Joe Goldberg is not someone who can fit neatly into a psychiatric diagnosis. While he displays many traits of a sociopath or psychopath – manipulative, grandiose sense of self, pathological lying – his emotions are not shallow, he is indeed very capable of love in his own twisted way, and he most certainly feels some remorse.
Don’t keep reading if you haven’t watched Season 1!
Fans will surely be able to draw parallels with another television favourite serial killer and anti-hero, Dexter, especially as we get an in-depth view of Joe’s childhood and how it shaped the man he became. In the first season of You, Joe (Penn Badgley, Gossip Girl) obsessed and stalked Guinevere Beck (Elizabeth Lail), killing her boyfriend and best friend with the justification he was doing it for her own good. His intentions were quite noble; he had Beck’s best interests at heart.
But things didn’t always go according to plan, and the murders were mostly opportunistic, sometimes even accidents. At the end of Season 1, Beck was dead and Joe’s former girlfriend (we thought she was probably dead too) Candace (Ambyr Childers) pitched up in the final scene, leaving us all gasping in shock. Variations on “we need to talk” strike terror into any heart.
Season 2 opens with Joe moving from New York to Los Angeles, ostensibly to low-key begin anew. If this was in fact the case, there wouldn’t actually be a Season 2, so it’s no surprise to see him fixating on Love Quinn (Victoria Pedretti). Turns out, Joe didn’t let us down at all; their meeting in the produce section of terminally hip health store Anavarin was not as spontaneous as we initially think.
On top of that, Joe is now calling himself Will Bettelheim. It’s an identity stolen from the real Will (Robin Lord Taylor, Gotham), who’s being kept captive in the same glass cage transported (or replicated) from the basement of the NY book shop to a storage facility in the City of Angels. Real Will is inexplicably blasé about his incarceration, and the two form a weird bond.
It’s this relationship that leads Joe to having his finger chopped off (this is not an important detail so don’t dwell on it like I did, wondering if it was information I’d need later in the season) and his first kill of the season – another accident, and a gruesome disposal.
Things tick over at a brisk pace for the first seven episodes or so, with a much higher body count than Season 1.
Fleshing out this season is Love’s brother Forty (the parents are hippy owners of Anavrin where the ridiculously named twins work), played by James Scully, who, in stereotypical LA fashion, works in the film industry and is a bit of a self-obsessed chop. Joe develops a friendship with him too. Delilah (Carmela Zumbado) is Joe’s building manager at his new apartment block, and Ellie (Jenna Ortega) is her worldly 15-year-old sister. Delilah has a friend with benefits who is a cop, a mildly relevant detail.
Ellie helps Joe/Will set up his social media presence and he feels protective over her too. Which means the disturbing stories about celebrity Hendy (Chris D’Elia) and his penchant for drugging and abusing underage girls in his dungeon need to be addressed. For Ellie’s own good, of course.
Just to keep things interesting, Candace threatens – promises – Joe she will exact her revenge against him for trying to bury her alive. Victim turned villain, she turns up at a Quinn family party – on Forty’s arm – to wreak a bit of havoc of her own.
Things tick over at a brisk pace for the first seven episodes or so, with a much higher body count than Season 1 as Joe/Will lurches from one “heroic rescue” to the next. But then, just as complacency sets it, there is a sequence of huge interlinked twists which will leave viewers reeling. Without giving too much away, Love is not at all who we thought she was, and the season finale delivers some big punches, and a neat set-up for a potential third season.