The Ending of 'You' Season 3, Explained

Breaking down the many, many twists and turns.

you l to r victoria pedretti as love quinn in episode 303 of you cr john p fleenornetflix © 2021
(Image credit: JOHN P. FLEENOR)

Spoilers for You season 3 ahead. There are only three guarantees in life: death, taxes, and Joe Goldberg will get away with murder. The season 3 finale of You was an explosively (pun intended) wild ride, filled with countless attempts at murder, backstabbing, and one doozy of a marital disagreement. Let's break down the many twists and turns of the Netflix finale and how each resident of Madre Linda fared at the end.

Theo

Poor, poor, clueless Theo (Dylan Arnold). The curious college kid—who thought he had discovered proof that Joe killed his stepdad's wife, Natalie—suffers serious trauma at the hands of his married lover-slash-neighbor, Love Quinn. But in the finale, we find out Love didn't whack him hard enough. When Joe goes to clean up Love's mess, Joe discovers Theo is alive but seriously injured. He takes pity on Theo, who reveals he really loved Love, and puts Theo in a cab to the hospital.

Later, Theo's stepfather Matthew Engler (Scott Speedman) wanders over to Joe and Love's place in search of Theo. Matthew finds a drugged Joe and knows Theo is in trouble. Joe manages to signal to Matthew that Theo is in the hospital. A flash forward shows that Theo survived and was released from the hospital; the traumatic incident seemed to have healed and strengthened Theo and Matthew's relationship.

Sherry and Cary Conrad

you l to r shalita grant as sherry conrad and travis van winkle as cary conrad in episode 308 of you cr john p fleenornetflix © 2021

(Image credit: JOHN P. FLEENOR/NETFLIX)

The insufferable couple who dabbles in swinging find themselves trapped in Love and Joe's glass cage in the later half of the season, having discovered that Love, in a jealous rage, killed neighbor Natalie and Joe helped her cover it up. In the finale, Sherry (Shalita Grant) and Cary (Travis Van Winkle)—waning and desperate, after accidentally-on-purpose shooting each other—begin to lose hope of escaping.

After a few tender moments in which the couple is able to reconnect with each other and why they fell in love in the first place, Sherry finds the inspiration to get out. She realizes that Love and Joe never really trusted each other, which means they would've each hidden a key inside the cage. She's right, and after lots of searching (and destroying of flour) she finds the key and they get out. We then see a flash forward of the happy couple—who believe Love and Joe have died—profiting off of their near-death experience. Classic Sherry and Cary! They are on the TED Talk circuit promoting their new marriage counseling method, “Caged: A Radical Couple’s Therapy Technique.” Unclear, though, if they now allow their children to eat sugar.

Marienne

you l to r tati gabrielle as marienne and dallas skye as juliette in episode 310 of you cr john p fleenornetflix © 2021

(Image credit: JOHN P. FLEENOR/NETFLIX)

Marienne (Tati Gabrielle), Joe's library crush, discovers in the finale that her terrible ex, Ryan (Scott Michael Foster) has been killed by a mugger. She and Joe decide to take their kids and run away together. But Love gets wind of their romance and once Joe's indisposed, Love texts Marienne to come to their house. Marienne quickly realizes that Love knows about her and Joe's affair and that she's in danger. Love divulges Joe's manipulative ways and even that it was Joe who actually killed Ryan.

Moments before Love attacks Marienne, her daughter Juliet appears at the door and Love has a sympathetic change of heart for a fellow mother. Love lets Marienne live and even warns her to "disappear" because Joe is not who he seems to be. Marienne takes the advice—even encouraging Love to also run from Joe—and leaves Madre Linda, changing her phone number.

In an interview with Marie Claire, Tati Gabrielle, who plays Marienne, said: "When I first I read that scene, I loved it: the idea of two women having a conversation over something that is very touchy and being able to uplift each other through that and save each other through that...At the end of the day, you can never love someone else properly until you love yourself. I feel like that's what Marienne was not only trying to stress to Love but even stress and remind herself."

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Baby Henry

In a heartbreaking moment of clarity, Joe realizes that despite finally forming a meaningful connection with Henry, it's in his son's best interest (and, yes, his own best interest) to abandon his child. He leaves Henry, alongside a goodbye note, with Dante, his co-worker at the library. Dante and his partner had been struggling to adopt a child of their own. A flash forward shows that Henry is happy and thriving in his new home, with two doting (and non-homicidal) dads. Finally, a happy ending in You!

you l to r ben mehl as dante and noel arthur as lansing in episode 310 of you cr john p fleenornetflix © 2021

(Image credit: JOHN P. FLEENOR/NETFLIX)

Love Quinn

We have to give Love some credit for trying to outsmart Joe. But ultimately Love's story is a jaw-dropping tragedy, despite her best efforts at being crafty and murderous. In the finale, Love—fresh off of trying and failing to kill her teenage lover, Theo—is blissfully looking at girl baby names. (The winner? Julia.) Another baby will definitely solve all these issues! Then Love finds the smoking gun, of sorts: Joe's bloody t-shirt in Henry's diaper pail. She realizes that it was Joe who killed Ryan because Joe is in love with Marienne.

