The show focused on a crazed stalker of women shifts to the other side of the US and to a new target.
SUMMARY (Spoilers for Season 1)
Having killed the object of his obsession in season 1, Beck (Elizabeth Lail), Joe Goldberg (Penn Badgley) moves to Los Angeles to flee another of his exes, Candace (Ambyr Childers) and resolves to quit his stalker lifestyle. He gets a new identity from Will Bettelheim (Robin Lord Taylor) and gets hired at a bookstore owned by Forty Quinn (James Scully). He moves in next to reporter Delilah (Carmelo Zumbado) and her sister Ellie (Jenna Ortega), but quickly falls for another woman named Love (Victoria Pedretti). Joe attempts to change his ways for her, but his inner crazy stalker starts to come out.
This show has an interesting way of simultaneously being so disturbing that I don’t want to watch it but so unpredictable and creatively told that I can’t stop. It’s the only binge show where I have to take breaks for my sanity but know that I have to go back to binging it or it will eat at me to not know where the story goes. It’s even more annoying because so much of the story structure is recycled from Season 1, but it still feels surprising. I will say that, much like last season, several times it felt like the entire show changed in an episode, and it never got old.
Part of what allows the show to change so frequently is that we always have a focal point in our unreliable narrator, which is usually Joe/Will narrating a story towards the object of his obsession. Since he lies to that person, and vicariously himself, frequently, he’s also deceiving the audience. The conflict between what we see objectively and what is narrated to us is one of the most compelling aspects of the show, frequently making us realize that we’re being sympathetic TO A MURDEROUS STALKER. Whereas in Season 1 we might have had hope that he really would realize the nature of his actions in time to keep himself from going over the last line he had, by this point we know that he was willing to rationalize his own actions no matter how extreme. He claims that he wants to reform, but the nature of television tells us any reformation will be replaced by another obsession. Still, that means that the viewers will always be on our toes.
One change to the season is the presence of Candace, who was presumed to be Joe’s first victim before Beck in Season 1. It turns out that she’s not dead, but she is determined to destroy Joe’s life for what he did to her. While she is technically the antagonist, she’s clearly the anti-villain to Joe’s anti-hero. We have no sympathy for her actions from his perspective, with Joe denying any ill-intent towards her, but ultimately she is in the “right.” Joe stalks and kills women. She’s a woman. It’s amazing how much the narrative can make her seem like the crazy one, just by playing things from Joe’s point of view.
The other supporting characters in this season are a step-up from the first. They’re much more complex and contain their own hidden dark sides. Forty, who seems like a complete spoiled rich-kid with delusions of artistic grandeur, turns out to be much more relatable. Love’s friends are given more depth than Beck’s companions. Heck, we even get some flashes into Joe’s past which tell us a bit about how he got to be who he is. Just a solid improvement in this category.
Overall, this show is still disturbing, but it also has the ability to constantly surprise the viewer with all of the twists and close-calls. If you liked the first season, you’ll like this one.
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