by Natasha Maya
Note: This is a spoiler-free review.
You: a series that makes me feel somewhat like a creep. Although I – a perfectly normal, sane person (I swear) – is against the idea of stalking and murdering, I can’t help but love the premise of this series.
The last episode of Season 1 left us all at a cliffhanger; confused, shook and hungry for more. So when Season 2 finally aired, I was beyond psyched. And let me tell you, Season 2 did not disappoint.
The second season kicks off in a new setting, a stark contrast from the gritty and hectic city of New York to the superficially polished wonderland that is Los Angeles. Running away from the psycho ex that he failed to kill, Joe Goldberg is forced to take on a new identity and start a new, albeit temporary life. At first, everything goes smoothly, until he locks eyes with yet another “love of his life”. And the best part? Her name is literally – “Love”; which is a great premise for puns like “I need to stay away from Love,” and “Love is not for me”, leading up to the show’s theme of psychotic obsession veiled by the pretence of “love”.
And thus begins another cycle of Joe wearing his “cap of invisibility” to stalk or murder his prey. However, in this season, the storyline delves deeper into making Joe a humane character as we get a peek into his past and how his childhood was shaped by a broken mould. But Joe’s not the only fleshed out character in this series. As the episodes go on, the side characters actually feel like real people with real problems instead of mindless plot-devices. And in the end, all these characters manage to tie the whole storyline together like a bow on a box full of mystery, suspense and drama. All I have to say is, get ready for the plot twist at the end, you most probably won’t see it coming (*wink*).
“Murder has a way of following you.”
A simple yet well-structured sentence that makes so much sense once you finish watching the series. The sentence itself manages to relate the past to the present while giving a promise of the future. Although this show originates from a novel written by Caroline Kepness, it has no trouble combining the text with visuals.
Each episode begins with a captivating monologue which provides an insight into what really goes on inside Joe’s head. This way of narration allows audiences to understand and even sympathize with a self-righteous, psychotic man despite knowing that his actions aren’t actually justified. It also helps that Joe happens to be a bibliophile, giving him an excuse to speak in metaphors and analogies without being out of character.
The storyline flows smoothly with each scene serving a purpose and every episode ending with a perfectly articulated cliffhanger. The dialogue between characters also comes off naturally despite the difficulty of pulling off the portrayal of such complex characters. For example, Forty (Love’s brother) deals with a lot of complex issues and his dialogue manages to demonstrate it without sounding cringy or trying too hard. However, there are also unnecessary characters who don’t exactly add any value to the storyline *cough* Love’s friends *cough*. Now don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the diversity and representation but man, these characters are so… 2D. Their personalities feel forced and I can barely feel the dynamic between them together. But at least these characters are decently likeable enough, so the script is still pretty good to me.
Even the shocking ending makes sense as you come to the realization that various scenes in the show subtly point towards it. Just keep your eyes peeled and your ears open. There are lots of easter eggs in Season 2.
I genuinely don’t know how Penn Badgley went from average middle-class dude – Dan (from Gossip Girl) – to creepy-eyed stalker, Joe. But he somehow does it right. There are times when the camera zooms into his face and the intensity of his eyes actually gives me chills. It makes me feel like screaming at the characters, “Look at that face! How do you trust that face?!”.
Ambyre Childers also does a good job acting as Candace Stone who serves as the antagonist, somehow convincing the audience to dislike her when in reality, she’s the victim. Speaking of overbearing characters, I find Love Quinn a.k.a. Victoria Pedretti’s acting to be quite strained in the beginning, but it does become more natural towards the end. Though, I guess the script is to blame for making her spit out some very “fiction-type” phrases.
Jenna Ortega, who plays Ellie Alves, manages to capture the stereotypical teenage angst but other than that, her performance was pretty mediocre, as was that of her on-screen sister Delilah Alves, played by Carmela Zumbado. Despite the mundane acting, these two easily capture the audience’s hearts even long after the show ends.
And lastly, Forty Quinn, portrayed by James Scully. Now, there’s no denying that Forty is a hard character to portray, but James somehow makes it seem effortless. Forty’s chaotic energy can be felt through the screen, making him one of the realest characters in the show. He’s painstakingly obnoxious, clingy and selfish, but all done in a light manner. Honestly, I don’t think that there’s any other actor that can play Forty as well as James did.
In a nutshell, if you haven’t watched “You”, you should totally give it a try! It’s one of those must-watch Netflix series thanks to its wry, dark humour and seductive thrills. And when you finally start binge-watching Season 2, remember this: