You Season 4 proves that two-part seasons don’t always work

Netflix recently decided to release new seasons of popular original series in two parts with a one-month split. This worked for Stranger Things, which became The hot topic of the summer and left viewers in suspense as the gang defeated the Upside Down’s big boss. But that’s not the case with you. Netflix’s psychological thriller deviated from its original formula by using a borrowed concept that didn’t work with a two-part release schedule.

The latest season consists of a total of 10 episodes, with five episodes being released as part 1 and part 2 coming next month. Since Part 1 didn’t reveal the season’s big plot twist, the hiatus while waiting for its conclusion allowed audiences plenty of time to theorize what might happen. Far too much time, as it turned out. One theory became very prominent in the community; so much so that it went from popular consensus to more or less fully accepted canon on Reddit. The theory was that Rhys wasn’t real and that the killer was actually Joe.

The first five episodes provide obvious clues that confirm this theory. There are several conversations between Joe and Rhys, but Rhys never interacts with anyone else at public events. He mostly remains silent and only speaks to Joe when they move to a more private area like a balcony. And yet there is a piece of paper that reveals everything. Joe replies to Rhys during the dinner party at Lady Phoebe’s manor and Adam replies “What was that?”. This confirms that Adam only heard Joe’s voice and not Rhys. Even with other details casting a shadow of doubt, the evidence is overwhelming, especially when fans have a month to rewatch and analyze these episodes.

Other speculation arose based on casting information and teasers for part 2. For example, Marienne Bellamy, played by Tati Gabrielle, hardly appears in the first half of the season, but Gabrielle is listed as the main character for season 4. Therefore, many fans believed that Joe locked them in a cage the whole time.

Now you might be wondering why this is a problem. Well, when these popular theories materialized on all our screens on March 9th, they were so accurate that the joy of actually watching them was gone. The season went exactly as predicted, making it feel more like a rewatch than a first binge.

You Season 4 proves that two-part seasons don't always work
Image source: Netflix

Before March 9th, I counted down the days when I could hardly contain my excitement. When I woke up I was eagerly putting on my favorite show and waiting for the satisfaction you always gave me. But my heart sank when the real Rhys answered the door, unaware of Joe’s identity, which then confirmed that Rhys was his “Tyler Durden” – as in the Fight Club character who predates You by more than two decades . Then, after seeing Marienne in the cage, the immersive experience I was hoping for was completely exhausted; nothing shocked me.

It’s worth noting that Fight Club popularized the split consciousness twist, which You essentially shamelessly copies. This iconic film is fondly remembered as the most accomplished of its kind and has since been dissected by countless experts and fans for its clever use of these techniques. As a result, it’s a narrative trick that would likely never go unnoticed in the case of You, given the audience had enough time to put two and two together. Finally, consider Mr. Robot, who follows another unreliable narrator and has been criticized for feeling like a copycat for the same reasons.

You Season 4 proves that two-part seasons don't always work
Image source: Netflix

That plot twist could have worked for you, but this only One way to protect it would have been to release the season all at once. She has just enough differences that it can have blind fans. However, this season should not be divided into two parts. To work, the writing would have had to be altered to accommodate the different release schedule (i.e. including the big reveal in Part 1).

Netflix’s binge-watching platform has worked well for you in the past, as its signature pace involves a lot of build-up leading to a shocking moment in the final few episodes. Season 2, for example, surprised us all in the last two episodes when Love Quinn kills Candace and confesses to her previous killings. This formula doesn’t work with a two-part release schedule, particularly when there’s enough contextual clues to ruin the surprise for analytical fans.

Given the popularity of You, I can see why it would make financial sense for Netflix to split the release into two parts. It is likely that it was the publisher’s intention to encourage subscribers not to unsubscribe in anticipation of Part 2. Finally it is did work for Stranger Things. But for her, that decision ruined a riveting season that was instead quickly dubbed her worst season yet by fans who took to social media to voice concerns.

With any show, a large part of its success depends on keeping its audience fixated on uncovering what’s around the next corner. Without that, interest fizzles out and the audience is left with a sour taste in their mouths. That being said, there is hope for a better fifth season with Joe returning to his hometown under his own identity, leading to a more compelling storyline. But let’s hope Netflix comes to their senses and sticks to a full release schedule. You Season 4 proves that two-part seasons don’t always work

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