YOU Season Premiere Review: Hello, YOU … Welcome to LA!

Television

Joe Goldberg is back on his bullshit.

The not so friendly neighborhood stalker/murderer returns on Netflix, where the series is allowed to be even darker than it ever was before (I hope you like the word “Fuck”). The events of YOU Season 2 Episode 1, and YOU Season 2 Episode 2 were enough to make your skin crawl.

The series, and Penn Badgley, wanted to make sure there were no delusions about who Joe is as a person. If you went into the new season star-eyed over a lovable “antihero” with a penchant for murdering the women he loves, then life came at you fast.

By the end of the premiere, there was a reality check for viewers.

Joe convinced himself that he’s well-intended or that the murder of Beck and many of her loved ones was some fluke or one-off series of misdeeds for him, but it’s not the case.He’s a serial stalker, murderer, and perverse individual, and it’s not something he can flip off like a switch.

If you recall (and feel free to check out our YOU Season 1 Reviews for a refresher), the final gasp-worthy moment on YOU Season 1 Episode 10 was when Joe’s presumed dead girlfriend, Candace, waltzed into his bookstore.

Candace returns with a vengeance, and it’s a fascinating potentiality for the remainder of the season.

She’s a living, knowledgable representative of those whom Joe hurt — more specifically, killed, and the most immediate threat to his exposure.

Candace: You did it again, didn’t you Joe?
Joe: What do you want, Candace?
Candace: To kill you with my bare hands. I’m kidding. I could never. I’m going to go to the cops and tell them everything. Nope, too easy on you.

It’s going to be satisfying when we find out the truth about what happened between them. Joe looked at her as if he saw a ghost, and it’s because of how they left things.

He thought he did kill her, and she casually mentioned how he left her for dead. She claimed she got a new name and life elsewhere, which is how she fell off the grid and never looked back.

She was hiding from Joe, and she had every reason to after what he did to her, but she found out about Beck, and it brought her out of hiding.

It made her brave and bold enough to confront the man who attempted to murder her and threaten to ruin him. Yes, Candace is a gamechanger character, she has her foot on his neck, and she’s the only person who rattled him enough to compel him to leave the state.

Love has taken me to dark places, but Los Angeles has got to be as dark as it gets. When you’re running from someone who thinks they know you, the best place to hide is somewhere they think you hate because you do.

Joe Voiceover

Joe ran to California to escape Candace. For a few moments, he became the prey rather than the predator.

To some degree, he remains the prey, but it hasn’t stopped him from returning to his sadistic ways.

We didn’t spend much time with Candace in the first couple of installments, but she’s a self-assured woman who wants to ruin Joe, but how does she expect to do it?

She didn’t reveal much about her plan, only stating that she wouldn’t resort to calling the police on him. She wants to hunt him and make him feel like one of his victims. She hopes to make him self-destruct to the point of him wanting to turn himself in by the time she’s done with him.

It sounds delicious in theory, but how exactly does she plan to achieve that? How does one execute something of that caliber?

Her confrontation with Joe was lax considering the circumstances, and she was, for some reason, unprepared for him bolting and getting the hell out of town.

She drove him away, and he believes she’s on some warpath to find him. Until she steps foot into the sunny city of LA, she doesn’t feel like an imminent threat to Joe.

It’s a deliberate choice. Joe is wary, but he thinks he’s comfortable in LA, for now. He has himself a nice new distraction, and after spending time with Love, he thinks of this personal hell as his home.

You win, Love. I’ll stay.

Joe Voiceover

The first installment played into what we saw of Joe during YOU Season 1. While it was never a doubt that he was a fucked up individual capable of monstrous things, there was always enough of a “Nice Guy” edge to him to endear him to fans.

It was easy for many to bend over backward to find ways around his twisted actions. He did have a terrible, traumatic, and abusive childhood. He’s an arrogant snob, but he’s also darkly funny and witty.

His initial light stalking was something not unlike what others do on the daily. He was a disturbingly familiar type of obsessed until he wasn’t.

And most of his misdeeds were shown as things that got away from him — a terrifying but desperate attempt to stay in control.

And it all led to him murdering the woman he professed to love. Unfortunately, Beck’s lack of likability influenced things as well.

An unpropitious byproduct of following the stalker killer is spending too much time in his head and viewing the other characters through his lens. We knew who and what he was, but it did nothing to change the reaction to an insipid, irksome Beck.

I just want to stop running, Love. I want a home.

Joe Voiceover

It speaks to a disturbing reflection on society. A victim doesn’t and shouldn’t need to be likable to be sympathetic and recognized as a victim.

