The critically acclaimed dark drama that broaches serious topics while attempting to maintain a comedic façade throughout, The End of the F***ing World, has returned for a second series after a two-year hiatus. Show-writer Charlie Covell has stated on Twitter that this crop of episodes is intended to be the programme’s final instalment. The second season, similarly set two years after the events of the first, showcases how Alyssa (Jessica Barden) and James (Alex Lawther) have had to return their seemingly mundane existences, though they are quickly thrown into flux due to their differing circumstances. The casual disinterest in proceedings exhibited by Barden in the second episode echoes her character’s demeanour from the first season, though just as the case was then, this is a steely exterior masking her own inner turmoil. Lawther’s knack for conjuring an element of awkwardness in his scenes is also on display in the same episode, with an interaction with Alyssa’s mother, Gwen (Christine Bottomley), especially highlighting this.
The opening episode of the series is dedicated to the introduction of Bonnie (Naomi Ackie), a victim of a dysfunctional upbringing whose retrospective tale takes place prior to the occurrence of the first season. The scenes focusing on her childhood, with specific regard to her mother’s fixation on punishment, make for uncomfortable viewing, initially resulting in an inevitable build-up of sympathy for the character as she is surely a product of her environment. This begins to dissipate however, as Bonnie is shown to possess her own psychopathic and vindictive streak, culminating in an act of violence to consolidate her romantic dedication to Dr. Clive Koch (Jonathan Aris). Koch, who you may remember from the first series as the serial rapist killed by James, is played by Aris with aplomb, conveying his slimy revulsive manner effortlessly. Ackie herself brings a sense of detachedness to her portrayal of Bonnie, turning her into a figure of menace intent on gaining retribution for the murder of her lover at the close of the opening episode.
The comedic aspect of the show is still apparent, with moments of crude, awkward and dark humour all present in the first two episodes. The recognisably retro soundtrack of the first season returns as well, with transitions between scenes being set to upbeat songs that underscore the dark subject matter of the series. Despite the first season’s satisfactorily ambiguous ending to a self-contained story, the opening pair of episodes to The End of the F***ing World’s second season have provided enough intrigue for me to want to continue watching how the story unfolds. Released on 4th November 2019, all episodes are now available to watch on Channel 4’s on demand service, All 4.
Photo Credit: Channel 4