This ‘You’ Season 4 Fan Theory Changes Everything for Joe

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Warning: You spoilers below.

Netflix’s You returned for its fourth season last month and, this time around, Joe Goldberg (Penn Badgley) is the one being stalked.

The obsessive serial killer has relocated to London after a bloody outing in the U.S., taken on the identity of a university professor named Jonathan Moore, and sworn never to return to his murderous ways. But a new killer is on the loose–and he’s giving Joe a real run for his money murder count.

The ‘Eat the Rich Killer’ is obsessed with Joe’s dodgy past and determined to kill every last one of his new high-society pals until he agrees to return to the dark side (as if he ever really left).

Joe had a few suspects on his list (namely Roald, who, to be fair, is a bit of a dick), but it isn’t until the final episode that we learn that author and mayoral candidate Rhys Montrose (Ed Speelers) is the one responsible for the murders and for Joe’s torment.

ed speleers, you, season 4


A new fan theory that’s been floating around on TikTok suggests, however, that Rhys is actually a figment of Joe’s imagination, and that Joe has been the one committing the murders this entire time without realizing it.

It’s important to note that TikTok user @nerdyblonde12 stresses how Rhys is a real person—we see Nadia hand Joe his best-selling book, and he gives a eulogy at Simon’s funeral—but the version we see Joe interact with isn’t.

Now let’s lay the groundwork.

We’re told that Rhys’ book is about the author’s own experience of growing up in poverty and being raised by a single mother, which Joe relates to. When the pair first meet during a night out at Sundry House, they discuss their similar upbringings and disdain for the rich, who “dance when the world burns, barely noticing it’s even burning.”

ed speleers, penn badgley, you, season 4


This is the same night Joe blacks out on absinthe and wakes up with Malcom’s dead body on his table, and he also happens to be unconscious during (and within the vicinity of) the following two murders.

Additionally, Joe’s interactions with Rhys have always been without anyone else around. They speak alone at Sundry House, Simon’s art exhibit, and on the balcony at his wake, while Rhys appears only after Joe knocks Roald out in the part-one finale.

The theory therefore implies that Joe uses Rhys as a kind of alter ego, which is unleashed to satisfy his criminal urges before he wakes up as the newly-changed man he claims to be, à la Jekyll and Hyde (or indeed Fight Club for that matter).

A Reddit user bolstered this hypothesis by pointing out that Joe’s new alias, Jonathan Moore, is the name of a mystery author who wrote the 2016 novel The Poison Artist.

The main character in this book finds himself swept up in a murder mystery after blacking out from too much absinthe, but the killer he’s been pursuing turns out to be a hallucination.

ed speleers, penn badgley, you, season 4


It’s essentially the entire premise of this theory, and there just seems to be too much evidence for it be purely coincidental. If you’re still not convinced, the trailer for part two revealed that Joe’s wife, Love Quinn, who we saw die at the end of season three, is seemingly alive and well.

Although there’s a very slim (and we mean slim) chance that Love could have survived the fatal dose of aconite Joe injected her with, as well as the fire that engulfed her lifeless body, our best guess is that this is yet another figment of Joe’s imagination.

After four seasons of stalking and murdering, it looks like Joe’s crimes are finally catching up with him—and this could be the very season that we see him finally get his comeuppance.

Of course, this is all speculation, but we wouldn’t be surprised if this theory still holds up once part two is released on March 9…

You seasons 1-3 are streaming on Netflix. Season 4 part 1 premiered on February 9, 2023, and season 4 part 2 will premiere on March 9, 2023.

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Iona Rowan is Digital Spy’s Content Production Intern.

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