Netflix’s You Takes a New Turn With Season 4: Vol 1, But is it For the Better?


Amelia Knust

Netflix’s notoriously creepy-but-insightful show You dropped the fourth season’s first volume on Feb. 9, 2023. Although the show still follows Joe Goldberg as he makes questionable choices to help save the women he obsesses over, the show takes a turn with this new season, with new characters, storylines, and stylistic choices.


As someone who has been an avid watcher of You since the first season was released on Netflix in 2018, I go into full binge mode every time a new season comes out. Whether it be from Penn Badgley’s undeniable charm or Victoria Pedretti’s captivating performance in seasons two and three, there is something so inexplicably entertaining about this cynical show. Although the premise surrounds a “self-aware” serial stalker who finds women and attempts to protect them by murdering or kidnapping anyone in their way, the show has many elements that make it an easy watch. Joe Goldberg’s narration, which takes up a good chunk of the script, is hilarious and insightful. His character provides the ultimate test for the audience to see if his profound commentary will entrance them to the point where they will excuse his unjust actions as a stalker and killer. It asks the question: Are his intentions in the right place? And if so, is killing someone really the best way to fix his problems? It may seem an obvious answer, but Joe is so clever that he might convince a percent of You‘s watchers that he is in the right.

The first two seasons followed a formulaic-but-unique pattern, but the third and fourth seasons steer away from the show’s central premise. The third season ended up as a melodramatic social commentary, and the 4th season continues that path but adds in the element of a murder mystery trope in London. Joe is the one who is stalked now as he frantically tries to solve a murder in a newfound group of friends. As exciting as it may be to watch, it begs the question: Was it necessary for the show, or did the writers want to captivate their audience with pointless shock value? It is a fair question to ask, considering the immense success of Netflix’s Glass Onion: A Knives Out Story. While this season was entertaining, it felt like I was watching a different show than I once was when there were only two seasons. Joe’s character has been exaggerated heavily, with his brooding voiceovers often being pointless or expository, and his questionable morals get exhausting. He will scoff at NFTs, the overuse of social media, or fake activism (not to say those are not worthy things to be mad about) but will not bat an eye as he watches the life drain out of someone that crossed his path. 

However, Joe finally gets a taste of his own medicine when he unsuspectingly meets Rhys Montrose, a rags-to-riches British political figure who quickly becomes intrigued by Joe’s antics. It was almost poetic to realize that out of all the new characters introduced in the season, Joe was intrigued by the man who was also a “self-aware” killer who hid behind a nice-guy mask. Stressful, but poetic. After Joe narrowly escaped death last season at the hands of his now-dead wife, Love Quinn, this season finally gave fans the hope that Joe might finally be getting what he deserves soon. The volume ended with a cliffhanger, as Montrose announced his candidacy for mayor of London, being the only one fully aware of Joe’s past, and Joe being the only one aware of Montrose’s real identity. The second volume will drop in March, hopefully providing a satisfying conclusion to the storyline.

The murder-mystery aspect of this season threw me off at points, but it is impossible not to enjoy a classic “whodunnit” story. The suspense was great, there were many shocking moments, and the picturesque charm of London added to the overall story. However, there were so many moments that fell flat. One of the most obvious was the sheer awareness of Victoria Pedretti’s (Love Quinn) absence. Pedretti brought a lively energy to the show that brought it all together, even in the chaos that episodes ensued. Love balanced out Joe in just the right ways, with both characters being insane but with different motives. Her disappointing death at the end of Season Three should have prepared me that I would not enjoy the following seasons as much as the others, but the wound of losing Pedretti still felt fresh as I began Season Four over a year later. On the topic of Season Three’s ending, Joe’s fleeing from the country to find his “real” love, Marienne, became completely pointless once this season began. Joe forgot about Marienne 30 minutes into the first episode, moving on quickly to a new group of friends in London where he would soon get entangled in all their issues. I didn’t care much for Marienne’s character, but it felt so lazy of the writers to use her as an excuse to get Joe to London. Also, the introduction of so many new characters made the show hard to follow or lackluster at big reveal moments. Since this plethora of characters has only been introduced to the audience for five episodes, it takes time to unpack each one. Although there were some great performances from Charlotte Ritchie as Kate and Tilly Keeper as Lady Phoebe, many of the new characters were forgettable, seeing as how only a couple of the latest additions were actually given last names by the writers. Finally, a lot of the scenes felt like overkill, with Netflix playing many cheesy pop songs in the background of scenes for no good reason. News flash, Netflix- no one wants to hear Cardi B rapping while Joe graphically cuts apart Malcolm’s bloody, dismembered remains. 

Despite its flaws, You Season 4: Vol. 1 is worth watching for anyone who has been keeping up with the show as much as I have. It may serve as a disappointment to loyal fans who enjoyed the styles of the earlier seasons, as it has seemed to fall victim to Netflix’s tendencies to exaggerate every show to the point where it looks like a mockery of what it once was. However, there is still fun in trying to solve a murder mystery story with the help of Joe Godberg’s witty input.