Watching a series with a psychopath as its central character looks pretty problematic when you think about the political correctness aspect of the whole idea. But what is fascinating about this thriller series created by Sera Gamble and Greg Berlanti is that they managed to develop a genuine curiosity in us to know how a murderer’s brain functions. To be honest, there are times in the series where you and Joe Goldberg are thinking the exact same thing, and the fact that he is a controlling psychopath makes the situation even creepier.
Coming to season 3, we now know that Joe and Love have moved to Madre Linda to start over as a new couple. The couple now has a son named Henry. The new posh suburb life is not that comfortable for Joe, and his creepiness starts to unfold with him getting attracted to the neighbor. But Love is someone who knows everything about Joe, and thus the stalking procedure of Joe wasn’t that easy this time. Joe’s inability to control his desires and Love knowing him so much puts the story in a very tight space, and how it all affects the family is what we witness in Season 3 of You.
While the second season was more like Joe finding another woman who surprised him by being an “equal,” the third season became more intricate. The main element we saw in the first two seasons was this fixation of Joe over a person and then him trying to get that person. Here, that pattern is undergoing some modifications because Love is a major challenge and dilemma for him. And likewise, Joe is becoming a challenge for Love as well. In a way, we see this complicated scenario where two people of similar processing find it difficult to maintain a healthy relationship.
Because this series has characters whose go-to move to erase anything that wasn’t according to plan is murder, the makers have this advantage of maintaining curiosity in the viewer’s mind. When Love or Joe is attracted to someone, we instantly sense the possibility of another murder and cover-ups. And the series uses this mind voice narrative to keep us interested in the developments. You are certainly not feeling empathy for the characters, but the series clearly scares the crap out of you by exposing the thought process of mentally unstable people.
Penn Badgley, in his captivating voice, yet again delivers the role of Joe Goldberg very convincingly. Unlike the other seasons here, the character has moments where he can express his deepest vulnerabilities, and Badgley uses those moments to give some depth to the creepy character. Victoria Pedretti’s transformation moments in the series are really smooth, in my opinion. Love is very similar to Joe, and unlike Joe, it is a bit difficult to figure out her move. And Pedretti was good at keeping it surprising. Tati Gabrielle as Marienne was memorable. Shalita Grant and Travis Van Winkle as the annoying Conrads were effective, especially in those last episodes. Dylan Arnold as Theo is another face that will stay with you at the end of season 3.
It is interesting how this series emphasizes the creepy side of being controlling, manipulative, and toxic by narrating it from the side of the person who justifies all these as a mod of caring. In my opinion, that is a much more effective way to show people what a problematic relationship looks like rather than demanding preachy content. Marianne, a woman who has experienced tough phases in life and admits her flaw of falling for toxicity, talks about an inner voice in the last episode of the third season. And the writing has placed Joe and Love in such a layered way that Marienne’s words get a much deeper impact.
The world around the couple is also not devoid of people with emotional and mental problems. Those people might be the most relatable ones for the viewer as their reactions aren’t that extreme. The fakeness in the Conrads, Matthew’s emotional state, Dottie’s frequent denial of her parenting failure, Marienne’s efforts to be a better mother, the impact of bad parenting on Theo, etc. are good examples of how the script uses a large variety of emotional issues to create an environment in which Love and Joe aren’t completely evil. We even get to see why Joe thinks his pro-active moves to protect someone he likes are justifiable when we are shown flashback glimpses of his growing-up days.
Season 3 of You makes sure that it doesn’t feel much repetitive in terms of how the story unfolds. The series explores Joe and Love more deeply, making the morality part a lot more complex and puzzling. More than the murders that are happening on screen, it is the moral dilemma that makes it a difficult yet intriguing thriller.
More than the murders that are happening on screen, it is the moral dilemma that makes it a difficult yet intriguing thriller.
Green: Recommended Film
Orange: Okay, Watchable, Experimental Films
Red: Not Recommended