Warning: Spoilers ahead
Netflix finally released the long-awaited third season of the popular psychological thriller series You this past Friday. We see the return of bookworm-serial killer Joe Goldberg (Penn Badgley) and his obsession-turned-partner in crime Love Quinn (Victoria Pedretti). Their story builds from her pregnancy announcement at the end of season 2, season 3 opening up with the Quinn-Goldbergs, newly married and moved into the California suburb Madre Linda with their newborn son, and the 10 episodes chronicle how a change of scenery can never guarantee a new beginning.
From the first episode for season 3, it’s clear to see that this couple’s old habits die hard. We are introduced to the new faces of Madre Linda, including their neighbor Natalie Engler. Joe immediately regresses back to his fixation on stalking women, initially targeting Natalie after seeing her and then moving onto his boss at his library job, Marienne (Tati Gabrielle). This makes the as passionate as ever Love fall back into trying to kill any perceived threat to her family, something they keep promising themselves to quit throughout the season until Love gets upset and strikes again. Besides their murders and cover-up attempts, we see the couple deal with marital struggles and trying to keep up their family’s facade in a plastic suburbia full of mommy bloggers and tech-bro husbands.
As for the progression of the plot over the season – I was hooked. The dramas of infidelity, murder, and the development of characters’ relationships with one another and themselves were endless and kept me engaged until the last scene. Not only are audiences able to witness events as they occur, we are able to hear Joe’s internal monologue and see flashbacks to his traumatizing childhood. His monologue is key to understanding how calculated and emotionless his moves are, whether it be assuring Love that he isn’t obsessed with any other woman than her or stalking and overanalyzing Merienne’s every move while they work together at the library. Joe’s cold and calculated attacks are a stark contrast from his wife’s that are fueled entirely by passion and impulse.
After the death of her twin brother last season, Love finds someone to fill the Forty-shaped hole in her heart by having someone new to care for and protect that surprisingly isn’t her newborn Henry, but Natalie’s husband’s college-aged step son, Theo. This leads her to sporadically cheating on Joe with him until she ultimately tries to kill him for finding out about her secret habits of murder and kidnapping. Despite focusing on the couple and their character developments, I always like the side characters of You the most and I’m glad the show explored subplots of other Madre Linda locals. Season 3 features Natalie’s husband trying to solve her murder throughout the season, his deteriorating relationship with Theo as the case consumes him, as well as Merienne’s story of sobriety and trying to win back custody of her daughter Juliette. These seemingly simple additions make the characters of You more multidimensional and contribute to the overall immersiveness of the show.
I love the show for the plot twists, music choices (‘Supercut’ by Lorde and ‘exile’ by Taylor Swift and Bon Iver in one season? You’re kidding.), and both criticism and satire of the modern influencer culture – but I do have some bones to pick with this season. For starters, I hate that they made this season so modern and set in real life that show writers included COVID-19 as a weak plot point. Joe makes a snide remark that the wealthy community of Madre Linda got vaccinated before the general public to explain the lack of masks, but they really could’ve left out the mention of the pandemic entirely. COVID-19 is still a very real thing and I don’t want to be reminded of it while I’m watching a fictional show!
Speaking of things being too real in this season – the trust issues Joe is going to give me through watching the juxtaposition of his external loving and caring treatment of Love and his inner monologue that exposes him. The monologue shares that these acts are only for show and to keep her oblivious to his cheating and other shady things, which plays into the bigger theme of all the families in the neighborhood hiding secrets to appear perfect to the rest of the community. Oh — and even the mention of “I wolf you” again in this season made me want to curl into the fetal position with cringe.
Overall, the wait for the third season of You was well worth it in my opinion. If you were a fan of the previous 2 seasons, or haven’t seen any but are a fan of psychological thrillers and dramas, à la Bates Motel or American Horror Story, definitely add You to your Netflix list for your next night in. This season keeps you guessing with what will happen next, who will be the next victim of Love and Joe, and ultimately how season 4’s new chapter will begin until the very last episode. I would strongly recommend watching with your significant other and saying “us” every time Love commits a crime of passion that Joe has to cover up.