Netflix Television

You on Netflix Season 2

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After dealing with Beck and Candace, Joe is ready to start a new life with a new name in LA. Photosource: Netflix

You on Netflix is the best, simply because it is the worst.

I’m not talking about the quality here. The acting, writing, and even the literary references are all top-notch but none of them will stop you from hating yourself for watching it.

Last year when the Ted Bundy documentary and movie dropped you better believe I mocked every self-deluded fan who claimed they still would have given Bundy a shot because of his supposed good looks (for the record he was so basic.) Now here I am watching a show about a guy who has probably killed as many people as Bundy at this point, and I am actively cheering for him to getaway. You is a binge-worthy journey that you won’t be able to stop yourself from watching but that will absolutely expose your own twisted ideas of villains and justice.

If you devoured season one then you’ll remember our anti-hero, Joe Goldberg. A man who just wants to love. He spent all of the first season hung up on Guinevere Beck, a woman he believed to be perfect and worthy of his love. A belief he had because he stalked her everywhere she went, gained access to her devices, and slowly eliminated and/or killed everyone around her until he had her all to himself. But, as most do, their little love bubble burst suddenly and without warning.

Mainly when Beck discovered his techniques for winning her affection and he responded to her understandable disgust by locking her in a cage and ultimately murdering her. To be fair, Joe did try to redeem himself by cobbling together a book of Beck’s best writing and had it released as a best seller. He almost got away with it all too, until his supposedly dead ex-girlfriend, Candace Stone, show up to his bookstore wanting to talk.

Now the memory of Candace was a peripheral threat that haunted Joe the whole season, and even though we never fully understood what went down between those two it’s fair to guess that it was pretty bad, and from the way, Joe responds in terror to her presence it may be even worse than we thought. So what exactly does she want from him now?

Alas, like love itself, the show You is never that easy or straightforward.

Cut to season two. Joe now lives in Los Angeles, a city he, like other typical New Yorkers, absolutely hates, with a new name and a new outlook on life. While Joe may have hoped and believed in love, Will Bettelheim, as he is now known, wants nothing to do with it. Love leads to trouble, ergo he should absolutely not engage in conversation of any kind with a cute girl.

But when the cute girl starts it, how can he say no?

Especially when she’s asking him if peaches look like butts?

That question demands a response. Also, when she is the manager of the independent green grocery store he now works at, Anavrin, it’s kind of hard to avoid her. Not to mention, to top it all off, her name is Love. Actually, Love. Someone had a baby, looked that baby in the eyes, and named if Love. In case you haven’t picked up on it yet, there is a level of disbelief you have to maintain to watch this show.

But Joe, scratch that, Will is a new man supposedly. He is not going to lose control and give in to love by falling for Love.

Until you get to the end of episode one that is because guess what? He’s a stalker again.

Turns out he saw Love at the store, fell in love with her, spied on the staff until he knew what to say to get a job in the books department of the store to be near her, and rented an apartment in her neighborhood on the second floor of course so he could use his new telescope to spy on her. You know, just classic romance things.

Yet, after the whole Beck debacle, he is determined to pursue Love but only in a responsible fashion. This includes being friends first, hanging out with her addiction-riddled twin brother, Forty, and learning more about her friends and family, an internal struggle that simultaneously competes with Joe’s real problems, and trust me there are plenty. From the fact that he rebuilt a replica of the glass cage to lock up the thief who created the Will Bettelheim identity so he can steal it for himself, to watching over the teenage girl, Ellie, in his building who’s spending way too much time with a perverted comedian (the new Paco basically), and let’s not forget the reason for the move to LA, the fact that Candace Stone is still on the loose. All of which equates to a frantic Will wooing and constantly disappointing Love while stretching himself thin trying to keep the taint of his deeds from touching their life together.

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It’s almost noble, while at the same time being completely surreal. Between watching over Ellie to make sure she won’t be assaulted, keeping Forty from relapsing, going out of his way to try things Love likes, it’s hard to see Will as a bad man. But then at the same time, he’s putting the man he murdered through the grocery store’s meat grinder to dispose of the body and even for his most die-hard supporters it’s a tough scene to watch. The whole season carries on swinging between his somehow pure and supportive relationship with Love, and the highly intense and violent situations he finds himself in that are, in his mind, little to no fault of his own. Viewers have no choice but to watch on even if his balancing act is giving us second-hand anxiety.

Of course, nothing lasts forever, and for Will, the disaster he’s been waiting for comes to life, just not in the way he ever expected. To be fair his downfall this time is fairly complicated.

After Candace shows up in town with a new name, Amy Adam, and as Forty’s new girlfriend Will is determined to get rid of her but can’t pull it together before Love finds out the truth about his real name, their relationship, and about the fact he knew Beck, whose book Forty is now making into a movie. Love, understandably, dumps his lying ass leading Will to rebound with the local gossip columnist and manager of his building, Delilah, who also happens to be Ellie’s older sister, and one of the girls assaulted by the comedian, Henderson, that Ellie’s been hanging out with.

