HCAU Reviews "YOU" Season 2

Hey you. 

Oh, I see you clicked on an article, not just any article, it was my article, and with everyone else that has written articles, you opened mine. Was it the title that intrigued you? Maybe you are just entertaining the idea of watching You season 2 and you are looking for a review – I’ve got YOU covered.  

The end of season 1 left us on a cliffhanger. After the murder of his ex-girlfriend, Beck, we can see Joe Goldberg back at his old job, having published (after slightly altering some details) Beck’s memoir, when a new girl enters the store and sparks Joe’s obsessive interest – only to find out it is none other than his first girlfriend, Candace, whom he presumed dead. 

Instead of starting off at that point, season 2 dives right into Joe’s brand new life, one that he has started on the opposite side of the country, in order to escape from Candace and whatever threats she has made. By assuming the identity of Will Bethleheim, Joe is trying to put his past behind him and focus on being a better person to himself and to others. However, all of this goes out the window as soon as he meets two key figures of the season: Ellie, the teenage sister of his landlord, whom he is drawn to protect at all costs and, most importantly, Love Quinn, the romantic interest. 

As viewers, we witness the inner struggle that comes with Joe’s wish for setting new behavioral patterns for himself and are left in shock by the very end of the episode, when it is shown that he has not changed at all. He tracked down Love way before he “bumped into her”, he got a  job in that exact place in order to get close to her and, what is more shocking this time around, he has kidnapped a person in order to assume his identity.  

However similar the romantic plot of this season is to the last one, the incorporation of new characters and a completely new setting (as well as its new ways of narration) manage to give the show a much fresher perspective, as well as giving room for Joe to redeem himself.  

Despite the social toxicity that New York (in season 1) may have had, the new setting of the show is particularly dark, as it takes multiple twists and turns as the story unfolds. The blackmail by some sort of mafia, the abuse carried out by a local celebrity, and a murder inside of Love’s own household add a pinch of darkness to what, at first, seems like a picture-perfect environment. The whole mix of stories paints a caricature of Los Angeles (as well as of Joe’s own character) by describing an apparently ideal world that, as you dive into it, is full of darkness and pain.  

An aspect of the show that has not changed (and is, arguably, the most concerning one) is the empathy that viewers can feel for Joe. Despite his murderous nature and his narcissistic point of view, the access that is provided to the inside of his mind is key to the viewers empathizing with Joe – an aspect that this season explores even further.  

Despite the initial failure of Joe’s attempts to become a better person, we can sense a new improvement of his character as the story unfolds. For starters, he makes a complete shift on how he justifies his killings – before, he used to kill for love, and despite being targeted as something he wanted to do for the other person, it always came from a narcissistic place. In season 2, Joe resorts to justice as a justification for his crimes, he is for the first time, committing murders because those are bad people that cause pain to others.  

His narcissistic ways seem to be fading in regards to his interaction with the different characters: while he is trying to protect Ellie at all costs, he is also managing to support her sister in her own problems and eventually develops a bond with her. On the other hand, instead of cutting people from Love’s life (like he had previously done with Beck) he manages to have a nice relationship with her brother for the sake of his own relationship. In addition, episode 9 is focused around Joe’s inability to confirm if he committed murder under the influence of LSD, but being completely convinced that he would never kill an innocent person, which once again proves his new personality.  

Moreover, an added resource for empathy is the use of the multiple flashbacks, that give us a glimpse of Joe’s upbringing and of his first killing – the one scene that started it all and the reason why he has used love as an excuse for everything.  

However, it is very satisfactory as viewers to finally see Joe getting a taste of his own medicine, when he discovers Love’s real personality and, quite ironically, cannot forgive her actions deeming her as crazy. As the poster for this season announced, Joe has quite literally met his match and, based on the end of the season, will be stuck with her for a little while.