The End of the F***ing World
If you are very, very quiet, you may be able to hear my heart shattering into tiny, little pieces.
The end of The End of the F***ing World begins as James and Alyssa bury the dog on the beach. Lest we forget, these are sweet kids, far more sensitive and fragile than they would have us believe. James kisses Alyssa, which, as she notes, is rare. We’ve come a long way from Alyssa kissing a slack-jawed James as he plotted her murder. I’d almost even forgotten about the fact that he’d once wanted to kill her. It’s now very clear that he never really did. James was angry at people — at women, in particular — but when confronted with the reality of violence, he quickly realized how misplaced that anger was. It’s amazing how much subtle transformation this show has been able to squeeze into just eight short episodes.
As James and Alyssa make out on the beach, Alyssa begins to have flashbacks to her encounter with Clive and asks James if they can wait, just for a bit. “We’ve got, like, our whole lives,” she thinks. “Plus, I might feel like it tomorrow.”
Meanwhile, Eunice sneaks into Leslie’s trailer, but finds there’s no one there besides Leslie, who’s fast asleep on the couch.
James and Alyssa wake up on the beach as the sun rises. Alyssa wonders if she has other brothers and sisters she doesn’t know about. She decides she hates her dad more than she hates her mom. James says he hates his dad too, and then tells Alyssa the truth about what happened to his mother: She killed herself, and he didn’t do anything. Alyssa asks what she was like. “She always found everything a bit much, I think,” says James, in a fairly perfect summary of what it feels like to have depression. Alyssa tells James that it wasn’t his fault. This seems to be all he was looking for all along. It’s a moment so lovely and intimate, there’s no way this all won’t end in tragedy.
Alyssa suggests they go away, somewhere foreign, to hide and start again. They consider taking Leslie’s boat and sailing away. They just need the keys. It’s a very innocent plan: just sail and go somewhere and run away from it all. It’s another reminder that these are kids.
That’s when Eunice spots the pair going to Leslie’s house. She ignores a call from Teri, who’s rushing to find her.
After musing that “people can’t be answers, they can just be more questions,” Alyssa wakes up Leslie. He tells her he was worried about her, and she tells him he wasn’t: He got drunk, killed a dog, and left. Alyssa asks if she and James can go out on the boat. Leslie says yes in a way that makes me think the boat probably doesn’t work. Alyssa tells him they just want to go alone, so Leslie doesn’t have to come with them. But Leslie sees through their plan and asks who they killed. There’s a reward out for them, and the fact that he knows as much means they’re definitely not safe.
Things start to get heated, and Leslie tries to diffuse the tension by going to make everyone some tea. While he’s just out of sight, he quickly dials 999. (It’s the emergency number used in the U.K.) He then asks Alyssa for details about the murder, but she doesn’t trust him. She asks for details about his son. Leslie apologizes for not telling her, and it’s clear Alyssa wants to believe him. She tells Leslie that the man was about to hurt her, which is why they killed him. Eunice hears it all just outside.
James has a suspicion, though, and picks up Leslie’s phone. He tells the emergency dispatcher that he killed Clive and that Alyssa didn’t do anything. Then he tells Alyssa that her father called the police, and Alyssa takes a knife and stabs Leslie in the leg. Eunice enters the trailer and attempts to talk sense into the kids before the armed unit arrives. Eunice tells them she wants to help, and tries to tell them how to get a more lenient sentence, but of course they are so distrustful of adults at this point that they don’t trust the only one who actually has their best interests at heart.
Eunice reveals that it’s James’s 18th birthday and Alyssa says, sadly, “I would have bought you a present.” Eunice also tells them that she knows about James’s mother, and that his dad has a picture of them in his wallet. No one is angry at them, she says, just worried. Leslie tells James and Alyssa not to trust the police, even though he’s the one who called them. He then tries to tell Alyssa to take the opportunity to let James turn himself in and run away. Alyssa heartbreakingly tells Leslie, “You shouldn’t make people and then abandon them, because they’ll think they’ve done something wrong their whole lives.” Leslie throws it back in Alyssa’s face and James stands up for her.
In voice-over, Alyssa thinks about how much she loves James. That’s when she puts it all together: Her dad never sent her any birthday cards. Her mother did. Her eyes open, Alyssa tells her dad to “shut the fuck up!”
Alyssa asks Eunice if they’d go to jail if they turned themselves in, and if that would mean they’d be separated. Eunice says yes. Alyssa says she’s sorry, then knocks Eunice out cold with the butt of Leslie’s rifle. She demands the boat keys, and they run outside. The police are closing in. James tells Alyssa to lie and tell the police that he kidnapped her. He says he’s sorry, then knocks her over with the rifle as well. Before she can get up, he goes running, and the police grab her. The police open fire.
I’ve just turned 18, and I think I understand what people mean to each other, James thinks to himself. Alyssa screams for him. The screen goes black and we hear a final gunshot.
I don’t know what else there is to say. This was a tremendously compelling love story. This was the last show that’s ever allowed to have a self-professed psychopath because it’s the first one to ever pull it off. Everyone involved with The End of the F***ing World should be making television forever and ever, but I hope this is the last we see of Alyssa and James as characters, because this is a perfect way for their story to end.