Murder and mystery return for ‘You’ Season 4: Part 1

Lily Roback, Staff Writer


You is back onto our screens for a fourth season, with Joe Goldberg returning with all his sardonic wit and murderous rampages for another supposed ‘clean slate’ in a new foreign city: London. Joe takes up an alias as Jonathan Moore and a job as an English professor, intent on proving once more he can be ‘good’ for his current infatuation. As Joe quotes an unnamed poet in the first episode, “heartbreak is our greatest teacher, and, if so, thank you for making me wiser,” echoing a consistent theme and Joe’s arc throughout the whole show. In hearing this line, viewers are meant to believe he will finally change, but not one watcher actually believes that. Loe and behold, within the first 10 minutes of the show, we meet Kate. 

Kate, at first, appears like all his other conquests: surrounds herself with an astounding number of bad friends and lovers but is ‘different’ from them and forced into these circumstances– the circumstances of her unfortunate social circle and family life and into Joe’s sick and twisted games. We are led to assume this season will repeat the plots of seasons 1 and 2 but our expectations are surely misled when the first episode ends with another professor, Malcolm, dead on Joe’s dining room table. The only surprise– Joe didn’t commit this murder and has to find out who tried to frame him.

Season 4 brings a classic story narrative, a whodunnit, adding a different structure to the now stale concept of Joe’s obsession with picturesque women. Our protagonist is now thrust into the world of the elite and is forced to navigate Malcolm and Kate’s social circles and the outrageous characters belonging to them. Bled in wealth and privilege, the portrayal of the top one percent is plainly satirical and quite topical. When a second member of this friend group is murdered, the media names the “Eat the Rich killer,” and we are once again in a dilemma of who to root for this season. Is it Joe, as the show wishes and writes, the wealthy ‘victims’ who are either irredeemable or caricatures, or the true murderer who anonymously communicates with Joe via text and initiates a cat-and-mouse game between the two? This relationship is now the focus of the season, Joe going as far as referring to this mystery character as ‘you’ in his monologues, the name once belonging to whatever woman happened to catch his eye at the moment. 

At the end of part 1, the killer is revealed to by Rhys Montrose, the only down-to-earth member in the friend group that’s been strangely MIA, in a fairly obvious plot twist. Circulating fan theories speculate a ‘Fight Club’ ending where Joe displaces his own actions onto another character unknowingly, especially since he is the only character that truly interacts with Rhys. Personally, I think it would be a unique plot twist if the story decides to pull it off, but may introduce some problems with how straightforward the storytelling has been thus far. However, I don’t think it is that far off in terms of how the season has progressed so far with the Agatha Christie mentions, the Secret History-like getaway to the country home, and even the reminiscent Ready or Not chase in the fifth episode. It is clear the writers for this season indulged in more cliches and tropes than in previous ones.

Long gone is the New York bookstore owner that watched Beck through her window, Penn Badgely’s performance as Joe Goldberg is just as charming and manipulative but feels more alive in reality than ever, referencing current events and naming terms such as “gen z” and “Twitter trolls”. Joe works as a character in this season by countering brash comments made by the wealthy characters and we are reminded of what makes Joe such a complex anti-hero. His purposeful relatability and delusion are, in fact, empathetic and occasionally endearing and this new season is not without the writer’s best attempts to make Joe a redeemable character. This story, albeit not as clever or calculated, is more comical and outlandish, and actually quite fun. It will be a disappointment for any fans that loved the old format but intriguing for the ones that wanted a change of pace. 

At this moment only the trailer for part 2 of season 4 has come out and we are left with many blooming questions about Joe’s character and how the plot will progress. With Rhys and Joe’s conflicting agendas and perspectives on killing, it seems Joe will finally have to face himself and come to terms with the fact that he is not a ‘good person’ and may be more similar to Rhys than he previously thought. The resurrection of Love and the infamous glass box appears to be a hallucination. Nevertheless, it makes me very excited for Victoria Pedretti’s return and the future possibilities of bringing back Joe’s previous victims for confrontations. The writers of You have now shown they can introduce a new concept, but still keep some of the old elements that made this show so intriguing from the very beginning.