The End of the F***ing World: Series 2
This sequel to James (Alex Lawther) and Alyssa (Jessica Barden)'s adventures has morphed into a different, less anarchic and explosive experience – but it is richer for it
Somehow, The End of the F***ing World picks itself up from its first series’ cliffhanger with skill and style. The outcome of that ending has been kept under an airtight wrap in the promotional material, but the mystery isn't kept alive past the new series' second episode – allowing viewers and the characters to plunge forward into new misadventures with little uncertainty or catch-up required. In an eight-episode series that can be consumed all at once like a long film, it is an asset. The anachronistically-American south of England setting and stilted dialogue remain delightfully odd, yet neither mask the show’s vulnerable heart.
That said, the new central conflict – anchored in the backstory of new addition Bonnie (a stellar Naomi Ackie) – is a difficult sell, relying on character set-up that is touched upon but never given adequate breathing time to feel completely right. There is also more carry-over from the first series than expected: while it makes sense that all involved are still dealing with the aftermath of their life on the run, the mood here is decidedly more reflective, sometimes exasperatingly so. That frustration, however, is born of authenticity; forming bonds is much easier with no baggage attached and maintaining them becomes overwhelming. The show has morphed into a different, less anarchic and explosive experience, but it is richer for it.
The performers are uniformly excellent in bringing this unique world to life – notably in selling the crash landings as comedy and tragedy collide – but special mention must go to Jessica Barden. Alyssa has been through a lot since her first introduction, and Barden plays the cracks that begin to form in her devil-may-care outlook with delicacy. Should The End of the F***ing World return for a third series, Alyssa's future is far from certain but it will be in good hands.
The End of the F***ing World is available to stream on All4