NETFLIX’s YOU is a show built on a couple things: Penn Badgley’s powerhouse lead performance as television’s preeminent literary snob/maniac serial killer Joe Goldberg, and absolutely outrageous twists and turns that are always just sensible enough that the viewers remain wildly entertained and not put off. And, sure, the last two seasons have had finales built around absolutely perfect Taylor Swift needle drops.
Just when it seemed like You may have been setting up Season 4 as a covert series finale and the end for Mr. Joe Goldberg aka Will Bettelheim aka Jonathan Moore, things took that predictable twist. And we’re not even talking about the major twist that took place midway through Season 4, Part 2—the twist that the person we thought was the Eat The Rich Killer, Rhys Montrose, was actually Joe losing his mind all along, and Joe had never even met the real Rhys Montrose. We’re talking about the twist that found Joe doing one thing he’s quite good at—killing—and having it really change, well, just about everything for him. And in an absolutely terrifying way.
And we can’t lie: it’s kind of fun seeing Joe Goldberg constantly find a way to commit atrocities and still come out on top. But Season 4 also leaves us a few more open threads to give audiences hints and hopes that someway, somehow, Joe will finally get what he deserves. Will that come any time soon? That much remains to be seen. And it sure seems like whatever is to come in Season 5 will be, well, probably more violent and horrible than anything that’s come before.
But for the first time in a while in You, there’s hope that the monster once again known as Joe Goldberg (and formerly known as, you know, Will Bettelheim and Jonathan Moore) could eventually be tamed.
So, what actually happened in the You Season 4, Part 2 ending?
The actual chain of events that make up the ending to You Season 4, Part 2, is kind of a domino effect. Joe, constantly bickering and wrestling with his evil side (personified in his head as a deranged version of Rhys Montrose (Ed Speleers), still around even after Joe killed the real Rhys Montrose), has decided to kill himself after Marianne seemingly died as his prisoner. But he’s got one last favor to do for Kate: he’s going to kill her father, the manipulative, kind-on-the-surface-but-oh-so-evil-inside billionaire Tom Lockwood (Greg Kinnear).
We don’t even have to talk much about the back-and-forth; Tom thinks Joe killed Rhys just for him, Joe just wants to get rid of Tom because of how horrible he was to Kate (Charlotte Richie) and how much impact he’s seemingly had on her life (Whether he’s telling the truth is anyone’s guess. But he probably is.). But anyway, Joe hears enough of Tom’s smooth-talking and kills him like he’s killed so many else. And he’s pretty easily able to set it up to look like his bodyguard did it to steal money. Loose end tied up.
But Joe is also convinced, at this point—following a dream sequence where he saw both Guineivere Beck (Elizabeth Lail) and Love Quinn (Victoria Pedretti)—that the only way to end his cycle that only ends in death and violence is by killing himself. He walks out to a bridge where, after a heart-to-heart with his dark side, he throws Fake Evil Rhys over the ledge, following him in himself. A little of that typical Joe Goldberg internal monologue—he regrets his decision to jump, yada yada—and we fade out.
It turns out that Joe doesn’t end up drowning. He was saved from the water by police, and brought to the hospital, where he wakes up and Kate is there to see him. Joe tells Kate his real name, that he’s killed people, including Rhys. She tells him that her dad is now dead, she has all of his resources, and she can help him cover everything up and start new. This seems bad for society!
As we catch up with Joe’s university students, Nadia and Eddie, who had been onto his existence as Professor Jonathan Moore, we realize a few things. Most importantly (and in a twist that was fairly easy to see coming), Marianne’s “death” was an elaborate scheme set up by Nadia and Marianne; Nadia was the one texting Marianne’s phone as her friend about custody, and Nadia found drugs that were able to slow Marianne’s heartrate down to make it seem like she was dead. The two of them also cooked up the fake suicide note to leave Marianne’s body in public so that she could be found; this was really so Nadia could give her an adrenaline shot and bring her back to life to make her great escape. Now, this ran the risk that Joe didn’t do what he’s done to Malcolm and others and, you know, cut Marianne up into tiny little pieces. But that’s a risk they were willing to take! Marianne makes it home to her baby and all is well. For now.
We can’t quite say the same for Nadia or her little boyfriend Eddie, who obviously were just watching a little too much Sherlock for their own good. Nadia makes her way into Joe’s flat, and finds a box of evidence—Rhys’ belongings—that he was keeping as a trophy of sorts. She takes some photos, and tells Eddie that she did it. She comes downstairs, though, and who does she see but Professor Jonathan Moore himself. Joe tells her that he likes her, and that things can work out for everyone, actually.
We then hear that Taylor Swift song—“Anti-Hero,” what else?—and jump forward a bit in the future. Joe and Kate have a life together in New York and are extremely rich and powerful; Kate was able to pay off all sorts of people from police to journalists to get a new story published in The Cut that essentially makes Joe out to be a hero who escaped from his evil wife, Love Quinn, by faking his death and moving to England, where he met Kate, the love of his life.
The closing moments of the season are then intercut between New York Joe (now beardless, honestly looking much worse) and London Joe, talking to Nadia outside his flat. London Joe is scaring the absolute crap out of Nadia with a big smile on his face, telling her that his circumstances have changed. He backs her down more and more until she sees that her pal Eddie has had his throat cut, and is very, very dead. Joe places the knife in her hand, and tells her what’s about to happen: he’s given an anonymous tip that Eddie killed Rhys, and has set it up so that Nadia looks like the person who killed Eddie—because she found out that Eddie “killed” Rhys. Nadia is too stunned to speak, and, as Joe’s narration reveals, she hasn’t spoken since.
New York Joe is also on an absolute high. While it felt like the season was going full Fight Club when Joe threw Evil Rhys over the side of the bridge, we get our first hint that New York Joe has decided to embrace the evil when he looks out the window and we see a reflection of Rhys in the glass. Joe then tells the audience that he’s now acknowledging something we’ve known all along: he’s a killer. He can kill. He’s good at killing.
The only difference, now, is that Joe is accepting it—and embracing it. Uh oh.
Can anyone stop Joe Goldberg?
Yes. For the first time, there is a major, major crack in Joe’s armor: he does not know that Marianne is alive. Marianne’s disgust reading Joe’s sob story, juxtaposed against Joe’s narration believing she died, is one of the best moments in the ending of the You Season 4, Part 2 finale. Marianne knows better than anyone alive just how much of a monster Joe is, and while she may not want to mess with the life she’s managed to find with her daughter, she also may feel a calling to bring him down.
There are a handful of other characters still floating around out there who could team up with Marianne to bring Joe—now, you must remember, a notable rich, famous, powerful person—down. Of course, there’s Nadia sitting in prison. There’s Kerry and Cary from Season 3, who managed to parlay their experience with Joe and Love into a TED Talk, book deal, and fame of their own. And there’s Ellie from Season 2, who lost her sister and had her own bizarre relationship with Joe Goldberg/Will Bettelheim; actress Jenna Ortega was actually set to return in Season 4 at one point, but filming conflicts with Wednesday made that impossible. We’d love to see Ellie return and help take Joe down, but with Ortega’s career exploding as much as it has, that may prove difficult.
But. That’s all to say: Joe is not unbeatable. There are people out there who can stop him. And maybe we’ll see that start to happen in Season 5.
Evan is the culture editor for Men’s Health, with bylines in The New York Times, MTV News, Brooklyn Magazine, and VICE. He loves weird movies, watches too much TV, and listens to music more often than he doesn’t.