You Season 4 Part 2, aka Fight Club for White Women

(L to R) Ed Speleers as imaginary Rhys, Penn Badgley as Joe Goldberg side by side outside in London
You. (L to R) Ed Speleers as Rhys, Penn Badgley as Joe Goldberg in episode 408 of You. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2023

The following contains spoilers for You Season 4 Part 2

I was so eager to think Rhys’s (Ed Speleers) presence meant the end of Joe Goldberg (Penn Badgley) that I completely missed the warning signs. I was so deep in it that when Joe killed the real Rhys, I thought the writers pulled from the Telenovela/soap opera handbook and used an evil twin plot twist. I was convinced that showrunner Sarah Gamble would end it once and for all, have Joe put himself behind bars, kill himself; have Rhys frame him; have this elite group of friends murder him, something! I completely missed any set-up for the Fight Club card in You Season 4, Part 2.

After all the opportunities to give Joe his just deserts, why give him a brighter future—AGAIN?

If there was anything to come out of this season, it should be that Joe Goldberg is irredeemable. YET, the ending’s narration suggests that we’re to understand Joe’s keen self-awareness and blatant honesty to Kate as… progress? Or was this whole psychosis charade meant to show the audience the most profound delusions Joe is capable of? Were we, the audience, meant to walk away in fear of mental illness?

Ed Speleers as imaginary Rhys, Penn Badgley as Joe Goldberg in the airport hanger before Joe kills Kates' father
You. (L-R) Ed Speleers as Rhys, Penn Badgley as Joe Goldberg in episode 410 of You. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2023

I’m lost, and I’m confused. I don’t know what to root for anymore. In my review for You Season 4 Part 1, I explained my expectation for Joe’s breakthrough and his emotional fall when he finally understood who he was. I mean, I guess I got what I wanted but at what cost? So Joe understands he has this dark thing inside himself. Suppose he understands who he is: What happened to the guilt?

It’s so hard to see past the rage right now. When I said I wanted Joe to come to terms with who he is, look in the mirror and see he and Rhys were no different, I didn’t mean I wanted him to accept it and walk away. I would have been disappointed if throwing himself off the bridge was his punishment; if he had died, it wouldn’t have been enough, but this is worse. Not only is he seeing no repercussions, but he also got the girl, Kate (Charlotte Ritchie). At the end of You Season 4 Part 2, he should be left with nothing.

(L-R) Charlotte Ritchie as Kate, Penn Badgley as Joe Goldberg at Lady Pheobe's spontaneous wedding
You. (L-R) Charlotte Ritchie as Kate, Penn Badgley as Joe Goldberg in episode 409 of You. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2023

Yes, yes, it’s a metaphor—no, it’s a tribute to the power and influence of white people, of white men! Kate is a reflection of the white feminists that root for Joe. She’s the level-headed version of Love Quinn (Victoria Pedretti). She’s the corporate tycoon willing to live with a serial killer to make herself feel less alone for her crimes. It’s a poetic telling of the men and women around the world wreaking havoc with no consequences because they have the money, resources and motive to keep their sins quiet. I get it; I do, but these people win every day in real life; why give them a happy ending here?

Nearly every other rich asshole, except for Joe, got their reckoning this season. There were so many threads that could have led to his destruction.

Lady Pheobe’s (Tilly Keeper) stalker could have been someone who knew the truth about Joe. Why not have her also think Love Quinn was her best friend? Why not have her dig up the dirt about Joe’s past victims? Why not throw the stalker storyline out the window? She could have been a relative of Guinevere Beck (Elizabeth Wail)! She could have nailed him for everything!

But no.

Amy-Leigh Hickman as Nadia Farran outside the abandoned building Joe used to hide Marienne
You. Amy-Leigh Hickman as Nadia Farran in episode 407 of You. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2023

Nadia (Amy-Leigh Hickman) could have broken the story! She had nearly everything she needed to get justice. How the hell did Joe get out of the hospital in time to catch her anyhow? At least Marienne Bellamy (Tati Gabrielle) got away; that’s a big win, but damn. Seeing a black woman treated that way with no hope for justice is not heartening. How beautiful would it have been if the two women of colour, with consciences this season, took down Joe? That could have been spectacular! Just the message this show needs!

But no.

It’s all a mess. We already knew Joe was mentally ill; he’s got buckets of trauma and a kink for obsession and murder; that’s not precisely screaming sane, but it’s not fair to pour in erotomania as the diagnosis. It barely even makes sense with his previous delusions and obsessions. Maybe I should be grateful they didn’t try and pin it on schizophrenia or multiple personality disorder, which genuinely would have been heinous, but I’m still disappointed. Let me ask this question, will Kate be getting Joe a psychiatrist? Surely if she can pay publicists and lawyers enough to keep their mouths shut about all of Joe’s murders, she can pay a therapist to keep quiet—but I doubt it. That doesn’t seem to be the direction this story is headed.

All that and I’ve barely touched on what this season did right: the casting. Everyone was brilliant; they did well with what they were given. I can truly say that I fell in love with Lady Pheobe (Tilly Keeper), and I’m happy she got a somewhat happy ending, even if I don’t really understand what it had to do with the rest of the main plot; kind of ended up feeling like a story in its own right rather than a B plot. By the end, most of the characters we met as Kate’s friends in Part 1 didn’t matter or even have lines in Part 2, which felt like an oversight or a waste. Damn, I was supposed to be telling you about the things I liked, oops.

It all just feels… misguided. I think I can see what the writer’s room was trying to do, but they still didn’t quite manage to do it… well.

Written by Isobel Grieve

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *