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You Season 4 Part 2 Review: A Big Twist Recaptures You's Chaotic Energy and Reshapes the Show

The Netflix drama pulls off a killer surprise

Maggie Fremont
Penn Badgley, You

Penn Badgley, You


[Warning: The following contains spoilers for You Season 4 Part 2. Read at your own risk!]

Well, well, well, what a clever little trap You laid out for us. If you found Part 1 of Netflix's serial killer drama's fourth season a little underwhelming, you were not alone. In fact, in my own review of the first five episodes delivered to us back in February, I said they "lack a little bite," and found pitting Joe Goldberg (Penn Badgley) against an invisible adversary and asking him to solve a whodunit amongst a group of ridiculously deplorable English aristocrats less than compelling, especially when compared to Joe's explosive toe-to-toe with his dearly departed killer wife, Love Quinn (Victoria Pedretti), in Season 3. The first five episodes felt like Joe and the show were holding back — and, possibly even worse, attempting to give Joe Goldberg some sort of redemption arc. It turns out, that's because we were only getting half of the story. Honestly guys, when are we going to learn that Joe Goldberg, serial killer extraordinaire, is an unreliable narrator? 

You Season 4 Part 1 had Joe track down latest love obsession, Marienne (Tati Gabrielle), in London, kindly let her go as a way to show her that he'd changed — that she'd changed him — and then take on an assumed identity, Jonathan Moore, a literature professor at a university in the city. He enmeshed himself with a clique of the aforementioned aristocrats, and what do you know, once he started hanging around, people started getting murdered. The apparent catch, though, was that Joe wasn't, as the press dubbed the perpetrator, the "Eat the Rich" killer. Instead, the killer was on to Joe's true identity and taunting him by way of dead bodies, anonymous text messages, and threats to pin all the murders on him. The first five episodes were mostly Joe Goldberg Does Crisis Management. It was a hoot (in the way You is always a sick, twisted hoot), but it didn't feel like it was leveling up the series in any way. Even the Episode 5 reveal that the "Eat the Rich" killer, and Joe's very own stalker, was mayoral candidate and man of the people Rhys Montrose (Ed Speleers) was a little deflating, since Rhys seemed like the most obvious suspect. 

But in Part 2 we learn that this was all a setup for something much more complicated, much more compelling, and, to be frank, something pretty freaking awesome: Joe Goldberg has been the killer all along. The Rhys he's been speaking to all this time isn't the real Rhys but a figment of Joe's imagination post-psychotic break. The Rhys doing all of the killing is simply a manifestation of Joe's dark side. And once that is revealed, things really go off the rails in the absolute best way. 




  • Pulls off a neat little trick that changes the entire season and levels up the series as a whole
  • Introduces the perfect adversary for Joe
  • Compelling chemistry between Penn Badgley and Ed Speleers


  • The season as a whole feels bloated
  • The weaker characters and storylines are more evident in Part 2

From the beginning, You has always been about Joe Goldberg wrestling with the darkness inside of him. It's why he's constantly trying to justify his actions with motivations of love and protection, explaining away brutal killings by rationalizing that his victims deserve it. Joe has always fashioned himself a hero who just gets carried away sometimes. In his mind, he always starts out with the best intentions. He's perpetuated this lie for so long and has committed such heinous acts in its name that, yeah, of course a psychotic break was always in the cards. And what better way to let that break manifest than by (1) letting Joe really act out the role of hero as he tries to solve a murder mystery, and (2) representing his dark side as a person Joe is obsessed with because of that man's real-life redemption arc? It's such a smart move and a reminder that the You premise, even four seasons in, hasn't become stale.

It's not an easy concept to pull off and could quickly feel a little cheesy or cheap, but it never does, thanks in large part to the two actors now representing Joe Goldberg. Badgley is great as Joe becomes more and more unhinged, and Speleers fully commits to embodying Joe's most menacing urges. Their chemistry is what really makes the whole thing work, and their relationship only becomes more twisted and interesting to watch as the season hurtles toward its conclusion. 

Ed Speleers and Penn Badgley, You

Ed Speleers and Penn Badgley, You


Looked at as a whole, the season feels a bit bloated. There are tangents that only minimally service the plot that could've been slimmed down or tossed away entirely. The less interesting storylines are only made more evident in Part 2, when the season is really clicking and one of the best adversaries You has ever introduced for Joe arrives in the form of Tom Lockwood (Greg Kinnear — yep, you read that right). Tom is Kate's (Charlotte Ritchie) evil, powerful, billionaire CEO father we've heard so much about, and oh boy, does he have Joe's number from the jump. It's perfect casting really — Kinnear is so believable as the charismatic nice guy and the quietly terrifying guy holding all the cards, someone who knows exactly who and what Joe Goldberg is but isn't at all afraid of him.

He's a highlight of the season, and not just because of Kinnear, but because of what he represents for Joe. As Tom points out himself, he and Joe are basically the same. They'd do anything to protect Kate. They are both men willing (perhaps, craving) to do terrible things and justify their actions with those noble motivations. But the difference between them is the important part: Joe romanticizes his sins; for Tom, it's all business. This entire season is about Joe trying to detach and disassociate himself from his darker parts through a chaotic, psychotic break. The much cleaner way to do this, however, is Tom's way. He doesn't get his hands dirty. He is all matter-of-fact about the awful things he does to get what he wants. Joe and Tom will never see eye to eye, for several reasons that I won't spoil here, but by the season's end, it does seem like Joe might have learned a few things from Tom. 

I'm still not sold on the rollout of Season 4 — although it really won't matter much now that both parts are available in full. Still, it felt like a misstep to cleave the season in half where they did. Part 1 feels like an entirely different show on its own than it does once you understand the season as a whole, and in splitting up the two parts, some momentum was lost. I'd posit that people who watch the season as a whole will enjoy it more than those who had to wait a month to learn what the season was actually about. Part 2 is far superior to Part 1. It has that wild energy that Part 1 was in need of, the spark that makes You work. Joe goes on a journey as far as character development in Part 2; that journey, and where Joe ends up, points to a real plan for the series. There's no need to worry if You's "Joe moves to a new city with his trusty cage (yep, the cage finally makes an appearance), becomes obsessed with a woman, and goes on a killing spree" shtick is all the show has to offer. Joe feels different by season's end. Growth isn't always positive, people, and it feels like only bigger — and more terrible — things await Joe Goldberg.

Premieres: Thursday, March 9 on Netflix
Who's in it: Penn Badgley, Tati Gabrielle, Charlotte Ritchie, Lukas Gage, Tilly Keeper, Amy-Leigh Hickman, Ed Speleers
Who's behind it: Sera Gamble (showrunner)
For fans of: Watching Penn Badgley Fight Club himself
How many episodes we watched: 10 of 10