When the first part of you Season 4 dropped last month, it was an enjoyable, if shaky, status quo change for Netflix’s twisty drama about Joe Goldberg, a former bookseller trying to make a new career in London after some “stateside whoopsies” where he just couldn’t stop stalking and killing people. Turns out the show had so much more in the shop.
Part 2 of the season, now live on Netflix, takes such an outrageous turn that it’s hard to talk about it without spoiling it. So, based on Netflix, this review is in two parts. The first is for people who have seen part 1 and left part 2 unspoiled. The second goes into the big twist but ultimately leaves the ending untouched.
And luckily you don’t have to read them a month in a row.
Part 1: The spoiler-free version (of part 2)
(Ed. remark: This has spoilers for Part 1.)
The first half of Season 4 was largely a murder mystery centered around the Eat the Rich Killer, a serial killer targeting members of London’s wealthy young socialite community that Joe has fallen into thanks to his new alias as Jonathan Moore, a well-to-do doe. English professor at a prestigious university. This killer Also somehow knew Joe’s past and tormented Joe about it anonymously, generating a paranoia that he could be next.
At the end of Part 1, the killer was revealed to be Rhys Montrose (Ed Speleers, also from Picard‘s third season), a rags-to-riches author whose contempt for the elite led him to find kinship with Joe – that is, until Joe learned that Rhys was the killer and planned to frame him. Instead, he settles for trying to kill him by locking him in a burned-down basement, which Joe survives – only to discover his new nemesis is running for mayor, and he may be the only person who know the truth about him.
This cliffhanger is gone you in a strange place that threatened to push the show in Right territory, where the misguided protagonist is convinced he can surrender for good to his dark tendencies of stalking and occasional murder. While this sort of thing could potentially lead to something good, it’s also a premise that could undo the show’s careful work of not overly empathizing or justifying Joe, even as it remains firmly rooted in his perspective.
Part 2 quickly puts this fear to rest. First, it introduces a new player: Tom Lockwood (Greg Kinnear), the father of Joe’s current love interest, Kate Galvin (Charlotte Ritchie). Lockwood is a casually ruthless figure, one whose contentious relationship with his daughter means he’s scrutinizing every part of her life, especially Joe. Given his considerable resources, he also knows that Joe is not Jonathan Moore, and suspects his spotty history with dead women means that Joe is, in fact, a murderer.
This traps Joe as a pawn in a game of cat and mouse between Rhys and his girlfriend’s father, as they both want Joe to kill the other. However, Joe wants to put his dark past behind him and try to build a healthy relationship with Kate for once. However, none of that is possible, because you has another twist in store. For those who want to stay pristine, consider watching ASAP, as it’s the sort of thing that recasts the entire season and makes it about something completely different from what it’s been so far.
Part 2: The Big Turn of You season 4
(Ed. remark: Front spoilers you follow season 4 part 2.)
I like to think of myself as a smart person, but every damn time a story decides to become one Fight club I fall for it, and you is no exception.
Two episodes in part 2, this season of you is turned upside down when Joe arrives to kill Rhys Montrose and discovers he has no idea who Joe is. Because the Rhys Montrose that Joe has been talking to, like Tyler Durden in Fight cluba creation of Joe’s breaking psyche, an alter that embodies his darkest impulses, as Joe tries to live the fantasy of starting over as Jonathan Moore, a man who doesn’t have to live with Joe Goldberg’s crimes.
you has always been extraordinarily clever pulp with a point, a melodramatic exploration of the ways privileged white men can exaggerate their foibles and focus heroically in any story simply by neglecting the agency of others. There’s always a “you” that Joe obsesses over, addresses in his mind, builds a whole imaginary identity around a person he watches from afar and up close, never really accepting the real person in front of him about the version he made . In recent seasons, the conflict between these competing ideas of one person has led Joe to behave violently, violence that he always rationalizes as indirect and not a result of who he is. Introducing his inner Rhys Montrose, you makes Joe doubt: Is all the death following Joe just bad luck, or is he a violent person in denial?
For the viewer, the answer is obvious: Joe is not a hero. But with his alternate personality twist, you‘s writers shape and form Joe Goldberg’s accumulated sins that Joe can’t reason with, no matter how many times he tries. His ever-present narration, throatier than ever, now has a voice that contradicts it, pushing it away from denial and toward dark acceptance. It’s wonderfully hammy stuff – as Joe’s inner Rhys, Ed Speleers is a delightfully evil presence selling what is otherwise a very odd choice for the show’s direction, one that’s hard to get on board unless it plays into the endgame of the show. Happy showrunner Sera Gamble has stated so muchand the direction in which the season is moving seems to suggest that too.
you‘s twist is ultimately a matter of necessity, a means to counter the increasing ridiculousness of Joe’s crimes and for the writing staff to maintain their show’s sense of morality as they find new ways to unleash their wildly entertaining monster. Through Rhys, Joe directly confronts his violent nature and denial of it, bringing out an internal conflict that, quite frankly, you needed to come to the fore. If not, then you would a Right problem, constantly working his protagonist out of trouble simply because the show needs to go on, not because there’s anything further to explore with him.
The fourth season of you makes a shaky, if convincing, case for Joe Goldberg’s continued murderous misadventures by placing him among the 1% – people whose lifestyles are afforded by economic predation. Some of them are oblivious, some enjoy the ruthlessness, and others, like Kate, try to scrub their hands clean. Maybe, You’s writers suggest, there’s a reason why Joe slips so neatly into their lives despite not having any money. Perhaps, the show suggests, Joe Goldberg’s version surviving this season could be the worst yet.