Spoilers ahead for YOU Season 2. Love Quinn may be the best actress in Los Angeles. For most of YOU Season 2, Love, played by Victoria Pedretti (The Haunting of Hill House), appears to be starring in her own Nicholas Sparks movie about a kind widow who bakes when she's frustrated who has finally found a man to calm her worried soul. Unfortunately, that man is sociopath Joe Goldberg (Penn Badgley), who is going by Will now that he's moved to LA to escape the consequences that came with murdering his ex Guinevere Beck and others in her orbit. But as revealed in this season's penultimate episode, Love has a murderous side of her own. It's a shocker not only for the audience, but for her new boyfriend, too. But unlike Joe, whose compulsion for murder is often methodical and pre-planned, Love operates on impulse.
"I don't think any of the behavior she presents, the murderous kind, is premeditated," Pedretti tells Bustle. "It's always out of this very animalistic need to protect." Love's mama bear mentality is why Pedretti's not convinced that she and Joe are the same kind of beast. "I think that she actually is protecting him," she says. "He never actually is protecting anybody."
While Joe, who still can't keep himself from murdering in the name of love and, in this case, despite Love, stalks his victims. Love turns to murder when she thinks someone she cares for needs saving. First, it was the au pair who took advantage of her then-underage twin brother Forty (James Scully), whom Love frames as her scapegoat for the murder. After all, her wealthy family is willing and able to cover up the whole thing at his expense. Later, she kills Joe's neighbor Delilah (Carmela Zumbado) and his back-from-the-dead ex Candace (Ambyr Childers), both of whom know too much about Joe, the father of her child. Yes, Joe is going to be a dad, and to make sure she gets the life she's always dreamed of, Love is willing to ruin everyone else's.
"I think that this woman is so deeply in her delusions that she feels so right in everything she's doing," Pedretti says of Love's motives. "She's breaking apart people's lives, destroying people's families. She's not thinking about that, she's just thinking about herself."
In that way, she and Joe are similar. They truly believe that what is good for them is also best for the world, and find ways to explain away their sins. Joe is always giving himself an alibi before he even commits the crime. He talks himself into murder, convincing himself he had no choice but to kill, while Love gives herself just cause once she's committed the deed. "I think she's capable of doing anything if she can kind of go through the mental gymnastics of making it into a form of defense," Pedretti says.
Both let their emotions get the best of them. For Joe, that emotion is anger, and for Love, her name says it all; she leads with her heart, which wouldn't be so bad if her idea of love wasn't so toxic. Blame it on her parents, whose love was always conditional. It might be why she finds a soulmate in Joe, who Pedretti points out "doesn't know how to connect with people." Though Pedretti doubts Joe will ever fully understand a healthy version of loving someone, Love feels "understood by this person who is also capable of doing these things."
Since You only shows Love from from Joe's perspective, Pedretti is not convinced that any of us have seen the real Love Quinn. Not even Joe, who has pegged her as the perfect woman until she reveals her secret. "We don't see anything real. It's all clouded by this very maniacal take on life," Pedretti says of Joe's point of view. Despite him having done the same thing, he sees her as his cross to bear.
"People are uncomfortable with complexity," Pedretti says. It's why Love doesn't expect others, even Joe, to totally understand what she's been through with her family and her late husband, whose death is still a bit of a mystery. "I think Love maneuvers through the world a lot easier [by] not burdening anyone else with her mess," Pedretti says. "With her."
Since Love and Joe are both so good at pretending, it makes you wonder whether these two soon-to-be-parents could ever really give up their murderous ways to play house. After all, the final episode shows them moving to the suburbs to start a new. But the season ends with Joe spotting a woman through their white picket fence, a sign that the cycle will continue, perhaps now with a little help. "I think she's fully accepting of him, like 100%" Pedretti says of Love. But as to whether Love's willing to be Joe's accomplice in whatever he does next, she's not sure.
"She's a quintessential pleaser, so I think she'll do whatever it takes [to keep him]," she says. "But maybe she has her limits." And maybe this should be the pitch for YOU Season 3.