Joe Goldberg’s Mental Health, Explained: Will Hallucination Of Rhys Return In ‘You’ Season 5?


Joe Goldberg, from the very first episode of the Netflix series “You”, has been an obsessive stalker, somebody who could commit the most violent crimes as if he were just doing a mundane job, somebody who knew how to cover his tracks, and somebody who knew how to love but had a hard time letting go. There were a million traits that we associated with the man who never failed to surprise us, but never did we believe him to be somebody who would be in denial and who would refrain from seeing the truth and accepting reality. 

Joe wanted to change for good. He wanted to change his perspective, be in better control of his impulses, not fall prey to his weaknesses, and, most importantly, break the pattern of falling for a girl, killing her, and giving himself reasons why it was imperative to do so and validating his own actions. That is why he had left his old life and moved to London in the hope that he could come out of what seemed to be an infinite loop and stay away from his nerve-racking indulgences. Joe Goldberg had become Professor Jonathan Moore, who taught at Darcy College and constantly told himself to stay away from people and live a secluded life. But how can one change an inherent characteristic that is embedded in their core? They can suppress it for a while and pretend to be someone else, but it does resurface, and that’s when we realize that people change habits but not themselves. Manipulating, stalking, and speculating on what the other person might be thinking gave Joe a kick like no other thing did. Whatever he was trying to do and whoever he was trying to be were not sustainable, and somewhere deep down, he knew that. 

Joe’s decision to walk on the road to redemption was like a new year’s resolution made by people who promised never to give up but ultimately ended up going back to the same old track compulsively. Kate Galvin’s entry in his life in the fourth season of the series, “You,” became that tipping point, after which he also knew that he wouldn’t be able to hold himself for much longer. But then Joe did something that shocked us, and we almost believed that, for the first time, maybe he was just an onlooker, and there was someone else who had taken up the role of a sociopath. 

When Joe Goldberg Met Rhys Montrose

Out of the entire lot that was present at the Sundry House Club, Joe Goldberg had found Rhys Montrose to be the most sensible, and they struck a chord from the very beginning. Joe drank a lot that night, and when he woke up the next morning at his house, he found the dead body of Malcolm on his table. Joe didn’t remember killing Malcolm, and he had a feeling that somebody else had done the job and left the body at his house to frame him. 

Later, Joe received an anonymous message on an app named Evanesce and couldn’t recall when he had downloaded it on his mobile. The next to be murdered was Simon, and once again, there was no evidence found that could lead Joe to the murderer. Joe had started realizing that the murderer was just like him in more than one way. At times, it felt like the murderer was a fan of Joe Goldberg and was trying to imitate him and achieve perfection every time he killed a person. In the fifth episode of the fourth season of the series, “You” we finally got to know that it was Rhys Montrose who was the “Eat the Rich” killer, and the irony was that he was also running for the post of mayor of London. Rhys had taken Roald and Joe both into his custody, and he told Joe that he could just pin all the blame on Roald and team up with him to bring about a new dawn. Things didn’t turn out as Rhys would have liked, and he escaped from Phoebe’s ancestral castle without being seen by anyone.

Joe Goldberg had a new mission, a new obsession, but this time it was not a girl but a man who was as deranged as Joe. From the beginning of the second part of the series, Rhys was forcing Joe to find a scapegoat and pin all the blame on them. Joe didn’t know how to falsely incriminate somebody, knowing that they were innocent. He wanted to change and leave his past behind, but Rhys was making him do things that once again pulled him inside the swamp.

Joe finally decided to side with Tom Lockwood and kill the would-be mayor of London. Joe just wanted to end his nightmare because Rhys had become uncontrollable. He used to barge into Joe’s house whenever he wanted to, and it felt like he was keeping track of his movements at all times. Joe got to know that Rhys was hiding in his ex’s house and trying to broker support because his campaign had been derailed after Lockwood got a news article printed about Rhys that had severely tainted his image. Joe made up his mind, and we all know what happened when he did that. He went to Rhys’ country house and killed him. All hell broke loose when he found another Rhys Montorse in that room. Joe thought that he was hallucinating, as any man would do at first, but then he realized that his problem ran deeper than he had imagined.

