Netflix just dropped the second half of You season 4—and whew. Where the first half dragged in places, presenting unlikeable characters and then promptly killing them (to Joe's horror, for once!), part two of You season four is where everything comes together. The twists come thick and fast, from the series' pivotal Big Bad twist (it's not who you think!) to the smaller, still jaw-dropping twists that follow throughout part two. So let's talk about those twists and the ending of You part 2, shall we? (Spoilers ahead, obviously.)
Before the ending, we need to discuss the biggest twist of the series' history, after which Joe's whole European excursion makes a lot more sense. When a facade-less, cruel, power-hungry Rhys caught back up with Joe (via breaking into his flat) at the start of Episode 6, he had a clear proposition for him: frame someone for the Eat The Rich murders, or Joe/Jonathan will go down for it all. Once Lady Phoebe's stalker is arrested for the crimes (more on that later), Rhys' next mission is to kill Kate's dad Tom Lockwood, who's set to enter the London mayoral race.
Joe finds himself stuck between his nemesis and his lover's father, a billionaire tycoon who knows his real identity. Lockwood wants to ruin Rhys' reputation, so Joe tries to tape his confession, but the author is too smart for that. He also has the ultimate bargaining chip: Marienne, locked away somewhere, with her passport for proof. So, Joe tries to kill Lockwood, but the tycoon offers Joe Rhys' location. (He's absconded to the country after a press leak revealed that he embellished some of his memoir.)
Joe goes to Rhys' house, where the author's alone, and forces his way in when Rhys pretends not to know him. He interrogates him with some gruesome "ball torture" (luckily all left to the imagination), but Rhys insists he doesn't know anything. After Joe snaps and strangles him to death, the truth is revealed, as another Rhys appears and walks over to the dead body. See, the real-life mayoral candidate had really never met Joe. The Rhys we know has been an apparition, the darker side of Joe's subconscious that he has been pushing down all season, coming out to play. All this time, the Eat The Rich Killer and Marienne's kidnapper really was... Joe.
Thankfully, hallucination Rhys (who will hereby be referred to as Rhys, while the real man will be Real Rhys) gives a flashback-laden explanation of all the clues. Whenever Joe spoke to him, they were either out of earshot of the others, or everyone saw Joe talking to himself and assumed he was high as well. Joe had really become obsessed with Real Rhys before he even became Jonathan Moore, and that became his mental alter ego as he dissociated while kidnapping Marienne (he drugged her at the train station when we saw him steal her necklace); killing Malcolm; killing Simon (and returning back to his spot on the bench outside the gallery); and killing Gemma. Joe never really thought the wealthy clique was worth saving (let's be honest, they suck) and his dark side, appearing to him as Rhys, went into overdrive to overcompensate for his "redemption fetish." And Joe has dissociated so much that he can't remember where he put Marienne, since he still refuses to accept the dark side of him.
So, that's the twist that explains just why Joe has spent this whole season playing white knight to these horrible people (and Kate and Phoebe). It's a genuinely great storytelling twist, in terms that it came out of nowhere and still made sooooo much sense. Plus, after seasons of discourse over whether the show was just glamorizing a serial killer, we finally saw the true horror of who Joe is, in Episode 8's excellent sequence from Marienne's point of view. (More on that later.)
Lady Phoebe and Adam
Though I actually came to enjoy Lady Phoebe as a character more than even Kate by the end of the show, we need to get her arc out of the way since it barely affects the Joe of it all. After they reconciled during the nightmare country weekend, Adam plans to propose to Phoebe, who's a bit paranoid about the ETR Killer and has upped her security. Unfortunately, during Kate's event, a stranger named Dawn, who believes herself to be Phoebe's best friend and has been stalking her, locks her in a room to "protect her." It's a harrowing situation, but Joe distracts Dawn long enough for Phoebe to wrestle the knife away, and the stalker gets arrested for both the kidnapping and all the prior killings.
After weeks of worrying about a serial killer targeting her friends, this traumatic incident sends Phoebe over the edge. She's vulnerable and in need of some medical health, which Adam unfortunately recognizes and pounces on, proposing to her immediately after and convincing her to turn their engagement party into a surprise wedding. It's obviously a ploy for Adam to get access to her fortune, which Kate immediately recognizes, but Phoebe is being manipulated and kept on tranquilizers, with none of her other so-called friends caring about her fragile mental state. After the wedding is completed (with Kate and Joe kicked out by Adam), Phoebe has a nervous breakdown roaming the streets of London, and she's taken into psychiatric care.
