices Fiona coming into work at the foster home with injuries. As the other boys speculate about the cause, Joe tells them that the nurse lives with an abusive man. When the injuries continue, he even plots to forcefully stop the man that continues to hurt his beloved nurse. In flashbacks near the end of season 3, Fiona disappears, leaving Joe worried about her fate and feeling helpless.
Fiona’s story is almost identical to Sandy’s since the latter also had an abusive partner, and Joe spent years of his childhood watching helplessly as she suffered. Both women abandoned Joe after being his only refuge, leaving him with constant anxiety about being left behind by the women in his life.
The season closes with Joe tracking down his real mother after Fiona’s disappearance. To his disappointment, he finds that she has taken on a new family and is taking care of another child. In the brief conversation they have, she tells him that she loves him but has to move on and start afresh. She gives her young son no further explanation and, just like Fiona, leaves Joe to fend for himself.
In season 3, Fiona essentially becomes a second mother to Joe in the absence of his birth mother and displays many of the same characteristics that troubled him when he lived with Sandy. The transition between the two characters is also seamless, with Sandy appearing soon after Fiona’s disappearance and Joe asking her why she abandoned him. The only difference between them is that Joe kills his mother’s partner but cannot do anything to help Fiona.
However, the result is the same as both women eventually leave Joe and therefore have similar and reinforcing effects on his sense of abandonment. Nurse Fiona and Joe’s mother Sandy have largely helped shape our murderously romantic hero’s twisted present-day character and his approach to relationships. Ironically, Joe ends up leaving his own son, Henry, behind but claims that he is a better parent than his mother and promises to someday return for him.
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