You, Me and the Apocalypse
Now this is what I’ve been waiting for. By far the most revealing episode to date, “Home Sweet Home” finally begins to weave together the many disparate story lines of You, Me and the Apocalypse.
Sure, learning that the main characters are related does feel a bit deus ex machina, but shouldn’t we have seen that coming? After all, Ariel’s hacker group is called Deus Ex. And once you step back to look at the show as a whole — now that we know this is the story of an exceedingly dysfunctional family brought together by the end of days — it’s fairly clear that seeds were planted right from the beginning.
We open, as always, in a bunker under Slough. New to the usual crew is Diana Rigg’s mysterious and potentially evil Sutton, along with Dr. Samuel (Max Brown). Sutton looks thrilled to be there; Dr. Samuel … slightly less so.
Nineteen days earlier, the place is well-stocked and ready to make it through the end of the world. We learn that the bunker was set up under Sutton’s estate with the soul purpose of keeping Sutton alive. (She’s sick with an unknown disease.) Her assistants enter with a large crate, which turns out to contain an unconscious Ariel.
When Ariel wakes up, Sutton explains that she needs blood to live, but it has to be “clean.” Ariel’s blood has already been drawn and is off to be tested. If it doesn’t meet Sutton’s exacting standard, it seems like he’ll be killed. Ariel wants to know if this is a sex thing, which Sutton laughs off — as she reveals, she is his grandmother. A long time ago, she apparently faked her death, and now all of her children think she’s dead. Among those children are Scotty and Rhonda, and they are actually Ariel’s aunt and uncle, which is how Sutton tracked down Ariel in the first place.
As Ariel lies there, strapped to the hospital bed, unsure if he is going to live or die, he begins to hear voices. He’s unsure if God or the Devil is talking to him, and we don’t know if he’s drugged up, but given that he might come from a whole family of messiahs, the voices might be real. At this point, anything is possible.
When Sutton comes back, she reveals that Ariel has hepatitis, so he’s no use to her. As Dr. Samuel is about to kill him, he reveals that he has a twin — and that twin has a daughter. If Sutton wants her great-granddaughter’s blood, she’ll have to spare Ariel’s life.
This is such a fun and bizarre series of scenes. Let’s pause for a moment to recognize the treasure that is Diana Rigg. She’s so wonderfully evil as Sutton. When she says, “They’re sexy when they’re a little scared,” I became pretty convinced that she’s the best villain on network TV right now.
Elsewhere in Slough, Jamie has returned home to find his adoptive mother, Paula, living at his house. Paula isn’t pleased to see that Jamie has brought Mary back with him, and despite Dave’s best efforts to keep things light, the meeting turns into a tense mom-off. Jamie decides he can’t take it and goes back to work at the bank, where he forgives peoples’ outstanding mortgage payments and lets the homeless take refuge inside. Mary stops by to drop off lunch, but then starts to preach “The Gospel of Jamie” to anyone who will listen. Jamie tells her to take her spiel outside. She does, and is instantly crushed by a pile of falling bricks.
The video of Mary’s death reaches the Vatican, and when Father Jude sees it, he tells Celine they’re headed to Slough. Presumably, they’re going to investigate Mary’s claim that Jamie is the Messiah. However, when they get there and find Jamie digging Mary’s grave, Father Jude drops a huge bombshell: He’s Jamie’s father.
Jude tells Jamie the story: When he found out Mary was pregnant, he panicked and left her. He asks for Jamie’s forgiveness, but Jamie holds him responsible for Mary abandoning him in that parking lot as a baby. Jamie leaves. That’s when Celine sees a picture of Layla, whom she recognizes as the mother of Frankie, a.k.a. Jane Doe. Paula, Dave, Jude, and Celine split up to find Jamie, who has gone to a local clinic that runs human test trials on a drug called Nocturnapram, which will supposedly keep any comet survivors alive despite the lack of sunlight.
