For viewers who were lured in by Joe’s disturbing capers and unsettling justifications of his heinous acts, the latest season is much milder, and takes on the hues of a murder mystery rather than a psychological thriller.
Last Updated: 09.07 AM, Feb 10, 2023
After following Marienne all the way to Paris, Joe Goldberg decides that he is in need of a vacation, and reinvents himself as English Professor Jonathan Moore, enjoying his own version of a European holiday in London. But the universe seems to have other plans in store for Joe, who has the tables turned on him when a murderer stalks and taunts him, leaving him to be the star in a real life whodunnit.
“It’s like I'm in a whodunnit, the lowest form of literature”, says Penn Badgley’s Jonathan Moore, aka Joe Goldberg, at one point in the series. The protagonist’s own clear disgust for the bizarre situation he finds himself in seems to encapsulate the roller coaster journey the series has taken. Starting as a well made disturbing psychological thriller with a well fleshed out protagonist, You seems to have taken quite a few re-routes as the seasons went by, and the latest season is a far stretch from what the show started out to be. Whether that is a good or a bad thing however, is subjective.
If the viewer is someone who is looking at You Season 4 Part 1 expecting to see Joe return to his vile, disturbing persona of an obsessive stalker and murderer, you might be disappointed. To say that the makers of season 4 have toned down the gore and spine-chilling elements of the show that made it such a fan favourite, would be an understatement. In fact the new season seems to do a complete revamp from the place the series started at. Instead of a disturbing psychological thriller, viewers are treated to a gory whodunnit, where the tables turn on Joe, who adopts a new persona as American English professor Jonathan Moore.
But for viewers who are intrigued by a fast paced, gory whodunnit, You season 4 part 1 does have a lot to offer. But it could have been much better had the writing done justice to the characters that grace the season.
Joe’s characterisation also seems to have changed quite a lot along with the setting of the series. A much milder version of the sharp, cold blooded murderer and stalker is unveiled in the latest season. Although he seems to have retained much of his sarcasm and penchant for patronising those different from him, he seems to have lost much of his shrewdness, which had made the character such a delight to watch on screen. His impeccably witty and intellectual inner monologues do not seem to have enough charisma in them to make up for this dulled down version of Joe.
The new setting Joe finds himself in is unlike the kind he has ever been in. Caught out of his element in a world of problematic aristocrats coming from old money, Jonathan’s attempts to navigate his fish out of water situation does make for some intriguing moments indeed, especially when he tries to decipher each of the god awful characters he has to rub shoulders with from now on.
The new characters who grace the latest season are definitely colourful, but are not given enough story and screen time to be properly fleshed out. And the ones that are, seem to be hastily written and put together, ending up a mish mash of cliched tropes. Even the ones that are supposed to warrant sympathy from the viewer are so basic that they do not leave much of an impact, and are as forgettable as they come. One prime example of that is Charlotte Ritchie’s Kate Galvin, the steely, spunky professor with a hard outer shell, moulded by her tragic childhood and past, which she desperately tries to escape. Despite being one of the core characters in the new season, there is nothing that stands out in Kate, and rather than being authentic, and relatable, she ends up becoming unimaginative due to how poorly she was written.
In its own twisted way, the series also seems to try and address class differences and inequalities. But the black and white writing and the superficial, pulpy way it was approached leaves much to be desired.
You Season 4 Part 1 may turn out to be a disappointment for viewers who are looking to immerse themselves in yet another unsettling, chilling instalment of the murderous stalker, Joe Goldberg. The incredibly toned down version of the protagonist is almost unrecognisable from what viewers witnessed in season 1. However, for those looking for a gory whodunnit with cliched tropes that is a passable watch, You Season 4 Part 1 is a good choice.