Spoilers for You season 4 lie ahead.
"You are full fat, extra sugar, deep-fried fucking insane, Joe Goldberg.”
I eagerly waited a month for the second half of the fourth season of You to be released. I marked it on my calendar, cleared my schedule, and set a reminder on my phone. So alas, when March 9 rolled around, I binged the last five episodes of the season (maybe the last of the series), only to be absolutely devastated by the outcome.
I have been watching You since I was in middle school, and if you aren't familiar with the show, that sounds like a pretty strange sentence. But every season, I've watched the show grow more and more into itself and embrace its absurdity. I had high hopes for season four, and I enjoyed the first half, which you can read about here. The second half feels like a completely new season. None of the episodes flow cohesively, people are dying left and right with little to no rationale, and Joe Goldberg (Penn Badgley), it turns out, has imagined everything this whole time.
Episode five revealed that Rhys (Ed Speelers) was the "eat the rich killer" right before he torched Phoebe's (Tilly Keeper) house. However, there is a significant, borderline-absurd plot twist halfway into the seventh episode that reveals that Rhys was just a figment of Joe's imagination. That is the equivalent of a story ending with “it was all a dream.” It also doesn’t make sense because he was receiving anonymous texts from someone, and unless he sent those texts to himself, it doesn’t quite add up. All season long, Joe was the one murdering people, but he couldn't comprehend it because he suffered from brain damage after hitting his head on a glass cage.
Yes, you heard that right. Just when you thought the glass cage was gone (he is on another continent), it comes back. Seriously, why does this guy love the glass cage so much? It turns out that Marienne (Tati Gabrielle) didn't get written off. When Joe found her in London at the beginning of the first episode, he didn't let her go and instead trapped her in a glass cage at an abandoned subway station. At first, he was taking care of her so they could live happily ever after, but apparently, some people don't want to get married to someone who keeps them trapped in a cage. Weird, right? But Joe slams his head on the cage, gets brain damage, and forgets that Marienne is down there.
As if the season couldn't be any more convoluted, Joe’s student Nadia (Amy-Leigh Hickman) becomes suspicious of him. She still thinks is "Professor Moore," leading her to find Marienne on the brink of death. Nadia helps her escape and reunite with her child without Joe knowing, and her storyline tapers off after that. I'm glad that Marienne's character got the conclusion she deserved, but I was only looking forward to more drama with the ridiculous London socialites. Once again, I was disappointed because their drama in the second half was just depressing.
Phoebe becomes an emotional wreck after her vacation home burns down, and all Adam does is leech off of unstable Phoebe. Except for Kate, Adam (Lukas Gage), and Phoebe, the other characters in the first half are never mentioned again. There wasn't any exciting drama; everyone was different (in a bad way) and sad (also in a bad way). The last episode has a brief sequence where Joe attempts to commit suicide by jumping off a bridge so he can end his murderous cycle once and for all but is resuscitated. After the attempt, he and Kate vow to protect one another from themselves and they move to New York City to start their new lives.
All the memory loss storylines of season four come across more as lazy writing than pieces of a complex story. I enjoy it when narratives "show don't tell," and all season four does is tell. In a show like You, it's more intriguing to the viewer to figure out who the imposter is as the story unfolds. They appeared to allude to that in the first half by referencing Agatha Christie and setting up scenarios that seemed like proper whodunnits. The audience cannot figure out anything based on clues, which is really unsatisfying. Joe was always the good guy who occasionally did horrible things; regardless, he was a likable character.
Season four makes him seem like a completely different person in that he is irrational and manic as a result of a brain injury. Part of the reason why people enjoy the show so much is because it's intriguing to watch someone so calm do antagonistic things. That’s where season four disconnects itself from the rest of the show.
Netflix hasn't said if there will be a fifth season yet, but quite frankly, they should not renew it because this series does not need to be milked any more than it has been. There were no indicators in the last episode that the storyline could go on, but I also thought that last season. I'm a little bummed that the season (and potentially show), ended on such a crappy note. I was hoping for satisfying closure, not inconceivable drivel. Despite my bitterness, You had a good run, and I'm glad to have been watching along the way. But after watching the whole fourth season, I’m gonna need my own European vacation to recalibrate.