Are Joe & Rhys The Same Person? The You Season 4 Finale Twist, Explained
The Midnights song that plays in Season 4 is not the only Swiftie Easter egg, BTW.
Spoilers ahead for You Season 4 Part 2. Just when fans thought they had the identity of the Eat the Rich Killer figured out, the second half of You Season 4 delivered a major psychological twist: Rhys Montrose was never really manipulating Joe, nor was he carrying out the season’s murders. Rather, Joe was doing his Joe thing and killing, well, everyone.
However, the reveal is not quite as simple as “it was all in his head.” If you need some help making sense of the shocking turn of events, here’s the You Season 4 finale twist, explained in detail.
For starters, are Joe and Rhys the same person? Yes and no. Rhys Montrose was a real guy in the world of You Season 4 — he wrote that awful book, A Good Man in a Cruel World, and really was campaigning to be mayor. But when Joe was instructed by Kate’s dad, Tom Lockwood, to kill Rhys, he traveled to the mayoral hopeful’s country cottage, and the truth became clear: Rhys had no idea who Joe was.
Joe killed him anyway but was then visited by the “Rhys” who he’d been hanging out with all season long: a psychological manifestation of Joe’s mental breakdown. As the hallucinatory friend (who’s not Rhys, but we’ll call Rhys for clarity) told Joe, “I’m not the enemy here. I’m just the part that broke away to do the dirty work.”
As Rhys continued, “you poured all that darkness you hated into this vessel you admired because you knew that the endgame was facing yourself, didn’t you?”
Basically, Joe latched onto the concept of Rhys because he was so unwell after killing Love Quinn back in Season 3. The idea to kill his new friends was, paradoxically, born out of a desire to be a good person. As Rhys explained, Joe could make himself a hero by solving the murders.
Ultimately, Joe was able to escape his delusion and, with Kate’s help, fabricate a story for how Joe Goldberg actually survived the Madre Linda fire. But there’s a sneaky sign that Rhys may still be in his mind. In Joe’s final encounter with Nadia, it almost sounds like Rhys’ accent is coming out of Joe’s mouth on and off — like when he tells Nadia, “You’re right,” for example — suggesting that Joe’s become one with this fragmented part of his psyche.
It’s a lot to take in! However, we really should have seen it coming. Taylor Swift’s “Anti-Hero” plays during the You Season 4 finale, aptly summing up the season’s twist: that Joe’s only real enemy was himself all along.
As it turns out, Penn Badgley actually used the song in his first TikTok ever — and in acting out the iconic “It’s me, hi, I’m the problem it’s me” chorus and running from himself, the star seemed to foreshadow that Joe, too, would be his own problem in Season 4.
Other moments of the season perfectly line up with Swift’s “Anti-Hero” lyrics, too. When Joe hallucinates former victims Love and Beck, for example, it’s very much all of the people he ghosted (literally) standing in the room with him.
Interestingly, it’s not the only Swiftie reference in You Season 4. When Joe is fumbling with the key code to Marienne’s cell, he tries the combination “121389” — which is Swift’s birthday. Badgley told Variety that he thinks Joe would “despise” the musician, but apparently, he’s a low-key fan.