You Season 4 Part 2: Penn Badgley and Creator Sera Gamble on That Ending

Did you see that twist coming? The cast and creator talk about the future of Joe Goldberg and the characters in his orbit.

by | March 10, 2023 | Comments


You. Penn Badgley as Joe Goldberg in episode 408 of You. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2023

(Photo by Netflix)

Spoiler alert: The following reveals plot points from the second half of the fourth season of Netflix’s You. Stop here if you have not watched through episode 10 from that season, entitled “The Death of Jonathan Moore.”

You’s Joe Goldberg (series star Penn Badgley) has always been good at rationalizing his harassment and homicidal actions.

But the final episodes of the fourth season of Netflix’s psycho-thriller might have suggested that his dark passenger now has a name and a face: Ed Speleers’ Rhys Montrose, a politician and — sorry to Joe’s new love interest Kate (Charlotte Ritchie) — the real object (and victim) of Joe’s obsession this season.

That’s because, after a season of attempting to start fresh in England and believing himself to be a changed man who no longer murders, stalks, and sabotages, Joe realizes that there are at least parts of him he cannot change.

Tati Gabrielle’s Marienne, the woman he thought he’d let go home to her daughter? She’s been stuck in one of Joe’s glass boxes this entire time and is the reason why he was always loaded down with duffle bags and eating at sub-par Indian restaurants.

Nadia (Amy-Leigh Hickman), his mentee at the university? She’s his new patsy and is behind bars for his crimes.

And Rhys (at least the real Rhys) wasn’t involved with these killings at all. Joe’s erotomania for the self-made governmental official, coupled with his need to justify all of his bloody motives, made Rhys a scapegoat who also just happened to have an enemy in Kate’s powerful dad (Greg Kinnear).

Image from You

(Photo by Netflix)

Joe knows how to cover his tracks, and now he’s back in New York and with Kate’s crisis PR team at the ready to help him do so. But that feeling inside of him? Well, Joe can still see Rhys’ smug face in his own reflection. So does that mean it (and Rhys) will never go away?

“Personally, I think it’s that Rhys is integrated,” Badgley told Rotten Tomatoes of his interpretation of that scene. “Rhys Montrose is not a part of Joe’s psyche. He’s just grafted this name and face and suit onto a part of him. He’s embracing that part of himself. Does it mean that, in order to go on a killing spree, that he conjures up Rhys and does it with Rhys? Actually, that might be really interesting.” (Speleers told Rotten Tomatoes that he did several takes for that scene, including ones where he walked up to the camera and ones where he walked past it.)

Series creator Sera Gamble is also here for all the murmurs about the plot’s similarities to the Chuck Palahniuk book, and subsequent movie, Fight Club.

“We called it Fight Club when we talked about that as a reveal,” she said. “It’s like saying, ‘Yeah, we’re gonna do The Sixth Sense.’ It’s a culturally, super iconic twist. That’s not to say that people don’t do it all the time. I was talking to a writer on another show and telling them what our secret was. And they were like, ‘Oh, we have the same thing.’ We’re not going to be the only show that airs this year that has a twist like that.”

She also noted that, as the series looks to a potential season 5, Joe’s newfound wealth and clout doesn’t mean that the show is now a modern-day version of Bret Easton Ellis’ American Psycho, a screed on 1980s wealth and excess where rich people can do anything they want.

Tilly Keeper as Lady Phoebe and Charlotte Ritchie as Kate in episode 404 of You

(Photo by Netflix)

“That’s what it feels like, but if we start to scratch just an inch below that, there’s a couple of factors that I don’t know if he’s thinking about yet, but the writers are starting to point out,” she said of her lead character. “His anonymity has been a huge weapon for him, and now, to reclaim his name and to be able to go to New York with [Kate], he had to really tell a comprehensive story of his life, and now he’s known in powerful circles.”

She said that there are more people like Kate’s dad who figured out Joe’s backstory — or at least paid someone to figure it out — with minimal effort. She said that Joe is now playing with people who “have a kind of privilege that resembles previous seasons, but the cluelessness not so much. This New York crowd is not all inherited wealth and debauchery, necessarily, so it’s maybe a little more cutthroat all around him. I think it would be nice and challenging.”

Nor does she want to imply that Kate is totally cool about the whole fact that he murdered his wife and one ex-girlfriend and attempted to murder another (and also kidnapped and killed lots of other people).

However, she added this is a “character for whom saying ‘I’m a murderer’ isn’t a deal-breaker because she grew up in an environment where that’s a tool that’s used sometimes. And Joe is a better guy than the people who raised her who did the same thing.”

“There’s a lot that comes along with that that’s built into the way that she functions that could eventually cause a marital problem,” Gamble teased.

You. (L to R) Lukas Gage as Adam, Tilly Keeper as Lady Phoebe in episode 407 of You. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2023

(Photo by Netflix)

Joe is also now playing with people who know how to take out their own. At the end of this season, Lukas Gage’s failed scion Adam Pratt was one of the few You characters to be taken out through no fault of Joe’s.

“I think that was something really cool about this whole season, is there was more than one predator, one prey,” Gage said. “It changed the format of the whole show and made it fresh and different. And a part of me did want to be put in the cage by Joe; it was a rite of passage. But it is very cool that there’s other villains in the season.” (An avowed fan of You dating back to its short stint on Lifetime, Gage did use some downtime on set to pose for photos in Joe’s famous glass box. They’ll be on his social media channels eventually).

You. Tati Gabrielle as Marienne in episode 401 of You. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2022

(Photo by Netflix)

There are also still living, breathing people in the world who know the truth about Joe — even if he doesn’t know the truth about them. Gabrielle’s Marienne, with the help of Hickman’s Nadia, faked her own death and is one of a handful of people who escaped Joe’s glass room.

Gabrielle said her character now “can easily walk away from this and live her happy life with her daughter. But I think her moral compass is still bugged by the fact that he’s still out there. Something doesn’t sit right and I feel like she would want to see justice seen through.”

You. Amy-Leigh Hickman as Nadia Farran in episode 407 of You. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2023

(Photo by Netflix)

Gabrielle doesn’t know if Marienne knows that Joe set Nadia up for murder when she learned his secrets. But she suspects that “she would find Nadia. I feel like they developed a bond that is somewhat unbreakable at that point.”

And Hickman said that Nadia was in shock when she took the bloody knife Joe forced upon her after he killed her boyfriend. Now that she’s in prison, Hickman suspects that her character is “planning her next steps.”

“She’s not going to want to sit tight,” Hickman said, “especially because she is a good person and she will want justice because she is completely in the right.”

You. Penn Badgley as Joe Goldberg in episode 408 of You. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2023

(Photo by Netflix)

So who can take down the great Joe Goldberg?

“The idea that he can get away with anything has been in the DNA of the show from the very beginning,” Gamble said. “The point of this character is that he’s done the worst stuff imaginable… [However], there are certainly people out there now who know exactly who and what he is, and maybe someone would seek justice. But I don’t think we have a lot of proof that our society brings a lot of justice to guys like that.”

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