Hello, You

Despite a boring part one, “You” season four manages to captivate with its compelling character development and psychologically thrilling flair.

Promotional image via Netflix

Promotional image via Netflix

“Hello, you.” Cue the pan-in on an innocent victim and Joe Goldberg’s scintillating, critical narration.  And get the popcorn.  In his infamous husky voice, Goldberg guides us through his violent but complex mind as he galivants around Europe. Book in hand, a fresh beard, and phony remorse for his past murders all blend to create a luscious and deranged season four.  Though the season begins exasperatingly, it morphs into a captivating physiological thriller that turns Joe into a more compelling and lethal character. 

The outrageous plot of “YOU”  monotonously follows the formula from the last 3 seasons. Goldberg, a dangerously charming and intense stalker, fixates on a woman and kills anyone who tries to stop him from the perfect relationship.  In season four we see Goldberg, now in the foreign lands of London with the name Jonathon Moore, painfully repeats old promises to himself. He tells us, or rather himself in narration, that he won’t fixate on women again.  He promises he won’t kill, he will lay low and enjoy peaceful professorship. How do you just become a professor at Oxford with a new identity and no prior experience but working at a grocery store and a library? The writers suggest we ignore that because Goldberg quickly finds himself trapped in an unbearable group of friends, roped in by his new lover.  

With Goldberg’s seductive and deep voice, he analyzes each friend in detail and criticizes them for their shallow and pretentious lives. His self-righteousness is so charming and familiar that it is the best part of the first episodes. It is a blast to watch him dissect the fools around him, and ironically, he believes he is better. Other than that, the first part of the season is nothing new. 

 It is painful to see him do and say the same things and be around the same types of people. I have had enough of making fun of rich people and social media-addicted teenagers. I was hoping to watch him make fun of Ivy League ego maniacs with no substance, but the writers are fixated on surrounding Joe with the same archetypes.  Although the English backdrop is aesthetically pleasing with a large castle getaway and the luxurious lives of the rich, the murder mystery is cliche and the writers know it. Goldberg even reads cheesy mystery novels to crack his own case, which parallels the plot and makes it lazy. The plot continues to become so ostentatious that any classism or societal commentary it was making gets lost in repetitive dialogue and unwatchable drama. 

The first part is a waste of time, but with the release of the second, the show breaks out of its old ways and forges an entirely different path.  What the viewer was led to believe gets shattered and Joe finally shows growth as an individual.

 So many impossibly insane things have happened that I cannot even get mad because the more unhinged the show gets, the more entertaining. Goldberg breaks the illusions he has about himself and finally accepts that a part of him will always be malicious and cunning. Instead of teaming up with Love, he teams up with himself and goes on a delightful and satisfying killing spree. The show breaks absurdity and develops real meaning such as parasocial relationships between celebrities and fans, and personal illusions.

 We also get to see Marianne Bell from season three, his former fixation. Tati Gabrielle gives a stunning performance of victimhood, mother-daughter love, and her incredible fight to survive against possessive ideals of love. The real MVP is Ed Speleers as Rhys Montrose, a corrupt politician who makes the murder scenes so much fun with his dry wit. Joe’s past victims haunt him, which is a nice change, and he becomes a more complex and interesting character. The growth is much needed, the change is refreshing, and the second part of the season is quite a thrill and mentally jarring. 

In the final scene, Joe smirks at his reflection after an unspeakable act, and I had to smile back. Ever since my uncle introduced me to the show, I have been addicted to Joe’s terrorizing  games and the romantic nature of the writing. Even though this fictional antagonist is utterly immoral and psychologically broken, his story is deliciously entertaining. Joe Goldberg will forever be America’s favorite “nice guy.”