The fourth season of Netflix’s ‘You’ follows Joe Goldberg to London, where he starts a new life. Going by Jonathan Moore, Joe hopes to leave behind his murderous past, but bloodshed follows him everywhere. Joe befriends a group of rich people, who start dropping dead soon after. The murderer, Eat the Rich Killer, also stalks Joe, threatening to destroy his life if he doesn’t comply. While trying to keep the murderer from killing more people, Joe tries to find out who they are. When he thinks he has found the answer, a completely different revelation changes everything he thought he knew. Here’s what the identity of the killer means for Joe. SPOILERS AHEAD
Is Joe the Killer in You Season 4?
When Joe wakes up with Malcolm’s dead body in his apartment, he suspects himself first. Considering his history, it’s unsurprising that he killed yet another person. However, things change when Joe receives a message on Evanesce, an app that deletes the messages as soon as they are read. This person, who Joe suspects is a part of the victim’s friend group, claims to be the murderer. They confess that they wanted Joe to go down for Malcolm’s murder, but they are intrigued by the way Joe handled the situation.
Following this, the killer keeps texting Joe, and they meet when Roald almost kills Joe. The killer appears to be Rhys Montrose, whom Joe had started to consider a friend. It looks like Rhys doesn’t want the killings to stop. He keeps coming up with excuses to kill more people. Joe tries to stop him, but then Rhys threatens Marienne. He claims to be holding her captive, and if Joe doesn’t do as he is told, Marienne will die. To save her, Joe attacks Rhys at his house. He tortures Rhys, hoping that he will reveal where he has been keeping Marienne.
To Joe’s surprise and frustration, Rhys claims he has no idea who Marienne is, and he doesn’t know what Joe is talking about because he has never met Joe before. In anger, Joe kills Rhys, but then another Rhys walks up to him. This is when Joe realizes that the real Rhys is right. He and Joe had never met before. The Rhys that Joe had been talking with, the one who had been blackmailing him, was in his head. Joe had been hallucinating him this whole time.
Once he realizes the truth, everything falls into perspective. Joe is Eat the Rich Killer. He killed Malcolm, Simon, and Gemma. The messages that he had been receiving were not real. Joe’s brain played him into believing that someone was texting him on an app where messages disappear, a convenient lie concocted to save himself from his dark side. What’s worse is that before he went on the killing spree, Joe’d gone after Marienne and held her in a cell somewhere.
When Joe came to London, he thought Marienne would reunite with him, and they would live happily ever after. Instead, she was terrified to see him. Warned by Love, she had escaped to Paris. But now, she realizes he is not the kind of person who lets things go. Seeing her scared of him, Joe decided to let her go. He wanted to prove he was not the monster she believed him to be. However, he changes his mind when Marienne reaches the train station. He drugs her and holds her captive.
Joe creates a cage for Marienne where he intends to keep her as long as it takes for her to fall in love with him again. This is when he experiences a moral tug-of-war within himself. One part of her wants to set her free; it doesn’t want to repeat the same cycle all over again. But then, there is another part of him, a darker side capable of doing terrible things. When things get beyond control, Joe’s personality splits into two. The darker side handles Marienne and anyone else who would threaten him. The other side revels in the bliss of ignorance, believing that he has turned over a new leaf and is not the bad person his previous girlfriends painted him to be.
The two sides work in harmony for a while until Malcolm is killed. Joe’s alter-ego, which later appears as Rhys, kills Malcolm in anger. Earlier that night, when they got drunk at the club with his wealthy friends, Malcolm had said bad things about Marienne. Joe couldn’t stomach it, and when his good side fell asleep, his bad side took over and killed Malcolm. To maintain the illusion of his good life, Joe’s brain started showing him things that were not real, including the disappearing messages and his conversations with Rhys.
Because Joe’s good side was unaware of the killings, it couldn’t be the voice of reason when his bad side killed Simon. Joe believed he deserved to die because of what he did to his assistants. Next, he killed Gemma because she’d started to suspect him. His brain told him it was someone else, so he never bothered to question himself, maintaining the perception that he was a good person.
Ultimately, all his delusions come crashing down as he realizes what a horrible person he has been all these years. Without his good side to balance it, his evil side ran free and did despicable things, including keeping Marienne in a cage all these months. He realizes that there is no escape from his bad side. He will keep doing it repeatedly. The only way to stop all this is for him to kill himself. He jumps into the river, hoping to drown, but is saved. When he comes to, he doesn’t see Rhys anywhere. He believes he has finally killed his bad side. In reality, however, his bad doesn’t appear as a different person to him anymore because it has taken over control. He is now the cold-blooded psychopath he didn’t believe himself to be.
Read More: Did Joe Hallucinate Rhys in You Season 4, Explained