This is the way the world ends. Not with a bang, but with this recapper screaming “NO!” at her TV screen.
To give those of you who are, for whatever reason, reading this without having watched “The End of the World,” I’m going to cover the rest of the episode before diving into the moment that really forced me to question whether I love this show or hate it. Let’s dive in.
We find our heroes mere hours before the end of the world, divided into two groups on opposite ends of the pond. In Washington, Leanne, Gaines, Scotty, and Rhonda complete a successful prison break and board the plane Larsson has waiting for them. Rajesh and Spike are already onboard, and Rhonda’s joy is contagious — however, Rajesh (who, you may remember, is dying from an almost incurable illness), is none too thrilled at the idea of surviving in a world without his doctors. Ditto for Scotty, who’s still bleeding out.
A meteor shower leads to a plane crash, and though the group survives, they’re now completely lost in the middle of a beautiful English field. Because Rajesh and Scotty can’t run, Rhonda shoots a truck driver to secure a way to get the group to the bunker.
Meanwhile, Frankie wakes up early in the morning, and a voice in her head tells her she needs to find Paula at the church and bring her to Jamie’s bank. Frankie sneaks out of the house and interrupts Paula and Dave’s nuptials so they, along with Celine, can go save her dad.
While Paula and Dave break Jamie out of the safe, Frankie tells Celine that Jude has been speaking to her, and wants her to stay alive so she can “take care of the baby in [her] tummy.” Celine insists she can’t be pregnant, that she was told she’s infertile, but because Frankie is quite possibly the Messiah (or, at least, a messiah, in what appears to be a family of them), Celine and Frankie rush to a nearby clinic so Celine can take a pregnancy test.
A meteor brings down the roof of the clinic, trapping Celine, who initially accepts death as what she’s wanted since losing Jude. However, just when she’s accepting her fate, she sees that the pregnancy test is positive and gains the will to live — just as Frankie, Paula, Dave, and Jamie arrive to save her.
Hawkwind, meanwhile, is still with Ariel in his Jamie disguise. She’s driving him to the bunker where he insists she’ll find Frankie. But when Ariel calls Hawkwind “babe,” which Jamie never does, Hawkwind realizes what’s up and veers the car into a tree, knocking Ariel out so she can escape to find the real Jamie and Frankie, who, luckily enough, are driving around looking for her.
Now all together, it seems the way to the bunker is clear — but the bridge across the Thames that would bring them there has been crushed. Despondent, Jamie makes a desperate, seemingly crazy plea that the river part and let them through.
Maybe Jamie is actually the son of God, or maybe the weather patterns at the end of the world are genuinely bizarre enough to part the waters Charlton Heston–style, but no matter the explanation, this show has already established that miracles exist and can be found in unlikely circumstances. The river parts, allowing Jamie, Frankie, Celine, Paula, and Dave to cross safely to the other side. The whole time, Paula proclaims that Mary was right.
The first bunker-bound group arrives with only ten minutes to spare. Scotty wants to wait outside to die, but Gaines and Rhonda won’t let him. When Rhonda sees Sutton, she is furious that she’d been led to believe she was a penniless orphan, when all this time she had an absurdly wealthy mother. Sutton is happy to see her twins anyway, although I’m curious as to whether they’re twins or secret triplets — the voice coming from inside the crate Scotty is leaning on certainly sounds like Jenna Fischer’s.
There is a problem: The door to the bunker won’t lock. The only way to force it closed is to drive the truck into it, but that would mean that someone would have to stay outside. Rajesh volunteers over Rhonda’s objections; he knows he’s going to die, and he’d rather it be quick. The truck won’t start, though, and not a moment too soon, because the rest of the family shows up just in time to run into the bunker. Jamie stays outside to help Rajesh get the truck moving, right as a figure that distinctly appears to be Ariel shows up.
Jamie runs into the bunker right as Larsson closes the inner doors, and with the end of the world just moments away, there are still so many unanswered questions: Will Scotty survive? Who’s in the crate? What does Sutton mean she’ll “dump the peripherals?” We’re quite literally back where the series started, but there’s one major twist: Outside, Rajesh is dying — and right next to him, a naked Jamie insists that he’s the one who belongs in the bunker.
Jamie was never our narrator. It was Ariel all along.
If your jaw dropped in a combination of delight and rage, you’re not alone. I’m impressed that the show would be ballsy enough to pull such an infuriating 180 on its viewers — but then, I’m also pretty impressed that the show decided to actually end with the end of the world. I was totally convinced that it was a fake-out meant to bring this particular family together. As a person who cares about the fates of these characters, that’s tragic. As a TV viewer used to seeing things neatly resolve, it’s admirable. And that’s part of the reason why I’m so torn about the ending.
Although Sky 1, the British channel that initially aired You, Me and the Apocalypse, didn’t renew it for a second season, I’m nonetheless hoping that NBC takes up the challenge. What could happen next? How would these characters survive? For a show about miracles, the greatest one of all might be the show itself being saved.