Okay, so: The fact that a new drug has been invented and undergone tests since the comet was first announced is absolutely impossible, but that’s beside the point. You, Me and the Apocalypse operates on its own logic, and it’s a hell of a lot more fun if you don’t ask questions and just enjoy the ride. Moving on.
By joining the study, Jamie guarantees a supply of Nocturnapram for Paula and Dave. Now that he knows his life has been a lie, he decides that the study may be the first worthwhile thing he’s ever done. At least it will give others hope. Jamie feeling so defeated in the face of life-altering news is a really nice way to ground the show in some sense of reality. Few other shows allow their characters such genuine sadness and anger in rapidly changing circumstances, so it’s nice that Jamie, as the audience’s lens into the world, channels the shock and despair any of us would feel in his shoes.
Paula, Jude, Dave, and Celine break into the Nocturnapram test center and tell Jamie that he has a daughter. Jude reminds Jamie that if he doesn’t go and find Frankie, he’ll be abandoning her just like Jude abandoned him. This initially doesn’t change Jamie’s mind about the trial, but then — in the show’s best moment so far — Paula tells Jamie that she wants him to understand how much she loves him by letting him love someone else just as much. “You pour it all in, until you don’t know where you end and she begins,” she says. “And you hope that will be enough.”
Jamie leaves the drug trial, forgives Father Jude, and heads off to find Frankie.
Meanwhile, Spike is staying with Scotty and Gaines in Washington. While Scotty is busy panicking over Ariel’s escape, Spike can’t believe that he never revealed that he had a boyfriend and that he hasn’t done anything to try and find his twin sister, Rhonda. Spike decides to take matters into his own hands, so he hacks the phone line at the police department.
When Rhonda’s neighbors catch her breaking into her old house and alert the police, Scotty listens in on the call through his computer. He knows she’s going to go hide at his high school, and he tries to get Scotty to come with him. Too bad Scotty and Gaines are about to head into a meeting with the president. In what feels like a detail that will become significant, the president is clearly more interested in populating his bunker with hot women than with skilled scientists, though it seems like there he may have motives aside from the obvious.
Spike finds Rhonda hiding out in the school and their reunion scene is really sweet. (Also, we now know that Mathew Baynton and Jenna Fischer’s characters are nephew and aunt, and you can totally see the resemblance in this scene.) Unfortunately, U.S. Marshal Tess Carter tracks Rhonda to the school as well. She’s about to find her hiding in a bathroom stall when she receives a tip: Rhonda was allegedly seen carjacking someone in town. After Carter leaves, Spike and Rhonda find Scotty hiding in a locker. He just placed a fake phone call to the police.
Rhonda and Scotty reconcile, and Scotty takes Rhonda to his secret country home in Virginia. Gaines arrives (and we learn his first name is Arnold), and then he tells Scotty that he needs to distance himself from the McNeil family. Rhonda is a liability, and now that Scotty has lied to the police, he is too. Someone has to help the president carry out Operation Genesis, so Gaines has to say good-bye. Scotty’s plaintive “I love you” was just heartbreaking to watch, but it was nice to see Rhonda stand by her brother’s side as Gaines drove away.
So there you have it: “Home Sweet Home” pulls back the curtain on You, Me and the Apocalypse to reveal the story of a maniacal dying woman’s mission to reunite her long-estranged family in the hopes of saving her own life during humanity’s last days. It was clear all of the stories would merge, but weaving them all together like this feels like a narrative magic trick. I thought we were watching a campy network comedy, and it turns out we’ve been watching something else entirely. Now, we can look forward to watching this bizarre family reunion play out. Isn’t it nice to see a show that reveals satisfying answers to its mysteries?
With four episodes left, there are still plenty of lingering questions to resolve, too. Will the comet actually hit Earth? What happens with Operation Genesis? And how does everybody end up in the bunker? As much as I’m enjoying You, Me and the Apocalypse, I’m glad it’s a finite series. Much like the end of the world, it’s a lot easier to appreciate when you know it will soon be gone.