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7 Burning Questions We Have For You (The Netflix Series, That Is)

The murder mystery isn’t the only puzzle to solve in the back half of Season 4.
  • Penn Badgley in You (Photo: Netflix)
    Penn Badgley in You (Photo: Netflix)

    [Editor’s Note: This post contains spoilers for You Season 4, Part 1.]

    We’ve been watching You — the Netflix series that released the first half of its fourth season on Thursday — and we have some questions. A lot of questions, actually, including whether or not a private university in England would hire someone on the fly, even if that someone can bluster and pontificate about literature with the best of them. 

    That’s to be expected from You Season 4, Part 1, which trades the U.S. for England (London, to be exact) and is built around a murder mystery. In the past, the audience has always been aware that Joe Goldberg (Penn Badgley) is responsible for the majority of the mayhem unfolding on screen, because, more often than not, we’ve been witness to it. But in this new season, Joe, now posing as a literature professor named Jonathan Moore, is the one playing catch-up as the privileged dead bodies pile up around him. 

    There’s a serial killer preying on London’s elite, a group that Joe/Jonathan suddenly finds himself in, despite his “off the rack” ensembles and desire to maintain a low profile. Joe/Jonathan spends the early episodes wondering if he is in fact the “Eat the Rich” killer, before realizing he’s actually the target of a frame job. Or is he? And what insights can we glean about the final five episodes from the books and short stories peppered throughout Part 1? Along with the usual speculation about whodunit, we’ve put together the biggest questions we have after watching You Season 4, Part 1, some of which will hopefully be answered when Part 2 is released on March 10. 

    What did Joe say to Lady Phoebe to turn her into his biggest fan?

    In the Season 4 premiere, “Joe Takes a Holiday,” Joe/Jonathan finds himself at Sundry House, one of the most exclusive clubs in London, as his reward for coming to Kate Galvin’s (Charlotte Ritchie of the U.K. Ghosts) aid. Kate’s boyfriend Malcolm Harding (Hope Street’s Stephen Hagan) enjoys introducing this outsider to their friends, watching as they mostly dismiss Joe/Jonathan outright. But Lady Phoebe (Tilly Keeper, EastEnders), a socialite seemingly with a heart of gold, practically adopts Joe/Jonathan after their first meeting. 

    It’s a surprising turn of events, given that, when we see them at Sundry House, Phoebe is weeping next to an absinthe-addled Joe/Jonathan. And yet, after that fateful night, Phoebe welcomes Joe into her circle, despite her friends’ disapproval and Kate’s suspicions. What exactly did he tell her shortly before Malcolm’s murder to win her over? Did he just repurpose a quote from one of the many books he’s read? Or did he share some insight into her relationship with Adam (The White Lotus’ Lukas Gage) that eventually feeds into her realization at midseason that her boyfriend doesn’t see her as an equal? 

    Who is the woman photographer who keeps trying to take Joe’s picture?

    Joe may have a solid new alias as Jonathan Moore, a Columbia grad with a good credit score, but he’s still doing his best to keep a low profile. He lies about his work visa status to prevent Kate from telling the police who rescued her from the muggers (though she then takes pleasure in telling the police about the lie after parts of Malcolm start turning up). And when he finds himself surrounded by paparazzi outside of Sundry House or a funeral mass, he repeatedly ducks to avoid one photographer who seems determined to take his picture. Who is this woman, and why is she so curious about Joe? Does she also think he looks like “a waiter,” as Kate puts it, and is wondering why he’s suddenly part of London’s most exclusive social circle? 

    Will Elliot, the Quinns’ fixer, really leave Joe alone?

    In a flashback, we see Joe accosted by Elliot (Adam James), who claims to be a fixer for the Quinns. It seems Love’s dad didn’t really buy the murder-suicide story Joe concocted, so he commissioned Elliot to track down his former son-in-law and kill him. But, as it turns out, Joe and Elliot are going through matching existential crises: They both claim that they don’t want to hurt people anymore. Joe’s recidivism rate suggests this isn’t more than a passing feeling, but Elliot genuinely looks weary. So, he offers to lie to the Quinns about killing Joe in exchange for some kind of rainy day fund Love had that Joe made sure to empty out before going to Europe.

