You season 4 review: Joe meets his match in brilliant murder-mystery
Has Joe finally come unstuck?
If you're firmly in the camp of You lovers, you'll know that the Netflix thriller manages to effortlessly swoop onto our TVs and grip viewers almost instantly. And it's safe to say that this new fourth season is no different.
It's the show we all vow to stop watching. Joe (Penn Badgley) is the character we love to loathe and also the kind of male protagonist that warrants a serious conversation about the romanticisation of serial killers. But that's another conversation for another day.
In this season, Joe has travelled to London and has taken on the false identity of Jonathan Moore, a low-profile literature professor. Hey, at least Joe can finally put his love of books to good use, right?
But it's the fact that on top of being set and filmed in an entirely new location, the series itself feels like it's finally been given a new lease of life. The formula of previous seasons is a simple one: hone in on a deeply problematic man who has masqueraded as charming but in actual fact, is a serial killer and obsessive stalker who can't seem to take "leave me alone" for an answer.
With Love's (Victoria Pedretti) murder looming over him, as well as his abandonment of baby Henry, we start the season wondering how far Joe has got in his frantic mission to track down Marienne (Tati Gabrielle). But what we thought would be the main focus of the season is actually anything but.
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Sure, the plot line will likely rear its head later in the series but for now, Joe is facing bigger problems of his own. Namely, a new nemesis who has landed him in a world of trouble.
Joe may still inhibit all of those deeply troubling, nightmarish qualities, but he's also found himself at the centre of a murder mystery. If you're a fan of Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, Only Murders in the Building or the slew of other TV series that fall into the beloved genre, you'll be pleasantly surprised to learn that season 4 takes a major leaf out of Agatha Christie's books.
Where previous seasons have centred on Joe's complete obsession with the women he loves – and this season obviously does have flecks of that – his "You" is actually the Eat The Rich killer who is intent on upending his life. Like any good whodunnit, he has to suss out the clues, the backstories and lives of his counterparts, all with the threat of his true identity being revealed.
With Joe's life dominated by thoughts of paranoia and suspicion, it feels like a comeuppance in a way – he can finally get a taste of what the women in previous seasons have felt. It adds a note of undeniable tension throughout the series where previously they have all been fuelled by Joe's own psychopathy. The main difference here being the puzzling figure, who could be any of our slew of new faces.
In doing so – and it's what this fourth season does so unexpectedly well – the series puts up an accurate and satirical mirror to wealth and society. The £25,000 members' clubs and chaotic blur of cocktails, cocaine and NFTs makes you laugh, as much as it does cringe at how realistic this small slice of the world probably is.
Say what you like about Joe Goldberg, his ruminations on society, social media and wealth are terribly accurate. He pokes fun at influencer culture, trust fund babies and the group's evident classism, all while somehow becoming ingratiated into this subsection of society.
It's a world where absinthe is drunk like water and designer gifting rooms are like open shopping centres. So, watching Joe so out of place and out of control of the narrative is a table-turn that is actually funny to witness. He's introduced to this innocuous world through fellow professor Malcolm (Stephen Hagan) but when something tragic happens in the season's first episode, Joe must find his feet in the group, while also figuring out who's a cold-blooded killer.
It's a series fuelled by notes of revenge and long-standing rivalry, all of which we're learning about at the same time as Joe. He can't seem to figure out who out of his new group of über rich English friends could be at the centre of it all.
As per usual, the season also has its fair share of outlandish scenes, including one of the most gruesome body disposal scenes I've seen on TV probably ever.
Don't be falsely lulled in by Cardi B's I Like It or the Putnam v Fillerton match that Joe sticks on to figure out how long he has until security returns – it is stomach-churning. The randomness of scenes like this, along with secret sexual encounters, moments in countryside manor boudoirs and bodies falling out of antique chests, are what propels this unhinged tale forward.
As much as this season is fuelled by money, revenge and long-standing socialite rivalries, it's also a season where, somewhat surprisingly, the main women in it are given ample airtime to be enjoyed, rather than killed off too soon.
Eager-to-learn student Nadia (Amy Leigh-Hickman) is reminiscent of season 2's Ellie Alves (Jenna Ortega) and becomes a kind of niece-like figure to Joe, unknowingly helping him in his murder-mystery quest. A heart-warming subplot to the season, if you will.
But we simply can't forget about Charlotte Ritchie. While many of us will recognise the actress for her roles in Fresh Meat and Ghosts, in You, she is icy female lead Kate. She visibly detests Joe throughout much of the season and doesn't allow him to pull the wool over her eyes, refusing to (immediately) fall for his American wiles and making his life difficult in the process.
She's not the "damsel in distress"-type character that Joe always dotes on and the scenes of her scowling at him, interrogating his past life and underlining the fact that he's not a friend of hers are just brilliantly savage. Most interestingly, though, she too remains a glorious enigma.
In her and the Eat The Rich killer, Joe may have finally met his matches because both of these puzzling characters seem to always be a few steps ahead of our protagonist. But how exactly will this tale conclude?
You has always been a series that's terribly addictive to watch but this time round, the classic murder-mystery spin has restored faith in a drama that could have easily continued with many of the seen-before tropes. The result? A season that may very well be more enjoyable than those before it.
- Who is Charlotte Ritchie? Meet the You season 4 star behind Kate
- Who is Tilly Keeper? Meet the You season 4 star behind Lady Phoebe
- Who is Lukas Gage? Meet the You season 4 star behind Adam
- Who is Ed Speleers? Meet the You season 4 star behind Rhys Montrose
- Who is Amy-Leigh Hickman? Meet the You season 4 star playing Nadia
- You’s Charlotte Ritchie on why she was “nervous” about the season 4 role
- How many episodes of You season 4 are there?
- What happened to Marienne in You season 4?
- Who is the ‘Eat the Rich’ killer in You season 4?
- When is You season 4, part 2 out on Netflix?
- You season 4 location guide: Where was the Netflix thriller filmed?
- You season 4 review: Joe meets his match in brilliant murder-mystery
- You star on season 4: ‘It’s timely and important – but also fun'
- You season 4 part 1 ending explained: Did Joe survive?
You season 4 part 1 is out now on Netflix, while part 2 will land on 9th March. Seasons 1-3 are streaming now. Sign up for Netflix from £6.99 a month. Netflix is also available on Sky Glass and Virgin Media Stream.
Check out more of our Drama coverage or visit our TV Guide and Streaming Guide to see what's on tonight.
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