“You” Season 4 Review


Courtesy of Netflix

Penn Badgley’s Joe Goldberg stands as a strangely compelling character despite his horrible actions in Netflix’s “You.”

***The following article contains spoilers for “You” season 4 episode 1***

Once again it is that time of year where we enter into the dark and twisted mind of a serial killer in Netflix’s psychological thriller “You.” For the uninitiated, “You” is a TV show that follows serial killer Joe Goldberg, played by Penn Badgley, as he becomes obsessed with and subsequently stalks the women he pursues romantic relationships with. What really differentiates this show from other psychological thrillers is that the entire series is set in Joe’s perspective, and so the awful things that he does are seen as reasonable by the viewer. As a viewer, you end up rooting for Joe, even though his actions would be seen as deranged if viewed from a different perspective. It is this unique concept that continually draws audiences back season after season, hoping that this time Joe will eventually get the love story that he has been searching for.
As far as patterns go, “You” has a fairly rudimentary one. Our main man Joe spots a woman and it is love at first sight. This woman is perfect in every way and she can do no wrong, but she surrounds herself with individuals that mean her harm and whom Joe has to protect her from. After a series of heavy stalking sessions in which Joe slowly worms his way into the woman’s life, he eventually begins a romantic relationship with her. This woman is the one he has been searching for his entire life, his one true love. That is, until the image of the woman he has built up in his head begins to falter. Any deviation from how Joe believes the woman should be acting essentially signs a death warrant for these women. Once that has happened, Joe’s next “one true love” comes into the picture and the cycle repeats. Though the formula stays relatively the same throughout most of the seasons, the show manages to remain engaging thanks to the multitude of bizarre scenarios Joe manages to find himself in throughout his quest for love.
In this most recent season, however, we begin to see a change in the pattern. The first episode picks up right where season three ended, with Joe travelling to Paris to track down his latest love who had fled to Paris in hopes of escaping him. In a surprising change, we see Joe let her disappear from his life after realizing that she is terrified of him. No longer searching for love in Paris, Joe begins a new life in London where he works as a professor under the pseudonym Jonathan Moore. Joe is now determined to put his past behind him and live a normal life, and he does a fairly good job of it until he of course begins to fall back into old habits. With the continual motif of no one owning curtains in the “You” universe, Joe uses the view from his apartment to spy on his neighbor and fellow professor Malcolm and his girlfriend Kate. All the while telling himself that he is not repeating the cycle and that he is just looking. Joe manages to keep his distance until one night when he saves Kate from an attempted robbery. As a thank you for saving his girlfriend, Malcolm invites Joe to attend an exclusive party at the opening of a new elite nightclub. Joe is then suddenly thrust into the world of the absurdly rich socialites that Malcolm and Kate are friends with, whom Joe introduces the viewers to via his admittedly funny sarcastic inner monologue. After a montage of Joe getting more and more drunk, he wakes up the next morning in his apartment thinking that everything is well, until of course he finds the dead body of Malcolm lying on his kitchen table. It is then revealed through an anonymous text on Joe’s phone that it wasn’t him that murdered Malcolm, but in fact someone who is stalking Joe. Oh how the tables have turned!
The rest of the season follows Joe as he struggles with the role reversal of being the one stalked instead of doing the stalking. The show becomes a sort of murder mystery as Joe infiltrates the group in order to find the true killer and try to protect his real identity from being revealed, all the while fighting against the urges he is starting to feel for the mysterious Kate. The second part of “You” season 4 premieres on March 9, 2023, and I am sure we will all be glued to the screen to see Joe’s latest exploits.