Has Joe Goldberg finally found a worthy opponent? “You” season 4 review

Source: IMDb

Source: IMDb

Julia Bianchini

TV’s favorite baseball hat-wearing serial killer, Joe Goldberg, has returned as creator Sera Gamble’s You releases its fourth season. Joe continues his problematic streak of finding death wherever he travels, drawing in fans to this new addition to Netflix’s guilty pleasure shows. The series continues to perfect the balance between an adrenaline-filled sociopathic mystery and satirical content, even when that content comes from a group of two-dimensional socialites. 

The series—adapted from Caroline Kepnes’s books—follows the charismatic Joe and his pattern of preying on and killing the many women he becomes obsessed with. Season four picks up with Joe fleeing to London to escape the aftermath of the messy murder of his ex-wife and to reunite with the woman of his recent infatuation. In London, he gives his usual attempt to break his pattern of obsession and decides to focus on his new job as a professor, living under the alias “Jonathan Moore.” Unsurprisingly, this attempt fails and Joe’s introduction to British high society leads to him being framed for murder. Members of his new inner circle are mysteriously dying and the tables have turned on Joe as he now has a stalker of his own. 

Season four sees a change in scenery as Joe’s messy criminal record takes him to the moody, dark-academia setting of an English university. This new town shifts the season’s aesthetic for the better, yielding the opportunity for writers to poke fun at a new crowd. Joe’s commentary on his circle of socialites acts as the source of this season’s satirical humor, going so far as to compare the group to a “West End revival of Mean Girls.” The aristocrats being so out of touch with society makes it difficult to watch at times, though they do provide some of this season’s most comedic moments when coupled with Joe’s sarcastic inner monologue. 

Along with his characteristic commentary, viewers can expect the topic of Joe’s problematic love life to return this season as he finds his new obsession: a gallarist named Kate who lives in his apartment building. Though viewers are expecting Joe to fall into the same dangerous pattern with Kate, their relationship turns out to be uncharacteristically normal with the accustomed one-sided tension becoming mutual. I felt like the romantic cat-and-mouse game is one of this season’s strengths, as Joe and his love interest seem to be on the same power level, which reminds me of Joe and Love’s dynamic in season three. Kate and Joe’s emotional tension takes up most of their screen-time, which decreases the amount of physical romance seen in previous seasons. 

While we can hope this healthier relationship is a sign that Joe is changing for the better, his lack of downright obsession may have to do with the fact that he now has a stalker of his own.  Watching the man who normally has unrestricted access to other people’s personal lives experience that same discomfort is a satisfying and unexpected turn of events. As an avid Joe fan, I was happy to see this emotional glow up in season four and I think it might make people feel better about rooting for this problematic anti-hero.

The biggest change this season was the overall structure of the main conflict: taking the usual “Joe centered” drama and spreading it throughout an entire inner circle. The aristocrats, although mostly shallow characters, play a powerful role in the mystery, allowing for a more multi-layered plot. Specifically, towards the end of part one, finding out the identity of the killer becomes a full on collaborative process in the group. This style is seen in another wildly popular whodunnit, The Glass Onion: A Knives out Mystery, the 2022 thriller directed by Rian Johnson. Even though this style shifts further away from the show’s original stalker narrative, the series becomes more comfortable for me to watch. 

Although this season differs from the classic algorithm fans have learned to expect, I found that these changes have altered the show for the better. This new season has made the show more accessible to new audiences by deemphasizing Joe’s obsessive actions and replacing them with equally addictive drama and humor. The group of socialites involved in the mystery can be difficult to watch at times, but they effectively convey the subtle jab taken on British high society. 

While season four heads down a new path, it continues to hook viewers with the unpredictable plot of this messy yet bingeworthy show.


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