You Season 2 Review: Penn Badgley's Netflix Show is Creepier, Bloodier and More Dysfunctional
You Season 2
Cast: Penn Badgley, Victoria Pedretti, James Scully, Jenna Ortega
Based on: Hidden Bodies by Caroline Kepnes
When the first season of You dropped on Netflix last year, it instantly became one of the most talked about shows of the time. For starters, one could not stop bingeing on it, and the fact that brilliantly crafted self-righteous monologues by Badgley's character Joe Goldberg made viewers unsure of their allegiance.
Joe Goldberg's obsession with Guinevere Beck (Elizabeth Lail) kept people on the edge of their seat, while simultaneously making them horrified about how easy it is for just anybody to be a victim of obsessive stalking. The first season of the show ended with a bang when Joe did the unfathomable - murder Beck, for whom he murdered so many people - and dismiss her as she did not fit his narrative in the first place.
The second season of You could have also been alternatively titled How To Get Away With Murder, because it gets so much more bloodier, with a string of dead bodies hidden away in different places. The season starts where the previous left off, the fact that his ex Candace (Ambyr Childers) is actually alive and now wants revenge.
He runs away to Los Angeles, the last place he would ever be and takes up a new name and a new life. Here he meets a new “you" Love Quinn, an instant attraction from both sides. Joe, now Will Bettleheim, tries to not fall back into the pattern of obsession, but Love is forthright, so she eventually draws him out. As he realises Love is not like Beck, he goes down on the dangerous path of doing 'anything' to prove that he is worthy of her.
Love has her own problems, a tragic former love story, douche parents and a co-dependent, drug addict, ‘broken' brother Forty (“yes, like the number but spelled out") played by James Quinn, who is the new version of Shay Mitchell’s Peach Sallinger. Not only does he get messily involved with the Quinn family, he also takes up his own pet project in form of Ellie (Disney's Jenna Ortega), the sister of his building manager Delilah (Carmela Zumbado), and tries to parent her, like he did with Paco, with, you guessed it, disastrous results.
Just like the city it is set in, the second season of You gets a little bit brighter in parts, with Joe or Will getting a character arc of some sorts but Candace's increasing presence makes him relapse every now and then. The characters surrounding Joe/Will and his muse make up an interesting world, almost following the pattern of the first season but with wildly different chain of reactions with each character. James Scully, Jenna Ortega, Carmela Zumbado and Ambyr Childers are brilliant in their own ways - they all bring to the screen their unique traits that make the viewers root for them.
But the main attraction of the series is the chemistry between Penn Badgley and Victoria Pedretti. Badgley has already proved in the first season his range as an actor. In this one, he takes it up a notch. He makes Joe work and even when the actor is telling people on social media to not root for him, they do.
Pedretti on the other hand, is a wonder to watch. Previously seen in The Haunting of Hill House, she weaves her own magic into her character, who has so much more going on in her head than can be seen. The two play off of each other with so much conviction, and even when the other characters, especially Scully, become scene-stealers, Badgley and Pedretti keep the light on themselves. Their characters Joe and Love are the perfect Yin and Yang, and Beck fades away in oblivion in comparison. Joe has, in very literal terms, met his match in the season, but so does one think.
You season 2 might never be as explosive as season one, but it surely lives up to the hype. With various references to Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment, this season deals with conscience, trauma and penance. The show leaves the audience with a little tease, another You story, but it leaves them with a strong sense of closure, even if it there really is not another story to see.