Updated: Jul 31
Maybe it’s the story that does the least that can say the most. I finished the second season of Netflix’s The End of the F***ing World this week. I tried my best to spread it out over the course of the week, savoring Alyssa and James’ every fiddly interaction. The unfortunate pair, who had been through hell in the previous season, is haunted by the night their teenage rebellion turned into a nightmare.
Two years since the events of season one, Alyssa is getting married because it just seems like the thing to do and James’ father passed away leaving him orphaned and alone in the world. Then there is Bonnie, who had a one-sided romance with Clive, a professor at the university she worked at and the same man James killed in season one while he attempted to rape Alyssa. Clive was also revealed to be someone who had turned sexual assault into his gross and dangerous hobby, but this wasn’t something Bonnie had ever caught onto.
So, you set the stage with three deeply damaged individuals figuring out how to cope. Season two explores trauma, love, and loss. Alyssa spends the season trying to work through her trauma, she is repeatedly haunted by images of that night in Clive’s home. At one point James comments that it seemed as though someone had removed Alyssa’s batteries. James himself is now alone in the world, losing his father to a heart attack and mother to suicide and looks to Alyssa as the answer. This also takes you back to season one where James realizes Alyssa had become his protector despite him having been the one to kill Clive. And Bonnie, who lived a childhood defined by bizarre psychological punishment when she could not meet her mother’s high expectations and a father who walked out.
Without needing to go over the top with moving musical scores and expensive visual effects, The End of the F***ing World tells a story that packs a blow. All these unaddressed emotional struggles come bubbling to the surface throughout the course of the story and hit a wall when each character has a moment of self-realization. James learns he can’t make Alyssa the answer to the sorrow he’s carrying. Alyssa admits she needs help. And the most pivotal moment is when Bonnie, who had been intent on murdering James and Alyssa as punishment for what they did to Clive, realized that wasn’t the answer and that he may not have been the man she thought he was. Bonnie turns the gun she had pointed at the two on herself but James and Alyssa are quick and leap to stop her.
Later, when James is making an official statement to law enforcement he asks what will happen to Bonnie showing concern for her mental state. The officer asks, “What can you do?” as if to say the situation is a hopeless one, to which James perfectly responds in the tone of the shows definitive wit, “A bit more?”. Admittedly, for those who have experienced sexual assault and other forms of emotional trauma, this show might not be an easy watch, but it serves as an amazing story about unaddressed mental health issues and the necessity of love and empathy and that we cannot go through this life alone.