    This all seems a little too convenient, of course, so Elliot complicates things by telling Joe he has to kill Marienne, because she’s the only other person who knows Joe’s alive. Joe can’t bring himself to do it, even though he’s already chased Marienne down once, only to have her pull a knife on him. Joe (who’s not yet fully Jonathan Moore at this point) merely snatches her necklace and sends Elliot a photo of it with the message “It’s done.” 

    Later, Joe/Jonathan suspects that Elliot is the person framing him. But when Joe confronts Elliot via FaceTime, the latter denies everything, saying just before destroying his phone that he had managed to "rise above it all." But is Elliot really going to keep his end of the bargain? Maybe he will, like Joe, have a slip-up and decide he wants to have his cake (Joe’s money) and eat it too (get vengeance for the Quinns). Just because he isn’t the “Eat the Rich” killer doesn’t mean that he won’t want a pound of flesh from Joe. 

    How did Joe end up with Malcolm’s ring if he’s not the “Eat the Rich” killer?

    Early on, Joe/Jonathan thinks cozying up to Vic (Sean Pertwee), Lady Phoebe’s very loyal bodyguard, will allow him to blend in. But he overplays his hand, as Vic does not share his disdain for the uber-privileged. In Episode 3, “Eat the Rich,” Vic ambushes Joe/Jonathan at Malcolm’s grave. As he shares his suspicions, he pats Joe/Jonathan down and finds Malcolm’s emerald pinkie ring, the one that was on the very finger that was mailed to the press. Vic thinks, with good reason, that only the killer would have the ring.

    It’s possible the bodyguard was in cahoots with Rhys Montrose (Star Trek: Picard’s Ed Speleers), who is revealed to be the killer in Episode 5, “The Fox and the Hound.” Rhys has straddled the worlds of the working class and the rich, winning over people from all classes — maybe including Vic — on his road to announcing a bid for London mayor. Joe/Jonathan briefly thinks someone on the street slipped it into his pocket, but he donned a freshly dry-cleaned suit for Simon Soo’s (Aidan Cheng) funeral, so how could he still have it on him? He’s not wearing a coat when Vic gets the drop on him. Could this mean there’s more to uncover about Rhys’ modus operandi in Part 2?

    Will Kate look into Joe’s shady past, now that he's confirmed he has one?

    Kate is much more level-headed than any of her friends, so even before Malcolm goes missing or she learns that Joe/Jonathan dismembered his body postmortem, she expresses her doubts about the bearded professor. She verbally eviscerates Joe on multiple occasions and regularly questions what his intentions are now that he’s a part of Phoebe’s clique (Kate may have the wealthiest family, but these people run on Phoebe Time). 

    Joe/Jonathan eventually gets under Kate’s skin (and her clothes), and they hook up at Hampshire. But in “The Fox and the Hound,” Kate is horrified to learn how proficient Joe/Jonathan is at hiding Gemma’s dead body. She demands an explanation while holding a knife to his throat, and Joe/Jonathan presents the usual half-truths: He says he was married to a woman who was “rich and spoiled” and “did very bad things.” He acts like his only mistake was in trying to “[stick] it out with her for too long.” Joe tells Kate that getting out of that relationship cost him his son.  

    Miraculously, she accepts this explanation, even though he won’t provide her with any other details. It could be the post-sex afterglow, but Kate is also shown to be as big-hearted as Phoebe (though considerably less intoxicated). She may have been swayed by Joe/Jonathan’s obvious heartache over his son, but, given that she won’t speak to her own father because of his misdeeds, we don’t think this discussion is over. Surely Kate will want to do some investigating of her own — or maybe she’ll even get in touch with her father, who could easily track down this info. Speaking of…

    Who is Tom Lockwood?

    Here’s what we know about Kate’s dad: He’s an “activist investor” a.k.a “corporate raider,” i.e., a proponent of voracious capitalism, the kind of guy who will whitewash an executive’s history of sexual abuse to turn a profit from that company. We’re not merely inferring this from the fact that Tom Lockwood’s wealth far exceeds that of just about anyone else on earth. Kate lays this all out for Joe/Jonathan while explaining why she’s estranged from her father. 

    When Joe/Jonathan suggests she ask her dad to work his magic over the “Gemma was found murdered in your room” situation, Kate visibly recoils. She says her father would “own her” if she asked for that kind of favor, and she refuses to be under his thumb. (Again, the kind of reaction that makes us think she won’t let Joe’s hints of abandoning his old life go unexplored.) But Kate already accepts, or tolerates, the security detail Lockwood assigns to her, though they turn out to be not all that helpful. Kate asks the men in black to help Joe/Jonathan when Roald (Ben Wiggins) tries to pin the killings on him and summarily decides to execute him. Yet, when Rhys traps Joe/Jonathan and Roald in some subterranean prison at the manor — which he sets ablaze when Joe/Jonathan won’t go along with his plan — it’s Kate who helps them escape. 

    In any case, there’s no way Lockwood remains a presence in name only on the show. If Rhys is ambitious enough to be a serial killer while also running for office, then he’s bound to set his sights on an even bigger target. He seemed to want Kate dead, so why not throw in her dad as well? And while we’re on the subject…

    Can we really trust what we’ve seen unfold in Season 4 so far?

    Once Joe/Jonathan realizes he’s being framed, he starts researching his most loathed genre, the mystery novel (or, as he snarks, “word searches for adults”). But a student of his, Nadia (Amy-Leigh Hickman), admonishes him for being a stick in the mud about this classic form of storytelling. She outlines some of the tropes from Agatha Christie’s work, and when he’s being too conventional in his sleuthing, urges him to think outside the box (and it works). 

    You seems caught up in the recent trend of shows deconstructing the genres of the very stories they’re telling. Wouldn’t it stand to reason that we’re not getting the full picture? The show isn’t as pointed about this as, say, Only Murders in the Building, but there’s definitely some meta commentary. The short stories that Joe/Jonathan assigns to his students — Ted Chiang’s “Hell Is the Absence of God,” Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart” and “The Man of the Crowd” — touch on the very themes of the season, if not the show: guilt, identity, love, redemption, and the redemptive power of love.

    Even before Malcolm's murder and the frame job, Joe/Jonathan is reading the postmodern mystery Maxwell's Demon by Steven Hall, which also feels like a clue. Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking (the second of Didion’s works to appear on the show, after Play It As It Lays) is referenced multiple times, and what does Joe/Jonathan’s second (really, more like sixth or seventh) chance call for, if not some “magical thinking,” or faith that he deserves to start over?

    And we’ve already seen certain mystery conventions play out after being invoked: Simon was Joe’s first suspect and the second victim (a classic Christie twist, as Nadia says). One of the cardinal motives for murder that Nadia lists — sex, money, revenge — could apply to Rhys, if you think he’s been killing his old Oxford chums because they have money. None of those three is a perfect fit, but Rhys has yet to really expound on his motivations. Joe/Jonathan heads to the country with a copy of The Fatal Englishman, a kind of triptych biography, which could offer some context for Rhys' mission, as he's clearly still wrestling with his working-class upbringing and wealthy roots even after writing a memoir. There’s also the possibility that something is being lost in translation or happening off-screen. We are primarily experiencing this European vacation through Joe/Jonathan’s eyes, after all — Badgley seems to be on-screen more than ever in Season 4. Joe/Jonathan could very well be innocent, but given his past, there’s a good chance there’s more to this story.

    You Season 4, Part 1 is now streaming on Netflix. Part 2 premieres on March 10. Join the discussion about the show in our forums

    Danette Chavez is the Editor-in-Chief of Primetimer and its biggest fan of puns.

    TOPICS: You (Netflix series), Netflix, Charlotte Ritchie, Ed Speleers, Eve Austin, Penn Badgley, Stephen Hagan, Tilly Keeper