Netflix You‘s Fake Stalker App Comes From A Real Place
Warning: This article containes spoilers about You Season 4, Part 1. Read at your own discretion.
It’s only February, but Joe Goldberg (Penn Badgley) is an early frontrunner for the worst vacation of 2023. At the end of You Season 3, he was sauntering the streets of Paris on a European vacation from the homicidal mother of his child he blew up, the son he abandoned on the doorstep of loving couple Dante (Ben Mehl) and Lansing (Noel Arthur), and most importantly, himself. He flew across the pond with a new identity and a new purpose in life: turning Marienne Bellamy (Tati Gabrielle) from frightened by his psychotic past to madly in love with the new him. Instead, he found himself right back where he started, with no idea how he got there.
In the fourth season, Goldberg assumed the identity of Jonathan Moore, a literature professor at Darcy College in London who finds himself looking over a corpse he doesn’t remember killing after a night of drinking with the insufferable rich elite. The body is of his moronic wealthy colleague Malcolm Harding (Stephen Hagan) in Harding’s house, which happens to be right across from Moore’s. The maniacal proclivities he flew across the country to repress took no time to resurface when he needed to dispose of the body before he became the prime suspect in Malcom’s death.
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Moore puts on his detective dad hat to figure out who killed Malcolm until he comes in contact with his most formidable adversary since Love Quinn was seconds away from slicing his throat: an app.
What is the Evanesce App?
After three seasons of being one step ahead (and likely a stalker-length behind) of everyone, our unfriendly neighborhood love bomber has met his match. After being summoned by the smitten Penelope to a dinner soiree with all of Malcolm’s detestable friends, Joe receives a message on his phone from an unknown person on an app he has no memory of ever downloading. In the app, messages disappear as soon as they are read and are sent from unidentifiable accounts, making reverse look-up impossible. At the end of the Season 4 premiere, Malcolm’s killer uses the secretive app to shock Joe with the information they planned to have Joe take the fall for Malcolm’s murder. More than simply surprising Joe, it revealed a new side to him.
We’ve seen Joe battle shock to cover up a murder the mother of his child committed and have the mental ingenuity to construct a glass cage to trap his love conquests. Joe had an answer for everything. Evanesce forces this sick dog to find new tricks. He can’t pop in a name in the Google knockoff QueryComber search engine and psychoanalyze someone through Facebook photos and Twitter posts as he’s done in the past. Instead, he has to infer personality from sarcastic responses and the killer’s fixation on Joe’s murder boners. And he never figures out a way to uncover their identity until the killer makes themself known.
Is The Evanesce app Real?
Evanesce isn’t real by name, but it is by function. Over the last decade, we’ve become obsessed with protecting our privacy at all costs, with nearly every tech company offering messaging services also providing ways to encrypt those messages. But, the ephemeral features of Evanesce are a bit more advanced than what Facebook and Google offer, yet not totally uncommon.
Apps like Cover Me, Wickr, WhatsApp, Confide, and Snapchat allow for varying levels of message self-destruction. WhatsApp messages take seven days to vanish, Snapchat messages can be saved with screenshots, and most of these apps require you to manually set the timer for when messages are set to vanish. One of the only apps to match Evanesce’s sleek design, immediate deletion, and automatic timer setting is Confide. On Confide, messages vanish forever as soon as they are read, and messages are only revealed line by line, similar to Evanesce. Screenshots are also impossible to take on Confide using the same technology that produces a black screen whenever you try to screenshot something on Netflix.
The fact an Evanesce-style app exists in the real world is no excuse for covering up murders or stalking your ex. It does show that just like in You, there’s a place for all of them.
Keith Nelson is a writer by fate and journalist by passion, who has connected dots to form the bigger picture for Men’s Health, Vibe Magazine, LEVEL MAG, REVOLT TV, Complex, Grammys.com, Red Bull, Okayplayer, and Mic, to name a few.