You Season 4 Part 1 review: Trashy, wobbly, but never boring

you season 4Netflix

Hello, Netflix’s You. We see you’re back for Season 4, but you’re appearing somewhat lost. Let us help you. Or at least review you.

After taking the world by storm since its 2018 release, You, the Netflix show that is based on the book series by Caroline Kepnes, has been getting bigger and bigger with every season.

Season 3 had a fiery finale – literally – and it left on somewhat of a cliffhanger, making fans all the more excited for Season 4. But what’s in store for Joe (Penn Badgley) and the upcoming split season?

We managed to watch Part 1 of the new season, and while we believe it to be the weakest season of the show so far, there are still things to get invested in. So pop on a hat and follow us as we dive in. But first, slight spoiler warning.

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How many times can Joe get away with murder?

Let’s start from the beginning.

You Season 3 ended with the death of Joe’s equally murderous wife, Love Quinn (Victoria Pedretti), before he faked his own death and ran away to Paris to follow his most recent obsession, Marienne (Tati Gabrielle). She herself ran there with her daughter to escape both him and her recently deceased ex-husband – who Joe, of course, had stabbed to death.

Going by the fake name Nick, Joe vows to find Marienne – and as shown by the trailer, he does. We won’t spoil what happens, but we will say that it is a rather anti-climatic ending for the pair, unless Part 2 has something else to say.

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Instead, the story takes a turn, after an investigator of the Quinn’s tracks down Joe. But said investigator decides to let Joe go, so he can start a new life, because how else is Joe going to create yet another fake persona without outside help?

It’s as believable as how Joe is able to so easily get away with murder nowadays – the tension of hiding a body in Season 1 is long gone. Yes, this lack of the law catching up with Joe is getting rather ridiculous, but it is a necessary evil in order to move Joe somewhere new, with new friends, and new victims.

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Netflix’s You can’t make awful characters interesting anymore

Joe is now a professor of Literature at a prestigious London University, Professor Jonathan Moore to be exact. The show looks aesthetic as ever, even if London culture isn’t quite captured right. But it doesn’t help that Joe has once again managed to surround himself with awful characters. Does he just not know how to meet someone normal anymore?

Now, by awful characters, we would usually mean just awful people in a moral sense, but here they’re pretty painful to watch too. The side characters of You were always meant to be shallow; we are seeing the world from Joe’s perspective, so when he hates someone, we only see the worst parts of them. But here, while we can easily imagine the 1% of Britain to be awful, the characters are not only cartoonishly evil, they are also forgettable.

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There are far too many characters that all blend in with one another, so you lose track when one rich snob comes and another goes. The only one to really stand out besides Joe’s new love is her best friend Phoebe (Tilly Keeper), and that may be because she is not an amalgamation of buzzwords, as are most of the other faces that this series shows.

Furthermore, you can generally expect Joe’s newest love interest/obsession to be at least sympathetic. Unfortunately, Kate (Charlotte Ritchie), who is introduced far too quickly, is simply abrasive to watch. In her defence, she is meant to be this way, and we are told why she is so immediately turned off to Joe. But then it makes little sense when they do get together. As Joe himself just doesn’t seem that interested in her, and it doesn’t help that the actors lack any form of chemistry.

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Joe is lacking in any real development this season, and we get nothing in terms of more backstory. And, perhaps the greatest crime of all, the glass box is nowhere to be seen.

You knows how to keep you hooked

Now, since it isn’t the characters keeping you invested, You has to rely on its plot. You has always managed to hit that sweet spot of trashy thriller and cynical commentary, and while the path of this season may wobble a bit, you’re never bored.

Since this season plays out more like a murder mystery, with Joe now being stalked, the formula of the series has been tweaked enough to keep it feeling fresh without completely divulging from its path. Though you do wonder how long Joe can keep going with all of this until he finally lands in prison.

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Sadly there are some missed opportunities. The plot doesn’t lean into the suggested meta of murder mysteries as often as you’d like, and some of the murderous reveals, while fun, don’t really make much logical sense when you give them a second thought. Then again, You has always been about following passion rather than logic, and the exhilaration of not knowing where the story is going to go – the “Eat the Rich Killer” is a very fun concept – is definitely enough to keep you obsessing.

Netflix’s You Season 4 Part 1 review score: 3/5

We are tempted to score this lower, but despite all of our criticism, and despite the fact that Season 1 has still remained the best season, it is always fun watching creepy Joe don his hat and stalk around a new city.

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The show always manages to keep you hooked just enough to overlook its many faults, and for that very reason, we’ll definitely be tuning into Part 2.

You Season 4 Part 1 is currently available to stream on Netflix.

You check out the rest of our You coverage here.