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Everyone’s a Suspect in “You” Season 4, Part 1

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Ex-“Gossip Girl” star Penn Badgley returned as the ever-charming, professional stalker with a degree in denial in “You” season 4, part one. The first five episodes were released on Feb. 9. 

With this season set in London, “You” is slowly checking off boxes of cities to romanticize starting a new life in. Joe Goldberg, who now identifies as Jonathan Moore, is a self-proclaimed new man — although, he always says that, doesn’t he? Working as a professor, he sports tweed coats adorned with leather elbow patches, grown-out curls and a scruffy beard. Cosmopolitan deems him the “most well-read sociopath in suburbia.” 

Initially still hung up on Marienne (Tati Gabrielle), the love interest from season three, he vows himself to be different than before — not a killer — and for once, he might be telling the truth. Thanks to Joe’s obsessive Internet sleuthing skills, we are provided with convenient expository introductions to a shiny new group of upper-class intellectual socialites he loosely deems friends. Before long, Joe lands in the middle of a whodunnit murder mystery scandal as they are brutally plucked off one by one. 

In an attempt to hide suspicion falling on him, Joe must suddenly become the hero. He sets out to find this “Eat the Rich” killer when he begins receiving texts from someone desperate to expose his true identity. The roles are suddenly reversed, and Joe is being hunted and toyed with via text message, similar to “A” in “Pretty Little Liars.” 

Whodunnits famously make everyone look like the killer until proven innocent (or murdered). Although Joe is determined to find the killer, we cannot rule out his possible involvement in the murders. After all, he is an outsider to their class, which gives him motive — as if he needs it. 

Watching the world through Joe’s eyes, “You” is filmed with dreamily blurred wide shots that are selective in what the audience is allowed to see, only knowing as much as Joe does. A volatile romantic with a dodgy past, it is possible he is lying to himself about not being the killer. The gaps in Joe’s memory this season are glaring and point to his possible involvement in the murders. 

Joe is avidly successful as a protagonist with his unbelievable charm. The alluring intrigue, the earnesty of his eyes — we are desperate for him to change. We fall in love with him over and over, despite his horrid actions, and we enter his trap, picturing ourselves giving in to his narrative gently, willingly like his conquests that have come before us. 

When he converses with the Eat the Rich killer, it’s almost as if he’s looking in a mirror. Facing himself, it is possible that Joe finally has a reason to change, but he just can’t seem to help himself. For Joe, killing is like an addiction.

The killer hides behind an anonymous texting app, and in the third episode of the season, Joe accuses his virtual pen-pal of being “sick” and asks, “Are you lonely?” Audiences are left to wonder if he is truly talking to himself, or if he feels overwhelming guilt for the bodies that have piled up around him. 

Trying to play games with the killer, he admits in the same episode, “You were right. That was exhilarating.” In an effort to tempt them to reveal their identity, Joe pretends to be on their side. Does he really mean that or was he just getting his true feelings off his chest?

This season, the “You” to whom Joe speaks isn’t his prey, but rather a predator. It’s possible that the perceived threat is himself. 

When the supposed killer is discovered, it seems all too easy. They’ve barely spent any time with the group and have little motive, and yet they reveal themself willingly. The sole reason Joe does not out them is for fear that his own past will be uncovered. 

“You stand with a foot in both worlds, the working class and the aristocracy, and none of them suspect the reality, that you’re a monster hiding in plain sight,” Joe internally monologues of the killer. 

But wait. Is that not also true of himself? 

Joe’s mission is to put a stop to the killings, but that’s been his mantra since the first season. It is plausible that Joe is experiencing delusions. He is the only one seen interacting with the killer, and they have eerily similar backgrounds and philosophies on life, as if they could be Joe’s conscience. This season draws parallels to the iconic film “Fight Club,” and we are just waiting for Joe Goldberg to reveal himself as Tyler Durden.

Clearly, no longer in control, it seems that his own psyche is guiding Joe through life as he convinces himself that he is not a monster, blocking out the existence of his own brutality in a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde scenario. 

It seems that Joe has finally met his match, even if it may be himself, but it is possible that he will continue to narrowly escape the consequences of his actions once again. The second part of the fourth season will also be five episodes long and released on March 9.  

Lillian Dunn is an Arts & Entertainment Staff Writer. She can be reached at