Hello, you. We’re about to break down the Netflix thriller’s second season premiere, so if you don’t want to be spoiled, lock yourself in a cage and get to streaming!
“Love has taken me to dark places, but Los Angeles has got to be as dark as it gets,” Penn Badgley‘s character muses in the opening scene of YOU‘s second season. And although he isn’t technically wrong, it’s important to remember that this guy isn’t exactly the most reliable narrator.
After all, in looking back at the events of Season 1 — in which he murdered his girlfriend, Guinevere Beck, along with several of her closest friends — Joe Goldberg says, “I was brave. I was vulnerable. I won her the old-fashioned way. I tried to do everything right. I knew you have to do anything for love, so I did. I did whatever I had to. Whatever it took.” He even manages to shift the blame to Beck, saying, “She went digging for things that should have stayed buried. The bottom line is: She couldn’t love me back. And our love died.”
Whether Joe actually believes the garbage he’s spouting is beside the point. The fact is that Beck wasn’t the first girl whose life he destroyed — and she wouldn’t be the last. This brings us to Candace, Joe’s presumed-dead ex who reappeared in the final scene of the first season finale. “You did it again, didn’t you?” she asks him, threatening to call the police and tell them everything. But before Candace has a chance to take him down, Joe slips out of her hands like a murderous bar of soap, hopping a one-way flight to Los Angeles.
“It’s the worst city in the world, and the last place I want to be, and that’s perfect,” he says of L.A., referring to himself as “a quiet guy who just wants to lead a quiet life.” (Sure, Jan.) Now going by the name Will Bettelheim, he procures a modest apartment in an unassuming complex, where he intends to turn over a new leaf.
Joe — er, Will — immediately gets to know his new neighbors, including 15-year-old Ellie, a “precocious unsupervised kid who thinks she’s not a kid,” and her older sister Delilah, who warns him, “You Alay a finger on her, I will vivisect your individual scrotums.” (Yeah, there’s a reason Delilah works as an investigative reporter and not as a doctor.)
Because all reformed serial killers require a steady cash flow, Will lands a job in the book section of Anavrin (“nirvana” spelled backwards!), a bougie grocery store where he meets his new “You.” And wouldn’t you know it, her name is literally Love. Her parents own Anavrin, though you wouldn’t know it from her unassuming disposition; unlike Forty, her tool of a brother who saunters around like he owns the place, she’s more reserved. (Joe also sneaks into the supply room to think about her and masturbate, something he apparently likes to do in any city.)
Love takes Joe on a food tour of Los Angeles, convinced she can change his mind about hating the city. Over the course of the evening, he learns that she went to cooking school, that she was married, and that her husband died almost two years earlier. They develop a genuine connection, and Joe begins to wonder if he was wrong about giving up on love.
Then we learn there are a lot of things Joe hasn’t given up. For example, his beloved cage is alive and well, this time in a Los Angeles storage facility. It’s there that he’s keeping his current victim, a poor guy named — wait for it — Will Bettelheim, whose identity he’s using to create his new life.
Worst of all, it was no mere accident that Joe happened to meet and fall for Love. He had already done his research ahead of time, even making sure to rent an apartment within spying distance of her place. (That Joe, he always thinks of everything.)
Your thoughts on YOU‘s long-awaited return? Grade the premiere below, then drop a comment with your full review. (And be sure to check back in the coming days for more coverage, including plenty of insight from Badgley.)