You season 2 on Netflix was my last binge of 2019, and, boy, was it a doozy. This show gets wilder and wilder, yet somehow it manages to steer just clear of falling off the cliff of complete insanity. My main takeaway: Penn Badgley is one of the most underrated actors of this generation. And I might have a thing for serial killers.
Season 2 finds Joe Goldberg in Los Angeles — the last place a cynical, sun-fearing New Yorker would voluntarily go. But Joe has had to start over because his pesky ex, Candace, has returned from the dead. Annoying.
So Joe is now Will Bettelheim, typical LA grocery store employee and normal guy. Well, except for the whole keeping people in cages things and his stalker-ish tendencies. But his intentions are good, he swears!
It doesn’t take long for Will to find his next “love” interest. And funnily enough, her name happens to be Love. She’s wholesome, maternal, and free-spirited. Everything that Beck wasn’t. She’s real. And Will is going to become a better man for her. No more stalking, no more murdering. Love will be his life source. Nothing could go wrong, right?
Give This Man’s Face All the Awards
I don’t want to give away too much about this season because you truly need to watch it to enjoy the rollercoaster ride, but Penn Badgley shines as Will. There are few people who could play such a loathsome character and make you like them. Because unfortunately, I do like Will/Joe. His inner monologue is smart, funny, and charming. And despite the fact that he’s full-on crazy, he almost has you believing his intentions are good. He only murders bad guys, misogynists, or sexual predators. It just so happens that other people get caught up in his savior schemes.
And that believably and charm is due in (large) part to Penn Badgley’s face. The expressions this face can make are award-worthy. His smile is disarming. His cheekbones are akin to the blade of a knife. His eyes can smize all day while really they’re plotting how to get you out of the picture for good. His body helps too. His lithe frame can prowl and creep with the best of them. His face and body are so attuned with this character, it’s hard to look away. The dissonance between his thoughts and actions make him all the more intriguing. It’s hard to guess what he will do next, despite his inner monologue constantly putting us in his head.
That’s not to say I want to praise Will/Joe as a character. He’s vile at the end of the day. But Penn Badgley epitomizes that vileness so well. Will isn’t a caricature — he feels wholly real and terrifying. Will he have mercy on you and let you out of his cage? Or will his claws come out to fatally slash you?
Your Typical LA Crowd
This new season of You also introduces us to so many fun new characters to foil Will. There’s the aforementioned Love Quinn, Will’s new obsession, and her twin brother Forty, played brilliantly by Victoria Pedretti (who you might recognize from The Haunting of Hill House) and James Scully, respectively. The twins’ parents own Anavrin, – nirvana backward (kill me) — the grocery store-cum-lifestyle mecca with a measly table of books where Will finds work. Love is honest and bold. She chases Will, rather than the other way around. She’s the one who wants to get serious, and she lashes out when Will wants to take things slow. There are warning signs throughout this story that Love is not exactly what she seems.
These warning signs only flash brighter when Forty gets involved. Co-dependent, emotional, and spoiled, Forty brings Will’s plans to heel throughout the season –sometimes on purpose, more often as a side-effect of his co-dependency with Love and his flights of fancy. Season 2 of You brings out smarter, bolder characters than season 1, which means Will has to work harder and think faster. Often times, he can’t keep up. You can probably guess what that leads to*.
Los Angeles is a character in itself this season; it feels so much larger and more prominent than New York was in season 1 — maybe because it can be so easy to satirize. We get every LA stereotype you can think of — moon-juice drinking, melodramatic Hollywood wannabes, hipsters of every kind, and in the middle there’s Will. Out of place in his nondescript clothes with his literary references, yet seemingly a breath of fresh air to all these Angelenos. Might be how he gets away with things for so long….
It looks like Will/Joe/whoever he might be next will continue getting away with it. There have been hints of a third season, none more obvious than the cliffhanger ending in the season finale. Has Will found love with Love? Or will there be another You? I’ll definitely be tuning in to find out.
Do you love/hate Will as much as I do? Did you think this season had just the right amount of crazy? Let’s talk in the comments!
Season 2 of You is streaming now on Netflix now
*spoiler alert: it’s murder
Emily is an interior designer by day, book nerd by night. When not talking aloud to her cat, Luna (named after the Luna you're thinking of, hopefully), she can be found scrolling through Netflix for hours, until finally giving up and snuggling in bed with her kindle because she's already watched all of the good stuff. She loves donuts of all shapes and sizes, Chipotle burritos, and alpacas (not to eat - shouldn’t have paired that with two other food items…). If you want to get on her good side, bring up Harry Potter, true crime, or podcasts - better yet something that combines all three.