By the final episode of the last season of Netflix’s psychological thriller series You, Joe Goldberg (Penn Badgley) was trying to change his ways. A stalker and serial killer who murdered any unfortunate people who got in the way of his romantic obsessions, Joe finally met his match when he fell for Love (Victoria Pedretti), an emotionally fragile baker who, it turned out, was just as obsessive as he was.
You’s second season ended with the revelation that Love had been responsible for a few murders of her own – at least one covered up by her wealthy family – and that she was pregnant with Joe’s baby. Instead of killing her as he had originally intended, Joe found himself tied to Love out of duty to their unborn child and the couple moved into an idyllic suburban home together – one that came complete with an attractive neighbour next door for Joe to fantasise about.
The new season picks up just a few months later in the lives of Love and Joe. Now married and raising baby Henry in the safe, leafy Northern Californian town of Madre Linda, Love is adapting to motherhood while Joe is determined to repress his murderous tendencies – and Love’s – so he can be a good example for his son.
Fans of the first two seasons (and the Caroline Kepnes books on which the show is based) may be worried at this point that 10 episodes of a well-behaved Joe won’t be the You that they know and love. Call us twisted, but much of You’s charm lies with ‘bad’ Joe, and charismatic Badgley’s pitch-perfect interpretation of him. Yes, Joe kills people, but they are often extremely hideous people, and his inner dialogue with his conscience, rationalising why he does what he does has always been one of the best and most darkly comic aspects of the series.
Luckily, as the first episode slowly unfolds, it becomes apparent that it is going to be very difficult for Joe to be a good guy for very long. Joe and Love’s new neighbourhood is enough to send the calmest person over the edge, populated as it is with judgemental mummy bloggers, invasive tech entrepreneurs (be warned: you’ll disable your Ring doorbell after watching this) and carbohydrate-denying competitive parents.
And if that wasn’t reason enough to start a murder spree, Love’s critical, heartless mother Dottie (a marvellous Saffron Burrows) is back as a regular visitor, obsessing over baby Henry and calling him Forty (the name of her late son, who died in season two), much to Joe’s annoyance.
The writers have a great time skewering them all, and while some subjects they include may be easy targets (anti-vaxxers and dull married suburban life, for example), they are featured in often surprising – and deliciously dark – ways.
It’s those surprises that make this season of You as enjoyable as the previous two. Just when you think you know where the story is going, it veers off in a different direction, taking the story beyond Joe and Love’s dysfunctional relationship. It’s a smart decision, as no matter how great Pedretti’s performance may be, her needy character Love can get pretty annoying (at least Joe thinks so, and we do often see events from his perspective, of course).
The supporting characters add new, fun twists to Joe’s story, too. Alongside Burrows’ enjoyably mean performance, there are nice supporting turns from Scott Speedman and Dylan Arnold (as father and son neighbours to Joe and Love) and Tati Gabrielle (as local librarian Marienne). However, it’s Shalita Grant and Travis Van Winkle in the You cast, as awful, self-obsessed influencer couple Sherry and Cary, who almost steal the entire series, expertly playing the two people you most want to see bludgeoned to death from almost the first episode.
Throw in more revelations about Joe’s childhood, a side storyline (that we won’t reveal here) that could have been copied from recent newspaper headlines, and this season of You quickly becomes a binge-watching treat. Don’t just root for Joe’s ‘bad’ guy – pray he won’t meet his own nasty end so we can have a fourth season of his murderously addictive adventures.
You season 3 arrives on Netflix on 15th October. Looking for something else to watch? Check out our guide to the best series on Netflix and best movies on Netflix, visit our TV Guide. For all the latest news, visit our Drama hub.