The first part of You Season 4 was madness. A murder mystery swathed in wealthy, aristocratic-level snobbery in London, matched with Joe’s biting wit. Now, brace yourself if you thought the twist of Rhys Montrose as the “Eat The Rich Killer” was a shock. You Season 4 Part 2 enters “wtf” heights with twist after shocking twist. Some land while others miss the mark. But You Season 4 Part 2 explodes the notion of a kind and misunderstood Joe, even if the show’s method is too pat, making me facepalm at their choices.
Look Inward If You Root for Joe
A valid critique haunting the You series is Joe’s portrayal. While Penn Badgley’s performance is charismatic and unforgettable, he plays a stalker/serial killer. Yet fans adore the character. That’s a testament to Badgley’s portrayal but also a failure of the series. Failing to portray (or understand) Joe as a monster is rooted in misogyny. However, this season allows you to see Joe unadorned, forcing viewers to look without rose-colored glasses. On this front, the series’ second half nails it. Joe is a butcher, rationalizing that he knows what’s best – you know, like most men, just taken to the killer extreme.
You‘s problem is they built up three seasons of trust in Joe. Not trust that Joe wouldn’t kill, mind you, or that he saw himself for who he was. But viewers saw Joe’s skewed narration of events. When Joe hid in Beck’s tub in the first season, he waxes poetic about the lengths people go to for love. As an audience, we know they are not a couple; she does not know he’s in her apartment, and this is not love but obsession. Yet the undeniable truth is we were always looking at the thought process and rationalizations of a white man who’s a serial killer. And only now does You pull the rug out from under you and make sure you see Joe for who he is, without all the romanticism.
A Race, Gender, and Class Critique
In these latest chapters of Netflix’s You, we see two women from marginalized backgrounds further driving home Joe’s predatory nature. Even someone with Joe’s awareness of those power dynamics exploits his position and harms those around him as needed. You Season 4 Part 2 highlights the failure of a system to protect the most vulnerable. Whether it’s incompetence or the simple coddling of white men, You exposes a society that’s functionally a perfect storm for violence even as that doesn’t alter the result. However, it spends far too little time critiquing all the ways Joe’s male whiteness allows him to get away with murder.
Perhaps it was only a matter of time before Joe’s deteriorating mental state became apparent. After all, why did viewers trust a serial killer who punishes women for not playing the role Joe gives them? As the “Eat The Rich” fun pulls away, we must acknowledge that Joe is, fundamentally, a monster. Time after time, he places himself in situations where he endangers others and then cries victim. No matter how audiences coat Joe’s actions, his obsessions and wants rule his behavior, and women especially are always in danger when in his vicinity.
Reveals and Choices Are Nonsensical
By the end, I figured out plenty of aspects surrounding the mystery, marking some predictable moments. Add in how the series’ setup and hints don’t add up (particularly when you consider the first of the season), and you just have inconsistent storytelling. The only possible reason Joe’s equipped with plot armor is to shock audiences toward the finale. Over the seasons, his good luck, coincidence, and happenstance saved him repeatedly. Here, it feels more egregious, and looking back offers no clarification.
Other characters with interesting arc trajectories fall flat at the end, some existing just for misdirects. It’s as though this season focused on sensationalism, leaving me befuddled by the season’s finale. Few characters move beyond their spoiled, rich labels. However, You has always pushed the shenanigans and mayhem Joe winds up in, and this season continues that.
You Season 4 Part 2 has inconsistencies and feels more shallow character-wise, but it still manages to fascinate, maintaining an engaging story thanks largely to its mystery. Each season of You shows us horrible people who are selfish, rich, spoiled, and entitled. When they die at Joe’s hands, we do not fault him as much. It’ll be interesting to see if You sticks with this pattern going forward if they even can. The end sets up a new unvarnished rebirth for Joe and a possibly new and more dire trajectory for future seasons. But whether it’s sustainable is up to each viewer.