The End of the F***ing World is back for a second season and it’s darker, grittier, and better than ever.
The first season of the show saw broken teens Alyssa (Jessica Barden) and James (Alex Lawther) ditch school in pursuit of adventure. What started out as innocent teens searching for sanctuary in escapism ends with cold-blooded murder and James being shot down by the police. The man that the panicked teens murdered turns out to be a perverted creep and as an audience, we assume that no one will be particularly hard done by his death.
In the first episode of season two, however, we are introduced to a new character. Bonny is a maladjusted young adult who is first abused by her mother and then abused by the professor that Alyssa and James murdered. Unfortunately, she doesn’t see it that way. Manipulated into believing their love is real, Bonny heads out to get her revenge on her lover’s killers.
The rest of the season unfolds into a confusing and emotional cat-and-mouse chase. Bonny switches between reaching for the gun and going for drinks with Alyssa and James, who are dealing with the aftermath of their horribly timed reunion. The trio develops an unusual relationship with a tense and dramatic climax.
Of course, what is so compelling about the Netflix series is not the tense climax, but the venerability that comes after. After being held at gunpoint for a murder they are traumatized for committing, Alyssa and James end up holding down a sobbing Bonny, trying to protect her from herself.
Lawther and Barden thus remind us why we fell so deeply in love with their characters in season one. In spite of their unique circumstances and unlikeable personalities, there is something beautiful and relatable about the way they navigate their relationship with one another. Together, they subvert all expectations of young lust and their fragile romance is an ironic triumph for love.
“I’m sorry for thinking you were the answer,” James confesses to Alyssa in the final scene. After all the ups and devastating downs, James realizes that love is not about finding someone that can fix you. It’s not about bold declarations of adoration, but rather whispered confessions behind a car park. It’s the person who not only knows where you are but can assess whether you truly want to be alone or are in need of a friend. Love is ultimately about many things and The End of the F***ing World shines a delicate light to the tender intricacies of one particularly unconventional, poignant relationship.