The End of the F***ing World
What started off as a show I was worried might trade in faux psychopathy and teen ennui as a way to seem edgy has quickly revealed itself as something genuinely subversive. Our heroes are murderers, and they’re not even a fraction as disaffected as they’d like to pretend. Plus, it seems like we’re finally getting the lesbian police procedural comedy of my dreams? A lot is happening on The End of the F***ing World, all of it as bad for Jamie and Alyssa as it is good for the audience.
Clive Koch is dead on the floor. Jamie, who once believed himself to be a serial killer in the making, throws up in horror and disgust. A shell-shocked Alyssa seems mostly upset that Jamie murdered him, though, as Jamie protests, Clive really would have hurt her. Jamie shows Alyssa the disturbing Polaroids and video, which they plant around the body as evidence that he had this coming to him. Jamie wonders if they should call the police and Alyssa insists that they destroy all evidence and run. The one thing she won’t get rid of is her leather jacket. It belonged to her dad, after all, and Alyssa has demonstrated nothing if not a deep love and respect for him, even though it seems he has demonstrated little of either for her. She reflects on the fact that you never know which moments of your life will end up being the most significant; for her, it was her father leaving, deciding to run away from home, and meeting Jamie.
The pair burn their clothes in a field, then decide their best move is to get to Alyssa’s dad’s house as quickly as possible. She believes he’ll know what to do. Plus, it seems she’s a bit afraid of Jamie. He was quick to jump to murder, and, what’s more, he had a hunting knife on him that he can’t explain. It certainly makes sense, even if Alyssa doesn’t voice it, that she might be a bit distrustful of men after the experience she’s just had. Jamie doesn’t seem to understand her fear of him. Wasn’t he acting as her protector?
Alyssa and Jamie subtly change their appearance in case anyone saw them. (A side note: I could not tell at first if Alyssa had dyed her hair or bought a wig. This episode gets five stars, that wig gets zero.) They go to a restaurant but can’t eat. Alyssa excuses herself to the bathroom and leaves, deciding to go to her dad’s on her own. This leaves Jamie with a silence he is clearly unequipped to deal with. He reflects that his father has spent his entire life avoiding silence, because when it gets too quiet you feel things you don’t want to. Jamie realizes in that moment that he’s not a psychopath, and he’s going to have to find another way to suppress upsetting thoughts about the murder. He pays a group of teenagers to beat him up. As he lays on the ground bleeding, he realizes that he was never Alyssa’s protector — Alyssa was his.
Meanwhile, Clive’s mother finds her son’s dead body along with the Polaroids. She gathers them up and burns them before calling the police. A pair of detectives named Teri and Eunice (Wunmi Mosaku and Gemma Whelan, playing a character so sweet and adorable I didn’t initially realize that she is also Yara Greyjoy on Game of Thrones) arrive at the crime scene and find Topher’s wallet. It’s clear there’s something between them — from Eunice’s end, at least.
Teri and Eunice question Topher, who tells them as much as he can remember about Alyssa. He knows she was cute but not hot. He knows she was with a guy called James. And he knows she was wearing a brown leather jacket, the very same one she was unwilling to get rid of. Alyssa’s loyalty to her father is going to get her in trouble, I suspect in more ways than one.
What’s more, Eunice finds witnesses who can help them identify the suspects. In telling Teri this, Eunice also wonders out loud if there’s more the two of them should be talking about. Teri shrugs her off. They have more important things to worry about right now.
There’s one more important thing in this episode — subtle, but important. When James flashes back to memories that he’s tried to push down, we don’t just see the knife and the blood and Clive’s last moments. We also see a very young James, staring wide-eyed at something just offscreen. I assume whatever it is he’s looking at has something to do with his mother’s death. If I had to take an educated guess based on what most TV shows would do, I’d expect it was a suicide. But if I had to take an educated guess based on what we know of this show, I’d wonder if it wasn’t a murder, perhaps at the hands of James’s father? Is that why James thinks his dad has been avoiding the quiet all this time? Is that why James spent so much time convincing himself that he was a psychopath with no feelings?
Or is it that James saw something much more mundane, like his mother’s slow decline due to illness, or an accident? Something almost more existentially horrifying, because there’s no reason for it to happen besides the cold indifference of the universe? Whatever it is, James and Alyssa are losing their grips on everything that’s kept them from fully experiencing the horror of the world around them. That’s what growing up feels like, come to think of it.
Oh, man, just when I thought James and Alyssa were going to be my biggest ship of the show, maybe even of the season, Teri and Eunice come bursting onto the scene. And just when I thought I couldn’t love this show any more, it becomes a crime comedy! Hoo-boy, I’m into it.