After the ending of the first season, I assumed there would never be a second season. This was partially due to Netflix’s track record with shows, but also because it appeared that one of the main characters, James, was dead. To my surprise, the second season debuted on Netflix in November of 2019. Thanks to the coronavirus, I finally had a chance to watch it. Spoilers for season 1 ahead.
Based on Charles Forman’s mini-comic of the same name, The End of the F***ing World is a dark British comedy about 17-year-old James who believes himself to be a psychopath because he kills animals as a hobby. Becoming bored of this, he decides to kill a human. He settles with 17-year-old Alyssa who wants to run away from home. The two run away together and a relationship slowly develops between the two. During this, they break into the home of a professor who is also a serial killer. That professor, Clive Koch, tries to assault Alyssa. In order to save her, James kills him and realizes that he might not be a psychopath. While on the run, the cops catch up to the two and James is shot.
Season 2 begins with a woman, Bonnie, who worked at the same college as Koch. After attending one of his classes, she fell in love with him and believed that he loved her back. Now that she believes Alyssa and James killed him, she is out for revenge.
Lucy Forbes brings this Wes Anderson-esque hyper-centricity with all of the focal points of each scene being centered, with everything of lesser importance mirrored around them. This can most be scene in Bonnie’s backstory in episode 1. Destiny Ekaragha’s direction, on the other hand, feels claustrophobic. Each scene’s framing feels slightly off, adding an almost nauseous feeling to each scene. Of course, much of the look of the show can be attributed to cinematographers Justin Brown and Ben Fordesman.
The dark comedy works incredibly well to lighten the dark and sometimes depressing subject matter tackled within The End of the F***ing World. Charlie Covell’s writing makes the characters feel real, even if their world seems crazier than normal.
Alex Lawther (James) and Jessica Barden (Alyssa) are, once again, fantastic as the two leads. The two carried most of the first season and the show would not be the same without them. Jonathan Aris returning to his role as Koch was a nice surprise, considering the character died in the first season. The way he portrayed Koch’s manipulative behavior toward Bonnie was perfect. However, the real star of this season was Naomi Ackie as Bonnie. You might recognize Ackie for her role as Janna in The Rise Of Skywalker, which I can now firmly say she was completely wasted in. She brings this intensity within her quiet portrayal of the mentally ill Bonnie.
The End of the F***ing World is filled with nihilism, but is ultimately about people discovering themselves, even if that discovery is made through the darkest of circumstances.