New city, new Joe, new you. Netlfix’s stalker thriller, You, returns for a second season with a brand new setting, brand new characters and a brand new ‘Love’ interest. Gone into hiding after the chaotic events of last season, Joe (Penn Badgley) is on the run but can’t escape his tendency to pick a subject and do everything to attain their love, this time, focusing on Love Quinn (Victoria Pedretti).
One thing You executes well throughout the majority of this season is the building of tension. It grips you early as it sets up mysterious plot points and clever twists and maintains that tension over the majority of the season. With each new subplot and surprising twist, the story gets more thrilling and has you on edge at the conclusion of every episode. The story this season is much stronger than its first season counterpart, mainly as there are more unique dynamics other than just the relationship between Joe and Beck. More characters and more intertwining relationships give the season multiple layers so there’s more to get out of it. It makes the whole thing seem fresh and proves a second season wasn’t a disastrous idea.
Although, with each passing twist and shocking revelation, the story begins to lose it. After these two seasons, I’m convinced the writers can’t confidently end a season without thinking they need to out-twist what they’ve done for the season so far. It takes regular left turns to the point of becoming quite ridiculous in the final two episodes with reveals garnering more of an “eh sure” reaction as oppose to something that’s interesting. To be fair, the entire show resides in the realm of ridiculousness, however there is a limit, and it reaches that limit going into the home stretch. Where the rest of the season was good, save for an annoying ‘drug trip’ sequence, this ending leaves a sour taste in your mouth.
Penn Badgley is undoubtedly still the one holding together this series as he manages to nail this oddly charming yet distinctly creepy persona to perfection. The entire season is seen through his perspective with his voiceover guiding the viewer through each and every interaction, a story choice which works for the nature of the show. Badgley’s performance is deeply engaging and thoroughly entertaining to the point where at times you’re rooting for him despite the horrible nature of everything that he does. It shows how he’s able to bring the character to life in more ways than one.
On the other hand, Victoria Pedretti is the one who brings a distinctly refreshing take on the fairly standard story of season one. She brings a level of charisma to the story that matches that of Penn, something the first season was slightly lacking. Her character of Love may be the most compelling of the season for the interesting choices she makes based on her quite eye-opening past. She’s a complex character just as Joe is, and it’s their dynamic which works the most here. I also thoroughly enjoyed the presence of Carmela Zumbado and Jenna Ortega as sisters Delilah and Ellie. Outside of the core relationship, I loved almost every scene with the two of them in it. They bought more life to the season by having two distinct personalities for Joe to interact with. That’s the story depth I was talking about that worked better this time around.
Season 2 of You continues the story of Joe Goldberg and takes things in interesting directions that make this a step up from the last season. It’s thrilling throughout, there are great characters to admire and strong performances behind them and it’s an entertaining watch. There are some dips in the pace here and there plus the story goes to shit in the final episode or two, but overall it’s a stalker thriller that embraces a bit of its ridiculousness. I don’t think this inventiveness can carry on to a third season but we’re going to find out because it has been renewed.