I didn’t think James was dead, or, maybe I didn’t want to believe it. Either way, I argued to anyone who would listen that the show wasn’t really over after it’s first season — and I was right. The British television/Netflix series aired its second season in America Nov. 5.
After last season ended with James (Alex Lawther) presumably being gunned down by police on a British shoreline while trying to protect the girl he loved, Alyssa (Jessica Barden), I didn’t know what to expect this season. After all, the lovers’ Bonnie-and-Clyde crime spree seemed to have come to an end with one dead and the other facing serious charges.
However, viewers are introduced to season two by being dragged deeper into Alyssa’s difficult teenage years and how she became the angsty, somewhat-carefree character that James had fallen in love with. The show also offered the opportunity to get to know a new character, Bonnie (Naomi Ackie), who is depicted as a former lover of Dr. Clive Koch’s — a man murdered by James after trying to rape Alyssa and, a man whose lengthy, secret evidence of being a serial killer was discovered by James.
The first full episode of the season is used to establish a backstory for Bonnie, who had come from a broken home where, as a child, she was misguided on what love really was instead of being brought up to believe that being abused and punished go hand-in-hand with proving one’s love. Her backstory explains how she ended up in a doomed relationship — similar to that of Alyssa and James — with Koch.
While in prison for killing another lover of Koch’s at his command, Bonnie learns of Koch’s death and is out to seek revenge. After being released from prison, Bonnie went out drivingwith a gun in her car’s glove compartment and sitting nearby was a newspaper clipping about Koch's murder that includes a photo of Alyssa — the only supposedly living witness the night of Koch’s murder.
I was so enticed that I finished the entire eight-episode season in one night.
In promotional pictures from “The End of The F***ing World,” Alyssa is dressed in what looks like a wedding dress. In an attempt to put her relationship with James behind her and start fresh, Alyssa begins dating a local boy. She opens up to him, trusts him and asks him to marry her. The two seem happy together, but Alyssa still thinks about James and what her life would have been like with him in it. Consistent with her reactions to many events in season one, she gets up and runs off, but this time, on her own wedding day.
Because of the overwhelming feeling of toxic love and curiosity I had for James’ and Alyssa’s relationship in the first season, the TV Gods have awarded me and other fans, with the best surprise of all. But I’ll let you find that one out for yourselves.
For now, I’ll leave you to find out how these abused, broken and manipulative people play out their problems to and on each other throughout the rest of the season. Overall, this season was better than I had expected, since, like many others, I worried how season two could live up to the material season one had brought to the table. However, it feeds on itself in a unique, thoughtful way that is different from season one but just as mesmerizing. If you loved the soundtrack to the first season, the background music in each episode of this season is just as aesthetically pleasing and situational as you could have imagined.
“The End of The F***ing World” is now streaming on Netflix (or, if you live in England, on Channel 4) and is rated TV-MA.