You: Joe Takes a Holiday – Review

You is that kind of show that surprises, shocks, yet pulls you in all at once. The premises and plots are driven by the unthinkable, yet the main character remains likable. Season 4 has just premiered, and it picks up exactly where it left off. Joe Goldberg (Penn Badgley) now going by Jonathan Moore lives in London, teaching American Literature. This of course is all in the name of following Marienne Bellamy (Tati Gabrielle), whom he had fallen for by the end of the previous season. Just when you think you’ve seen it all with each season of this show, it never disappoints in taking a new angle. Buckle while we discuss the first episode of the new season.

American with a Past

When we last saw Joe, he lived in a small suburban town with his wife Love Quinn (Victoria Pedretti) and infant son Henry. Push comes to shove, many murders ensued, all while he was fostering a love for Marienne, an artist and librarian. By the end of Season 3, Love is dead, and Joe is also presumed dead. Marienne flees with her daughter after learning terrible things about Joe. This leads to Joe leaving his son behind with friends and going across the world to chase after Marienne. This is how we meet Johnathan Moore, American Literature professor in London. It is the perfect cover for someone like Joe. Being a book loving professor, while he tries to take a vacation from his murderous past, seems to fit.

The only problem is that his obsession is still his weakness. He endlessly thinks about Marienne, and most of his decisions stem from trying to forget her. It quickly becomes apparent through his many interactions with neighbors and their acquaintances, that forgetting is unlikely to happen. The more Joe tries to escape, the more he is pulled back into the action. This is problematic, as he is trying to lay low. This does not work well for proving to Marienne that he is not a murderer.

New Friends, Future Enemies

The first new “friend” and neighbor of Joe’s we meet is Malcolm (Stephen Hagan), a fellow professor and rich person. Through Malcolm, Joe is introduced to Kate (Charlotte Ritchie), a workaholic and artist. Both Malcom and Kate Live across from Joe. This is how he is pulled into their lives by the view through his window. Joe is quickly pulled into their lives more than he desires when he saves Kate one night from muggers. Through this, Malcolm invites him to a local rich person hangout and meets several more socialites. This sets the stage among multiple flashbacks of Joe’s journey in pursuit of Marienne.

You - Joe (Penn Badgley) and Malcom (Stephen Hagan)
Joe aka Johnathan Moore (Penn Badgley) and Malcom (Stephen Hagan)

Through these flashbacks, we quickly realize that the situation with Marianne is much more complicated. I have a feeling there will be more to this as a subplot throughout the main socialite mess.

Meet the Socialites

There is a new cast of interesting characters brought into this season. Besides Malcolm and Kate, there is a bevy of rich socialites. These socialites seem to have more money than actual talent or intellect. The first of these characters we meet is Lady Phoebe (Tilly Keeper). Lady Phoebe forms somewhat of an obsession with figuring out Joe. This could be related to the fact that she has a fellow American boyfriend, Adam (Lukas Gage), also a rich socialite obsessed with crypto. There is also Blessing (Ozioma When), a Nigerian Princess and Gemma (Eve Austin), a somewhat model and offensive person, and richboy/”starving artist” Simon (Aidan Cheng) and his influencer sister, Sophie (Niccy Lin).

The most interesting of these newcomers is author and future London mayoral candidate Rhys (Ed Speelers). Joe forms what seems to be the most intellectual relationship with this man. His interaction with Rhys is solely based on the one evening he is taken out to have drinks. This one night ends up being a whirlwind of drinking for Joe and gossip. After being pinned as a hopeless romantic, the evening comes to an abrupt mindless end. Joe when he apparently passes out in his flat with another person’s multicolored coat in his lap.

You - Kate (Charlotte Ritchie) with Joe (Penn Badgley) in the background
Kate (Charlotte Ritchie) takes a phone call as Joe (Penn Badgley) eavesdrops.

However, upon waking, he is met with the sight of the lifeless body of Malcolm with a steak knife in his heart on his kitchen table.

Operation: Hide the Body

One thing about You as a show is the hilarious treatment of murder. By the way things occur, it leads you to believe this is just another everyday occurrence that happens now and then. Though Joe cannot remember taking Malcolm’s life, the matter-of-fact way he tends to hide the body is almost comical. There is a bit of gore and hilariousness mixed together as we witness him do what he does best. This is highlighted with humor from Joe’s internal monologue, a key factor to the success of You.

Once again, we watch Joe go about his murderous and unseemly habits while randomly thinking about Marienne and navigating his new life. Though we are never specifically told that Joe committed this murder, the way he handles disposing of the body leads us to believe that he is very much responsible. However, when invited by Kate to a dinner due to the behest of Lady Phoebe, we are shown otherwise. Joe receives a mysterious disappearing message regarding Malcolm’s death and the attempt at blatantly framing him for the deed.

The Plot Thickens

This plot twist only makes the plot line of Season 4 incredibly juicy. What was once a repeat of Joe’s behaviors and inevitable murder now becomes a murder mystery, with Joe as the main detective. Given Joe’s investigative nature, it is a brilliant move to highlight his genius brought about by obsession, in order to save his own life and reputation. The set up of all the new characters, being a possible suspect, only makes the ongoing subplot of following Marienne much more interesting. I’m completely drawn in. I was not expecting to be so riveted by a show that repeats the same formula of crazy but likable Joe over and over again. I love the new perspective, and I cannot wait to watch more and figure out along with Joe, who exactly killed Malcolm.

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Tess is an Alaskan artist and writer who sometimes talks to birds. She also enjoys tv shows (the vampire ones mostly), movies, cross-stitch, and traveling. When she is not rooting for the villain or dressing up to weird her neighbors out when checking the mail, she can be found attempting to be a decent mom to a small horde of goblins. 

Tess Peters
Tess is an Alaskan artist and writer who sometimes talks to birds. She also enjoys tv shows (the vampire ones mostly), movies, cross-stitch, and traveling. When she is not rooting for the villain or dressing up to weird her neighbors out when checking the mail, she can be found attempting to be a decent mom to a small horde of goblins. 
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