Love Revitalized ‘You’ – Can Season 4 Succeed Without Her?
Victoria Pedretti’s Love revitalized Seasons 2 and 3 of You by turning the tables on the show’s status quo. She completely transformed the “female victim” dynamic in her efforts to beat Joe (Penn Badgley) at his own game. Her untimely end creates a real problem for the new season, where You must try to resist a return to its original, overplayed formula.
Love Completely Derailed Joe In the ‘You’ Season 2 Finale
You really started to get interesting at the end of Season 2, where we were finally given a full insight into what Love had really been up to. In the humorously named finale episode “Love, Actually,” it is revealed that Love’s own private investigator has been watching Joe all along, clueing her in on his criminal tendencies. Like Joe, she started young — it turns out that it was Love, and not her brother Forty (James Scully), who killed their childhood au pair. But also, for Joe’s protection, she goes on to murder Candace (Ambyr Childers) and Delilah (Carmela Zumbado) down in the storage unit. Like Joe, Love’s acts are twisted crimes of passion, and she believes this makes her Joe’s soulmate. Of course, Joe is horrified to find that he was drawn to his own mirror image, a not-so-perfect woman who is just as murderous as him.
After two seasons of Joe doing pretty much as he pleases, it was a well-earned twist to see him so suddenly on the back foot in You. Love shattered his imagined ideal of the “perfect, good woman” in the Season 2 finale. She refused to fit into the ready-made victim mold, which aggressively destabilized the show’s imbalance of power. For the first time, Joe did not hold all the cards.
Love’s well-timed pregnancy announcement followed these revelations, safeguarding her life for the time being. Her survival at the end of Season 2 gave You a new lease of life, where Joe was suddenly faced with a whole hoard of challenges that he did not anticipate. He could not plan for Love, and so You suddenly had a great new avenue to explore.
Love Is a Not-So-Perfect Wife and Mother in ‘You’ Season 3
Season 3 began with a new idealized image — Love and Joe married with a baby, taking a shot at nuclear family life in the suburban town of Madre Linda. The name of their new town loosely translates as “beautiful mother,” a nod to Love’s new arc, but also a subtle statement about how mothers are put on a pedestal, expected to be perfect. This is epitomized by the local “momfluencer” Sherry Conrad (Shalita Grant), who profits from motherly insecurities with her popular parenting blog. In close proximity to Sherry, Love experiences the expectation to expertly cater to her newborn alongside staying in shape and remaining a source of sexual novelty to keep her husband interested. She is met with a huge range of pressures that Joe simply doesn’t have to deal with. This side of Love’s new parenting arc adds a rich dimension to Season 3 of You, in contrast to Joe’s somewhat predictable psychological struggle with fatherhood and fidelity.
And naturally Joe doesn’t keep his eyes on Love for long. His obsession with their neighbor Natalie (Michaela McManus) quickly escalates, following the usual formula. But it is Love who supplies the drama early on in Season 3. The show subverts our expectations once again when it is Love who facilitates the quick demise of Joe’s newest obsession, a hasty crime that haunts the couple throughout the season. Later it is also Love who is primarily responsible for Gil’s (Mackenzie Astin) suicide in the basement cage after she hits him over the head with her trusty rolling pin. The couple’s handy new basement is now situated below Love’s bakery, which becomes a mutual crime location used by both husband and wife. Love is firmly front and center in this season’s murderous escapades, which makes for a much more unpredictable watch. She provides a fresh injection of chaos that goes beyond the remit of Season 1, a much-needed addition to Joe’s now familiar tactics.
Love also matches Joe’s penchant for infidelity in Season 3 of You, beginning an illicit affair with their neighbor’s son Theo (Dylan Arnold), who is also Natalie’s step-son. In doing so, she demonstrates that it is not just her murderous husband who has desires that extend beyond married life, problematic as her affair may be. In Season 2, Love disrupted the established dynamic of men as murderers and women as victims. But in Season 3, this becomes a disruption of the idealized wife and mother stereotype, where Love exhibits the kind of boundless rage and passion usually reserved for her husband.
Throughout Season 3, Love’s murderous actions are more complex and unpredictable than Joe’s established scheme of attributing “justice,” adding a fresh dynamic to You. For instance, her rage is directed at Gil because of his anti-vaxxer beliefs, which leads to her baby contracting the measles. The passionate display of violence that follows therefore springs from a more interesting and tangible place than Joe’s lust and wildly misplaced hero complex.
An Unfit End For Joe’s First Real Adversary in ‘You’
Although the Season 3 finale tied up a lot of loose ends with a degree of finesse, it was disappointing to see Love be defeated and framed by Joe’s usual scheming. It cheapens Love’s character to have her become a local folk story in the same way as Beck (Elizabeth Lail) from Season 1. She deserved to be the one to beat him.
Additionally, by having Joe’s object of obsession die once again, You has created a problem of predictability. Now that Season 4 will continue to explore Joe’s new obsession with Marienne (Tati Gabrielle), it is difficult for viewers to get attached. Unless it is revealed that she has the same criminal predilections as Love, it is hard to imagine her making it out unscathed. Unfortunately, it felt like her days were numbered from the first day Joe met her at his local library. For Season 4 of You to succeed, this cannot be the case. Marienne must also surprise us and subvert the gendered expectations that the show forces on all its female characters. She has to be better than Beck and Love to outsmart Joe’s villainy, and hopefully turn the tables on his domineering perspective.
Ultimately it was Love’s ability to destabilize expectations which revitalized the entire show. She was the magic ingredient that made Seasons 2 and 3 worth watching, and You will have a hard time finding her replacement.
You Season 4: Part 1 will drop on Netflix on February 9. You can check out the trailer below.