The End of the F***ing World is back. It would've been fine as a one-season series, but after James (Alex Lawther) and Alyssa (Jessica Barden) became the internet's favorite emo couple, Netflix decided to give it another go with this bonus round. Based on the events of the first season finale, it was a bit hard to see how the show could recapture the odd magic of two nihilists falling in love, but the second season makes the answer clear within its first couple of episodes. We can't say how exactly because we've been forbidden to do so by the Powers That Be (i.e. Netflix's watchful eye), but let's just say that the trailer is ... misleading. So much so that I had to press pause to chant the word "bullsh--" a few times before I could continue watching at one point. Fortunately, after doing so, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed what else the show had in store this time around.
One thing the trailer did make plain is that the second season involves a significant time jump; Alyssa has moved back in with her mother and siblings after being sentenced to community service, and she does indeed find someone new to be with. In fact, she repeatedly tells us that she's quite happy in her new life, and we see that her new beau is just dim and doting enough to truly understand and love her despite -- and perhaps because of -- all her eccentricities. As strange as it is to see her don a traditional wedding gown, it's almost metal to see how little care she puts into the decision to do so.
Her flirtation with normalcy is short-lived, however, because Alyssa is still Alyssa and when presented with a chance to burn it all down, she simply cannot resist.
It's not just Alyssa whose open contempt for people carries the action in the new season, though. Right away, we're introduced to Bonnie (Naomi Ackie), a woman who has just served time for her own deadly crime, and she's ready to use her newfound freedom to commit another. As it turns out, Bonnie was in love with the icky professor James and Alyssa killed in the first season, and now she wants revenge for his death.
Bonnie is built with just as much malaise as Alyssa because she was raised to be an emotionless drone. She couldn't live up to her mother's strident educational expectations, but she does carry her childhood lessons of being devoid of sentiment when it comes to getting what she wants -- with a blind spot, of course, being the creep who got knifed for attacking Alyssa. She's not exactly a Terminator type, though. She might secretly wield a gun, but she's also interested in getting some answers before she can use it. Her addition to the show helps to revive the droll mood that made the first season so great, especially when things get a little too twee with Alyssa. She's also intensely interesting to watch in her own right; her face betrays almost nothing about her, and everything she says is so unsettling and bizarre in the best way.
Overall, fans of The End of the F***ing World's first season should be pleased with what they find in Season 2. Though there are new faces and places involved, it's still got that same dreary dryness and wild unpredictability in play. While the second season doesn't exactly feel necessary, it's still fun to take another aimless ride with the show's resident weirdos and see where we end up.
The End of the F***ing World Season 2 is now available on Netflix.
TV Guide Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars.