‘You’ Season 2 Review: Penn Badgley Returns With A Creepy Delight

Netflix You Season 2 Penn Badgley

After the first season of Penn Badgley’s You proved to be an instant hit with audiences on Lifetime and Netflix, Joe Goldberg is back with a new batch of episodes. The killer leaves New York after murdering Guinevere Beck, but quickly finds a new woman to obsess over in Los Angeles with Love Quinn. While the show developed by Greg Berlanti previously caused controversy for seemingly sympathizing with a serial killer, the second season proves just how dangerous Joe can be as it finds time to explore his damaged psyche a little deeper.

Within its first few episodes, Penn Badgley’s You season two relies on familiar set-ups from the first season to ease audiences back into the murky world that Joe creates around him as a supportive structure. But with the addition of Robin Taylor Lord to the cast, Joe gets the chance to analyze someone else’s issues as a way of dealing with his own. This largely makes up the underlying story of the season: how does Joe cope with other people who are just as damaged as he is? The brilliantly twisted narration from Penn Badgley’s Joe Goldberg gives audiences insight into how his mind works. While Joe might see himself as a heroic vigilante, You clearly depicts him for what he really is: a dangerously obsessive serial killer.

Joe justifies his actions by convincing himself he’s protecting the innocent from a specific breed of monster that will ring true for some real-world controversies from the last few years. He starts to become a little reminiscent of Michael C Hall’s Dexter Morgan, but where Dexter’s moral compass and training kept him in line, Joe falls from vigilantism to sociopathy thanks to his toxic masculinity and past trauma. Although Penn Badgley’s You never glamorizes the violence or the way Joe manipulates Victoria Pendetti’s Love Quinn, it certainly doesn’t condemn him — if it did, he’d be in prison already. It’s worth knowing that audiences troubled by the first season probably won’t enjoy the direction it heads in this time around.

But for fans of Penn Badgley’s You, the second season is undeniably entertaining. Perhaps it’s the ticking time-bomb of his new identity or the web of intrigue spun out of Joe’s actions, but the latest set of mysteries in Los Angeles help keep the series fresh. Annoyingly, the show occasionally feels like it’s repeating past elements from the first season. However, when Penn Badgley’s Joe Goldberg faces off against a sinister version of himself, it lets the audience peek behind the perfectly crafted persona Joe’s built around his troubled past. Netflix’s You allows the star to really show off his range as he struggles to face his own demons that are precisely locked away and his later realizations show some character development as he attempts to become a reliable figure for those around him.

Joe’s chemistry with Victoria Pendetti’s Love Quinn is a perfectly imperfect mix of lust, obsession and dangerously arrogant entitlement. While they start off as a potentially flawless couple, Joe’s past comes back to make him pay for his crimes in the form of Candace, played by Ambyr Childers. What begins as a gripping battle of deception between the pair flails by the end of You season two, feeling more like a loose plot threat lost in the haze of Joe Goldberg’s other priorities.

The supporting cast members playing insufferable Los Angeles hipsters are a pure parody at times, slinging out lines of dialogue that are hilariously pompous, but they add a much needed dose of fun to Penn Badgley’s You, especially James Scully’s Forty Quinn. The entitled, wannabe film producer can be highly irritating, but that’s the intent of Scully’s character. His unpredictable nature has some brilliant ramifications for Joe, including a visually trippy episode later in the season which seems silly at first but quickly becomes a vital element in the finale of Penn Badgley’s You.

While it’s never terrifying, Penn Badgley’s You is a creepy delight as the stalker tangles with new enemies that turn the tables on him alongside a ticking clock that forces him to debate leaving everything he’s built so far. For fans of shows like Gossip Girl and Riverdale, the second season of You will be a welcome binge-watch. Even if there are too many familiar story beats from the first time around, You season two mostly sticks the landing. The ending might feel a little too trivial for some, but some unexpected developments will radically change the pace of this cautionary tale if the story continues. Penn Badgley’s Joe Goldberg remains a controversial character, but the new season of You is definitely addictive.

Final Score: 7.5/10

Eammon Jacobs

Eammon Jacobs

British dork who can be found online raving about how good Tron: Legacy is.