The End of the F***ing World season 2 review: James and Alyssa return, with diminished returns
James and Alyssa are back in the second season of The End of the F***ing World. They have more problems than before, and Clive's girlfriend planning to avenge her lover's murder is one among them
It was not the end of the f***ing world for James (Alex Lawther), after all. When we last saw him two years ago, he was pointlessly running across the beach awkwardly holding Alyssa’s dad’s shotgun as armed cops chased him. The screen turned black as we heard a gunshot leaving us with an ambiguous but satisfying end to this quirky drama about misfits. Even The End of the F***king World's source material, Charles Forsman’s eponymous graphic novel, concluded there. But Charlie Covell, the writer of this British dark comedy decided to extend the end and so, we have a decent but over-stretched season 2.
Writer: Charlie Covell
Cast: Jessica Barden, Alex Lawther, Naomi Ackie
When shows based on books go beyond their source material, the focus seems to get diluted and new characters are made to walk in to fill the screen space. Both happen with this season of The End of the F***ing World. While the first season was essentially about the self-diagnosed psychopath James and the wannabe-rebel Alyssa and the impacts their disturbed parents had on them, the new season’s focus seems to be all over the place. It is about the PTSD of Alyssa, James’s struggle to find a purpose, a bit about suicide, a bit of a hangover from the first season--essentially, despicable adults and their parenting.
This season is largely about the new character Bonnie (Naomi Ackie), who is out to kill James and Alyssa to avenge the murder of philosophy professor, Dr. Clive Koch. Yes, the serial rapist is back and we get more about him and his victims. In the graphic novel, Clive's character is said to be a satanist. Here, on the other hand, he teaches Sarte and seduces his students (a sly move from the writer). Clive quotes the existential philosopher (“Freedom is what you do with what’s been done to you”), and he lets his eyes wander in the classroom to choose his next prey and zeroes in on Bonnie. He takes advantage of her miserable predicament and exploits her in the name of love.
We get one whole episode that depicts Bonnie's predicament. Like James and Alyssa, Bonnie is also tormented by her mom. If the former suffered from improper parenting, Bonnie is deranged by a stringent mom, who tortures her to ace in all exams. And when this mom finds a lipstick in Bonnie’s possession, she forces her daughter to eat it as only 'hookers' wear them. Thus Bonnie learns about punishment from a young age, and she thinks Alyssa and James deserve one.
The end of the world, according to this show, has always been about the sickness that lurks in humans and the lack of empathy among parents. Every other stranger the lead characters meet is a pervert. Like Martin, the pedophile, here, we have the lonely motel owner, a rapist. It brings us a sense of deja vu. The new season seems to main retell everything that has been told more eloquently in the first season. Nevertheless, the chemistry and the awkward romance between James and Alyssa still makes you watch this quirky little show. Even if it is the end of the f***ing world, you can see that these two would make it as a couple. Personally, I wouldn’t mind a Season 3, where they mess up a few more things in their life.