Netflix strikes again with yet another whodunit. This time, we get to see Penn Badgley back in action as the charmingly deranged Joe Goldberg.
Season 4 of "You" is shaping up to be quite different from previous seasons. Part 1 has placed Joe Goldberg in London and he now goes by Professor Jonathan Moore. His mission from Season 3 going into the new season was to escape Madre Linda and find his love, Marienne, in Paris. It looks like his mission has led him to becoming a professor at a London university.
Because the season is split into two parts, the story isn't complete. What we do know is, Joe Goldberg's old ways are still prominent. Not too long into the first episode and we already see a dead body in Joe's house. This time, it appears Joe has no idea how the body made it in his house. The last thing Joe did before he saw the body was have an intoxicating night out with a bunch of rich people. For the first time, Joe is the victim of another killer's antics. Joe doesn't realize this until after he disposes of the body that he initially assumed responsibility for.
Only two actors return from the last season, Penn Badgley being the obvious one and Tati Gabrielle, who plays the role of Marienne.
The story revolves around a group of London elitists who have allowed Joe (under the guise of Professor Moore) into their circle by association. Each of these people have a hidden past. New characters include Lady Phoebe, Kate, Malcolm, Adam, Simon, Roald and Sophie. As Joe begins to spend time with the filthy rich, murders start occuring within the group and the killer is targeting Joe. The killer was behind the placement of the corpse in Joe's house and they know Joe's true identity and past. The killer threatens to frame Joe for the murders and expose his truth unless he listens to the killer’s demands.
The show has a different approach to Joe’s character because for the first time, we see Joe is someone who is rehabilitated and self-aware. He is also victimized in this season, a breath of fresh air (sort of) for “You” fans, who only know him to be a ruthless killer in love’s name. Another aspect from the show which feels new is the politicized perspective of Joe, who is now incredibly outspoken (narratively) against elitists. The show eventually ends up labeling Joe’s stalker as the “Eat the Rich Killer,” as more of his elitist friends get killed. There is a clear anti-capitalist sentiment in the storytelling. The show even depicts an election for the Mayor of London being fought by Rhys Montrose, a well-known socialite, but isn’t as deluded by his own status like the others.
As many fans know, Joe falls in love easily. It’s the one thing that never changes and in this new installment, he is reluctantly falling for a new character Kate. Her character has a heavy history of being involved in optical philanthropy. She acts as a commentary on the nature of rich people who act like they care about the world for good publicity. It adds to the anti-capitalist view.
Another fresh layer is the story itself — a whodunit. For the most part, “You” has been telling the same story in different settings. Joe Goldberg is a deranged loverboy who will kill anyone who gets in his or his love interest’s way. This time, Joe is driven by his past to stop a new threat, the “Eat the Rich Killer.” In a way, he is redeeming himself while still maintaining some evil traits. Throughout Part 1, I found myself trying to piece together so many different things I noticed within the episodes. It felt like I was helping Joe find out who was trying to come for him. When a show keeps you this engaged, it feels exhilarating to watch. It was a feeling that I never experienced from the show before.
By the end of Part 1 an interesting twist is revealed. In my opinion, I think this was a great way to utilize Joe’s character because for the first time, it wasn’t a romantically driven killing spree. It was a new way to use Joe Goldberg’s evil nature. It was also a great way to tell an important story surrounding corruption and classism while keeping Joe’s character the same as it has been before
While at times, the plot could get rather confusing, it still maintained a sense of suspense and engagement. It was a necessary step towards the right direction. The show took real life discourse and wonderfully implemented it within the show. I can’t imagine the series could keep recycling an old formula this long. I am glad the new season turned out the way it did.
“You” Season 4 Part 1 is an 8/10 for me.