In ‘You’ Season 4, Joe Goldberg Has Met His Match In the Eat the Rich Killer

JoliAmour DuBose-Morris
Penn Badgley, You Season 4
Photo: Penn Badgley. Courtesy of Netflix

Hello, you. Yes, you, the one reading. You’ve decided to see where Joe Goldberg’s adventures lead to in season four, part one of which dropped on Netflix on February 10, 2023. Some say it’ll lead to a holiday across Paris and the sights of London. Others say it may lead to a burial of miscellaneous bones. This depends on your perspective. 

Here’s what we know from the previous season. Joe (played masterfully by Penn Badgley) lived the American dream. He had the wife, the child, the money and the privilege to escape with several murders under his belt. Joe’s love for his wife, Love Quinn (Victoria Pedretti) dies when his infatuation falls to ruins. Love reveals herself to be exactly what Joe swears he isn’t: a killer. This fact consumes Joe and he may be the first on-screen character to develop an ick on sight.

Penn Badgley

You, Penn Badgley. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2022

Love is everything he is. Together, they’re a perfect storm of jealousy, inquisitiveness, romance, and much more. This leads the couple down a voluptuous path of scandals and eventually, Love says goodbye while Joe arises from the ashes of their burned house with a new persona: Jonathan Moore. Joe believes he’s found love—real, authentic, and earnest love beneath Marienne Bellamy (Tati Gabrielle) and as she whisks off to Paris to start over with her daughter—well, a certain person has come to find her. 

As the fourth season unravels itself, the viewers find Joe in his element. He’s a professor at an esteemed college in London, orchestrating class discussions about love for students while wearing dark gingham printed blazers and a full-on dad beard. As the destination to rekindling his relationship with Marienne plummets, he seems to have grown—or yearned for the ability to be seen as more than just the k-word. 

Joe has manipulated himself into believing that his actions play on heroism and fate but truly, they are all acts of self-preservation. Joe is a dinosaur refusing to go extinct. 

Joe is a character we’ve become far familiar with—he’s like a classmate we went to high school with or a co-worker one nods along with in conversation. Joe, or Jonathan Moore, just wants to spend his holiday mourning the end of his relationship with Marienne. Yet, he’s found himself entangled with a prestigious group of gold-collar elites after managing to save Kate (Charlotte Ritchie) from an attack. The plot proceeds as usual, Joe succumbs to a new life at the heels of a career-driven and passionate woman with a very particular social circle. As Joe contrasts those around him, he finds himself in certain situations handling issues with the belief that it is for the greater good. 

Our narrator knew that he was curious about Kate before he played Prince Charming, as he watched from the parallel window of his flat to see the love interest and her boyfriend at the time, Malcolm, argue. Once the robbery is in place, Joe convinces himself into helping on the behalf of his helpful nature instead of his curiosity. Yet, saving Kate doesn’t mean getting an individual thank you. It means being pushed into the elitist world Kate was involved in and soon becoming the high-stake suspect in a series of murders that surround her friend group.

The Ghostface of the squad, known as the ‘Eat the Rich Killer,’ begins to play a cat-and-mouse game with Joe. The two become adjoined together as the killer watches him and insists on Joe’s involvement in the brigade. The plot takes a sharp right turn, now driving the audience away from the Joe we’re usually in conversation with, as they’re to believe that now Joe isn’t the problem this time. He might help to make a solution. Joe isn’t actually the make-or-break in anyone else’s life. The real story is how Joe is the catalyst in his own narrative. 

In actuality, Joe has fed us a pattern of insanity. For the last three seasons, Joe plays the blatant disbelief of victimhood against us. The audience knows he’s at fault; the audience knows of his corroboration and his weaseling out of binds. Nonetheless, we’re all still infatuated with him. As viewers, we’re immersed in his ability to remove himself from destruction. And so in some ways, maybe we’re guilty of paying such close attention. For allowing him to always narrate his way out of the accountability and the lives he so needs to pay for. When given the platform to explain his perception, we inch closer to his deception and sit farther away from the honest truth. Our ability to keep watching has kept Joe from ever sitting on his deserved consequences. Instead, we show him a rose of redemption. 

You Season 4

Penn Badgley as Joe, Charlotte Ritchie as Kate. Courtesy of Netflix © 2022

This version of You isn’t actually about who Joe loves. It’s about who Joe truly is and what he’s capable of once he’s no longer hiding. Joe believes he’s still the little boy protecting his mother from abuse; a tiny romantic yearning to give and receive. Yet, as Joe has aged and moved through life, a stream of dead bodies moving with it, regardless of the number of excuses Joe has given for what he does— it will never amount to the cold action itself. Joe has to accept the manifest destiny of his life: he is not a lover, the savior, the advice-giver, or a helper. He is a murderer. He may fall in love, and he may extend friendship and care to those he is fond of but the real question is provoked: if all the women that loved you died at the cost of your hands, what power do you love more? The will to love, or the will to kill? 

Joe’s real audience is himself. This whole time, he’s quilted this persona—a man who prefers a boring life, reading introspective books and falling in love slowly. But the fact is that Joe has always wanted to be seen. From season one to four, he’s crept his way into friend groups of people far more extroverted, powerful, and interesting in order to assert his own worth. Joe has manipulated himself into believing that his actions play on heroism and fate but truly, they are all acts of self-preservation. Joe is a dinosaur refusing to go extinct. 

The ‘you’ that Joe talks to, whether it be to himself or the crowd of us watchers, settles in with the uncomfortable feeling that Joe will never change. Joe is not the pauper. He isn’t the savior. He’s shed his sheep’s clothing to reveal the wolf underneath. Moreover, as viewers watch this season, they’ll realize—you’ll realize—that the real Joe is just defrosting. And he’s watching you just as much as you’re watching him.

You is available to stream on Netflix. 

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