After Season 4’s Perfectly Twisted Finale, Is You Brave Enough to End?Photo Courtesy of Netflix TV Features You
After killing his wife Love (Victoria Pedretti), faking his death, and abandoning their young son, Joe Goldberg (Penn Badgley) continued his misadventures across the pond in Netflix’s You Season 4. Unfortunately, the new life Joe hoped would be free from murder and the mistakes of his past life didn’t last long, as he quickly became entangled with a new woman and a series of gruesome murders. While we won’t rehash every detail, the fourth season ultimately came together with a spectacle of a twist that Joe’s foe, the nefarious Rhys Montrose (Ed Speleers), was a figment of Joe’s imagination.
Joe had been responsible for the deaths of those closest to his new love interest, Kate (Charlotte Richie), and he had kidnapped Marienne (Tati Gabrielle) instead of her returning to her daughter in Paris as he believed. To stop his hallucinations and recall the memories he had blocked out of his mind, including where he stashed Marienne, Joe had to embrace the darkness within and admit what he had spent the previous three and a half seasons denying: He is a monster. Once he admitted the truth, after killing Kate’s father and surviving a suicide attempt, he confessed everything to Kate about his past. Then, following a time jump and framing Nadia (Amy-Leigh Hickman) for his crimes in London, Joe reclaims his life and son and returns to New York, creating a false narrative about Love—with Kate and her billion-dollar company and its resources supporting him.
This ending, though likely not the end for Joe Goldberg and You, feels like the perfect way to end this series—and not just because You becomes more tedious to watch with each passing season. The story is basically the same cycle repeating itself with a few changes and twists thrown in to keep viewers on their toes. In the end, though, it’s just Joe escaping the consequences of his actions after ruining or taking the lives of those unfortunate enough to find themselves in his company. His infatuation with Kate is sure to quickly shift to another unlucky woman, much as it did with Love in the third season. How many times can we watch Joe narrowly escape the end and restart his life with his sights set on a new target? But now, Joe will have no qualms about what he has to do to insert himself into this woman’s life.
In a haunting and bittersweet way, there’s no better ending for Joe Goldberg’s story. He has, at this point, everything he has ever wanted. Kate has seemingly accepted Joe knowing his entire history, and he has the chance to raise his son free of Love’s influence with the wealth he never had while growing up. To Joe, everything he’s done has earned him this beautiful life. He’s no longer plagued by the darkness within him, finally embracing the truth about who he is and what he is capable of. It is Joe’s happy ending in every sense. And, considering what has happened in the series, isn’t this the ending that the writers have always been building to? On such a twisted show, there’s beauty to an utterly twisted conclusion such as this.
Now that Joe has embraced his darkness, the series is due for inevitable change and things will become much darker as Joe continues with his horrifying exploits, which naturally causes some hesitation regarding the future of this tale. Frankly, he won’t be an enjoyable lead with this new development. Most of You’s charm has been Joe masquerading as an anti-hero—while clearly being the villain—and the dark comedy around his justification of his actions and the messes he continually makes for himself. Having accepted the truth about himself and that he is a notorious serial killer, that aspect of the series is gone, removing the “fun” in the funerals Joe causes.
If the series continues, there’s no option for the writers other than depicting the downfall of Joe Goldberg. Personally, the idea of Marienne, Nadia, Ellie (Jenna Ortega), and others Joe has wronged coming together to take him down is outstanding to imagine, as Joe obviously doesn’t deserve a happy ending in the slightest. (I still haven’t forgiven him for killing my girl Beck.) However, that would likely work better in theory than it would in practice. The show would need to be flipped on its head and become something else entirely, which has historically never brought about a satisfying final season.
So, like Joe, maybe we need to embrace the darkness and make peace with the fact that this story can never truly come to a completely satisfying end after the twists, turns, and characters we’ve lost in the name of Joe’s misdeeds. Ending it here allows the audience to say goodbye and envision whatever conclusion they like for Joe’s story before things go too far off of the rails. The Season 4 finale perfectly encapsulates the essence of the show and the brutal reality of the world, giving the despicable Joe his happy ending while also giving Marienne positive closure of her own, after leading Joe to believe she died. It would be a tragic end while the story still feels somewhat fresh, which feels like the perfect way to sign off—if the show is brave enough to do it.
Every episode of You Season 4 is now streaming on Netflix.
Jay Snow is a freelance writer. He has published many places on the internet. For more of his thoughts on television and to see his other work (or to simply watch him gush again and again over his love for the original Charmed) follow him @snowyjay.
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