Penn Badgley continues to shine, but ‘You’ stays stagnant for its fourth season

Ethan Hurwitz, Sports Editor

For the past few years, Netflix’s “You” has taken the world by storm, following protagonist Joe Goldberg as he narrates his murderous lifestyle. The recent fourth season is split into two parts. It continues the storyline, while also highlighting the superb work of actor Penn Badgley. 

Goldberg, now disguising himself as London professor Jonathan Moore, tries to shy away from his dark past by blending into the preppy rich snobs around him. Though the cast of characters are different from the previous three seasons, the plot stayed the same — stale and unoriginal. 

The first two seasons, which were based on the books of the same name, seemed fresh and new. However, these last two seasons have just been recycled. The themes of Badgley’s character trying to protect a younger person, all while trying to forget his murderous tendencies, have just been reused over the last couple of episodes. 

As Goldberg travels through Europe in search of Marienne (Tati Gabrielle), his former coworker at the suburban library, he eventually finds himself as a professor of literature at a prestigious university. The show does a great job at callbacks from the earlier seasons, including his need to follow people around in the same jacket and hat, his massive glass cage and his obsession with collecting … let’s just say, keepsakes. 

Badgley has been the one constant throughout the last few years of production. Though the shock value may have diminished, he continues leading the way with his now-iconic voiceovers. While the woman he idolizes constantly changes, Goldberg continues to be the creepy next-door neighbor, always watching. 

Throughout the season, it is leaning toward the end of the show for good. With Goldberg/Moore trying to play detective on a string of high-profile murders in his friend group, he tries to coax his neighbor Kate (Charlotte Ritchie) into another emotional relationship. This tumultuous attempt at love, mixed with the emotional downfall around him, the plotline is structured to end his story with a suicide.

But of course, it does not go in that direction and for yet another season, Joe seems to make it out alive and unscathed. 

Instead of being the one who is being hunted by the authorities, Goldberg switches roles. He becomes the detective, trying to find the one who keeps murdering his friends, whether it was his professor coworker, the eccentric painter or the prissy, rich influencer. He tries to utilize his knowledge of killing to try and make a rational verdict, all while making irrational decisions of his own.

The writing, while similar to the earlier installments, did have a major plot twist that did take me by surprise. Goldberg has always been an unreliable narrator and “You” did a good job at highlighting that aspect of his complex mind. I’ll just say that some of the friend group that Goldberg became entwined with is not all that it seems.

One of the most memorable moments of the later part of the series was the cameos of both Beck (Elizabeth Lail) and Love (Victoria Pedretti). Both love interests in the first two seasons came back to mentally toy with Joe as he suffers from a crazed manic attack. 

As seen in the final moments of the finale, there will be a fifth season. But because of how these last 10 episodes went, it should be the last we see of Joe Goldberg. While I will miss the yearly binge session with my mom, the show deserves to take a bow and to neatly wrap up.

However, knowing Joe Goldberg and the last four endings of “You,” one will just never truly know what happens next. Except for the outcome.