Recap of Netflix’s ‘You’ season 4 finale: Joe is back

Right from the start, season 4 of you it seemed like it was leading us in an obvious direction. It was a full redemption character journey. Joe Goldberg, the baseball cap stalker-librarian, would never again dismember a dead person – at least one who died by his hand -. After his multiple “heartbreaks,” he took a new, less toxic path.

And then Season 4 pulled the rug out from under us. Season 4, part two, To be precise. It took a lot of time — you had to meet the 10-hour Netflix commitment — but Season 4 turned those tables. First, it gave Joe the chance, through European Holiday, to correct course. He had a chance to be less problematic, to make amends for his sordid past. But then Season 4 showed Joe – and us – the truth.

He is a murderer and will never be a murderer. Rhys Montrose – an alter ego of Tyler Durden, not a physically real Oxonic writer – is Joe Goldberg. In a slightly hilarious flashback reveal, we see what really happened when Joe was having conversations with Rhys. Really, Joe muttered to himself, discreetly looking to the side every now and then. Sometimes at real dinner parties with several people around! Considering that Joe usually disappears into long pauses in conversation (when he tells us in voiceover what his real opinion of people is), the Rhys hallucination is a bit of a plausible Joe thing to make up.

Penn Badgley as Joe and Ed Speelers as Joe — *cough* — Rhys.


It leads to a crossroads for Joe. He can reject Rhys, the manifestation of his dark side, and keep trying not to shove knives into people’s chests. Or he can be honest with himself and accept who he is. It doesn’t mean he can’t also do the right thing and help change the world — being in a power couple with wealthy heiress Kate Galvin provides ample resources. It just means he can occasionally succumb to an impulse to strangle, maim, attack, and trap.

Thanks to Joe, he chooses the first option first. He jumps off the side of a bridge in an attempt to end Rhys and his own evil deeds. But then he gets a second chance. He wakes up in the hospital after a miraculous rescue. Promising she can accept him all – his Joe side as well as his Rhys side – Kate makes a proposition: she will help him stay “good” as long as he reciprocates and helps. her stay good.”

So it’s a slightly better-intentioned relationship for Joe heading into a possible fifth season. Overall, Season 4 had its ups and downs, true to the rollercoaster design. Before the juicy twists in the tail, part one of Season 4 felt a little painfully long. That much screen time with Kate Galvin’s obscenely wealthy royal neighbor friends and colleagues was enough. But this choice, this character decision to let Joe embrace his inner demon seems – perversely – to be a wise choice. It makes the trip worth it.

Joe’s not going down Killing Eve Villanelle route, for example, the route of another psychotic killer who develops a conscience, who loses her fun, interesting panache in the name of love. Instead, Joe lands in his true form. Yeah, he probably shouldn’t be the weirdly attractive killer boyfriend of the internet. But at least we don’t have to try to forgive someone who killed a large number of young women. Perhaps in season 5, Joe will get the hang of his killing instinct and only use it on the deserving Dexter style.

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