The End of the F***ing World Might Not Have A Tragic Ending

Photo: Courtesy of Netflix.

Warning: Spoilers ahead for The End Of The Fucking World season 1.

Netflix’s The End Of The Fucking World stands alone as the best new series of 2018. The characters are lovely, heart wrenching, and wonderful; the story crackles with both black comedy and warmth; and it even tackles tough topics like consent and sexual assault. But, even the best of shows should be graded on whether they manage to stick the landing with their finale. And TEOTFW achieves that goal in spades with the last seconds of season-closer “Episode 8.” Although many are concerned the finale kills off the beloved James (Alex Lawther) with a single gunshot, I’m not so sure.

TEOTFW ends with James and his fan-favorite, firecracker of a girlfriend Alyssa (Jessica Barden) capping off their increasingly high-stakes crime spree by running away from an armed SWAT team in the middle of coastal, British nowhere. On the beach, James tells Alyssa to tell the police he kidnapped her, and she committed all of their many, many crimes against her will. Then he hits her with a rifle, knocking Alyssa down long enough for police to catch her, and makes a run for it towards the ocean, which very much appears to be the literal end of the fucking world.

Everything that follows suggests James is then killed by police, which is exactly what happens in the comic series Netflix's Fucking World is based on (albeit in a much more macabre, definitive way). Not only does the teen’s farewell advice to Alyssa in the streaming adaptation signal James believes he’s going die — otherwise he would be able to defend Alyssa’s faux innocence himself — but our Gen-Z desperado's closing voiceover sounds very much like his final words. He says, “I’ve just turned 18. And, I think I understand what people mean to each other.” Then, we get a montage of James’ best moments with Alyssa, which could easily be his life metaphorically flashing before his eyes. We all know James’ life began when he met her.

Finally, we get one last glimpse of James running before a “piercing gunshot,” according to closed captioning, rings out, and, harsh fade to black. The end.

All together, The End Of The Fucking World clearly wants us to be worried about James’ fate. But, if you were paying attention throughout the entire series, it’s pretty likely James will survive to find himself in a criminal trial.

The greatest evidence of arrives in “Part 4,” when James and Alyssa attempt to cover up their involvement in the murder of serial rapist, abuser, and likely murderer Clive Koch (Jonathan Aris). Alyssa and James methodically clean Clive’s entire house, obsessively erasing every trace of themselves left in the abode, which is now a living crime scene. They vacuum, buff, and bleach every surface like pros… but accidentally end up leaving Topher’s (Alex Sawyer) wallet underneath the bed. As the camera pans to the undeniable piece of evidence, which police will find and use to connect it to our heroes, James forebodingly says, “We learnt, much later, that we really messed up.”

That little piece of dialogue, paired with such a huge, looming visual, clearly suggests Alyssa and James would both eventually “learn” their fatal flaw was leaving that wallet behind. Through the rest of the season, they also allude to the future, and they would eventually learn the way small mistakes would lead to their capture. Yet, at the close of TEOTFW season 1, the leading couple has learned no such lessons. In fact, they have no idea how they got caught. All they know is that they definitely did get caught.

Some may question whether the duo learned their mistakes from detective Eunice Noon (Game Of Thrones’ Gemma Whelan), but there is no such luck. In “Episode 8,” Eunice forces her way into the trailer home of Alyssa’s dad Leslie (Barry Ward) to alert the teen fugitives the SWAT team and fellow, less forgiving detective Teri Daregoa (Wunmi Mosaku) are on the way. The police officer reveals a number of important details to Alyssa and James — including how James turning 18 will add to the severity of his prospective punishment, the solid possibility of a manslaughter plea, and the fact the duo will not end up at the same correctional facility — but, she at no point mentions how the police tracked them down.

It’s not like Eunice popped up and screamed, “We found Topher’s wallet!” Instead, this is exactly the kind of information that would come up in criminal court.

While these small details suggest James will survive his run to safety long enough to learn his Murder Clean-Up 101 failing “much later,” as he said in voiceover, there’s also a very simple reason he likely won’t die: we need James for a prospective season 2. As we see throughout TEOTFW, Alyssa simply isn’t willing to go through life without James. After all, she knocked a detective out cold just to make sure they wouldn’t be separated. It’s impossible to imagine a season 2 where Alyssa can maintain her signature dark humor and heart in a world where James is dead and was killed right in front of her very eyes.

Thankfully, the End Of The F***ing World cast has their fingers crossed for a season 2, only improving James’ chances for survival. When asked if she’s hoping for a sophomore season, Alyssa’s portrayer Jessica Barden exclusively told Refinery29, “Yeah, of course. That would be great because I really enjoyed working with everybody. I really enjoyed working with Alex [Lawther, who plays James].”

Here’s to Barden getting her wish — and continuing to share the screen with Alex Lawther.

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