You: Season 2 Episode 1 “A Fresh Start” – Season Premiere | Recap/ Review

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New year new Joe, right? Well, with a new network and new location, it seems Joe, now Will, proves old habits die hard.

Directed By Kevin Rodney Sullivan
Written By Sera Gamble
Aired (Netflix) 12/26/2019
Introduced This Episode
Little Joe Aidan Wallace
Joe’s Mom Magda Apanowicz
Delilah Carmela Zumbado
Ellie Jenna Ortega
Calvin Adwin Brown
Forty James Scully
Love Victoria Pedretti
Will Robin Lord Taylor

This content contains pertinent spoilers.

Episode Breakdown (Recap)

Mommy Wasn’t There: Little Joe, Joe’s Mom

Young Joe (Aidan Wallace) with his mom at the beach.
Young Joe (Aidan Wallace)

From what we know, Mr. Mooney primarily raised Joe and the trauma he caused is part of the reason Joe is twisted as he is. However, in this episode, we meet Joe’s mom who seemingly abandoned him at the beach one day. Making it appear Joe’s venture to LA isn’t just because Candace may not seek him there but for other reasons.

New Place, New Me: Joe, Delilah, Ellie, Calvin, Forty

Under the name Will, Joe finds a new life, a new identity, one that is supposed to be temporary. After all, he needs a fresh start but the inauthenticity of Los Angeles doesn’t necessarily agree with Joe’s personality, attitude, or motif. Yet, as much as people can try to run away from something, or someone, they can’t run from themselves or their usual patterns.

Case in point, after moving into a new apartment, he finds himself a new Paco in Ellie. A 15-year-old girl, often on her own, who is the likely sister of the landlord Delilah. Also, she is someone who has a fascination of Joe, movies, and social media. She comes of use when Joe gives in and decides to join Facebook and Instagram.

Ellie (Jenna Ortega) flirting with Joe.
Ellie (Jenna Ortega)

As for Calvin? Well, that is one of Will’s new bosses at Anavrin, Nirvana backwards, where he works in the café. Specifically, he was hired to sell books there since Calvin ordered a bunch of copies of “Crime and Punishment,” and the son of the owners, Forty, wants him to sell them or possibly get fired. Said attitude, as you can imagine, likely will mean Forty being hurt by Joe sooner or later.

Love Will Never Let Me Go: Joe, Love, Candace, Will

After what happened in New York, Joe isn’t really trying to find love yet ends up meeting an actual person named Love. Someone who, at first, he tries to resist, for she is tempting him into toxic behaviors – like masturbating at work. Making him seeing her status as “Married” on Facebook heaven sent. Since, apparently, murder, kidnapping, and imprisonment are fine, but affairs cross the line.

Go figure.

However, with learning Love is a widow and is interested in Joe since she sees the darkness of loss she experiences on a regular basis, it’s on. Not in this episode, at least for her, but Joe is all ready to go full speed.

Though, as always with Joe, we’re reminded that he isn’t one to trust. For most of the episode he made it seem he was trying to be good, but we must never forget Joe sends his representative when talking to us. Only to, as he reveals he has stalked Love to work, found out about Calvin’s issue, and placed himself where he needed to be, he is doing as he always does. Even his apartment is made so he can use a telescope to peer into Love’s home.

But, never fear, Candace, who Joe abandoned (ran away from) in New York is acting as some sort of means to keep him on his best behavior. For while she hasn’t shown up in LA yet, the paranoia might keep Joe a good boy. Well, at least in terms of Love. In terms of the real Will, who Joe stole the identity of, he is locked up in a box similar to the one Mooney had in his basement for rare books.

Main Things to Remember (Plot Synopsis)

  1. Ellie is the new Paco
  2. Joe works at Anavrin which is owned by Forty’s parents
  3. Candace doesn’t want Joe dead or to turn him in, she wants him to see himself for what he truly is
  4. Love is a widow whose husband died 2 years ago
  5. The real Will is locked in a storage unit in a similar box to the one Joe has in New York
  6. There is a man named Jasper who is seeking something Joe has from him – Whether or not that is Will is up for questioning



Joe Still Knows How To Get You To Have Faith In Him

You really do have to applaud Penn Badgley for finding a way to make a character who represents everything women fear into someone you can’t take your eyes off of. Maybe because you want him to be good, be the superficial version of himself he sees him as? Perhaps it is because he is the modern-day Ted Bundy, in terms of being attractive for the times, charming, and all that you don’t imagine when you think serial killer?

Either way, it is strange how Joe keeps pushing the line back for the point of no return and even with a recap reminding you Joe is not a good person, and is deeply damaged, you still think he is capable of turning over a new leaf.

While Many New Characters Mirror Old Ones, They Still Feel Fresh

Let’s be real, the characters of season 2 are LA versions of season 1’s NY characters – but changed just enough so people can argue that’s not true. Examples: Love is Beck, but interesting and embraces the fact her parents have money. Calvin is the new Ethan, just slimmer, Ellie the new Paco, Delilah is the new Claudia, Forty is Benji, but is now the brother rather than the boyfriend, and we could go on and on.