Investigating gossip for years has given Delilah a second sense about people hiding secrets, not to mention the fact that her other hookup just happens to be a cop. After she gets a tip on Will, she scours his apartment and discovers the keys to the storage unit where she finds the glass cage and proof that Will killed Henderson.

But Will’s been getting smarter too.

He had a nanny camera installed in his apartment and saw Delilah rifling through his stuff and finding the keys and follows her to the storage unit to lock her up in a glass cage. Only, Will is a good guy here. He doesn’t want to kill Delilah. Ellie needs her. If anything he wants her to go free, just like the last person in that cage, Will Bettelheim, who Joe let go and is now living it up in the Philippines with his fiancee.

Without Love keeping him in LA, Will figures it’s time to cut his losses and start over in Mexico. He uses automatic handcuffs with a timer to lock Delilah to a table in the cage, by the time the sixteen hours are up and she goes free Will should be long gone. It’s perfect.

Or it would’ve been if it wasn’t for Forty who faked kidnapping of Will and drugs him so that he’ll help him write the movie script to Beck’s book. This may not be the point of this season but let us just reflect that rich people are really something. Something with terrible ideas. Anyways, by the time Will is sober Delilah’s handcuffs are about to be released and he races to the storage unit to buy himself more time, only to find her slaughtered on the floor of the cage. Did he do it? He doesn’t remember. But who else could have?

Well, it doesn’t seem like Will has time to figure out the truth because, after a sloppy hook up with Forty, Candace is back. Thanks once again to Forty’s penchant for putting every moment of his life on social media, she finds his storage unit with the still deceased Delilah. After being written off as crazy by Will and consequently gaslit by everyone else, Candace finally has the proof she needs to expose him and she does. After managing to lock him in a cage she calls Love to show her exactly who Joe is.

It’s the end for Joe. He knows it. He even admits everything to Love, that Candace is not crazy, that he is a sick man, and that she should stay away from him.

Love, while shocked, takes a different approach. By cutting Candace’s throat.

It’s time for the plot twist of the season. Love is the one who killed Delilah, as well as an abusive nanny when she was a child. She is just like Joe, and he is horrified by her. The more she explains that she only hurts people to protect those she loves the more Joe is forced to confront his own shallow excuses for committing unspeakable acts of violence. He can’t face Love, he can’t love her, despite the irony here he thinks of her as being a monster and that means there’s only one thing for him to do. Take her out once and for all.

Yet, before he can go through with the deed there’s another surprise from Love lurking just beneath the surface. She’s pregnant with his child. Which of course, changes everything. Despite his initial reaction, Will is now ready to be with Love as she truly is, the dark parts of her and the good. The baker and the psychopath, the murderess and the mother. Although before these serial-killer soulmates can run off into the sunset they have an unexpected road bump in the form of Forty. Once Will’s biggest fan, he realizes that Candace was telling the truth, that he buried her alive, that he killed Beck, and that his sister is in serious risk. In an unexpected turn, Forty tries to be the hero and take down Joe once and for all. But as Candace once exclaimed in frustration, there must some god up there watching after Joe Goldberg and protecting him for some godforsaken reason, because in a fate of chance once again Joe gets away as a cop sees Forty about to shoot him in the head and kills Forty before he can Joe.

Love is predictably devastated at losing her twin brother. Joe is free at last.

It goes against the entire rhythm of stories we’ve had since we were children. Love lost a brother, Ellie lost a sister, Will lost his life in LA, and Joe came out of it with everything. He and Love are living in a new mansion with a daughter on the way and he got away with every single murder he did. For those fans who still manage to see Joe as the good guy, it’s a pleasing ending.

Almost.

In a fit of torture to the viewers, the final plot twist of the season comes in the absolute last minute of the final episode. Just as Joe is settling into his backyard to read a book a woman’s laughter draws him to the fence at the edge of his property. It’s there that he sees her. The next woman he’s fallen in love with, his new obsession devouring her own book by the pool. For many fans cheating on his pregnant girlfriend is the most condemnable of all his offenses, proving that there are actually people out there who can find ways to excuse violence and even murder but not infidelity. Let’s just hope these people aren’t the ones becoming court judges.

That’s the thing about You that you have to keep in mind, none of us win. Not if you hate Joe, not if you love him. What started out with the impression of being a modern-day interpretation of Lolita quickly transformed into a socially critical beast of its own making. The self-delusion that any action is justifiable by love may have been cemented in that classic but You is showing that it’s not just the perpetrator who is deluded. After all, anyone who read Nabokov’s novel didn’t cheer for Humbert Humbert, but somehow with Joe Goldberg, we’re always willing to give him another chance. As the phenomenally talented actor who plays him, Penn Badgley, makes clear this show is about the damage a man who looks like Joe could do and how we forgive him for it anyway, and as we have seen when a person like that isn’t stopped they just keep continuing in this pattern of violence.

Yet, we have a new player in the game here. Love is just as violent as Joe, and I can’t imagine her taking too kindly to him straying to a new woman while she carries their child. She just might be the only one capable of keeping him in check. Good thing Netflix just green-lighted season three because no matter how evil or brutal these two get chances are we’re going to keep watching.

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