You Season 3 Spoiler Review: Love Doesn't Last Forever Once Joe Goldberg Is Involved

Joe Goldberg (Penn Badgley) is many things, but surprising is rarely one of them. Sure, his actions were startling throughout the first season of "You," as he evolved from bookish stalker to full-fledged murderer, but that was then. Three seasons later, viewers have become accustomed to his chaotic spirals: his mommy issues and murderous impulses are always on full display. Joe is a killer through-and-through, desperate for love, fearful of abandonment, and willing to do whatever he wants in the name of love. His life even has a twisted cycle: boy meets girl, boy stalks girl, boy takes drastic, unhinged actions and eventually, everything falls apart. Then, boy moves on to the next girl. Unfortunately for Joe, the season 2 finale threw a wrench in those carefully plotted out plans, when his latest obsession not only stuck around, but proved herself to be his perfect match — another passionate murderer.

Love Quinn (Victoria Pedretti) is the MVP of the season, the true wild card of the series. Where Joe is steady and calculating, she is spur-of-the-moment passion. With her by his side, Joe's old tricks are rendered useless, forcing him to get creative. Gone are the days of Joe hiding in a crowd, following a woman through the bustling streets of New York or even L.A. Bookstore basements and creepy storage units are a thing of the past, now that he's sharing a roof with Love's watchful eye. With their crazies entwining — clashing and working together, all at once — Joe and Love bring out the very worst in each other, and their bloody romance propels an exhilarating new season of the Netflix's hit drama.

Spoilers for season 3 of "You" ahead.

Killing It In The Suburbs

Self proclaimed "serial monogamist" Joe Goldberg should be the poster child for commitment, but can't seem to make his marriage work. Despite committing multiple murders in the name of his wife, stalking her for half a season and monologuing our ears off about his undying love, he barely lasts a week by her side in suburbia. To his credit, the glossy sun-soaked sidewalks of Madre Linda are intentionally unbearable. "You" paints a picture of California suburbs ripe for satire. It's brimming with awful personalities, suntanned suburban wives, Silicon Valley tech heads, and judgmental bloggers.

A pretentious New Yorker like Joe (who lost it over L.A.'s organic markets) wasn't meant to last in a place like this, so it shouldn't be surprising that he doesn't. You'd think his wife and child might be enough to make it his home, but Joe never quite accepts the reality of life in Madre Linda. He rolls his eyes at local mommy blogger Sherry Conrad (Shalita Grant), and can't stand her keto-paleo alternating husband, Cary (Travis Van Winkle). The rest of the neighborhood makes a similarly negative impression, which turns out to be kindling to the Quinn-Goldberg marriage. When we catch up with the pair, soon after the birth of their son, they're riding high. They both resent everyone around them and find joy in poking fun at Madre Linda. But that's just on the surface.

Long before the season premiere, Joe peered through his backyard fence at the latest object of his affections — and fans could see the season stretched out before us: Joe struggles to make time with his new love whilst trying to avoid his wife's watchful gaze. He dreams of running away with his next-door neighbor Natalie (Michaela McManus) and maybe, in the heat of a moment, takes drastic measures against the woman he once pledged his heart to. But what seems like a season-long arc barely lasts a single episode.

Love catches on quicker than we expect — and she too sees where this season could lead. So in an act of impulse, Love does what she must to save her marriage: she buries an axe in Natalie's back, thus putting an end to Joe's latest love story. She also kickstarts one of the best plot developments in the season, as the Quinn-Goldbergs spiral into paranoia and contemplate how best to dispose of a body in a heavily surveilled suburban neighborhood. So where do Love and Joe go from there? Therapy, of course.

A Match Made In Hell

Couples therapy works wonders for this marriage ... for a time. Sessions with Dr. Chandra (Ayelet Zurer) remind the pair how much they have in common — and I'm not talking about their experience disposing of murder weapons. Love and Joe fear abandonment. They share an impulse to protect. And they both consider themselves romantics. As they accept those truths and remember what once drew them to the other, it really seems like their marriage could work. Who else could they hide a body with? What other sane human being would swoon at the phrase "I wolf you"? These serial killing freakshows deserve each other! They're meant to be! And sure, watching them bury a body two feet from their infant son might make you nauseous, but it's hard not to want their relationship to work out. At the very least, it spares everyone else the trouble of getting wrapped up in their bloody antics. But there isn't enough therapy in the world to stop this trainwreck in its path.

Joe spends an episode or two trying to commit himself to Love, getting really into lawn mowers and even going on a homoerotic camping trip with the other men of Madre Linda to prove he can be social. But ultimately, his toxic cycle begins anew, with no-nonsense librarian and young mother Marienne Bellamy (Tati Gabrielle) becoming the apple of his eye. Joe really runs the gambit of love interests this season, landing on Marienne last. But before her, his affections are fixed on his newborn son, Henry. 

