WARNING: Spoilers for the entirety of You season 4 below.You has never been shy about the way it wants its audience to suspend disbelief. It’s a prerequisite that the audience must be willing to accept that Joe Goldberg has been murdering his way across the United States since he was a little boy with little to no eyebrows raised. In some cases, it’s this suspension of disbelief that has allowed the show to pull off some of its best moments (the season 3 episode where Joe and Love attempt to have a foursome comes to mind). You season 4 part 2 smashes through disbelief, though, and lands somewhere altogether outlandish, forgoing faith in its audience for cheap tricks and fakeout twists that feel like a slight towards those who have come along for the ride.
You season 4 part 2 picks up directly where the last batch of episodes left off. Joe has returned to London but kept the identity of the Eat the Rich killer a secret both to ensure his own secrets are safe and to give himself time to come up with a plan. Meanwhile, the rest of the group is dealing with the fallout from the events at Phoebe’s country manor. Phoebe, in particular, is struggling with what happened, while the rest of the group quietly tries to move on from Gemma’s death. Rhys is continuing his bid for the mayor of London while blackmailing Joe, and, as chaos swirls, things quickly veer out of control.
WARNING: The rest of this review discusses the plot of You season 4 part 2 in detail.It is impossible to discuss You season 4 without acknowledging the twists revealed in the latter half of the season. After a barely set up tangent involving Lady Phoebe and a stalker, it is revealed that Joe has been hallucinating his relationship with Rhys Montrose this entire time. They’ve only met very briefly and everything that happened at Lady Phoebe’s mansion, as well as the murders Joe has covered up for Rhys, have all been committed by Joe while he’s in some sort of fugue state. On top of that, Joe did not let Marienne escape at the beginning of the season — he has been keeping her in one of his signature glass cages in the bowels of the London Underground. Joe, who is the real Eat the Rich killer, is sharing his mind with Jonathan Moore, the posh London professor he so desperately wants to be.
Like the split between Jonathan and Joe, the latter half of You season 4 feels disjointed, dividing its time between Lady Phoebe’s impending marriage to her scummy boyfriend Adam and Joe’s discovery of what he’s really been up to in London. Also inserted quite clumsily is a subplot involving Kate’s father, played by Greg Kinnear, as well as Nadia’s investigation into Joe’s true identity. The latter is the only bright spot in a dark hole of confusion as Nadia attempts to rescue Marienne from Joe’s cage. Tati Gabrielle sells Marienne’s desperation and love for her daughter with all that she can muster, but even she isn’t spared from You‘s trickery when another fakeout twist insinuates she has died by suicide (something gravely out of character for the doting mother) only to reveal it’s all a part of some master plan devised by a college freshman.
Admittedly, this critic found the first half of You season 4 fun. It retained the bonkers storytelling that made the third season so successful, even if it felt a bit messier. Putting Joe at the center of a murder mystery felt like an inspired choice and, in order for a show like You to stay alive, the audience has to be kept on their toes. Part 1 certainly achieved that. Revealing that it was all a lie, on the other hand, just feels like a cheap trick, revealing that You has no faith in its audience.
Ultimately, the new season feels like several ideas crammed into one overstuffed batch of episodes. The Eat the Rich killer is a fun concept, but it has little to say that hasn’t already been said. If anything, it feels like a stalling tactic to get to the real story at the center of the season which sees Joe reckoning with what he’s done. He’s never had to face his decisions the way he does in season 4, but tracking this evolution in real time would’ve been much more entertaining and nuanced than pulling one over on audiences in the guise of a twist that many saw coming from the start.
With You season 4 ending in a happy place, with Joe free to live out in the open with Kate (who is somehow okay with him killing her father), the show could go anywhere from here. Whether it should, though, seems to be answered by the fact that Joe Goldberg has never felt this aimless.
All episodes of YOU season 4 are now streaming on Netflix.