Netflix’s Latest Season of “You” Is a Satisfying Ending


The first part of “You” season four deceived audiences about what was to come for Joe Goldberg. (Courtesy of Twitter)

After a month-long break, the critically-acclaimed and popular Netflix thriller “You” dropped the last batch of episodes for its fourth season on March 9. “You” follows Joe Goldberg (Penn Badgley), a man whose outwardly charismatic personality hides an obsessive and depraved nature. Joe is a stalker and a killer whose obsession with various women and the prospect of being loved has left a bloody trail behind him. Despite his unhinged ways, Joe has a part of him that strives to be good and to stop killing. 

Part one diverged from the series formula by having Joe swear off stalking and murdering after suddenly realizing the damage he has caused after the events of the previous season with Marienne (Tati Gabrielle), whom he tracks down in Europe. Joe relocates to London and works as a literature professor under the alias Professor Jonathan Moore. Ingratiating himself amongst an odious group of the uber-wealthy and pursuing a new love interest in Kate Galvin (Charlotte Ritchie), things seem to be going swimmingly for Joe. That is until he is blackmailed by an anonymous murderer known as the Eat the Rich Killer, who targets the group, thereby threatening Kate.

Though the whodunit structure of part one was entertaining in bits and pieces, I found the first part to be slow overall. What also did not interest me much was how the writers seemed to be constructing a redemption arc for Joe. Such a plot change would undercut the critique the series makes on the links between privilege, obsession and violence in society. Much of this is embodied in Joe, a violent man who has yet to be held culpable for his crimes because he is not seen as a threat by society, a testament to his privilege of being a straight white cis man. “You” has been consistent in its commentary, so the first part seemingly presenting him in a positive light did not sit well with me. 

As a result, I was skeptical going into part two, but I was pleasantly surprised to see that the writers had foregone a redemption arc. Early on, it is established that Joe turning over a new leaf was a red herring. Part two contains all the twists and turns that part one held back, dropping the whodunit structure for a depiction of how Joe’s tired charade as the lovelorn good guy who only kills when necessary is coming to an end. 

Part two picks up with Joe vowing to bring down the Eat the Rich Killer, revealed to be the equally deluded Rhys Montrose (Ed Speleers). Because of his anonymity, and to build the hype around the big reveal, Rhys was absent for much of part one. After being upped to a main character role in part two, it is clear that his performance was worth the wait. Speleers is delightfully sinister as Montrose, who torments Joe to a fault as Badgley exhibits another masterful performance as the character. Much of the magic of season four’s second half can be found in the dynamic between Speleers and Badgley as two sides of the same blood-soaked coin. Rhys is a cool and calculating killer juxtaposed neatly with the more erratic and quasi-moralistic Joe, who seems bent on letting go of killing for good despite being constantly reminded of his dark nature by Rhys. Theirs is an interesting pairing that rivals that of Joe and Love (Victoria Pedretti), Joe’s dead wife who was also a killer. 

The success of part two can be attributed to several other actors’ performances as well. Kate’s character was fleshed out more as we see her reckon with the state of her independence under the thumb of her powerful and connected father Tom Lockwood (Greg Kinnear). This development thankfully gives Ritchie more material to work with and more of an opportunity to display her knack for hiding inner turmoil behind dry humor. Gabrielle reprises her role as Marienne Bellamy with a welcomed gusto. Amy-Leigh Hickman is also endearing in her role as Nadia, Joe’s literature student who is goodhearted and too inquisitive for her own good. 

The second part of the fourth season of “You” proves to be a satisfying continuation of the thriller. The ending introduced an intriguing development in Joe Goldberg’s story and characterization that will lend itself readily to what is to come for an even scarier fifth (and reportedly, final) season.