Spoiler alert: This story contains details from the new season of Netflix's "You," including the finale.
Joe Goldberg is back with even more toxicity, manipulation and complexity.
Netflix's "You" returned for a third season Friday (and has been renewed for a fourth), following the tale of the charming serial killer (Penn Badgley), this time with a new location, a baby boy and a similarly murderous wife, Love Quinn (Victoria Pedretti).
Suburban life puts a halt to Joe's killing streak – for now. As a father and husband, he can no longer go into full stalker mode, and instead resorts to his boring unhappily-ever-after of household chores, snobbish neighbors and a baby boy, Henry, who barely holds his marriage together.
That is, until Joe finally forms a connection to his infant son.
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Joe struggles to bond with Henry in the first episode, afraid the infant will sense Joe's violent past or worse: grow up to be just like his father.
"You know, babies can tell when your heart's not in it," Love begrudgingly tells an apathetic Joe.
But he finally experiences the joys of fatherhood in an intimate scene where he reads "Frog and Toad" to his cooing baby.
"I'm going to do everything I can," a teary-eyed Joe confesses to Henry. And that "everything" includes murder.
This isn't a huge surprise. As in previous seasons, Joe is surprisingly compassionate toward children: He had a soft spot for Paco in Season 1 and saved Ellie from a sexual predator in Season 2 – a protective instinct stemming from his own toxic childhood experiences.
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So once again, Joe slowly reverts to his murderous ways, but with a lower kill count. He violently stabs Ryan Goodwin (Scott Michael Foster), the abusive ex-husband of his new love interest, librarian Marienne (Tati Gabrielle), and later poisons Love after finalizing their divorce.
He then fakes his own death and frames Love for several murders. He chops off two of his own toes, baking them into a pie, and methodically places a box of evidence beside Love's body, as he readies to embark on the search for his next "you" in Paris.
But in a more shocking twist of events, Joe decides to leave behind his infant son to friendly neighbors: a heartbreaking decision given that Joe is still grappling with the trauma of his own childhood abandonment.
The ending seems cruel at first, but it's one of Joe's few actions that redeems him (somewhat) of his selfish behavior. In flashbacks, we're reminded that an adolescent Joe was sent to an orphanage, where he was tormented and bullied, after his mother decided she was unfit. It's the reason for who he is today: an obsessive, sadistic and overly protective murderer who will do anything to avoid being abandoned.
In each season, he's rationalized every murder as calculated, reasonable and necessary. He disguised killing Marienne's manipulative ex as a means to ensure her safety, when in reality he hoped to move away with her. And he killed Love to save his own son from "the monster."
But his decision to leave Henry is the first time he's truly protecting someone he loves. "Even if that means protecting from," Joe says in one of his last internal monologues.
"We're perfect for each other, but bad for Henry," Love reminds him in her dying words. "He'll know what you are."
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 'You' Season 3: How Penn Badgley's Joe returns as a serial killing dad