This article contains spoilers for You Season 4 Part 1.
In the fourth season of You, Joe (Penn Badgley) finds himself on the other side of the Atlantic. After hitting a few roadblocks in seeking out his former paramour Marianne (Tati Gabrielle), Joe settles into a new life as a professor named Jonathan Moore at the stately (and fictional) Darcy College in London. He enjoys putting unexpected authors on his syllabus and watching his students engage in debate, but it’s not long before trouble finds him.
Despite his best efforts (read: minimal efforts) to not get involved in other people’s lives, Joe gets roped into a friend group composed of London’s rich and famous under 40. Initially drawn into the group by a taciturn beauty named Kate (Charlotte Ritchie) and her playboy boyfriend Malcolm (Stephen Hagen), Joe quickly becomes a fixture in their inner circle. Then, people start dropping like flies. It’s And Then There Were None for the millennial set.
As the murders unfold it’s revealed that Joe has his very own stalker. It’s a delightful twist that upends the typical You narrative, putting Joe Goldberg on the defensive instead of the offensive. When his back is against a wall, Joe is a scrappy animal who does whatever it takes to survive, and now someone is watching.
Unlike other installments of You, Season 4 will drop in two parts. The first half of the season establishes the cat-and-mouse game between Joe and his stalker, even revealing the man behind the shady, disappearing texts in the final few moments of the Part 1 finale. How did Joe’s harmless European holiday devolve so quickly in You Season 4? We’ve got answers.
What’s Going on with Joe’s Inner Monologue This Season?
Generally, Joe addresses his thoughts to his latest female obsession. His first-person narrative is an inextricable touchstone of the series, and it remains intact throughout this season. However, the object of his obsession is no longer a female paramour (although he does find time for a few lusty interludes with Kate), but his mystery stalker.
As the season begins, Joe is still fixated on Marianne. He seeks her out throughout the open-air art fairs of Europe, only to find that she’s horrified and wants nothing to do with him. However, when the Quinn family detective sniffs Joe out and offers him a deal for a new identity, he’s concerned that Marianne knows that Joe is alive, even after the inferno in Madre Linda. So, Joe is forced to fake Marianne’s death in exchange for his new life.
When we first check in with Joe, he’s living a pretty normal life, working as a professor of literature and spending his nights curled up with a book and a cuppa in his fancy flat. He’s still fixated on Marianne, but he knows that he needs to let her go in order to move forward with his new existence. Enter, stalker.
By the end of the first episode, Joe’s stalker has attempted to frame him for Malcolm’s murder and is communicating with him through Evanesce, a shady app with disappearing texts. Joe’s focus immediately shifts as he scrambles to try and figure out who is stalking him, why, and what they have planned for him in the long run.
While it’s always a thrill to be in on what Joe is really thinking, listening to him work through the logistics of life as someone is watching his every move makes for a fun turn of events. Given his experience and expertise as a Olympic-level stalker, Joe has a grudging respect for the person sniffing in his life, but when his past is unearthed and his very existence is threatened, Joe starts to panic. There’s never been such a disconnect in the way that Joe presents himself to the outside world and what he’s really thinking in the innermost reaches of his devious brain.
What Happened to Marianne?
Joe couldn’t bring himself to kill Marianne, so, instead, he yanks a locket off her neck and calls it a day, sending a photo of the necklace to the Quinn family detective in exchange for his freedom. Why the detective accepted a simple image of a locket as proof of her murder is perplexing, but whatever.
The bigger question here is if Marianne will once again resurface in Part 2 of You Season 4. Under the principle of Chekov’s gun — a gun in the first act will resurface by the third — it seems that Marianne will somehow come into play later in the season. Also, from a practical standpoint, you don’t leave an actress like Tati Gabrielle in the wings without intending on bringing her back for some serious drama. We’re betting that Marianne will return before the end of Season 4. Whether or not she survives is an entirely different question.
Who is Joe’s Stalker?
Let’s be honest: It’s kind of a bummer that Joe’s stalker isn’t a wronged woman from his past. If you were thinking that Marianne, or somehow Love Quinn was going to return to center stage in order to exact sweet revenge, you’re not alone. But the story is shaping up to be a wholly original one, pitting the cunning Rhys Montrose (Ed Speleers) against an increasingly desperate Joe.
When Joe is originally introduced to Kate and Malcolm’s friend group, he’s immediately drawn to Rhys. Thanks to his star pupil Nadia, Joe has already read “Good Man, Cruel World,” Rhys’s captivating memoir of how he went from rags to riches, pulling himself out of a childhood of trauma and poverty and ending up in the company of high society. It’s a story that’s all too familiar to Joe, and he develops a soft spot for Rhys as a kindred spirit.
As the body count starts to rise — Malcolm, Simon, Gemma — and the “Eat the Rich” killer becomes a fearful presence, Joe begins to hone in on his prime suspects. He does consider Rhys, but his fondness for the man, his unpretentious prose, and his similar past gives him a blind spot. Eventually, Joe is shocked to find that Rhys is both his stalker as well as the killer.
Who is the “Eat the Rich” Killer?
In the final few scenes of the Part 1 finale, Rhys is revealed to be the “Eat the Rich” killer. When Roald starts hunting Joe on the sprawling grounds of Hampstead House, Most Dangerous Game style, Rhys steps in to “save” Joe.
After chaining Joe and Roald up in a creeptastic basement, Rhys reveals himself to be the killer, delivers his deliciously devious evil villain speech, and gives Joe an option: Kill Roald and frame him for the murders, or die. Joe refuses, and incites Rhys’s wrath. Rhys sets fire to the dusty old basement and tells Joe to find him in London if he’s able to get out of this mess. Joe frees himself and then doubles back for Roald, proving that he does indeed have a bit of goodness in his heart. Once he’s back in London, the news is aflutter with the news of the latest killing … but there’s also a segment about Rhys running for mayor of London.
Rhys’s motives are a bit unclear at this point, but he mentions a “project” in passing. It would seem that the murders are related to his mayoral campaign, but the scope of his plan has not yet been fully revealed. However, it does seem that he’s considering Joe’s special set of skills to be a critical part of this secret plan moving forward.
Where Does Joe Go From Here?
It seems as though Joe has dug his heels in and is determined to see his life in London through. Sure, he could flee again and escape to a different city or even a different country, but he’s a man of twisted principles. (Also, there’s that pesky lingering attraction to Kate. That’s not going away anytime soon.) And now that Rhys has his number, he’s ready to deliver a dose of Joe Goldberg justice. Joe’s only killed one man since arriving in London; the body count is about to get much higher.
Will Anyone in the You-niverse Ever Buy Curtains?!
This seems unlikely. Stay tuned for Part 2 of You Season 4 though, where someone might just take a trip to Target to buy some window coverings. Or not. Probably not.
All five episodes of You Season 4 Part 1 are available to stream on Netflix now. Season 4 Part 2 premieres Thursday, March 9.