Whether you've just finished streaming YOU on Netflix or were ahead of the curve and watched it on Lifetime, you're probably just as stumped as we are about what exactly Joe Goldberg's (Penn Badgley) ex-girlfriend Candace (Ambyr Childers) was up to in the Season 1 finale and also, you know, about the fact that she was alive!
Throughout the first season, it seemed pretty clear that Joe had killed Candace after becoming obsessed with her in the same way he later became obsessed with poor, doomed Beck (Elizabeth Lail). But then, months after Beck's death, who shows up at Joe's bookstore other than Candace, who tells a shocked Joe that not only is she alive but that they have some unfinished business together.
So, um... what? We've spent a lot of time thinking about this crazy cliffhanger and came up with our four best theories about Candace's deal on YOU.
1. Candace is just a hallucination.
OK, let's just get this one out of the way. After he injured his head in a car wreck, Joe began hallucinating Candace, and a lot of fans seem to think that after murdering Beck he became so unhinged that the hallucinations returned. However, if you watch the scene closely, not only does a customer in the shop observe Candace, but the producers have gone on the record as saying she's alive and will play a bigger part in Season 2. This is probably hard for readers of the Caroline Kepnes books the show is based on to stomach since it's a huge deviation from the original story, in which Candace is dead by Joe's hand. But hey, who doesn't love a good twist?
2. Joe thought he killed Candace but she survived.
Joe is not great at being a criminal, which is good for those he targets and the cops investigating his many crimes. For instance, Joe thought he had successfully killed Peach (Shay Mitchell) in the park when he hit her on the head with a rock, but she turned out to be just fine. That's why it's totally within the realm of reason that Joe may have thought he had killed Candace when he actually didn't. In the books, Joe drowned Candace at the beach after she broke things off with him, so he easily could have presumed her dead and left her body in the water, assuming the waves would take it away. Then, unbeknownst to him, Candace could have regained consciousness after he left and survived. Why she wouldn't then go to the cops and charge Joe with attempted murder then becomes the more interesting mystery.
3. Mooney saved Candace.
A spin-off of the "Joe thought he killed Candace" theory, this one posits that — like after he pushed the record producer off the roof — Joe ran to Mooney (Mark Blum) for help thinking he had murdered Candace. Then, when Mooney went to dispose of the body or check out the crime scene, he discovered Candace alive and told her to disappear and promised he wouldn't tell Joe the truth. Not wanting the fact that she survived to get back to Joe, Candace went off the grid and started a new life for herself with completely new friends. But when she heard about Beck's book and connected Beck to Joe, Candace may have felt compelled to return to New York to prevent Joe from hurting anyone else... or to get some revenge.
4. Candace and Joe made a deal.
Two preceding theories run into the issue of why Candace didn't just go to the cops, and there may be a very simple answer to that: Joe had dirt on Candace. When Joe had Benji (Lou Taylor Pucci) and Beck each trapped in the cage, they naturally attempted to bargain with Joe; Benji offered up the video of him accidentally killing his friend and Beck wrote the story that framed Dr. Nicky (John Stamos) for all of Joe's crimes. Neither were able to make a deal to save their lives, but maybe Candace, seemingly the Patient Zero of Joe's violent obsessions, was able to do what no one else could and convinced Joe to let her go in exchange for her silence. Or maybe he tried to kill her, she survived but still didn't go to the cops out of fear that Joe would use whatever he had on Candace against her if she went public. From what little we've seen of Candace, it definitely seems like she might have her own dark side lurking underneath her hipster veneer, so we wouldn't be surprised if Joe had some seriously twisted blackmail material on her.
YOU's first season is streaming on Netflix now.