(Warning: This post contains major spoilers for the “You” Season 2 finale.)
Whether you want to admit it or not, Forty Quinn was doomed to die from the start of “You” Season 2. Because, well, that’s what co-creator Sera Gamble and her writers decided would happen. Even though the pain of his tragic demise will probably haunt you longer than Beck’s ghost followed Joe (Penn Badgley) around, actor James Scully made peace with his character’s death long ago — when he first signed on to the show, actually.
“They were about as lovely with me as people can be with an actor and I knew going into the second season where I was headed,” Scully told TheWrap. “They still called me before they put out the script to be like, ‘Hey, this is happening. It’s not cause we don’t love you.’ But I appreciated it because I feel like by that point in the season, I feel like they’d made Forty such a character and the relationships had gotten so complicated that it’s like, he has to die, right? There’s no way for the show to keep going forward, otherwise it’s gonna be like ‘The Forty and Joe Show’ and that’s not what the show is about.”
Forty’s death comes toward the very end of the Season 2 finale, when he’s pointing a gun at Joe/Will and trying to reveal Joe’s dark past to his twin sister, Love Quinn (Victoria Pedretti), who, unbeknownst to him, has already discovered it and accepted Joe, her boyfriend — and baby daddy! — for who he is. This is also after Joe and the audience finds out Love is actually a killer herself and possibly even more screwed up in the head than Joe. But Forty’s attempts to “save” his sister from the murderous Joe are futile. The scene cuts away from him just as he’s shot and killed by the cop (Danny Vasquez).
Scully told TheWrap that this scene was shot on the second season’s last day of filming and took 15 hours to lock down due to the number of elements involved and the fact they wanted it to “feel very cinematic.”
“It’s quite a wordy and quite an emotionally charged scene,” Scully said. “We did it over and over and over and over again. And it’s funny because when I originally read the scene, I was sort of disappointed that we don’t really see it happen and then he’s just sort of gone, right? That there wasn’t some sort of beautiful reconciliation moment between me and Love. But when we finally got to the moment where they were like, ‘OK, James you can lay down on the floor now, you’re dead.’ I was like, ‘Thank goodness. Let me just take a nap and let Victoria act beautifully.”
Love then cries beautifully over her twin brother’s body, “pulling on everyone’s heartstrings,” as Scully puts it, while he “had to just lie there quietly sniffling and not moving at all.”
As much as you may have thought Forty was a jerk at the beginning of the season, the over-privileged, extremely troubled, wannabe screenwriter definitely became a fan favorite by the end. While that makes it so much harder to accept his death, it makes it much easier to see why Gamble decided he had to go.
“That’s sort of part of the job of a writer is that — it sounds really sadistic — but it’s actually just kind of our job for those who are writing dramas,” she told TheWrap. “You’ve got to kind of — some people meet ends in shows that are tragic. But our job is to, ourselves, also fall in love with these characters. I have never seen so many pitches in the room as I did with Forty. Every writer gave me a really good reason why he had to live and James had to be, like, the new star of the show.”
“The thing I really loved about James, the thing that made us all want to have him was that, he both is a perfect douchebag and then also very lovable and has a vulnerability underneath,” Gamble added. “Obviously James is not a douchebag, but his way of playing Forty is a very convincing douchebag. And then the vulnerability underneath was so profound.”
For Scully, all that matters to him, in the end, is that Forty’s death “means something to people and does something for the story.”
And based on how it appears to affect Love — and Joe, for that matter — it certainly looks like it will do something for the story in a possible Season 3.
“You” Season 2 is streaming now on Netflix.