She then cooks an elaborate dinner for Joe during which she reveals her evil master plan. Yes, she killed her ex-husband. Yes, she poisoned Joe—she just wanted him to slow down so she had time to convince him to love her again. How did Love get so much poison? She was growing it in their backyard and storing it alongside her baking supplies all along! She tries to hurt Marienne, inviting her to their house, but ultimately can't. Eventually Love realizes it isn't that she's not a "good enough" wife. It's that Joe is a terrible husband. She commits to killing him with a sharpened knife, just before Joe stabs her with a poisoned needle. Love dies, uttering the words, "We're perfect for each other."

"Love's death—I was very mind blown by that," Gabrielle told Marie Claire. "As well as all of the times I hit a death that Love did. I was like, What is happening? She's going off the rails. Especially [when she hurt] Theo (Dylan Arnold). When I got to that, I was like, No! Not the kid. He's so innocent."

Joe Goldberg

We've saved the best (or worst?) for last. In the season 3 finale, Joe proves he's always one step ahead of the rest of murders in town, a.k.a. his wife. We first see him cleaning up after the murder of Ryan before then realizing he has to help Love hide Theo's body. After saving Theo and making plans to run away with Marienne—what he wanted all along—he pockets some of Cary's sex drugs...just in case.

you l to r victoria pedretti as love quinn and penn badgley as joe goldberg in episode 301 of you cr john p fleenornetflix © 2021

(Image credit: JOHN P. FLEENOR/NETFLIX)

He comes home to find Love has set the table for a romantic meal of roast chicken. A fraught conversation ensues when Joe and Love admit their wrongdoings and affairs and Joe even suggests an amicable divorce (yeah, right). Love reveals she did indeed poison her ex-husband (accidentally killing him by making him ingest the poison instead of paralyzing him) and this time around she's only applied the poison to the handle of the knife she knew Joe would grab to defend himself/kill Love. (She cleverly only touched the knife while wearing an oven mitt, which Joe never realized.) Joe succumbs to the effects of the poison and watches as Love meets with Marienne.

Just as Love decides to end Joe's life and approaches him with a knife, Joe stabs Love with a needle containing the same poison she used on him. Turns out, Joe had figured out what Love had been growing in the garden all along (wolfsbane) and had kept some of it on hand. He also had researched antidotes, just in case, and discovered adrenaline—which Joe had stolen from Cary—would reverse the poison's effects. He had preemptively taken the adrenaline, knowing Love was getting closer and closer to hurting him.

Joe watches Love as she dies, and then says goodbye to Henry, leaving him with Dante. Now, time for his master plan (yes, this isn't even the end): Joe bakes a pie and cuts off two of his toes and bakes them into the dessert. He then carefully lays out all the evidence that could incriminate Love for Madre Linda's crimes. He pens a carefully crafted suicide note, from Love, confessing to all the killings, including Joe's, and emails it to the Madre Linda Homeowner's Association. He then turns on all the gas stoves and lights a flame—burning his and Love's wedding album—and leaves the house, which is quickly engulfed in fire.

We see a flash forward of Madre Linda as the news spreads of the event. It's being called a murder-suicide, pinning all the blame on Love. (The fire burned up just enough evidence to fully reconstruct what happened, but Joe's toes in the pie were enough for police to assume he was brutally killed.) The fire also made any type of autopsy on Love impossible, meaning they'd never find the poisoned wolsbane in the bloodstream.

Finally, we catch up with Joe, presumed dead by everyone he knew; he has moved to Paris and is searching for Marienne. Said Gabrielle to Marie Claire: "I don't think she would go back [to him]. I think she would be able to, at that point, have the confidence, respect of self, and foresight to be able to know [not to]. I feel she'd be like, “I love you. I wish this worked out differently. But, you are a psychopath and you are not good for me or my child or even this world.”

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you l to r penn badgley as joe goldberg in episode 301 of you cr john p fleenornetflix © 2021

(Image credit: JOHN P. FLEENOR)
Neha Prakash
Neha Prakash

As Marie Claire’s senior news and culture editor, Neha oversees all things entertainment, pop culture, and current events from TV shows and movies we can’t stop bingeing to celebrities we can’t stop 'shipping. She loves a hot-take, has an extensive knowledge of award shows, and knows the astrological signs of everyone in the royal family and the 'Friends' cast. Before joining Marie Claire, she held positions at Glamour, Brides, Condé Nast, and Mashable, and is a graduate of the Columbia School of Journalism.