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you-season-4-finale.jpg

Let's Talk About the Ending to Season 4 of Netflix's 'You'

By Dustin Rowles | TV | March 16, 2023 |

By Dustin Rowles | TV | March 16, 2023 |


you-season-4-finale.jpg

Spoilers

About four episodes into the latest season of Netflix’s You, I was poised to write this season off. The Secret Garden-esque Eat-the-Rich storyline was not clicking in the ways the writers thought it should. At the midway point of the season, however, the series took an interesting turn, and by the end, I was more worried that You was preparing to write us off, at least in its current form. Ultimately, however, after a gnarly season with a number of twists, the series took another hard reset, finding a way for Joe Goldberg to return to America as himself.

The reset itself involved a lot of handwaving, but let’s back up: In the first half of the season, Joe basically exchanges the money he took from Love at the end of season three for a fake passport and a new identity, Jonathan Moore. He takes up residence in London as a literature professor. There, he meets Kate, his new obsession. He also meets all of her rich, awful friends. The less said about most of them, the better.

Over the first few episodes, many of those rich awful friends are murdered by the Eat the Rich killer. Joe, along with Kate, endeavors to discover who the Eat the Rich killer is. Joe only know that the killer knows his real identity and is f**king with him. As he draws nearer, he also befriends Rhys, an author who grew up poor and is poised to enter politics. He’s running for mayor of London.

The first half of the season plays with class to mixed results, and it mostly feels like a warmed-over rehash of previous seasons set in London … until the end. Kate and Joe fall in love. Meanwhile, the rich, awful people set up a real-life murder mystery game in one of those countryside houses amid an actual murder mystery in which their actual friends are being actually murdered, and the class thing goes off the rails …. but, we discover that the Eat the Rich killer is actually Rhys, the one decent guy among all of them.

Intriguing, but not redeeming. Indeed, the reason why some people are arguing that Netflix never should have split the season into two is because the second half is so much better and viewers wouldn’t have had to spend a month thinking that You had lost its mojo. Because when You came back, it immediately pits Joe against Rhys. A third figure is subsequently introduced, Kate’s father Tom Lockwood, deliciously played by Greg Kinnear. He’s a slick, charming billionaire who is not above murder to advance his business interests.

Lockwood is interesting largely because Kinnear is interesting, but he also knows Joe’s real identity and blackmails him into murdering Rhys for him because Rhys is blocking said business interests. Rhys, meanwhile, blackmails Joe into killing Tom. Tom eventually wins the game of blackmail, and Joe kills Rhys.

This is where it gets really interesting, because the Rhys that Joe murders is not the Rhys that he’s been communicating with all season. The Rhys that Joe has been tussling with is actually Joe himself. Joe had a psychotic break. I’m surprising it took four seasons. His alt-identity was actually the Eat the Rich killer. Ooops.

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Meanwhile, we also find out that Joe has had Marienne — his “You” from the third season — locked up in one of his glass cages for a long time. But Joe forgot where, and alt-Joe wouldn’t tell him. Marienne nearly starved to death in that cage before one of Joe’s students, Nadia, discovered her. Nadia basically ran a heist to trick Joe. I won’t get into the details, but it was neat, and Marienne managed to get back to the safety of France with her daughter. That was the one genuinely good thing that happened in season four.

Joe, however, believed that he was responsible for Marienne’s death, and in an effort to stop the cycle of murder and kill his alt, Joe tried to kill himself by jumping from a bridge. He was unsuccessful — someone pulled him out of the water, and would you believe it? The suicide attempt endeared him even more to Kate.

Unfortunately, Nadia and her boyfriend Edward got greedy and tried to collect evidence and out Joe as the Eat the Rich killer. It did not work. Joe killed Edward and pinned the Eat the Rich murders on him, and pinned Edward’s murder on Nadia. That sneaky bastard. To protect Kate, he also managed to murder Tom, Kate’s obscenely wealthy father, and pin it on Tom’s henchman. Kate inherited the money. You know what obscenely wealthy people can do? Rehabilitate their reputations, even when they’re implicated in a murder/suicide, faked their death, and ran away to Europe. It just takes the right publicist and a well-placed story (and some handwaving).

Joe got his name back, he and Kate are back in America, they’ve agreed to keep each other out of trouble, and You redeemed the fourth season in fairly spectacular fashion. I still think, however, that if Netflix wants to continue You, they need to pass the baton to one of Joe’s many love interests. Love would have been perfect, but Kate might do. One has the suspicion, anyway, that Penn Badgely may be ready to move on soon. I can’t imagine him sticking around beyond a fifth season.