Was Joe Able To Get Rid Of His Hallucination Of Rhys? Will Rhys Come Back In ‘You’ Season 5?

The villainous Rhys Montrose, who was forcing Joe Goldberg to commit the murders, was a creation of Joe’s troubled mind, though there was an actual person named Rhys who existed in the real world and was fighting for the post of Mayor of London. Whatever Joe had done up till then, he had done of his own accord. Nobody forced him to kill Malcolm, Simon, or any other person. He himself got inside the Blaxworth mansion and pretended that he and Roald were chained by Rhys. The real Rhys Montrose had seen him on one or two occasions, but they never had a conversation in private. In episode 8 of “You” Season 4, we are shown how, whenever Joe thought he met Rhys, no one was ever present around them, which was enough to prove that it was all in Joe’s head. 

Joe was probably suffering from a multiple personality disorder, and now, finally, his own delusions were breaking, and he was becoming aware of what he had been doing. Joe got obsessed after reading Rhys’ memoir. He had marked the pages as if he were going to give an examination the next day in which he would be asked questions from that memoir. His mind started playing tricks on him, and he became delusional enough to believe that Rhys was actually behind the murders. If we scrutinize Joe’s behavior, there was always a level of denial that resided in him, though not exactly in his delusional sense. At first, he had the savior complex, where he felt that by obsessing over a woman, he was actually protecting her. 

After he killed them, he pretended like it was the last resort and put the blame on the victim for driving him to that edge and not giving him any other option. Joe never accepted the fact that maybe he was showing symptoms of erotomania and that the other party didn’t need his protection in the first place. Joe always had an option, and for the first three seasons of the series, he refrained from seeing the truth, but the fact remained that he loved a good kill. The look he had on his face when he killed Tom Lockwood was the real Joe Goldberg. It gave him a sense of gratification to know that he had planned the perfect murder and the authorities wouldn’t be able to catch him. He felt like the master of the rooster. He felt powerful; he felt in charge, and that’s what Joe always craved. So basically, if we put it simply, Joe’s conscience didn’t allow him to tread on the path that gave him the utmost gratification, which alternatively led him to the creation of another personality inside him through which he could do all that he desperately wanted to without feeling guilty about anything. Joe was a slave to his desires, and no matter what he did, he couldn’t change his innate impulses.

Rhys Montrose was a part of Joe Goldberg, whom he had subconsciously broken off to do all the dirty work. There was a duality inside him where who Joe wanted to be was in stark contrast to who he really was. The endgame had always been facing oneself and being able to stand in front of the mirror and not feel guilty. So, Joe, very smartly, put all that evilness that resided inside him in a vessel and started believing that it ceased to be a part of him.

Joe Goldberg was a complex man, and all these things went a lot deeper than he would have imagined. We could never shrug him off as just being a psycho killer because there are many other fascinating aspects that make Joe a conundrum. The only thing that Joe needed was to embrace his reality, and he, too, knew that it would make him invincible. Joe wanted himself to believe that he would be free from this vicious cycle if he committed suicide, but on the other side of his brain, he felt that he was not at all suicidal, and it was merely one of those misconceptions he had about himself. Joe jumped from a bridge, but he was saved by the patrol police, and maybe he already knew that he would be saved. He needed to jump in those waters and shake himself so that he stopped waging a war against his own nature and accepted his truth.

Rhys Montrose is still pretty much inside Joe’s mind. He has always been there and will always be there until Joe accepts himself the way he is. We wouldn’t see Rhys in the upcoming season of “You” on the condition that Joe didn’t become delusional once again and stop accepting his reality. Joe Goldberg was reborn after he opened his eyes in the hospital. Somehow Joe did feel redeemed, and at the same time, he accepted his dark side. It was an inherent part of him, and he realized that he couldn’t cage it in a vessel and pretend like it never existed. In “You” Season 5, we will see Joe Goldberg doing what he does best, though his game will be even bigger now that he has Kate by his side and the resources and power that came along with her.

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Sushrut Gopesh
Sushrut Gopesh
I came to Mumbai to bring characters to life. I like to dwell in the cinematic world and ponder over philosophical thoughts. I believe in the kind of cinema that not necessarily makes you laugh or cry but moves something inside you.

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