We consciously know this, and yet, it influences our perception of matters anyway. To some, it may seem as though the message was lost.

However, it was realistic; it hit the note with exactitude. Our reactions are nothing if not real, which is what the series is so great at reflecting.

Regardless of your sentiments about Beck, it was chilling to see the ghost of her with bruising around her neck from where Joe strangled her.

We didn’t see him kill her, and it was a very thoughtful decision to not further perpetuate violence against women in a fictional sphere saturated with it.

Joe: I’m trying to do it right this time.
Ghost Beck: As opposed to with me. What went wrong with me, Joe? We both know what happened.
Joe: You can haunt me forever. You will never get me to say I did everything I could do for us.
Ghost Beck: Look at me, Joe.
Joe: No.
Ghost Beck: Look at me!
Joe: No, you are not here. I am not arguing with you!

Beck’s presence posthumously was no less effective and disheartening.

She’s haunting him, as she should, and something tells me his ritual of burning a letter he wrote to her won’t put him at ease. She still weighs on him in some way.

I’m uncertain how often we can expect to see flashes of Elizabeth Lail, but it wouldn’t be entirely unwelcome. As a form of his conscience chipping away at him, she’s more subdued and pointed.

Ghost Beck: Look at me, Joe. Sometimes we hurt the one we love, right? You’re not afraid Love will hurt you.. You’re afraid you will hurt her.
Joe: I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. No, please stay.

She also contributed to wonderfully captured scenes such as the callback to when he held her prisoner in the cage. Joe’s bloody hands pressed against the glass with the ghost of her looking back was one of the best visuals of the first two installments.

It seems he can’t quite shake Beck in the same way he did Candace. It hasn’t stopped him from devoting his energy to his latest obsession, Love.

Love is spirited, likable, and real. She feels like a genuine person and a close friend. It has already made Joe’s attraction to her disturbing.

She’s already drawn to Joe, and with Love, watching their scenes together gives you an uneasy feeling –one of dread. We know what Joe is capable of now, and Love is pleasant compared to her predecessors.

She’s passionate about food and life. She’s so vibrant and lively, and she’s experienced some hardships, including losing the love of her life, but she hasn’t allowed life to get her down.

Let me tell you a little bit about yourself, Will Bettelheim. You are not a snob. You’re just old-fashioned. You like things that are real, made right by people who care. You like strong flavors. Gimmicks don’t seduce you. What seduces you is the real thing. Therefore, roast chicken. In cooking school, they tell you that you can tell everything you need to know about a person by their roast chicken.

Love

She’s smart, and it gives you some hope that maybe she can see through Joe at some point and get the hell out of dodge. She’s great at figuring people out.

Her quest to pinpoint what type of food would appeal to Joe was adorable had we not known Joe is mad in the head. She nailed it too — pegged him as the old-fashioned type with an appreciation for the simple things.

She’s falling for him hard and fast, and Joe doesn’t have to work as hard to get her attention. What’s troublesome is how they presented him as one who was fighting it off.

He acted as though he was fighting his baser instincts and wanted away from her to avoid repeating the same mistakes. Then it was revealed that he’s right back to the same ways.

Love: Will, you cannot hurt me.
Joe: I want to believe that….OK. Thank you.

He didn’t fight to keep Love at bay. Instead, he orchestrated every action and scenario –bent it to his favor to gain better access to her.

It shouldn’t have been, but it was shocking.

His actions were calculated from the apartment building he chose to his job at Anavirn (Nirvana spelled backward because of course). He didn’t even have a brief conversation to go on when he decided to focus all of his energy into obsessing about Love. All he had to do was see her.

By the time he was storing her stolen underwear in a trinket box, it was enough to make your stomach turn.

JoeVoiceover: I guess it’s goodbye Beck. I’m sorry. I really am. Goodbye, you. 
Love: How did that feel?
Joe:  Like a good first step. 
Joe voiceover: I still can’t wait to tell our story to our kids. How we decided to walk before we ran. How we started off as friends

Love believes she has found love again, and what she has discovered is an unassuming monster. Like the series loves to remind us, no one ever suspects anything from the normal-looking, relatively handsome white guy.

Fortunately, he hasn’t done anything to anyone in her life yet, but he has already gotten his hands dirty with how he’s handled things with Will, whose identity he stole, and Jasper.

He got himself in quite a pickle with Will. His plan to buy a new identity had a few holes in it, but he found Will’s actual identity to be more beneficial.

The guy should’ve known better than to go on about how many years it took him to get an iron-proof identity while maintaining little to no digital footprint. It was a decade in the making.

Somehow, Joe found the time to build a replica of the cage in Mooney’s basement. His intentions are clear if he had that plan in the works in the first place.

