You TV Review
You TV Review Metabox
America’s favorite serial killer is back for another season of Netflix’s standout psychological thriller You.
Originally premiering on Lifetime in 2018, it wasn’t until You moved to the streaming giant that it found an audience hungry for more killings, initially with repeats of Season 1 and then with the premiere of Season 2 a year later. Since that time, Joe Goldberg (Penn Badgley) has been making mincemeat of anyone who gets too close to the current object of his affection.
After stints in New York and Los Angeles, Season 4 finds Joe living in London and on the hunt for his latest amor, Marienne, who left the United States to escape Joe and his obsession with her. Sporting a thick black beard to match his black curly locks, the legally dead Joe is now going as Jonathan Moore, an identity gifted to him through the most convenient of exchanges. Too convenient, in fact, as it seems to have only occurred so as to move the story along.
A lover of books, Joe is working as a professor of American Iconoclasts of the Short Story at the esteemed Oxford. But unlike his past life, Joe works equally hard at trying to not get involved in other people’s lives – perhaps as protection from his real identity being discovered, but also because he purportedly wants to move on from the carnage he has left behind. “No love. No people. Just books.” Yet, despite a new name, it’s still Joe and for anyone who has watched a previous season of You knows, he always finds himself in a predicament that gets him in deeper trouble.
Taking a page from Knives Out (and its recent sequel The Glass Onion), the first half of the new season plays out as a whodunit story – the “lowest form of literature” in the words of Joe. Flipping past seasons on its head, Joe goes from the stalker to the stalkee when he awakes to a dead body in his apartment and the recipient of taunting texts on Evanescence, a Snapchat-like app in which the messages disappear upon reading them. Now rather than Joe putting on his blue cap to follow his next fixation (or kill), Jonathan is forced to discover who knows about his past before it catches up with him.
With the new season moving across the pond, it offers a reset of sorts for the series including the introduction of new characters – in this case, the most abhorrent people ever portrayed on TV starting with Jonathan’s colleague, Malcolm (Stephen Hagan). A douchebag of a man (or as Joe says of how others view him, “a charming bag of hair”), Malcolm constantly finds new ways of getting under Jonathan’s skin whether it be preaching on how the rich are victims, calling Jonathan ‘John-boy’, or saying cringy things like “soz, not soz” when apologizing. Malcolm’s wealthy crowd is an equally despicable group of socialites. So much so that viewers may find themselves rooting for each one to meet an untimely demise. As one character so perfectly describes these maleficent blue bloods, “they’re dancing while the world is burning and don’t even notice it’s burning.” Miscreants who are “above work, above law.”
If there is one thing that is constant with You it’s that Joe sees himself as the victim – someone who continues to blame others for what occurs around him – and by him. He rationalizes his behavior by saying things like, “it’s not following someone if you have to walk the same way home” and “I study to learn how they tick, so I can avoid the circus.” He’s a guy who, in his mind, is only trying to protect those around him yet continually finds himself standing above another dead body. So maybe that is why Joe is so beloved by viewers – something that even Badgley himself can’t fully comprehend. Perhaps it’s his good looks. Perhaps it’s his penchant to rid of the world of deplorable people. Or perhaps it’s that we all have a little sociopathic behavior inside us. Whatever it might be – from his hilarious internal comments to new ways to get into trouble – Joe continues to be one of the most enjoyable characters on TV today.
Part 1 of Season 4 premieres on Netflix on February 9th with part two to follow just a month later on March 9th. Stay tuned for a review of the second half next month.
Until then, xoxo.
You is now streaming on Netflix.