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'You' star Penn Badgley asked for fewer intimacy scenes in hit Netflix show

"Fidelity in every relationship, and especially my marriage, is important to me," Penn Badgley explained on his podcast Podcrushed

The Netflix hit You starring Penn Badgley made its highly anticipated return for Season 4, Part 1 on Thursday, but one thing may stand out for fans of the series: There is a lot less intimacy in the five new episodes just released.

That shift was deliberate and Badgley revealed on his podcast, Podcrushed, alongside Nava Kavelin and Sophie Ansari, that he asked the show's creator, Sera Gamble, if he could not do any more intimacy scenes.

"One of the main things is like, do I want to put myself back in a career path where I’m just always the romantic lead?" Badgley said.

"Fidelity in every relationship, and especially my marriage, is important to me. ... I just got to a point where I don’t want to do that. And of course before I took the show is the question, do I have a career if I don’t?"

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While that was something he was thinking about before he took the show, Badgley did get to the point where he communicated to Gamble that his desire would be to completely eliminate his intimate scenes.

"But I signed this contract, I signed up for this show," Badgley said. "You can’t take this aspect out of the DNA of the concept, so how much less can you make it, was my question to them, and she didn't even bat an eye."

"She was really glad that I was that honest, ... she had a really positive response. She appreciated my directness and she appreciated that I was [being] reasonable and practical, and they came back with a phenomenal reduction."

Penn Badgley as Joe Goldberg in episode 401 of You. (Netflix)
Penn Badgley as Joe Goldberg in episode 401 of You. (Netflix) (Netflix)

What is You Season 4, Part 1 about?

Joe (Badgley) has adopted a new identity in London, following Season 3, which found him on the run after murdering his wife Love (Victoria Pedretti) and faking his own death. He's now Professor Jonathan Moore, teaching a course in American Iconoclasts of the Short Story.

"No love. No people. Just books,” Joe says, through a voiceover, as a sort of mantra for his new life.

But of course, even while trying to lay low, Joe can't help but be stalker.

Just across the alley from his flat, through his back window, Joe can see straight into the home of his pompous colleague Malcolm and sort-of girlfriend Kate (Charlotte Ritchie).

"Not my circus, not my monkeys," Joe tries to tell himself as his curiosity peaks about who Kate is.

(L to R) Penn Badgley as Joe, Tilly Keeper as Lady Phoebe, Lukas Gage as Adam in episode 401 of You. (Netflix)
(L to R) Penn Badgley as Joe, Tilly Keeper as Lady Phoebe, Lukas Gage as Adam in episode 401 of You. (Netflix)

Through Malcolm, Joe meets a selection of London socialites, all insufferable, making Joe seem very far from the worst person in the room, which is really frightening.

They include Lady Phoebe (Tilly Keeper), Kate's royal friend who's been the subject of U.K. tabloids since she was 15. Phoebe's dating Adam (Lukas Gage), who opened the exclusive club Sundry House and he's the son of a successful American magnate. Then there's Gemma (Eve Austin), a friend who met this group at Oxford, and is incredibly obnoxious. Blessing (Ozioma Whenu) is a Nigerian princess who works in tech. Simon (Aidan Cheng) is the son of a billionaire and he's very much playing the "tortured artist" part, while his sister Sophie became an influencer after she realized it was a lot easier than her plans to be a lawyer.

Roald (Ben Wiggins) is the epitome of a European aristocrat and is particularly skeptical of Joe, right from the start. He's kind of obsessive about Kate and has this sort of brewing dark side.

Then there's Rhys (Ed Speleers), the author of a famed memoir that chronicles his life from living with an unstable single mother in poverty, to finding out he is the son of a Duke. He's also eyeing a possible move into politics and when he meets Joe at Sundry House, Rhys is the first person Joe can actually have an intelligent conversation with.

(L to R) Penn Badgley as Joe Goldberg, Stephen Hagan as Malcolm in episode 401 of You. (Netflix)
(L to R) Penn Badgley as Joe Goldberg, Stephen Hagan as Malcolm in episode 401 of You. (Netflix)

After a night at Sundry House, filled with booze and drugs, Malcolm takes Joe home, into his flat. Joe wakes up the next morning and sees Malcolm dead on his table, with a knife stick out of his chest.

This is just the first in a series of murders by the "Eat The Rich" killer, who is not only killing off members of Joe's new group of acquaintances, but is also sending anonymous messages to Joe. The messages reveal that this mysterious person knows about Joe's real identity, which start our protagonist off on a murder mystery to see who this blackmailer is.

Tati Gabrielle as Marienne in episode 401 of You. (Netflix)
Tati Gabrielle as Marienne in episode 401 of You. (Netflix)

What happens to Marienne in Season 4 of 'You'?

While Joe is hiding in London, that's not actually what led him to this European adventure. He actually initially went to Paris to find Marienne (Tati Gabrielle), but was told by a local selling her art that Marienne was in London for an art fair.

So Joe was on the move again and managed to find Marienne, who instantly starts running away the moment she sees him, terrified of this person she now knows is a murderer.

Joe manages to corner her and she asks if there have been more murders. Joe's response is just silence. She calls him a murderer and he claims she's wrong about him, and he'll prove it to her, just before saying "goodbye."

Following this confrontation, Joe is met with a man, Elliot (Adam James), who was hired by Love's father to kill him. But Elliot doesn't want to hurt people anymore so he presents Joe with another identity, Jonathan Moore.

"Just disappear, be Jonathan," Elliot says.

But Marienne knows Joe is alive, so Elliot instructs Joe that he needs to kill her so she doesn't reveal where he is, telling him to meet her at the train station the next morning. Joe goes to the station but instead of killing her, he steals her locket and takes a picture of it to send to Elliot as "proof."

Penn Badgley as Joe Goldberg in episode 401 of You. (Netflix)
Penn Badgley as Joe Goldberg in episode 401 of You. (Netflix)

What's different about Season 4 of 'You'?

Reflecting on Season 4 of You, Badgley highlighted on his podcast that "for better or worse," each season of the show "ends in a really intense sort of spectacular fashion."

"Every time I’m like, how are they going to keep it compelling? How is it not going to get tired? I know they’re asking the same questions. and they always do," he said.

A core aspect of this season of the show, which makes it different from its past, is that we've transferred from a thriller to a murder mystery/whodunit, which does give the series a different energy.

"The device of suspense has to be used differently," Badgley explained.

Yes, You is still dramatic and includes all the creepy voiceovers of Joe thinking to himself, but there's something particularly enticing about Joe moving from the stalker, to the person being stalked, as we wait to see how the mystery unfolds in Part 2 when it's released on March 9.