Who is Jasper? Why is he looking for you, Will? How are we going to take care of this problem?

Joe

The situation with Will shows that for someone smart, Joe makes the worst choices. He gets himself into more trouble than warranted by behaving impulsively.

Nothing good can come from keeping Will hostage. How do you release him and trust that he won’t go to the authorities? You don’t.

Even Will’s criminal activities don’t ensure the necessary mutual destruction that keeps them both alive and avoiding a prison sentence.

The only way Will gets out of that cage is in a black trash bag.

You have the benefit of being a white dude. No one ever suspects shit when it’s a white dude.

Will

He’s keeping him for all that he’s worth, not unlike the early days of when he held Benji prisoner.

But keeping Will is more trouble than it’s worth. Will’s mental illness alone made him difficult to manage. It’s also possible that more people could come after Will.

Didn’t they say Jasper worked with the Russian mafia? Who’s to say anything stops at him?

Joe will miss more than a cut off finger if the mafia is involved. It’s a whole different set of problems he’s facing in LA that have nothing to do with his obsession.

Sometimes I wonder if I understand love at all. The thing transforms us but into what? Love turned me into something else back then with Beck. My hope now is that you can transform me into something better. Because if this is all that I am. I may as well turn myself into Candace.

Joe Voiceover

Jasper had to work for someone, and whoever that person or organization is, they’ll want to know where their enforcer went.

Unfortunately for them, he’s ground meat now. The move from Lifetime to Netflix means we’ll likely get some doozy scenes like this, and I shudder to think what else is on the agenda.

Yet, the editing of the scene was spectacular — Joe chopping up Jasper intercut with Love deboning some meat, Joe vomiting with her cracking eggs of the same hue, it was inspired, to say the least.

Yeah, I just wanted to stop thinking about it and just do it.

Love[after kissing Joe]

As inspired as Joe’s creative disposal of a body. Did he at least clean the meat grinder?

Maybe not, since this is the same guy who didn’t wash his hands directly after masturbating at work to some daydream of Love getting naughty with him.

Dear, God, Joe. Why are you like this?

They have kept a bit of his endearing knack for connecting with those younger than him.

Ellie is a precocious, savvy teen who can give Joe a run for his money. He’s taken a bit of a liking to her even though they got off on the wrong foot.

She managed to do something for him that no one else could: she got the luddite onto social media and showed him how to navigate it in a convincing way.

She and Delilah are both smart girls, and they’re the type to catch on to Joe real quick. The second season has presented us with savvier characters who might not have Joe figured out, but they’re smart enough to suspect something is off with him.

Ellie is vigilant and pays attention to everything happening around her. It can be a blessing or a curse for Joe.

It’s funny, Joe did what he does best and made snap judgments about LA and the people who live there. He wrote the whole city off as a place filled with fake people. And, don’t get me wrong, they are some characters — quintessential Angelenos.

You act nice because you’re not, and I may not know what kind of bad you are, but I got my radar the hard way, so stay the fuck away from me and my sister, OK? So have a fantastic day. 

Delilah

However, most of the characters they’ve introduced us to, and the ones they’ve placed in his orbit in a close capacity are some of the most real people he’s met.

They cut through the pretenses and don’t easily fall for bullshit. For example, Delilah seems vapid and shallow on the outside, but her final scene with Joe was enlightening and thrilling.

She had a hard life, and it has made her good at reading people well. She doesn’t know what Joe’s deal is, but she’s certain he’s a terrible person masquerading as a nice guy.

She isn’t wrong, and her blunt delivery and candor about her perception of Joe caught him off guard.

He’s not used to someone calling him out like that. She warned him against coming anywhere near her or her sister, but I doubt Joe will heed it.

He can’t help himself. He is the type who will try to feign hero and do something about Hendy.

It will be self-serving because of a need to get Delilah on his side and throw her suspicions away.

Her story about Hendy wasn’t unlike many before. He’s a famous man who violates young girls, specifically underaged, women of color.

He knows how to pick the perfect victim. His word as a famous, rich white guy is stronger, right?

Joe didn’t have a pleasant experience with him either. It’s a chance Hendy will end up one of Joe’s victims by the season’s end.

Speaking of: Joe’s LA Body Count: 1

Let’s see how many people he’ll add to it by the end of the season.

Over to you, YOU Fanatics. Did you enjoy the premiere? Is it holding up to the first season so far?

What are your impressions of the new characters? Do you think they’ve done a better job at reminding us how creepy and disturbing Joe is? Hit the comments below!

You can watch YOU online here via TV Fanatic. 

Jasmine Blu is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.

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