What Were ‘You’ Thinking?

Jalen Flowers, Staff writer

Comeuppance for a murderer, a lead actor in charge of direction and a predictable twist; Season four of Netflix’s “You” diverts from its usual stalker kills shtick and embarks on a botched murder mystery storyline. 

Penn Badgley, the face of the “You” franchise, plays the role of Joe Goldberg who adopted the alias of professor Johnathan Moore, after fleeing his psychopathic lifestyle to escape his demons. This season, Badgley entered the role of director.

Goldberg covered up the murder of his first significant other in the first season, met another woman in season two and recreated the events of the first season in season three. 

The series urgently needed a revision. The last three seasons all had the same death of the love interest, the same anti-hero protagonist trying to better himself but failing to leave his murderous days behind. Under Badgley’s direction, nothing changed. But at least it takes place in London this time.

While the show has always been an easy binge with immersive side characters despite plenty of plot holes, the new season is barely understandable. Actors such as Shay Mitchell, Jenna Ortega and Victoria Pedretti carried the past seasons and graduated from the series, leaving an award-winning and already reputable actor such as Badgley surrounded by empty hollow shells.

The cast consists of several affluent philanthropists in London, a student of Goldberg’s who is curious about his past, a new love interest and a reticent author and politician.

The murder mystery plot Badgley was going for was so predictable the reveal felt like just another plot point. Three abundant figures die in Goldberg’s vicinity in part one, and it’s up to him to solve the cases of their murders. 

Between the various wealthy social media personalities in London, and the mysteriously brooding and intimidating author known as Rhys Montrose, it’s clear who is capable of killing the rich going toe-to-toe with Goldberg. As a result, we get a four episode long slow burn to an obvious conclusion and a month long wait until part two.

Part two was make or break for the series, and in parts they succeeded. It’s revealed that Montrose was not the killer in season one, and Goldberg imagined all of his experiences with Montrose since arriving in London. Montrose never interacted with Goldberg and that their relationship was strictly parasocial until Goldberg spontaneously killed him.

After death, Montrose enters the Tyler Durden role in Joe’s mind, becoming his conscious mind.  

This “it was all a dream” cliché couldn’t have been executed worse, the shock reaction Badgley was going for became more of a deep sigh for the audience. The shock of the season was supposed to be Goldberg being revealed as the murderer to the victims in part one. Based on his actions in the past, that doesn’t come off as a surprise.

While Ed Speelers as Montrose shines in his conscious role in Goldberg’s mind, we only get that duo for two episodes. Badgley and Speelers clearly had instant chemistry, and similar to Badgley’s co-stars in past seasons, the opportunity was wasted.

It’s easy to root against Goldberg when he’s plotting on unsuspecting women, killing anybody who stands in his way and being an overall sociopath. This season he is a victim, leaving anyone watching searching for someone to cling to. For half of the show, Goldberg is about as confused as the audience.