Leaving the wealthy suburbs of Madre Linda, Calif., season four of Netflix’s hit show “YOU” takes protagonist Joe Goldberg (Penn Badgley) out of the sun and into the cold rainy streets of London, leaving watchers on the edge of their seats as they try to solve this season’s whodunit.
Coming off a blockbuster ending in season three, Joe is given a chance at a new life in this fourth season. Joe is hell-bent on following the fourth love of his life, Marianne Bellamy (Tati Gabrielle), to Paris. After an unfortunate meeting with her, he realizes that he wants to fully leave his old life behind. Looking for something new, Joe hops across the pond and assumes the alias of Jonathan Moore, an English professor at a university named Darcy College.
While he planned to lie low and, in his words, have a “European holiday,” he is somehow thrust into a murder mystery of London’s aristocratic elite. When the killer finds out about Joe’s past, he takes it upon himself to stop the killings before everyone around him learns the truth about his fake identity. To do so, however, Joe needs to assimilate with the elite group, something he begrudgingly attempts to do.
The group is filled with your usual cast of characters. Joe’s new love interest, Kate Galvin (Charlotte Ritchie), while initially not interested in Joe, slowly falls for his American accent and new beard. American trust fund baby Adam Pratt (Lukas Gage) and the apparent heir to the English throne, Lady Phoebe Borehole-Bloxworth (Tilly Keeper), make up the power couple of the group. Following them are a pair of artistic siblings, Sophie and Simon Soo (Niccy Lin and Aidan Cheng). Rounding off the group is the apparent future mayor of London, Rhys Montrose (Ed Speleers), the jealousy-ridden Roald Walker-Burton (Ben Wiggins) and Joe’s first British friend, Professor Malcolm Harding (Stephen Hagan).
Throughout the season, directors John Scott, Shamim Sarif and Harry Jierjian attempt to rehabilitate Joe’s image. Compared to previous seasons, Joe is less involved with killing and appears to have gone to London for a genuinely new start.
YOU’s uniqueness always stemmed from Joe’s internal monologue — and in season four, that feature is no different. In a new environment and country, hearing Joe’s thoughts gives us more appreciation and understanding of his character.
While watching psychological thrillers, there are seldom moments when you feel for the psychotic serial killers, but with Joe (this could be a hot take), you truly feel for him. Badgley excels at creating a connection between Joe and the watcher and embodying one of the best examples of an anti-hero.
This season’s MVP, however, is undoubtedly Joe’s love interest, Kate. Ritchie does a great job of showcasing Kate’s diversion from Joe’s past love interests. In the past, Joe would, unfortunately, stalk and “research” anyone he was interested in, allowing him to assume the role of their “perfect” man.
However, Joe had to form a real connection with Kate given the circumstances, and Ritchie excels at depicting her character not only slowly opening up to Badgley’s Joe, but also challenging him. Her nonchalant attitude as well as her often doing the opposite of what Joe asks of her frees her character from the shackles that Joe often had around her counterparts in previous seasons.
This first part of YOU’s fourth season does an exceptional job of changing the narrative around Joe. He’s no longer in New York or California, and with murder and some genuinely unlucky circumstances following him around, you start to wonder whether it’s finally time to cut him some slack.
Part 2 premieres on Netflix on March 9. Hopefully, in these next few episodes, Joe stops a murderer instead of becoming one again.
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