WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD
The Netflix Original Series, “You”, is finally back after nearly two years in all of its bloody glory, picking up directly from where season two left off—a reveal of a potential new victim of Joe’s affections.
This season’s destination is the fictional Silicon Valley city of Madre Linda, where both Love and Joe attempt to put their pasts aside and raise their child and, well, fail.
The third season almost seems to be split into two. The first half of the season baits you into thinking it is going to be something completely new by killing the assumed love interest right out the gate, but it actually spends much more time on Joe grappling with fatherhood and his feelings regarding Love. The second half is phoned in with yet another special, talented, passionate, smart woman, Marienne. Marienne is an interesting and complex character on her own, and is given more time to be set up as an individual than Beck and Love ever were, but she is ultimately still stuck in the increasingly tiresome place of being Joe’s latest obsession.
Penn Badgley, as per usual, gives the performance of a lifetime. He almost seems to physically transform when angry, not bothering to worry about still looking handsome for the camera like many other actors would. His eyes bug out, his tooth gap somehow becomes more prominent and a terrifying forehead vein pops out constantly.
His believability never wavers, even when trudging through dialogue about his obsession with yet another woman that feels almost copy-and-pasted from the last two seasons.
Actors are often given too much credit by fans. This is simply because it is easier to throw bad writers under the bus, rather than the usual untalented, and yet, popular hot actors—Riverdale comes to mind as an example. However, this season of “You” features a slew of fantastic performances from not just Penn Badgley, but also Netflix’s darling Victoria Pedretti and the entire supporting cast who unfortunately had to work with a simply okay storyline. This means it is truly the writers’ fault this time.
The series is as funny, biting and tense as ever; but, it is hard to take the plot of the back half of the season seriously, when there seems to be absolutely no difference in how Joe sees Marienne versus the previous women in his life.
While it makes sense for Joe to never experience character growth—he is, after all, a serial killer—internal logic doesn’t always translate into entertaining television.
The last shot sets up Joe moving to Paris to find her. Great! And then what? There is very little suspense when the audience has been given a play by play for three seasons showing how an increasingly invincible Joe treats women. This is the same character who thwarts Love’s plan for him by apparently becoming both a botanist and an expert on antidotes offscreen.
Despite all of this season’s flaws and the exceptional pressure it puts on the already ordered season four’s expectation to shake up the status quo, “You” still remains as entertaining as ever.
It will always be a suspenseful show, but Love acting as Joe’s more impulsive counterpart makes the show that much more stressful and exciting to watch.
This season also plays very successfully into the darkly comedic aspects of the premise, more so than ever before. This comedy ranges from shallow influencer, Sherry Conrad’s #NatalieComeHome vest, to Love bringing the baby along with her when redigging a body—leaving him in the car is obviously “bad parenting 101”—to the crazy use of the child’s baby monitor to keep track of their prisoners.
“You” countines its streak of successes with another solid, funny and smart season, and it’s no wonder why Netflix can’t get enough of milking this show.
But how much longer the streak can last is questionable.
Natalie Katsaros can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @NevadaSagebrush.