Last week, I had trouble pinpointing a way to adequately describe You, Me and the Apocalypse, but I think I've finally got it. This show is NBC's Game of Thrones.
Think about it: It's a sprawling epic, a British import, the characters often face dire consequences, and it's even got that one guy from Game of Thrones. (Joel Fry, who plays Dave, also played Hizdahr zo Loraq, that rich guy in Meereen who was engaged to Daenerys.)
Plus, much like Game of Thrones, the map of the world in which You, Me and the Apocalypse takes place keeps expanding. This week's new spot on the map is Washington, D.C., where we meet Scotty McNeil (Kyle Soller), who works for the U.S. Special Situations Department, which may or may not be a real thing. Basically, Scotty's expertise is cataclysmic disaster — like, for example, how to prevent humanity from being decimated by an eight-mile-wide comet. It turns out he does have a plan, in the form of a bunker under the Blue Ridge Mountains called Mount Genesis. Mount Genesis is a latter-day Noah's Ark, built to house 15 women, a sperm bank, and every species of plant and animal life, all of which can be kept alive for a century.
Although a global coalition of nations may be able to provide a one-in-three chance of the world's survival, they'll want Mount Genesis up and running as an insurance policy. Scotty and General Gaines (Paterson Joseph) are able to convince President Generic White Guy (Lloyd Owen) to approve the Mount Genesis program by assuring him that he can become the new world's leader.
In the meantime, the plan is pretty simple: Reassure humanity that there is hope, and then do so by attempting to restore order. This means that people will go back to work, government agencies will continue to enforce the law, and, in a weirdly specific presidential announcement, all escaped prisoners will be found and captured.
That includes Rhonda and Leanne, who are handcuffed together in the back of the stolen ambulance driven by White Horse, whose given name, we learn, is Ariel. Ariel wants Rhonda — who the world still believes is the notorious hacker known as BoobMuncher2000 — to teach him how she managed to hack the NSA. It quickly becomes clear to Leanne that she can barely use a computer at all. The ambulance crashes, trapping Leanne, and then Rhonda escapes with Ariel and his lackey to an abandoned convenience store. Rhonda then calls her brother, Scotty — see how it all comes together? #YMATA #is #GoT — and begs him to check on her husband and son.
Despite Leanne's obvious faults, Rhonda wants to go back for her. Ariel promises that if she comes with him, he'll call 9-1-1 and make sure they rescue Leanne. Rhonda agrees, seemingly forgetting that 9-1-1 isn't an available resource anymore. When Ariel figures out that Rhonda is protecting the real hacker — her son, Spike — he dumps Rhonda on the side of the road and promises to find Spike before she can. Rhonda goes back to the ambulance and saves Leanne, who steals a truck and promises to help Rhonda track down her son.
Phew, there is a lot going on here.
Meanwhile in the Vatican, bad-boy priest Father Jude has been taken off devil's advocate duty and tasked with finding the Messiah on Earth. He knows it will be a thankless job, and encourages Celine to leave while she still can, but she says she would rather stay and face the devil if he comes, because at least then her faith will be confirmed. It is very hardcore. There is also a long sequence of Father Jude pensively flipping through Biblical texts while epic music plays, which I'm sure is someone's fetish. It's unclear how much faith Father Jude actually has anymore, but it is very clear that he and Celine are going to fall in love.
Back in Slough, Jamie's adoptive mother Paula reveals that she's known his birth mother's address for a long time. Her name is Mary, she's a "weird hippie", and Jamie decides to go find her before time runs out. The scene leads to this exchange between Jamie and Paula, which pretty much boils down humanity to its core.
Paula: Come back soon. I don't want to be alone at the end.
Jamie: None of us do.
Oof, You, Me and the Apocalypse. Right in the heart.
Jamie and Dave set off for the countryside address where Mary supposedly lives. On the way, Dave decides to check some items off his bucket list. (Number one is car surfing, like Michael J. Fox in Teen Wolf. It seems exceptionally dangerous, even for a teenaged wolf.) The road trip is a good bonding experience and Dave is glad to see Jamie loosen up, but Mary no longer lives where they thought. Jamie barely has time to be heartbroken, though, before he and Dave are hit with … tranquilizer darts. They wake up handcuffed in a bathroom, which belongs to an angry pregnant woman who has mistaken him for Ariel.
After two episodes, it's already clear that You, Me and the Apocalypse has a confident voice and easy stride. It also seems to be planting the seeds for mysteries to come — last week, commenters suggested that perhaps the comet's supposed trajectory is the result of a Deus Ex hack. Ariel even says to Rhonda, "You don't believe in this apocalypse stuff, do you?" We also learn that the bunker contains an injured soldier (Scotty?) and a monkey, which seems like a nod to my favorite work of post-apocalyptic fiction, Y: The Last Man.
I love Megan Mullally in everything, but it's worth acknowledging that she turns in an especially stellar performance here. She's reached Charlize-Theron-in-Monster levels of disguise as Leanne, the only Nazi I'd ever want to see more of, fictional or otherwise. On that note, the entire cast has been pretty great — especially Gaia Scodellaro's riveting work as Celine.
NBC took a big chance on You, Me and the Apocalypse. It's a wildly ambitious show, and it remains to be seen if it will stick the landing. But so far, much like Teen Wolf car surfing, it's been a risk worth taking.