'You' review: Enjoyable fourth season still shows the Joe saga is running out of gas
Courtesy of Netflix
After being saved from cable obscurity, Netflix provided a much needed bullhorn to what’s now become a global sensation. That would be the mystery/thriller saga “You,” which has managed to squeeze every narrative ounce possible from its thin premise. The latest season begins and ends in the usual, twisty fashion fans should expect, but, after seeing all 10 episodes of the current season, it’s apperent an endgame should be at the forefront of the next showrunners meeting.
How “You” humanized the murderous Joe Goldberg (played again with gusto by Penn Badgley) is already a miraculous achievement, and just as season three hinted, our narrator has faked his own death, changed his name, fled to Europe and is now a successful literary professor. For a while, he blends in, keeping a low profile until he befriends a group of snobbish and privileged influencers who become the target of someone known as the “Eat the Rich Killer.” This forces Joe into full detective mode as he gets embroiled in a testy cat-and-mouse exchange as the killer threatens to expose his past secrets unless he plays along.
This stretch offers a nice reprieve from the tired formula of Joe stalking his next victim before he inevitably locks them in a cage and slashes their throats. For once, someone is a step ahead of Joe and the ominous text messages spirals him into a desperate frenzy, resulting in a decent whodunit with plenty of season mandated internal monologues. But, in an attempt to keep subscribers tuned in, Netflix has split the season into two parts and the latter half is where the twisty mechanics lose their luster, especially as the secrets are unraveled in obnoxious, eye-rolling, succession.
Still, the bread and butter is Badgley, whose performance keeps the series on its toes and remains the primary draw. The secondary characters and love interests, however, more aptly resemble disregarded contestants from Netflix’s own reality series “The Circle” as opposed to real people. Then again, people expect a certain level of over-performance. Badgley, as he stumbles from one sticky situation to the next, knows this and considering the original show was commissioned for Lifetime, it can be anticipated. But the writing is on the wall, “You” is feeling dated and the main hook of seeing Joe stalk his prey is growing irksome and while I commend the new season for trying to tastefully unwind his complicated mental state, there needs to be a serious conversation on how this show can end on a high note.
YOU SEASON 4 PART 1 is now streaming on Netflix. Part 2 drops March 9th.