The rest of her story mostly happens off-screen, but she does get a happy ending. Adam gets his abusive hands on her money, but a mysterious group of hired guns dispose of him during what he thought would just be some rough sex. After his death, along with so many of her false friends, Phoebe leaves London to teach English to children in Thailand, in anonymity and happiness.
Now Kate's dad, Tom Lockwood, is the real Big Bad of the season. (Besides Joe, of course.) He's very charming and convincing, playing Kate's devoted dad, but once he lets the mask slip that charm turns terrifying and you sense the devil that Kate knows. In reality, he is devoted, but only because he believes Kate is eternally his property, his brilliant chosen heir. In Episode 9, he reveals that he's been pulling strings in Kate's life this whole time; he's put in a call for every job, her flat, the cover-ups of Malcolm and Simon's indiscretions (some she didn't even know about, like Malcolm's sexual harassment claim that either came from Nadia or some other student). The independent life she was proud of building all came from him, and now he wants her to stop playing at freedom and come collect her inheritance.
This devastates Kate, who has spent years feeling guilty for the damage she did when she was trying to be his perfect heir. (That whole giving kids cancer for a pipeline thing was actually her doing when she was 19.) She tells Joe everything, and how stuck she felt, not knowing that he and her father had already had prior dealings with Rhys' death. Also, Rhys' body has since been found, making it clear that Lockwood planned for Joe to get caught and sent to prison, which would deal with the whole "a wife stabber is dating his daughter" problem. (Rhys really had some great lines this run.)
So, after having a hallucinatory epiphany about how to end the cycle of killing (again, more on that later), Joe decides to do one last "act of service" and kill Lockwood so Kate will finally be free. He teams up with his dark side to confront the billionaire in his plane hangar, which, like most of Joe's murder plans, has some hiccups. Lockwood's bodyguard Hugh comes in before the deed is done, and Joe has to kill him in self-defense. Lockwood also uses his smooth talking to stall Joe for a while, but then he turns the tables, explaining that Joe's trying to protect Kate beyond what's appropriate, and that the two men are the same. Hearing the truth, Joe snaps and suffocates him. He then quickly doctors the murder scene (like kind of too quickly?), decoding Lockwood's banking info and pinning the crime on Hugh, who "stole" two million pounds from him.
Joe (ft. Love)
Even once Joe realizes that Rhys is really him (thanks to some spy-cam footage), and that he's really the deranged murderer that he always refused to be, it still takes him a while to really internalize it. He has incentive to accept the dark side of him—he has to unlock his memories to remember where he's keeping Marienne—but he's holding onto the delusion that he can change, that he doesn't have to kill (that he isn't "full fat, extra sugar, deep-fried fucking insane"). Rhys has good arguments that he's been doing exactly what Joe truly wanted—Malcolm insulted Marienne, Simon abused young artists, Gemma and Roald were onto him—but it's admittedly a lot to take. Eventually, Rhys reminds Joe that he hasn't taken Marienne food since the weekend at Hampsie, and leads him to a big clue: Real Rhys' favorite lunch spot is the Indian restaurant Joe took Kate to at the beginning of Episode 7, and Marienne's locked in The Cage in a nearby building. (Is it bad that I felt the wave of familiarity from The Cage showing up before I felt the terror?)
So finally, Joe is seeing Marienne while he's awake, and he immediately gives her some food and a sketchbook. He spends a day coming up with a plan to let Marienne go and flee the country (and meeting Kate at Phoebe's wedding). Eventually, in order to shut up Rhys' arguments that he should just kill Marienne, he takes some tranquilizers and has an epic hallucination sequence where Gemma(?), Beck(!), and Love(!!!) finally show him that all the stalking and innocent murders will only end with his death. So, he decides to let Marienne go and then kill himself...except by the time he gets back to The Cage, Marienne has overdosed.
