Madness in love: Joe and Love in a still from the third season of 'You' Photograph:( Instagram )
Netflix’s thunderous success was looking at the possibility of losing its initial sheen in this third instalment. But, the new tale of ‘You’ is a testimony to what reinvention and well-chalked-out plot twists could do to a show some may say was already standing on the brink of obscurity.
At the risk of sounding troubled, we are going to admit that we have pined for Joe Goldberg’s (Penn Badgley)—“And then... I saw you”—deep-toned, creepy voice in psychological thriller ‘You’. But, first things first, Joe is no longer the slushy lover (read maniac) he once used to be: he is married to fellow hell raiser Love Quinn (Victoria Pedretti) and the eccentric duo is parents to a lovely baby boy… God bless him!
As is the case with most iconic chows, Netflix’s thunderous success was, too, looking at the possibility of losing its initial sheen in this third instalment. But, the new tale of ‘You’ is a testimony to what reinvention and well-chalked-out plot twists could do to a show some may say was already standing on the brink of obscurity.
The Quinns—when we saw them last over a year ago—were looking at relocation for a fresh start with a baby on the way after the climax blind-sided us for reasons aplenty: Love, too, was a crazed killer/ stalker. Joe being Joe, he was about to kill her before Love revealed, just in time, to him that she was pregnant with their child. Next shot: the psychotic pair makes a move to the Utopian town of Madre Linda, where Joe was showing signs of full recovery—from his unrealistic interpretations of love, not Love—when a hot, new female neighbour cracks open the animal in him. Well, we should have seen that coming: after all, Joe would “do anything for love.” Isn’t it?
Pretty much from its commencement, season three of ‘You’ does a well-founded job at intertwining the troubled minds of two troubled first-time parents Joe and Love. With dark humour serving as the primary undertone, this installment’s USP is their collective denial of just how twisted & dysfunctional they truly are. Interestingly, it is this very irksome nature of the narrative that takes the plot forward, and notches higher. As clinging to their subject of obsession has always been the couple’s strongest suit, they show up at the office of an oblivious marriage counsellor who assures them they’ll be alright since they’re “not murderers”. Good use of pun, we say.
The fact that Joe and Love’s delusional world of domestic bliss involves parenthood—perhaps the writers are trying to use that as a tool for the pair to release their pent-up frustration against each other— help.
Thank goodness, for introduction of Madre Linda meant the much-needed arrival of a plethora of cast members and their characters. Without them, no matter how nuanced this lead pair is, Joe and Love’s shenanigans would have, eventually, squeezed a yawn out or two from its viewers.
There is a stark contrast between the book-gobbling and relationship-disaster Joe and his diabolical wife Love with their climate-conscious neighbours. Sherry Conrad (Shalita Grant) is a sough-after ‘momfluencer’ and is never off her social media platforms. Yes, ‘You’ takes a blatant dig at the influencing culture—not the first to do that though—and it lands where it’s supposed to, thanks to its layered character arch and deft twists coupled with sharp turns. The makers ability to inculcate these elements to the genre is one for the keeps. A parallel track circling Joe and Love’s younger neighbour Theo Engler (Dylan Arnold) is THE diegesis deviation we needed and deserved. Tati Gabrielle, for your information, casts a spell as the local librarian Marienne.
After all the madness and mayhem Joe (and then Love) has ensued in the last two seasons, this third installment felt unnecessary on Netflix’s part and sounded like a cash cow when they had made the announcement. We mean, was there more to be shown and seen in ‘You’, anyway? Wrong! Staying true to its aesthetic value—romanticizing ruthless love through charm and context—‘You’ reaches deep into the human psyche and its capabilities in life's darkest hours. ‘You’ season 3 not only lives up to the hype, but also surpasses it by a huge margin.
Be it the pace, plot progression, enigma, and the overall abnormal vibe of the series… everything moves at an acceptable speed, thus never letting the story derail.
Penn Badgley and Victoria Pedretti have internalized their respective quirks and smirks in ‘You’. Together, they conjure up a psychological drama that has the full recipe—and more—for it to rank among other obsession-bound stories—for instance, ‘Orphan’. Every batting of the eyelash, twitching of the eyebrow has a hidden agenda buried underneath, you have to figure which one is what.
Just like most psychological thriller-dramas, ‘You’ goes easy on the detection aspect and the intensity of their shrewdness gets murkier—and far less believable—with every new season. But, there’s something so cynically beautiful in seeing people navigate different layers of insanity. ‘You’ scores big on make-believe.
Hats off to the writers for not repeating or exhuming the dead bodies from the couple’s combined past to make ‘You’ work. If originality of this degree doesn’t get appreciated, we wouldn’t be surprised if Joe comes after ‘you’. After all, he would “do anything for what he loves.” Isn’t it?
'You' is streaming on Netflix.