YOU Season 4 Episode 1 Review: Joe Takes a Holiday
It’s a new city, a new name, a new life, and the same old Joe, or is it?
If ever there was a way to revamp the series, YOU Season 4 Episode 1 stumbled upon it with the makings of a murder mystery that places our resident killer in a position he hasn’t quite been in before.
In the premiere, we eventually learn that Joe isn’t the scariest and most dangerous person in the room.
Perhaps it feels a bit on the nose for the series to get Holmesian with a twist now that Joe is in London, but if anyone can catch a killer, it’s probably going to be an actual killer with a few bodies under his belt.
Joe getting trolled by a killer who tried to frame him is entirely unexpected. Can you imagine if, after all the ways in which Joe has evaded capture and real consequences for his killings, he goes down for a body he didn’t drop?
On the one hand, it would be some twisted, karmic type of justice. But on the other, it makes you root for him in a way, too, which is where this series always succeeds, sometimes too well, in getting the viewers to follow along and support Joe even when we know damn well that we shouldn’t.
The hour introduced us to Joe or Jonathan Moore’s new life in London as a professor of American literature at a university with students who barely made an impression outside of the sharp and witty Nadia.
If LA was purgatory and suburbia was hell, London may be when I finally got to the good place.
But we also got some much-needed flashbacks to explain how Joe went from following Marienne to Paris to looking far more delicious than he has a right to be as a bearded professor in London.
It turns out he did catch up to Marienne, chased the poor woman down, and had her cornered and terrified that she’d be his latest victim in a long list of them.
Through Joe’s twisted love for her, he was able to let her go and get back to her daughter because now he’s hellbent on showing her that he’s more than a killer and can be a decent guy. Hey, whatever works and saves the girl.
Out of his many obsessions, Marienne seemed both sane and aware, and it made you root for her survival.
Joe: I’m sorry. I thought you would be happy to see me. I thought you loved me.
Marienne: I did.
Joe: Well, I’m right here, and I know a lot has happened.
Marienne: No. No. Juliette is in Paris, my friend, she expects me back tomorrow. Let me make it back to my daughter?
Joe: Why would you ask me that?
Marienne: You killed Ryan!
Joe: He took your child!
Marienne: And your wife! If you’re standing here, Love didn’t kill you; you killed her, didn’t you? Tell me, have there been more? Oh my God. You act like it’s not true that you’re just a good man who did a bad thing. You’re a murderer, Joe.
Joe: You’re wrong about me.
Marienne: I wish. I wish I was, but —
Joe: You know what? I’m going to prove it to you. Goodbye, Marienne.
Joe spared her life not once but twice within the hour when we learned that Love’s father sent Elliot after Joe, but in exchange for his life, Elliot wanted money and a dead Marienne.
I don’t know in what universe a sentimental necklace would be sufficient proof for someone asking for blood, but it seemed enough to assuage Elliot. Although he was lurking about when Joe was moving that body, he may still be on Joe’s case while he’s fighting for his life in London.
Once again, we saw Joe swearing to the high heavens that he wouldn’t get involved in anything or fall into his old habits. But he can’t seem to quit anything for too long.
Oddly enough, Joe’s fixation with Kate doesn’t have the same undertones of romance or sexuality as his previous instances with others.
Gemma Graham-Greene managed to disparage Americans, trans people, the poor, and Jews in a single sentence while doing a shot of Patron.
With Kate, there was some mild curiosity and a matter of Joe being a creature of habit. And his interactions with her in person don’t carry that same perversity of his previous paramours. It’d be interesting to see how that dynamic develops throughout the season.
Of course, not that Malcolm is dead, which could make Kate more vulnerable and susceptible to Joe or more suspicious.
She appears to be less impressed by him or whatever he has to offer or bring to the table. She seems just as puzzled as we viewers may be about how Joe finessed his way into the elite circle of London snobs he doesn’t even like being around.
It’s hilarious how someone as anti-rich as Joe somehow ends up rubbing elbows with the people he’s hardwired to disdain. His night out with Malcolm, watching the likes of vapid Phoebe, arrogant Simon, Blessing, Sophie, and the others, only highlighted how distinctly different he is from these people.
Let the games begin. Which one of these people will I hate the most?
The only one he seemed to connect with on a deeper level was Rhys, and it instantly made their dynamic a fascinating one that I’d love to see more of as the season progresses. Rhys is new money.
He still remembers what it’s like to grow up poor, and he doesn’t have the same aloofness as the others, which is probably why he’s genuinely pursuing a run for office to better London for all people.
