When will we learn? Every year, we fall for it hook, line, and sinker. We know that Joe is a horrible psychopath, that he’s truly incapable of changing and being redeemed — he’s been murdering folk and locking them up in that giant box since season 1, remember. Unlike a lot of TV series characters, Joe never started off relatively normal before descending into a villain arc. He’s been an out-and-out villain from the very beginning.
But there’s something seductive about his internal monologue that makes us want to see the best in him; that makes us forget that we’re seeing the Netflix series through his point and view, and start considering his narrative as an objective fact. This is why the primary message of You season 4 part 2 seems to be that we, the audience, are fucking idiots.
You cast member Penn Badgley has never exactly been shy about his own distaste towards Joe — but given our tendency to constantly give his character the benefit of the doubt, it’s easy to see why. If we as the audience are so quick to forgive Joe, then someone has to call him out on his bullshit, right?
As fun as You season 4 part 1 was, it didn’t really feel like You. Joe’s stalker meant that he was on the receiving end of creepiness for once, and his pursit of the Eat the Rich killer meant that, by large, the thriller series felt more like a detective movie starring Joe as the flawed protagonist. There were still elements of this season proving Joe was the same weirdo we know and (unfortunately) love — like flashback scenes showing what happened to Marienne and his worryingly-effective body disposal methods — but he also took a bit of a backseat from the action in the part 1.
The most psychotic thing he did was probably that walk from his apartment to the university campus; which, according to Google Maps, would’ve probably taken him around 9 hours. The You season 4 part 1 ending saw Joe vowing to take down Rhys Montrose and stop the Eat the Rich Killer’s reign of terror — and by all accounts, he achieved both of these goals by the end of season 4. But the series of fake-outs, plot-twists, and sub-plots along the way meant that, as usual, things didn’t go the way Joe wanted them to.
On the one hand, the change of pace compared to Part 1 provided confirmation that splitting the series in half was the right thing to do. Giving us a month to ruminate over Part 1’s revelations made the subsequent plot-twists all the more satisfying and exciting. It was also nice for Nadia and Lady Phoebe to be given more to do and to have significant character development. They were largely glossed over in Part 1, but both got satisfying (and slightly frustrating) story arcs this time round, and it was nice for the ensemble cast to get a chance to shine alongside Badgley.
I never particularly warmed to Kate the same way Joe did, but Charlotte Ritchie continues to give a consistent performance in part 2, and provides glimmers of a dark side that make you wonder if we might be seeing another Love Quinn-type situation. But the best love story this season by far isn’t between Joe and Kate, but between Joe and Rhys — largely because Rhys able to get under Joe’s skin in a way no other character can, and brings the kind of psychotic energy that Joe is constantly on the cusp of, but never quite unleashes. Until this half of season 4, that is.
As Rhys, Ed Speelers acts as the perfect foil to Joe, but Badgley remains the indisputable star of the series, with Joe reaching heights of insanity that even I, as a seasoned You viewer, felt surprised by. A special shout-out also has to be given to episode 9, directed by Badgley, which gives us nearly a full hour of just rolling in the muddy puddle of Joe’s psyche like the filthy, drama-hungry little piggies we are.
Still, as gripping as all these twists are, a part of you deep down has learned to expect it — and when twists start to become formulaic, that’s a bad sign. It’s a testament to the writers that they continue to manipulate us so well, but sadly, they’re still not great at geography. Their grasp of London politics, culture, and direction makes it clear that not a single British person was consulted in the writing of this show. But we don’t watch You for accuracy. We watch it to scream at the telly at Joe somehow beating the odds once again.
Is it repetitive? Yes. Formulaic? Most definitely. But we as the audience aren’t too dissimilar to Joe. Old habits die hard, and as much as we might eye-roll, we’ll definitely be tuning in for season 5 and feigning shock that Joe hasn’t turned over a leaf again.
You season 4 part 2 is now available to watch on streaming service Netflix. If you want more spoilers, check out our guides on everyone who dies in You season 4, and the You season 4 part 2 ending explained.
You season 4 part 2 review
You thought part 1 was insane? Well, it’s about to get crazier.