You Season 4 TV Review

We review the fourth season of Netflix’s hit thriller series You starring Penn Badgley.

Last Updated on February 15, 2023

Plot: After his previous life went up in flames, Joe Goldberg has fled to Europe to escape his “messy” past, adopt a new identity, and, of course, to pursue true love. But Joe soon finds himself in the strange new role of reluctant detective as he discovers he may not be the only killer in London. Now, his future depends on identifying and stopping whoever’s targeting his new friend group of uber-wealthy socialites… 

Review: Most series do not survive moving from one network to another, but You has thrived. After premiering on Lifetime in 2018, the Penn Badgley-led series has been a hit for Netflix, developing beyond the novels by Caroline Kepnes. Creators Greg Berlanti and Sera Gamble have faithfully adapted the source material, but the fourth season further deviates from the books that inspired it. Taking a cue from the bloodbath that ended the third season, You shifts the story of Joe Goldberg to Europe and places the obsessive killer in the path of another murderer. Where the first three seasons were focused on Joe hiding his true nature and, eventually, crossing paths with his psychotic wife, Love (Victoria Pedretti), the series remained more of a thriller. You‘s fourth season becomes more of a mystery and a darkly comic one. Split over two volumes, this new season will divide fans of the series but remains a bloody good time.

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You made regular shifts in its setting each season, moving from New York to Los Angeles and then the suburb of Madre Linda. The jump to London in season four is the most significant change in scenery to date but also allows showrunner Sera Gamble to break the patterns the series has set for itself. In season one, Joe became obsessed with Guinevere Beck and graduated from stalking to murder. Through Penn Badgley’s voice-over narration, we sympathized with the monster he was and were still entranced by how sick he became. In seasons two and three, Joe met his match with Love, someone equally as demented as he was. When her psychosis became too much, Joe murdered her and pursued his new obsession, Marienne Bellamy (Gabrielle Tati). By the season’s end, Love was dead, and Marienne was in Paris with Joe in tow. Season four opens with Joe pretending to be literature professor Jonathan Moore. From the very beginning, You’s fourth season retains Joe’s narration, but something is very different this time around.

If you have seen the trailer for season four, you know that besides moving to England, Joe must now face another killer. Without revealing his true identity, Joe must try to figure out who is playing games with him while also struggling to cope with the urges that have controlled his life up to this point. This makes this season of You feel more like a whodunit as Joe ingratiates himself into a new circle of friends, including Adam Pratt (Lukas Gage), an American playboy dating Lady Phoebe (Tilly Keeper), Sophie (Niccy Lin), an influencer, and her artist brother Simon (Aidan Cheng), socialite Gemma (Eve Austin), as well as fellow literature professor Malcolm (Stephen Hagan) and his girlfriend Kate (Charlotte Ritchie). Kate starts as Joe’s new obsession alongside Rhys Montrose (Ed Speelers), a budding politician and author who shares much in common with Joe. Roald Walker-Burton (Ben Wiggins), a mischievous aristocrat and hunting enthusiast, also serves as a foil for Joe from the outset.

With an all-new cast of characters, as well as some familiar faces from prior seasons, most of You focuses on Joe’s current storyline with tangents that connect back to the third season. The consistent voice-over from Joe through each episode seems a little lighter, a little cheekier this season, and almost borders on comedy. I was reminded quite a bit of Dexter and Michael C. Hall’s narration as Joe contemplates his actions and those of the new killer playing games with him throughout the season. Penn Badgley has grown into this role, and it has never been more evident than in these new episodes that he knows how to balance the smarminess of Joe with his charm. The supporting cast is also quite good, especially Charlotte Ritchie, who plays Kate as a cold character who slowly warms to Joe over the season. Ed Speelers, best known for his role on Outlander, is an intriguing character, making Rhys Montrose both appealing to Joe as a friend and another obsession. There is also a great turn by Amy-Leigh Hickman as Nadia, a student in Joe’s class.

You has always been more of a guilty pleasure series for me than a series of note. The pulpy and over-the-top story at its core makes for solid binge-viewing, but I felt the first three seasons were arduous to get through. It is challenging to relate to a character who is a stalker and killer, but Greg Berlanti and Sera Gamble found a way to make it work. The series went a bit over the edge of logic in the third season, but they jumped entirely off the cliff in this fourth run. Because the series no longer tries to play it safe, it becomes easier to appreciate the sheer audacity and insanity of this story. That shift allows You to become more of a fun show to watch as the characters now border on satire. With many returning directors and an episode helmed by star Penn Badgley, You takes full advantage of the beautiful London and Paris settings for a story that dives into the excess of youthful wealth and delivers lots of blood and intriguing mystery.

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Split into two volumes, the fourth season of You is going to divide fans who are not likely prepared for the shift this series takes over these ten episodes. With a month between the volumes, fans will be clamoring to find out where the cliffhanger ending of part one will lead, and I can assure you that it is not where you might think. By the end of this season, You will have completely changed direction from where it started, which could go either way in terms of what a fifth season would look like. Penn Badgley seems to be having more fun this season than ever before, and fans should too, but they may also miss the direction of the first three seasons. In either case, You takes some risks this season, and, for the most part, they work. At the very least, you have to credit showrunner Sera Gamble for going in on this story and having fun while doing it.

The first part of the fourth season of You premieres on February 9th on Netflix. Part two premieres on March 9th.

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Source: JoBlo.com

About the Author

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Alex Maidy has been a JoBlo.com editor, columnist, and critic since 2012. A Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic and a member of Chicago Indie Critics, Alex has been JoBlo.com's primary TV critic and ran columns including Top Ten and The UnPopular Opinion. When not riling up fans with his hot takes, Alex is an avid reader and aspiring novelist.