Review: ‘You’, Season 3

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Madre Linda: white picket fences, freshly cut front lawns, rows upon rows of wealthy families living in the suburbs. This is the slice of suburban utopia that the new season of You pans into. It already sets the scene, marking a stark contrast to the run-down area of Los Angeles that framed the last season. The romantic, obsessive protagonist, Joe Goldberg (Penn Badgley) seems to be moving up in the world (and the property market). With a beautiful wife, an adorable baby, and enough money to buy a bakery, Joe is set. The scene is set too. That is, for a serial killer couple to disembowel the picture-perfect community around them.

This season departs from the similar format that structured both the first and second seasons.

This season departs from a similar format that structured both the first and second seasons. This time around, Joe faces more trouble at home than from the police and legal system. Love Quinn Goldberg (Victoria Pedretti), Joe’s wife and mother of his child, battles her own savage impulses of jealousy and possessiveness. It is her inability to control them which ultimately kick-starts the series of events that gain momentum throughout the season: she brutally axes neighbour Natalie Engler (Michaela McManus) in a fit of vicious revenge against Natalie and Joe’s brewing affair.

Joe and Love’s relationship polarises from the get-go. As they strive to cover their crimes with surface-level smiles and fake friendships with neighbours, their marriage is tested further when Love strikes again. This time, she bludgeons a neighbour on the head after she discovers his anti-vaccine mindset has caused her child, Henry, a severe case of measles. In this sense, Love and Joe’s fiercely protective parental methods act as a double-edged sword, providing their baby with immeasurable love and care yet equal measures of danger and deceit.

Love and Joe grapple with tense family ties – Love with her controlling, socialite mother (Saffron Burrows) and Joe with his traumatic childhood. My favourite aspect of the show is Joe’s constant mental battle against toxic masculinity and his internalised suppression of emasculation and self-loathing. Flashbacks depict Joe in an orphanage, abandoned by his mother and bullied by the other boys. The viewer is made privy to the suppressed fear and rage Joe unhealthily develops from this setting, trapping himself inside a cupboard to escape the bullying. Joe breaks down whilst on an isolated retreat with his male neighbours as he is forced to confront these pent-up feelings. Joe’s mood lifts considerably as the other men accept him into their circle as a friend and confidant. 

Unlike Joe, Love’s demons lie in the present. Her relationship with Dotty, her mother, deteriorates as they battle for domestic dominance. Things come to a head when Dotty reveals on an Instagram live broadcast by neighbour and social media mogul Sherry (Shalita Grant) that Love is again pregnant, but this time the father-to-be is the stepson of the murdered Natalie, Theo (Dylan Arnold). 

Dotty, facing a divorce herself, deteriorates into alcoholism and is cut off after she kidnaps Henry and sets fire to the vineyard her husband legally took from her in the divorce proceedings. Dotty then leaves the show, consigned in the viewers’ memory as a divorcee scorned and turned to alcoholism, morally unredeemable.

The dynamics of their relationship begin to break down, spiralling out of control into a tempestuous sequence of events.

In Love’s present is her unwavering obsession and insatiable love for Joe. This is where the dynamics of their relationship begin to break down, spiralling out of control into a tempestuous sequence of events. Whilst Love feigns a relationship with Theo to gain access to private information concerning her and Joe’s crimes, Joe develops an obsessive and unhealthy passion for Marienne (Tati Gabrielle), his boss at the library. Between Love’s desperation to kick-start her marriage with Joe, Joe’s illicit meetings with Marienne and the interference of neighbours between Joe and Love, there is action and suspense around every fence. 

The season closes as Joe decides to inform Love of his decision to divorce her. She, learning of Marienne’s importance to Joe and angry at Joe’s decision, temporarily paralyses him in an act of vengeful rage. It is only Love’s motherly instincts that prevent her from fatally stabbing Marienne when the latter comes to speak with Joe. Thinking she will wipe her hands clean of Joe and his unfaithful ways, Love readies to stab him. In a twist of fate, Joe reveals his counter-tactic that turns the tables on Love – she dies to the deadly aconite poison she had previously used against him. 

Joe ingeniously frames both his own and Love’s deaths in a wild house fire that destroys all evidence of his disappearance. Whilst the community of Madre Linda begins to heal from their losses (and profit from the infamy of the crazed, deceased murderer Love Goldberg), Joe emerges in Paris refreshed and once again single. 

“I will find You.” The final lines uttered by Joe as he walks down the streets of Paris, unashamed and bold as ever. Unclear as to whether he is referring to Marienne, or another woman to obsess over, one thing is certain: You, and Joe, will return for another season. 

Image: Rene Böhmer via Unsplash

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