This screaming baby instills fear in both his parents (experienced murderers) as they worry about how best to care for him and how badly they may mess him up. They both experience their own version of postpartum depression, Joe wishing he'd had a little girl and Love lingering on her brother's dying assertion that she would make a terrible mother. Their concerns are almost touching ... but after their brief crises, Joe and Love promptly forget their baby exists. 

About halfway through the season, they set their sights elsewhere. Joe pursues Marienne, beginning a dangerous affair that he knows could end with Love committing another murder. But lucky for him, his wife is distracted by her quiet affair with college-aged, next-door neighbor, Theo (Dylan Arnold). Well, quiet except for his glorious "Say Anything" homage, featuring the hilarious use of Lorde.

A Marriage in Crisis

It's a shame to see the young couple separate, partially because this is where the season hits an unfortunate lull. The Quinn-Goldbergs thrive together, developing a genius plan to explain away the disappearance of Natalie, in addition to the death of neighboring anti-vaxxer Gil (Mackenzie Astin). This mini-arc starts the season and showcases it's very best: this duo is unhinged and it's incredible to see them embracing that reality. But that's also why they can't work.

Joe, dear reader, is an incredibly toxic man. If his every monologue and action hasn't proven that point, just look at his relationship with Love. In theory, she's the perfect woman for him: she refuses to reject even his most sociopathic impulses. Sometimes, she even encourages them, whispering in his ear like Lady Macbeth. But Joe only latches onto fantasy women. He wants someone pure and perfect, but Love's hands are stained in blood. He sees himself in her — the worst, most despicable parts of himself, and that's why he wants to escape. So he envisions a new possibility, a life with the unsuspecting Marienne.

Joe attempts to destroy his marriage by opening it up — when Cary and Sherry float the idea of swinging, he lets Love know he's open to the experiment. Secretly he hopes it will destroy the remnants of their marriage. The open marriage discussion sure is fun, but if you're looking for a healthy example of polyamorous ethics, perhaps the show about two serial killers isn't the place to be. Instead, consider making noise for the Sherry-Cary dream team. Despite beginning the season as two unbearable additions, they end up stealing the show. Initially, my interest in the Conrads was wholly focused on whether or not Cary wanted to sleep with Joe (he did) and whether or not he'd get to (he didn't). But trapped in a cage, their marriage viciously unravels, but eventually maintains itself through sheer force of will.

Meanwhile, the Quinn-Goldberg relationship crumbles.Their attempt to spice up their marriage is derailed when Love lets their murderous acts slip within earshot o their guests. Though she ruins any shot we had of Cary and Joe making out, she leads us into the next great stretch of the season: Joe and Love teaming up to take down the Conrads. "The spark our marriage needed doesn't come from swinging," Joe realizes, once they drag their unconscious guests back to the living room. "Our love language is violence."

Love Never Lasts

The final three episodes prove the point made in the first four: "You" reaches new heights as it explores the Quinn-Goldberg dynamic. Their time apart is a break from the thrills that sadly start to lag. Worse yet are the flashbacks to Joe's past, which reveal nothing new about the scheming stalker, reiterating his obvious mommy issues and reminding us that he considers himself a gift to all women. It's more of the same, which is fine, but nothing compared to the adrenaline rush of the disastrous marriage.

As the seasons draw to a close, "You" gets even more daring, exploring the tantalizing concept of Joe's death. After Love poisons him, determined to put an end to his straying, she offers a new possibility: what if the show continued without Joe? What if we follow Love Quinn instead, as she continues her quest for love? Ultimately, this idea dies on the vine, when Joe uses her poison against her, ending the saga of Love.

In the end, season 3 might be the worst yet for "You" — which isn't to say it's bad. The series remains a prime Netflix binge, full of dark twists and record-screeching turns. Joe's actions may not surprise us, but it's no less fun to watch him slip and stumble into new pools of blood. And Badgley is in top form as the brooding killer, growling in crazed monologues. But Pedretti steals the show. She breathes new life into the series as we delved deeper into her character's psyche. Love is unhinged in a way that's new and interesting. She murders Natalie in episode 1, sleeps with Theo in a heated moment, shows raw vulnerability with Joe and later, poisons a chicken roast dinner. So when it seems like she could walk away the winner, it's too good to resist. But it wasn't meant to be.

With season 4 of "You" on the way, Joe is hoping to repeat his cycle one again. This time around, he's pursuing Marienne in Paris, hoping to reignite their romance. But he doesn't have the same opportunity for a fresh start — Marienne got a glimpse at his true colors and probably won't be pleased to see him return of her life... Not that Joe has ever taken no for an answer.