“You” Season 4 Part 2 – A Disappointing Payoff to a Promising Setup [Review]

Having been split into two volumes (which Netflix has wisely started doing lately), You Season 4 ended its midpoint on a cliffhanger that promised to pay off in these final 5 episodes. Volume 2 takes a very drastic subversion of expectations and you’re either going to hate it or love with very little in between.

Spoilers Ahead – You’ve Been Warned

The “Real” Eat the Rich Killer
We quickly pick up with Joe and his feud with Rhys, who’s now running for mayor of London.  Following the events at the estate, Joe is seen as a hero by some, but Rhys is keeping the pressure on him, especially when Kate’s dad, Thomas Lockwood becomes involved.  Played brilliantly by Greg Kinnear (who’s honestly the best guest star this series has had), Lockwood inserts himself into Joe’s conflict with Rhys.

Acting at his behest, Joe manages to kill Rhys, thus eliminating Lockwood’s political enemy, but in doing so, revealing one of the most frustrating revelations in You’s history.  We actually get an un-ironic use of the “it was the main character all along” trope, where it turns out that Joe has never actually met Rhys in person, and he’s just been hallucinating this alter ego this entire time.

You 2
He would have been a great villain had he been allowed to actually be one…

It’s frustrating because this series always had some level of comparison to Dexter, and to completely lift the entire “dark passenger” concept seems to be an extra nail in that coffin.  Not to mention, this “twist” is a bit played out in Hollywood with notable examples like Fight Club and Secret Window doing the twist much better.  Here, we’re led to believe that Joe randomly saw this Rhys character on TV and read his book, and admired him so much that he became a new personality?

What it robs us of is the chance to see a fascinating showdown between two cold and calculated psychopaths, each trying to outdo the other.  Joe keeps talking about redemption, and having him save people from a worse maniac would have been a step in that direction.  We had finally been given another character that was a match for him (aside from Love), and it all just led to nowhere.

Granted, the series wanted very much to give Joe a chance to self-reflect, and the entire sequence in his head where he argues with projections of Beck and Love was interesting.  But you could have had the very same self-reflection while Joe was trying to defeat his enemy, rather than have him fighting with himself.

You 4
Seeing Love back to toy with Joe (even as a hallucination) is a just a reminder that she was too good for this series and they killed her off too soon.

The Real Villain
That all being said, it is an important thing to note that, despite how frustrating the twist was, it is a reminder of who the real villain of the series is.  It remains and has always been Joe.  As actor Penn Badgley reminds fans on social media quite often, Joe is a murderer and should not be admired.  We see that despite him thinking he let Marienne go, he was holding her prisoner, separated from her daughter.

But it seems the show wants to have its cake and eat it, which is honestly nothing surprising.  It wants us to see Joe as the true villain, but it also wants to sympathize with and root for him.  Case in point, he’s horrified to learn that he (or at least a certain part of him) is responsible for holding Marienne prisoner and killing everyone.  But he never actually atones for anything.

You 5
Joe’s ultimate “sacrifice” so that Kate will be safe from him only works if it actually

Even after he supposedly learned his lesson, he still lets innocent people suffer.  All Nadia did was save Marienne, and Joe lets her go to prison for a murder she didn’t commit.  And not only is he able to stay with Kate (who knows who he really is), but he’s able to legally resume his true identity of Joe Goldberg; which apparently the Quinn family doesn’t have a problem with now…?

You 3
Nadia deserved better, and will likely be back in Season 5.

It also sends a potentially problematic message that all Joe really needed was Kate for him to stop being a narcissistic psychopath.  It’s a retread of everything that was Season 2 and in all likelihood, Season 5 will just be another Season 3 and so and so on.  Perhaps I shouldn’t be too shocked at this, but it was just so exciting in the first half of Season 4 to see things moving in a different direction.

Joe finally comes to terms with who and what he is and makes the decision that he’s too dangerous for the world, just for him to be rescued so the series can continue for another season.  But perhaps I’m judging it too harshly…

What did you think of You Season 4? What do you hope to see in any future season?  Let us know in the comments!

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