After weeks of speculation, we finally got to see Joe for who he truly is – an excuse-maker who scapegoats everyone else for his lot in life. And now Purge Night has given him just the excuse he needs to enact deadly revenge on those who’ve “wronged him.”
For all the commentary we’ve had on how the Purge can really happen, Joe’s storyline is the one that’s most true to life. Our regular dose of mass shootings routinely has a disgruntled loner at the center. After losing his job and striking out at love, Joe was at his lowest point and susceptible to the cult-like Purge ramblings on those self-help tapes. Instead of taking responsibility for his failures, he goes after Jane, Penelope, Rick and Jenna in a vain attempt to assert power and control in his life.
The first two victims of Joe’s kangaroo court are a bully from his childhood and the factory manager that laid him off. A flashback scene of Joe wetting himself in high school drives home how badly the bully humiliated him. Joe relishes the role reversal despite the high school bully professing his apologies and being a changed man 20+ years later. Joe fakes a reconciliation and brutally stabs the man to death. The manager tries to make a run for it and takes a high-arsenal bullet to the chest when she opens the booby-trapped door.
That brings us to the episode’s most pivotal moment in Jane’s final stand against Joe. We find out the two went on a date. We also the bad impression Joe made with repeated condescending sexist and racist comments. One of the most egregious being how he was happy she wasn’t “sassy” like her picture implied. Jane, with her Wharton School of Business credentials, was not about to put up with the nonsense. She quietly excused herself to the bathroom and dipped out, leaving Joe hurt and confused.
Jane was not about to beg. She taunted him for being a crybaby and not being able to handle rejection. In turn, Joe correctly pointed out her hypocrisy in dismissing his Purge reasons when she executed her boss David. But unlike Jane, the killing didn’t give her a thirst for more blood and revenge. It served to give her the realization that the entire Purge is nothing more than an exercise in dehumanization.
To her credit, Jane fought for her life. She tried to wrestle the gun away but Joe quickly regained control and proceeded to strangle her to death. It was a tough scene to watch as Jane is the first main character to die on the show. It angered you to see her life snuffed out for such a mundane reason as hurting a guy’s feelings on a date (even after she covered the bill, no less). That goes back to her rebuking the Purge as it creates killers from even the smallest slights. Look no further than Penelope, being held for failing to say “thank you” after Joe held a door open for her, and Rick and Jenna for spending lavishly within Joe’s earshot.
Miguel and Pete the Cop are in hot pursuit and the only ones left who can stop Joe. We find out the importance of generating good will on previous Purge Nights when they come upon a small militia of former sex workers. They’re armed to the teeth and have set up an ambush blockade. But Pete’s name is still good on the streets — he was the one who protected these same women years ago when rogue cops attempted to assault them on Purge Night.
Miguel and Pete’s peaceful ride is short-lived when their muscle car is demolished by a rocket launcher from the Purge bounty hunter Rex, who’s made it out the Carnival of Flesh and looking for some payback. He’ll have to be dealt with early in next week’s finale before we get to the final showdown with Joe.
Season Finale Predictions
- Joe’s obviously going down, but who will he take with him? I see Pete, Rick or Miguel as the most likely death. Have to even things out after what happened to Jane.
- Speaking of Jane, her death was so shocking because I figured the Matron Saints would come to the rescue. They still may show up, but it’ll feel hollow without the Jane reunion.
- Will Bobby Sheridan, the Purge self-help guru that Joe religiously listens to, pop in for an appearance?
The Purge season 1 finale airs Tuesday November 6 at 10 p.m. ET.