You Season 3 Review: Joe and Love Shake Up Suburbia - VRGyani News and Media


Friday, October 15, 2021

You Season 3 Review: Joe and Love Shake Up Suburbia

From a storytelling perspective, You is a model exercise in concepts that should be diametrically opposed but somehow work in concert together. The obvious, front-facing nature of the plot revolves around a man named Joe Goldberg (Penn Badgley) who finds himself singularly obsessed with one woman — someone who becomes his sole focus to an absolutely unhealthy (and in most cases, violent) degree. But the Netflix series based on the novels by author Caroline Kepnes and now about to premiere its third season (with a fourth already greenlit), has always been very aware of itself too, to such a degree that its moments of levity are almost, almost enough to temporarily make you forget the kind of show you're really watching. Season 3, however, introduces the fun spin of not only sending Joe to the outwardly dull margins of suburbia, but shakes things up further because he's officially tied down now — to someone just as dangerous, or maybe even moreso, than he is.

Season 2 ended with the surprise reveal that Love Quinn, Joe's latest fixation played by Victoria Pedretti (The Haunting franchise), was pregnant with his child — so clearly, the obvious thing for Joe to do was to move his growing family out to the balmy Northern California town of Madre Linda, white picket fence and all. Those who watched last season know that Love isn't a wholly innocent person when it comes to her own past, either; her body count might not be as high as Joe's, but she's still done some pretty terrible things in the name of protecting those she cares about most. At first, You's third season reintroduces this couple to us in fairly normal circumstances; after the birth of their son, Henry (or "Forty," depending on who you ask), Joe and Love's lives are wholly revolving around sleepless nights and unending diaper changes. At the same time, they're both inwardly mourning the death of their old dynamic, missing the days when their relationship had excitement and thrills. Of course, it doesn't take long for these two to realize exactly how they can reignite the spark between them — and in typical You fashion, it involves a whole lot of violence.

The biggest thing that divides Joe and Love, however, is the stark difference in their respective modus operandi. Joe is careful, methodical, an agent of planning who wants to make sure that everything is meticulously laid out in exactly the way he prefers it. Next to him, however, Love is impulsive and spontaneous — and when she lashes out in a more passionate display of anger, it's uncontrolled and sloppy, leaving her to rely on her husband for any necessary clean-up job after the fact. It's no wonder, then, that this leads to a building resentment between them, and in turn becomes something that leads them to seek out help from an outside party — a couple's therapist, played with serenity and discernment by Daredevil's Ayelet Zurer.

RELATED: 'You' Season 2 Recap and Ending Explained: Everything You Need to Remember Before Season 3

In fact, one of the strengths of this season definitely happens to be the new cast of supporting characters surrounding Joe and Love in Madre Linda, ranging from momfluencers like Sherry Conrad (a terrifically wide-ranging Shalita Grant) and her supplement-shilling husband Cary (Travis Van Winkle) to Joe's new coworker at the local library, Marienne (Chilling Adventures of Sabrina's Tati Gabrielle) to more mysterious next-door-neighbors like the Englers, Matthew (Scott Speedman) and Natalie (Michaela McManus), the latter of whom becomes Joe's newest obsession when he begins to feel dissatisfied with his own home life. There's also Matthew's son Theo (Halloween Kills' Dylan Arnold), who develops a particularly unhealthy attachment to Love. Moreover, the suburban backdrop this season proves to be exactly the shake-up that You needed, and it feels like an extra degree of delicious torture to watch someone like Joe surrounded by parents talking about their childrens' gluten intolerance. Although the show itself makes a point to reference the recent and still ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, giving the audience a sense of timeline respective to real-life events within the narrative, it's a distant consideration. (Then again, one episode in particular that tackles the Quinn-Goldbergs' method of dealing with an anti-vaxxer family in their midst hits much closer to home as a result.)

The best part of You's third season is how it positions Joe and Love as two people who are both attempting to present a united front to the rest of the world while also struggling to trust each other at every turn. Pedretti's seemingly effortless ability to vacillate between Love's most open vulnerabilities and quiet, barely-contained rage is a reminder of why she was one of the best things to happen to this show in the first place, and she's more than an equal match for Badgley when they're on-screen together. Their scenes spent away from one another prove to be less compelling, to the point where I found myself eagerly waiting to get back to more of them — and was, by extension, almost disappointed as Joe's attention is lured away by another potential paramour.

In spite of its victories (and there are many), where Season 3 does stumble is in its lingering and unnecessary attempts to drum up sympathy for its lead. Flashbacks sprinkled throughout the 10 episodes introduce us to Joe's childhood, in which we're shown that his misguided instinct for trying to protect certain women was something engineered in him at a young age. Not only do they only succeed in interrupting the more exciting present-day plot, but they introduce Joe's underlying mommy issues as a revelation rather than something that could be naturally intuited. Three years in, there's no reason for the show to continue trying to make us feel pity for a person who consistently shows no remorse towards his victims whatsoever. You would be better served by not stopping to make excuses for Joe's behavior at this juncture, because it's actually at its best when it doesn't apologize for being a juicy, twisted thriller.

Grade: B+

Season 3 of You is available to stream on Netflix beginning October 15.

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