This season of Netflix’s You was riskier than its previous installments. Season four was broken up into two parts–something that is seen more commonly in streaming nowadays. This model is used to try and gain excitement for the show in between the release of episodes instead of dropping the entire season at once. Some shows have seen great success with this, others… not so much.
If you aren’t familiar, You, a series inspired by a book of the same name by Caroline Kepnes, which follows Joe Goldberg, a man with stalker tendencies toward the girls he likes. Through the first few seasons, we watch as Joe becomes infatuated with different women in his life, spending episodes spiraling into patterns of obsession, stalking and eventually murder. The rest of this article will assume you have seen the first three seasons of the show, so if you haven’t binged it yet, spoilers ahead.
The fourth season of You feels starkly different from the original seasons, with Joe having just fled the country after murdering his wife, Love Quinn (Victoria Pedretti). He finds himself taking the position as a professor of literature, surrounded by a clique of wealthy folks he despises. All the while, he’s wondering about Marienne, the girl on whom he set his sights at the end of the last season. She quickly fled to France after finding out the truth of his character, and Joe is determined to find her.
The season takes a turn, however, diving into Joe’s social life where he’s caught in the middle of a classic “whodunit” surrounding one of the richest friend groups in London. This is a massive change in format for the show, which turned a lot of viewers off.
One of the biggest issues here comes from the new cast of characters. While You is not new to an ensemble cast, this one has characters that feel largely similar, making it difficult for audiences to discern who is who at times. There was never a moment in part one where I felt particularly drawn in or interested by any of the new supporting characters; this meant I found that the supporting role deaths didn’t have as much of an effect as they would have in previous seasons. This is not to say the acting is poor — the performances are fine, but the writing does not leave much room for uniqueness in these rich characters. When the script does try to give them their own moments, it feels sudden or forced.
These differences are why Netflix’s choice to split the season into two parts could have been detrimental to the show. While the end of part one of the season does end on an intense moment, it does not include some of the biggest twists of the season. Part two is where the original soul of You starts to shine through, the roots of Joe and his craziness coming back to the forefront. Because of this, viewers who did not like the show’s changes may not have returned for the second installment and therefore missed the best parts entirely. I almost didn’t watch the rest; I only continued because I happened to be on spring break and had some downtime to binge.
While part two of the season does have some plot holes, it has some of the most exciting moments that we’ve seen yet. Viewers are finally able to see Joe start to recognize his wrongdoings instead of tunnel visioning onto another woman immediately, taking that inward turn that has been building for three seasons.
The season suffers from the problems of a show that’s working toward its end. Season four of You clearly feels like the moment before the finale. We’ve let our protagonist reckon with his past, and that past is finally starting to catch up to him. For these reasons, the season works wonderfully to build tension toward an end, but it also means that every episode feels largely like buildup rather than conclusive. While the season is exciting, it lacks some of the craziness of previous seasons because of this buildup.
In general, You season four is worth it for part two alone, but that does not make it the best season of the show so far by any means. The new twist clearly turns the show toward its ending, and as of this week, we’ve heard that Netflix has made the right choice to end the show after season five. Hopefully this means the show will end with a smashing conclusion that was so beautifully foreshadowed in this season, meaning that even though season four is slower, it’s worth it in the end.
Meg Handley is a Senior Television-Radio major who enjoys confusing people by talking about You without context. They can be reached at [email protected].