Since the first part of the fourth season of You dropped on Netflix last month, I’ve been dying to talk about it. And now that the second part was just released on Thursday, I’m ready to talk about it.
Compared to the third season’s lacklustre storylines, the fourth season of You has more twists and turns than a rollercoaster. However, before we get into the fourth season, let’s recap what we know about the series. Netflix’s psychological thriller focuses on Joe Goldberg (Penn Badgley), a former bookstore manager from New York, who turns to stalking and ultimately murdering after developing extreme obsessions. Since the first season in New York, Joe has left multiple bodies in his wake before constantly attempting to reinvent himself and move around the world to escape his past.
An ever-present inner monologue by Joe is intertwined with the story, which is equal parts sardonic and disturbing. Despite his murderous tendencies, Joe fancies himself a saviour of sorts and ally to the feminist cause. Throughout his monologue, he maintains his goodness and that the murders he commits are justified. Though the series is sometimes a soapy thriller, it focuses on the psyche of a man lying to himself.
The series can also be described as a dark comedy that spans the spectrum of camp to satire. It pokes fun at toxic masculinity in a sardonic way, as it emphasizes the hypocrisy of a man claiming to be a good person committing murder. Further, Joe’s disdain for everything around him spills into his hilariously unreliable narration. In the third season, for instance, it’s his disdain for married life and early parenthood. In the latest season, the power and privilege of London’s young elitists have Joe frustrated.
Balancing Joe’s villainy is a series of strong female leads, including Tati Gabrielle (who plays local librarian and Joe’s obsession Marianne in the third season), Charlotte Richie (who plays art gallery director and Joe’s love interest Kate in the latest season), as well as Jenna Ortega (also from Netflix’s Wednesday) in a minor role during the second season.
Taking a page out of Netflix’s book, this review of the latest season will also be divided into two parts. Let’s start with the first part of season four, which was an enjoyable change in the status quo. Please be warned that huge spoilers are ahead, in both parts of the fourth season.
The beginning of the fourth season sees Joe escaping to Europe to find Marianne. Eventually, Joe settles down in London as Professor Jonathan Moore, a well-to-do literature professor at a prestigious university. As always, he opts to redefine himself once again and turn over a new leaf.
The first half of the season largely focuses on a murder mystery involving 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 persona as Moore. Further, Joe finds himself being stalked by the Eat the Rich Killer, who is aware of his past and has taken an interest in him.
What was most interesting – and perhaps most divisive – about the first half of the season is the change in the status quo. Now, Joe was the one being watched. I suppose Joe wasn’t the only one who attempted to reinvent himself. What began as a thrilling satire about a man whose toxic masculinity prompted him to become a serial killer has now become a Dexter-esque vigilante show as the killer (Joe) attempts to find another killer.
The finale of the first half of the season leads to the reveal of the identity of the Eat the Rich Killer: Rhys Montrose (Ed Speelers), a rags-to-riches author who maintains disdain for the elite. The murderous author finds kinship with Joe whom he considers his equal. However, this changes when Joe finds out that Rhys was the killer. Now, Rhys opts to murder Joe by trapping him in a cellar set ablaze – which, of course, Joe survives. The first half of the season ends with Joe watching his new nemesis announce his candidacy for mayor, aware that he might be the only person who knows the truth about him.
This leads us into the second half of the season, which unearths a twist that turns the entire first half of the season on its head. But more on that soon. The second half began with Joe trying to catch Rhys. In the process, he’s essentially caught in the middle of a battle between Rhys and Tom Lockwood (Greg Kinnear), the shady powerful father of Kate, as both want the other one dead. As the second half of the season progresses, Rhys reveals to Joe that he has kidnapped Marianne to force Joe’s hand in killing Tom. This culminates with Joe finally killing Rhys, the killer. Or so we thought.
As it turns out, during the entirety of the season, Joe imagined his interactions with Rhys, including the fact that Rhys was the Eat the Rich Killer. It’s revealed that Joe was the killer all along and Joe was the one who kidnapped Marianne. Yes, Joe did kill Rhys. But he killed the real Rhys, who had no idea who Joe was and was innocent. While the twist is completely reminiscent of Fight Club, it also essentially reversed the work of the first season in changing the premise of the series. The series reverted back to focusing on Joe coming to terms with the fact that he is a murderer.
After Joe and Kate reunite in the season finale, he starts to confess to her his past (though it’s unclear how much he divulged to her. Did he tell her that he was responsible for murdering some of her friends? That part was unclear.
However, the season appropriately concluded with the duo returning to New York. Kate had inherited her father’s company, and Joe apparently uses some of his newfound wealth to buy a bookstore (perhaps the same one he worked at in season one). This ending was compelling as both Joe and the series as a whole returned to their roots in New York.