Her death solidifies his suicide plan, though he takes a detour to kill Lockwood for Kate before taking him self out of the equation to ensure her ultimate protection. (You know, since all the women he "loves" end up dead.) He has a final talk and pseudo break-up with Rhys at the bridge—featuring stellar performances by Badgley and Speelers—before he jumps, and immediately regrets it. In his last moments, he realizes he should have fought harder for true love with Kate, and he dies. Then he wakes in a hospital room, and Kate's there.
At this point, Kate is the second person to know the "real" Joe—he's pretty much told her everything at this point, except the out-and-out killings—and she still loves him. Now he full-out tells her that he's killed people, thinking that she'll leave after she heads the truth, but she has already learned about Joe killing Real Rhys (and maybe Lockwood, but it's only hinted). Her father left his whole empire to her, and she tells Joe that he's the person who's made her believe that she's not a bad person. She believes he is good too, and that they can keep each other good. Now, after Love, Joe meets his true equal, someone who's capable of horrible things but is working to remain a good person.
With that, Kate and Joe are all in with each other, and he even tells her his real name. The next time we see them, Kate and Joe are a power couple back in New York, with Joe living back under his real name after Kate's spin doctors rebuilt Love's murder and his flight into a tragic story about how he escaped "killer Love Quinn." Kate runs the company, Joe bought a bookstore, and they run a philanthropic foundation together with the goal of changing the world. Though Joe is also now much more comfortable with tapping into his dark side to get things done. (Cue the best "Anti-Hero" needle drop there ever was and ever will be.)
In Part 2, Nadia got to prove that she was the second smartest person this season besides Joe (or third behind Lockwood, fourth if Rhys is a separate person... let's just go with third). She begins to suspect Joe after it's clear that Phoebe's stalker being the ETR Killer doesn't make much sense, investigating him with his own "if I were writing a mystery" framing. She even breaks into his flat and finds Marienne in The Cage before Joe even remembers where she is, and Nadia refuses to let Marienne just die in there.
So the two come up with a plan to get Marienne out and kill Joe. But when Nadia brings her boy-toy Edward down to see The Cage, it's already gone. The two students decide to build the case to finally take down Joe (with Edward using his dad's news info). Eventually, Nadia figures out that Joe always keeps souvenirs from his victims, so she breaks back into the flat while Edward keeps watch. She finds his Real Rhys stalking box, but when she gets out of the flat, Eddie's gone and Joe is there. With frightening confidence, Joe deletes all her evidence photos from her phone and offers her hush money. But then, as he steps towards her and she backs away, Nadia trips over Edward's dead body, throat slashed. He puts the knife in Nadia's hand right before the cops show up, and threatens her to tell them about him, cause they won't believe her. The frame job: Nadia discovered Eddie killed Real Rhys, and that's why she killed him. Via voiceover, Joe lets us know that Nadia refused to speak in her own defense, and still hasn't spoken from prison.
I didn't want to get deep into Marienne's story til we arrived at the end, cause after that ending with Joe on top of the world and full psycho, we need a bit of a happy ending. After Marianne's heart-breaking POV episode, where we see a dead-eyed Joe kidnap her, sedate her, lock her in The Cage, and tempt her with drugs, she's barely holding on when Nadia finds her.
Though they make a Plan A (using Joe's own M.O. in LA as inspiration), for Nadia to dose him with ketamine and Marienne to knife him, they also come up with a Plan B to "kill" Marienne. The whole part I skipped over earlier, where Joe discovers Juliette had been taken by a different guardian and Marienne overdosed in response, was actually a ruse. Instead, Nadia sent the texts about Juliette, and Marienne took enough beta blockers to slow down her heart rate to where Joe thought she was dead. After she "died," Joe didn't want Juliette to grow up searching for her mom forever, so he dumped Marienne on a public bench to be found. Nadia had followed her and used the ketamine to wake her back up (which does not seem medically sound but I'm okay with staying in the dark either way).
So while Joe thinks Marienne is dead, she's really back in Paris with Juliette, seeing his ascent from afar. Hopefully she'll never come on his radar again, but it's a terrifying thought that he could have doubts and send someone to double check. Still, if the Season 4 finale serves as a series finale, Marienne's safety is canon. If we do get a Season 5...maybe Marienne and Nadia (and somehow Ellie) team up to finally take him down once and for all.
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