The fourth season of Netflix’s ‘You’ creates a puzzle for Joe Goldberg when he is threatened to bear the blame for the murders he didn’t commit. He is cornered by a mysterious stalker who seems to know everything about him, but Joe has no clue who they are. Joe traces all his problems to the night he got drunk with Malcolm’s friends. He got so drunk that he had a blackout and doesn’t remember much of what he did or said. One of the things that Joe did during his blackout was talk to Lady Phoebe. She reveals that Joe said something impactful to her, but he has no idea what it was. Throughout the season, this is referenced repeatedly, and Joe is taken back to the night it all started going downhill for him. If you are wondering what it was, here’s what you need to know. SPOILERS AHEAD
Joe’s Mystery Words to Phoebe
After Joe helps Kate fend off thugs, Malcolm invites him into their inner circle as a goodwill gesture. Despite hating the entire group and not wanting to spend another minute in their company, Joe does drugs and drinks a lot of alcohol. Phoebe personally gives him absinthe, following which he remembers nothing. The next day, he believes the group will have forgotten about him, and he is right. Most don’t care about him, but Phoebe remembers him clearly. He seems to have made quite an impression on her.
At one point, Phoebe mentions that he said something that made her feel truly seen. It was the most honest thing she’d ever heard. She is so moved by it that she looks up to Joe whenever she needs advice. Over time, she starts trusting Joe so much that she heeds his words more than her friends, whom she has known her entire life. Everyone, including Joe, wonders what it was that he said.
In the context of the plot, at first, it looked like this could be an essential plot device. Not remembering the events of that night, followed by Malcolm’s murder, had been a puzzle that Joe couldn’t solve. What he said to Phoebe could have been the thing that unraveled his memories, bringing the truth to the fore. But by the end of the season, everything is wrapped up, and the conversation between Joe and Phoebe appears to have been nothing more than a red herring. It wasn’t instrumental to solving the mystery of the season, which is why even as it remains unresolved, it doesn’t affect the way events unfold.
One of the few things we need to remember while trying to uncover this mystery is the kind of people Joe and Phoebe are. Before Joe got to know her, he found Phoebe just another shallow, rich Instagram influencer who was more show than substance. Personally, Phoebe had felt trapped for a long time. She was under the media’s constant scrutiny, so she created a persona that wasn’t really her. She was in a relationship with a guy who was with her only for her money and status. Her friends were a bunch of phonies who could sometimes be very cruel.
At the same time, Joe was going through an upheaval as well. It is later revealed that his personality had split into two. On the surface, he was the good Joe who vowed never to get obsessed with anyone ever again. Unbeknownst to him, he had another side that killed people when he went to sleep. It is possible that the blackout Joe suffered that night in Sundry House was not because of the drugs and alcohol. He was inebriated, which allowed his other personality to take over.
The conversation that Phoebe keeps referring to is the one she had with Joe’s alter-ego. This is why he doesn’t remember what he’d said to her. Considering that this was the Joe that didn’t mind drawing blood, he probably said something blunt to Phoebe. He probably said something that he would say to the audience in the intimacy of the fourth wall. By doing so, he let her into his thought process, giving his honest opinion.
To Phoebe, this bluntness could have been the honesty she sought from everyone but rarely found. She must have felt like Joe didn’t care about her money or status and didn’t want to befriend her because he wanted something from her. This is why she found his words so profound. She felt that Joe was the only one who could be genuine and honest with her, not caring what she would think about him. This is why she thinks so highly of him.
While the writers of ‘You’ haven’t revealed exactly what Joe said to Phoebe, actress Charlotte Ritchie, who plays Kate, theorized that it could have been something like “Does it make you happy?” In conversation with Glamour, she said: I suppose it’s quite a good credo to go by. I guess not everything good makes you happy all the time. Some things that are worth pursuing can make you feel very stressed or anxious, obviously, because they’re worth getting and they don’t make you feel happy while you’re in pursuit of them. But for Lady Phoebe, she seems quite happy until she realizes that she’s just not conscious of herself.”
Ritchie added that perhaps this secret was never meant to be revealed because the audience is “supposed to imprint on what you think it would be and whatever’s helpful to you.” Everyone can come up with their own version of what might have been said, which gives more weight to Joe’s words. Considering that Phoebe survives the events of Season 4, she might return in the next season and finally reveal what Joe said to her.