Now, this might seem like a bad thing, but familiarity is the key to comfort. Plus, as said, things are changed enough to the point that, while there is a connection, you can’t say it is the same characters with new names and actors. For they each bring something unique as individuals, even if their relationship to Joe is similar to someone else in season 1. Ellie, for instance, is older than Paco was and enamored with Joe in a different way. At least if this crush vibe is real, rather than misunderstood.

Love Is More Interesting Girl Than Beck

Love (Victoria Pedretti) shopping.
Love (Victoria Pedretti)

People stalk others for reasons I can never fathom, but when it comes to basic blonde Beck, I didn’t get it. She was whiny, the most she accomplished was getting into grad school, and was so self-deprecating that it came off more annoying than presenting any sense she was humble. Add in her relationship with Peach seemed geared towards being toxic, and it made her an odd choice, in the long run, for Joe.

Love, on the other hand, who is sweet, has a talent, and doesn’t appear selfish? You can imagine Joe becoming attached to her. She is the dream girl for so many people – men, women, and non-binary. Which makes Joe’s history a terrifying thing since you know Joe can’t be the only one with his eye on her and jealous makes him do some crazy things.

Joe & Ellie’s Relationship

I think I need to see Penn Badgley play the father to a pre-teen or teenager in another show or movie. There is just something about the way he connects with characters who are juveniles that is sweet and warms you up inside. Heck, as shown through Paco, the primary way Joe reminds us he is human is through his connection with kids.

But, again, unlike Paco, Ellie may not be as easy to gain the loyalty of. She has her sister, possibly friends, and while she may have a crush on Joe, that doesn’t mean she will cover up his messes. If anything, she might be the one who turns him in or reveals where he is. Making their relationship cute for us but ultimately a potential liability.

Joe & Ellie’s Relationship - 85%
Love Is A Much More Interesting Girl Than Beck - 90%
While Many New Characters Mirror Old Ones, They Still Feel Fresh - 89%
Joe Still Knows How To Get You To Have Faith In Him - 95%


Trajectory – Upward: While it seems clear “You” season 2 might be a remixed version of the first season, there remains this desire to see Joe be a good person and not give in to his insecurities or madness. However, it is being made clear he can’t do that and we should just get on the ride, accept him for who he is, and hope others see the real him before it is too late.

What Would Your Rating Be?


  1. Great review! I initially missed him calling the Penguin guy “Will.” Also, reminding us that Joe sends us his “representative,” even as he narrating his “inner thoughts,” was helpful because I initially thought it was just terrible writing on the show’s part

  2. Here’s the thing about Beck – has it ever occurred to you that your reaction to her was intentional? That you were supposed to regard Beck as shallow and irritating?

    It seemed to me that Joe never really understood who Beck was, despite all his stalking… he wasn’t really attracted to her, he was obsessed with the IDEA of her. He was projecting his immature romantic fantasies onto her, when he wasn’t misreading social-cues due to his psychological problems and arrested development (for all his book learning and affectedly “knowledgeable” demeanour, Joe is a lot less smart and perceptive than he thinks).

    I thought the irritating flaws in Beck you pointed out were designed to illustrate that there is a wide gulf between the way in which Joe’s unbalanced mind sees people and the way they REALLY are.

    I’m rather less impressed by “Love” than you were… I keep thinking that she’s getting attached to him a bit too fast, the coincidences that repeatedly threw them together come across as a bit contrived and there’s something affected about some of her quirky mannerisms… she behaves very much like something out of a cutesy 1980s romantic comedy.

    If it is later revealed that “Love” is actually an unbalanced stalker with her own sinister agenda and this “fun-loving foodie hipster” persona is just a facade then I wouldn’t be surprised… I also wouldn’t be surprised if it turns out “Love” has been employed by Candace as an accomplice to derail Joe’s life in some way…. as it is now, she strikes me as a bit too good to be true.

    1. What “You” desires to push is the idea of how toxic most male leads in the romance genre are. How they paint women to be this thing to achieve, or obtain, like a shiny trophy, and the methods they do so dance on the border between what is considered endearing to creepy. So with Joe’s interest in Beck, I think he romanticized who she was, put on rose-colored glasses, and hyped her up in his mind and we, as viewers, were allowed to see who she truly was. Someone who isn’t particularly interesting on their own, but is involved with people who have notable names, and who have stories worth noting.

      Which is why I’m a little over the moon with Love since she isn’t someone reliant on others to prop her up. Now, mind you, it is but episode 2 so it could be we’re seeing her as Joe indoctrinates us to. However, compared to Beck, and in trying to understand Joe, I can see and understand his attraction to Love more than Beck.

      Though, considering the introduction of his mother, there could be a reason divulged, later on, why he is attracted to women like Beck, and perhaps Love, in relation to the lack of a relationship he currently has with his mother.

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