It all sounds good on paper, and Rhys comes across as incredibly self-aware and for the people. You can understand how he’s become a favorite and darling across the masses. He’s charismatic, and that down-to-earth charm even works on Joe.
But there has to be more to Rhys than the illusion that he’s this open book who embraces his flaws.
Rhys: I get a sense about you.
Joe: What’s that?
Rhys: All jokes aside, my guess is that you’ve had a truly hellish life. The kind that not everyone survives. Am I close?
Rhys: So you’re fairly deeply damaged. Therefore, you’re capable of doing real damage.
Joe: I feel like I’m supposed to be defensive right now, but I’m not.
Rhys: Well, who am I to judge you?
Joe: So what now? Rhys: Can’t erase any of it. so now I try to do a good bit of moving forward to someone, which includes protecting the people I love and getting some actual shit down for the people of London.
Joe: So you think it’s actually possible, redemption?
By the end of the hour, it’s enough to make you consider that Rhys, the seemingly most likable person Joe has come into contact with while in London, could very well be the person behind the disappearing messages and Malcolm’s murder.
For someone with the type of inclinations Joe has, he sure as hell shouldn’t have been partying with the elite crew. It sucked that Phoebe tricked him into drinking that absinthe, but you’d expect the guy to have more willpower than he has.
Anything could’ve happened when he was blitzed out of his mind. He could’ve said anything, which is the most concerning part.
No wonder he genuinely believed he was responsible for Malcolm’s death until he got that disappearing message.
It’s a nice twist that Joe isn’t even responsible for this body. But he’s already in it deep because he covered everything up.
The ease with which he goes into clean-up mode should not be as hilarious as it is, but Penn Badgley excels at bringing a level of dark humor to this character and the plot. He’s too damn good at it.
Joe’s inner monologue unleashing a string of obscenities while trying to gather up and move a body will never stop being hysterical, and the delivery of his inner thought, wondering where he’d put a finger, is enough to bring tears to your eyes laughing.
I also love how this series has become such a pop culture juggernaut that attracts a lot of attention and brings about unexpected crossovers.
Rhys: The thing about getting money when you had none is you never really feel you have it. And all the people who always did —
Joe: Another species.
Joe Voiceover: I actually don’t hate him yet.
Rhys: They’re dancing while the world burns. Barely notices that it’s burning, and why would they? Their weather is just right.
Any YOU fan knows how much Cardi B loves the series Joe and Penn. The Twitter games of the YOU account, Cardi B, and Penn Badgley all having each other’s faces as their icons on their respective accounts and interacting with each other was such a post-season delight that fans adored.
It only felt right in the middle of Joe dismembering poor, naked Malcolm; they had Card B playing in the background. How can you not love this series?
Those are the moments when the season feels most like itself, whereas, in general, it feels tonally different than previous seasons.
It’s a tone that will likely elicit split reactions from people. Joe’s particular brand of dry humor matches well with a London environment.
The unlikelihood of the situation he’s in is something unexpected and different, and we’ll have to see how he gets himself out of this situation.
Is it possible that Joe can go an entire season without killing anyone? Possibly, if he inadvertently gets stuck cleaning up the bodies instead of dropping them while trying to figure out who the real killer is.
Something like this is bound to feed into Joe’s delusions about him not being bad because now he has a killer to figure out.
Malcolm’s death is interesting because he probably has a long list of people who’d want him dead when you stop to consider it. He came across as an ass. His comments about anyone who wasn’t rich would set anyone else off.
What the… where would I put a finger?
It seemed he had a series of women he messed around with behind Kate’s back, and either those women or Kate could want him dead because of it.
Simon’s sister, Sophie, also didn’t seem to like him very much and spent some time telling a far too drunk to recall Joe why she doesn’t like Malcolm.
And Rhys, for all of his comments and observations, still rubs elbows with the elite crew even if he doesn’t see himself as part of them. Indeed, there are some motivations for him as well.
Joe may have gotten rid of the body, but it doesn’t change the fact that he’s technically the last person to see Malcolm alive.
The second they acknowledge that he’s gone missing, Joe is pivotal to the investigation, even if he’s not an immediate person of interest.
Whoever set Joe up wanted him to go down and thought it would be easy, but they didn’t anticipate Joe reacting as he did.
Interestingly enough, they seem intrigued by this, which is scary for Joe.
This person knows him, but he doesn’t know who they are, and now he’s immersed in this circle of possible suspects harboring this huge secret.
Joe in London playing Sherlock Holmes is quite the twist.
Over to you, YOU Fanatics. Who killed Malcolm? Do you like the switch to London? Sound off below!
Jasmine Blu is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.