Okay, guys. I think I’ve ruminated on my You S3 thoughts for long enough. It’s time to get into things. As always, please make sure you’ve watched season 3 of You before reading this review if you want to avoid spoilers. And if you’re also a reader of the books, I will warn you there are spoilers for You Love Me as well.
Oh, and if you need a recap of S2, you can check out my review here.
At the end of S2, everyone was wondering the same thing: who is Joe’s mysterious neighbor? And will Joe and Love live happily ever after with their son? Episode 1 immediately answers the first question: she’s literally a stranger that Joe becomes obsessed with. I know, I know – kind of disappointed with that! I assumed it would be his mom or, I don’t know, someone he knew. But nope – just a random woman he wants, despite being married to Love. But the end of S2 made it pretty clear Joe wasn’t really in love with Love anymore, after finding out she’s kind of a psycho. Which is hilarious and ironic since Joe is a literal serial killer. Joe and Love are both massive hypocrites, though I personally find Love more unbearable and unstable than Joe. So it’s pretty obvious right off the bat that no, Joe and Love will not live happily ever after – shit is about to go down.
The season follows Joe as he struggles to rein in his obsession with other women. He wants to love Love, but it’s almost impossible to contain himself since Love really isn’t the person he thought she was. Between taking care of his child and stalking women, Joe also decides to volunteer at the local library. Love, on the other hand, opens up a bakery in town. She, too, begins to stray from her marriage, taking interest in a college kid. She also deals with the horrible locals and struggles to make friends with them.
It sounds relatively interesting, right? And some moments are really hard-hitting, fast-paced, and suspenseful. However, I mostly found myself bored this season. After the first couple episodes, things feel repetitive. The same things happen all season long, and not just in relation to the previous seasons but just within this season alone. Joe is obsessed with this woman and then that woman but then also his wife but then no not really… And Love gets mad and hurts someone and then apologizes and then hurts another person and so forth and so on. Most of the season was a snooze-fest. I did like that I didn’t know what was going to happen, since it’s a wildly different plot from the book. But despite the surprise and any shock I felt, really the stand-out episodes were the first and last one. Everything in between felt repetitive and boring.
You Love Me, the third book in the You series, had a much better plot. I’m really disappointed the show didn’t follow suit. You Love Me begins with Joe moving to a quaint little island all on his lonesome after being released from prison. He’s free, but he’s not allowed to see his son or Love. He isn’t even supposed to look them up on social media. So while he struggles with not being able to take care of his son (he really doesn’t care much about Love anymore, obviously) and crossing his fingers that his past won’t catch up to him (he really doesn’t want to go to prison again), he takes a job at the local library and falls for the librarian. Most of the book follows Joe’s obsession with Mary Kay as he immerses himself in her life. She has a daughter, who he desperately tries to take care of since he can’t take care of his own child. Mary Kay also has a husband, so obviously Joe wants to take care of that situation (AKA kill the guy). While it wasn’t a mind-blowingly amazing book, and obviously Joe constantly does the same things over and over, the third book felt less repetitive than S3. I liked the book’s plot more than the show’s and wish it would have taken more from the book than it did.
The main similarities between the third book and season are that Joe works at a library and falls for the librarian, who has a daughter and a husband/ex-husband. Joe has a child in both works, but doesn’t get to see the kid in the book. Love does die in both the book and show, but it happens very differently. In the show, Love tries to kill Joe, who has outsmarted her in the end and winds up surviving and killing her. It was a very dramatic ending and I really liked it. (Hello, “Exile” by Taylor Swift, making the entire season worth watching just for this scene.) But I also liked the way the book dealt with Love. In the book, she shoots Joe and then kills herself – but Joe survives.
The ending of the book and season are also a bit similar, too. Obviously Love is out of Joe’s life for good now (though I have heard some people think Love is still alive in the show, but I don’t think so), and their child is not in Joe’s custody. So Joe does what he always does: he moves to a new town to start over. But the show takes it a step further and actually sends Joe to Paris, where he believes he will find Marienne, the librarian in the show. If a fourth book is to be published, it will follow a new love interest entirely since Mary Kay died. But the fourth season is clearly going to follow this same character, unless they throw a curveball and Joe really doesn’t find her and has to move on. I don’t know. I’m curious to see what happens. If they do keep Marienne as the main love interest, I wonder if they’ll use more plot points from the third book this time… That would be cool, seeing as the third book had a very shocking, uncomfy ending.
Though I didn’t absolutely love the plot (especially because of all the weird sex stuff and the awful Sherry/Cary dynamic that I’m not going to go into because iykyk), I loved the acting. Penn Badgley (Joe) and Victoria Pedretti (Love) have so much chemistry and are incredible actors.
Even with a less-than-stellar plot, these two really carried the show on their backs to the finish line. But I did also fall in love with some of the newer characters too. There are plenty I loved (not you, Sherry or Cary), but Merienne and Theo obviously take the cake.
Tati Gabrielle is quickly becoming one of my favorite actors. She plays Marienne and does a fantastic job.
Her librarian character in the show is much different than the Mary Kay librarian we see in the book and I found it refreshing. She is such a brilliant woman and absolutely gorgeous. I don’t blame Joe for being obsessed.
Dylan Arnold is obviously the heartthrob of the season, other than Joe. But where Joe is…a morally gray(?) serial killer, Theo is just a typical college asshole with a cute face.
Don’t get me wrong, Theo is charming and cute and I’m with ya’ll on the swooning, but can we also recognize that he’s not a good guy? He’s not a murderer but also he constantly hits on a married woman and tries to tempt her and guilt her into sleeping with him, even before she starts actually responding and encouraging him. She turns him down like five times before she gives in, but he should have stopped after the first time. If you didn’t feel this way about Theo and just thought of him as a cute, sweet guy that you wish was your boyfriend, then clearly you love toxic men #sorrynotsorry
I’m interested to see where S4 will take us. In S3, Joe tried hard to ‘be a better guy.’ Other than killing Merienne’s ex, Love was the one making messes – Joe even saved Theo instead of killing the kid. (People think Theo is Joe’s half-brother and I’m just not so sure about that…) I wonder if Joe will try to be that better guy next season. And which characters will return from S3? I have no idea where the story is going, but I’m obviously a fan for life, so you know I’ll be watching it. And reading the next book, if there is one. So stay tuned – you can always count on me to compare the two.