This review contains spoilers.

Our favorite neighborhood serial killer is back, changing the definition of “You.” Joe Goldberg (Penn Badgley) resurfaces as a detective in a classic melodramatic whodunnit, something like “Murder on the Orient Express” (2017) and “Death on the Nile” (2022). The show is set in the gorgeous autumn season of London. The screen captures far-off luxurious mansions and a vintage, exclusive SoHo club along with extravagant museums. The warm sweaters and waistcoats with sunny weather take us to the heart of London, but the show is not as warm as it looks. 

(Courtesy of Netflix)

Netflix’s “You” returned on Feb. 9 after an 18-month hiatus. The first part of the fourth season has set up the rest of the season perfectly, but the fans have a mixed set of reviews, ranging from disappointment with the acting performances to the appreciation of the refreshing “Glass Onion” (2022) type of setting. Moreover, the new installment seems overly disconnected from the previous ones due to the overhaul of the main cast. The series skips over many essential questions left unanswered in the earlier seasons, such as what happened to Joe’s son, Henry? Where are Paco (Luca Padovan) and Ellie (Jenna Ortega)? Nevertheless, the entanglement of killings and the new sinister characters makes the series as addicting to watch as ever. 

Let’s talk about how Joe’s character fares in an Old England setting. In short, the charm and captivating nature of Joe Goldberg is on point, as always. Following his role in Gossip Girl (2007), Penn Badgley continues his incredible repertoire with mysterious characters. After the first three seasons of “You,” I can’t imagine anyone else playing the role of Joe. Even though Joe seems like a plain mystery killer of women with whom he has had failed romances, Badgley effectively elucidates layers of sensitivity, trust issues and childhood trauma. The depiction of these emotions succeeds in presenting one of the best protagonist-antagonist characters in recent years.

 In the new season, we see that Joe makes most of the disputable decisions based on his emotional baggage of loss and grief from the past. He becomes confused about his inherent goodness as he debates himself, trying to justify his destructive actions. Badgley’s voiceovers serve as self-parody because they show his hypocrisy. However, Joe might come to a conclusion about himself, as the series features a peculiar and menacing antagonist in Rhys Montrose for the rest of the season.

The first episode somewhat connects to the third season, but the transition eventually fades away. Joe wanders the streets of Paris to look for Marienne, his new obsession. But, after hearing the truth about Joe from Love, Marienne was scared for her life and Joe recognizes that it’s time to let her go. He moves to London under another persona: English professor Jonathan Moore. His students and colleagues create an entanglement of events, such as murders and affairs, which guide his path throughout the five episodes. 

Joe meets an exclusive, elitist group of Britishers through his colleagues. Their personalities and actions are the exact opposite of what Joe stands for and every meeting is characterized by his hatred for them, with the exception of serial killer Rhys. This new set of characters, or trust fund babies, was refreshing  with the show making interesting commentary on their characteristics, such as empathy, arrogance and codependence. 

The plot brings out Joe in a new light. He has always rambled about how he wouldn’t resort to his actions if not for the circumstances. However, this time we can be in agreement with him because he couldn’t continue his solitary life because of his terrible new acquaintances and the darkness that surrounds him. We go on to see themes of rich versus poor, materialistic relationships and dark desires around Joe, and he comes out as a clear protagonist for a change. The show’s experimentation with plots always keeps the audience wanting for more and speaks volumes about the society.

Despite always landing in the middle of chaotic situations, Joe continues to end up safely back on his feet in the fourth season. Even though the narration was changed at the beginning, with Joe scrambling to not portray himself as the culprit of Rhys’ killings, we go back to seeing Joe beat all odds. The show needs to apply a change of pace and allow Joe to face the consequences. Regardless, the next five episodes will be a blast, as we witness two equally menacing serial killers with similar childhood trauma deal with their hatred for the artificial world that the new group brings to their lives. The connection between Joe and Rhys results in an enigmatic dynamic as the two showcase a perfect understanding of each other. Consequently, I believe the show has taken a turn toward a more traditional psychological thriller.

Despite changes in the tone, the writers fail to provide a solid romantic plot. Initially, “You” succeeded at depicting meaningful connections with the likes of Joe and Beck in the first season, but many were disappointed with the third season after seeing that Joe decided to leave Love Quinn for a somewhat stale relationship with Marienne. We see another weak romance plot with his colleague, Kate. Their relationship is primarily based on Kate’s grief after Malcolm’s death and Joe trying to protect her from Rhys. They go on and off, as both are confused about getting into a relationship. Although the chemistry is weak, it assists the overall plot by providing a lonely Joe with a confidante. Even though Joe decided to not get involved with her, Kate will play a significant role while Joe battles with Rhys.

“You” has succeeded in creating another captivating watch and has set itself up for success in the latter half of the season, which will be released on March 9. The last five episodes of “You” are impossible to predict. Reports suggested that Jenna Ortega was set to make her return as Ellie but could not because of her scheduling conflicts with “Wednesday” (2022). She could still return and avenge her sister’s death from the second season. Moreover, the trailer for the second part is already out, and Victoria Pedretti is back as Love Quinn. It looks like Joe’s enemies are piling up, and Rhys’ campaign to become the mayor of London will not make it easier for him. 

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Yashonandan Kakrania (he/him, 26B) is from Kolkata, India. He is pursuing a dual degree in BBA and MSBA. He is a huge film enthusiast. Outside the Wheel, he is a SA in Dobbs Hall, Board member of Hindu Student Association, and a part of different business clubs.