Series writer Charlie Covell unpacks the time-jump and the season 2 journey with EW.
Alyssa thought her life ended that day on the beach. That wasn’t the case. Now, in The End of the F***ing World‘s season 2 trailer, which EW can exclusively reveal, we get to see the aftermath of that cliffhanger.
Jessica Barden returns as Alyssa, a once deadpan 17-year-old teen who’s now a deadpan 19-year-old, and she’s getting ready for a walk down the aisle.
In season 1, Alyssa ran away with classmate James (Alex Lawther), a perceived budding psychopath (but not really), to go on a Bonnie-and-Clyde odyssey across the U.K. and escape their lives. After a slew of happenstances-gone-wrong turned them into the country’s most wanted, authorities tracked the pair down to a beach. A chase ensued that ended when the screen cut to black as a cop’s bullet fired from its pistol.
The season 2 trailer shows Alyssa in the aftermath of that moment, running to the aid of James, who we see bleeding out on the sand. The new episodes bring a time-jump from that day to Alyssa now working in a woodsy cafe in a different part of the country. Alex, meanwhile, is nowhere to be seen, though the show’s poster sees Alyssa sitting in her wedding dress across from an urn on the cafe’s table.
When asked if Lawther will have any role to play in season 2, series writer Charlie Covell tells EW, “I can’t answer that.” As for Alyssa, at this moment in her life, she says it’s a time “when the dust has settled a bit.”
“I liked the idea of a show about two people who are 17, they run away, and the sense of suddenly being 19. You’re definitely an adult, even though you might not feel like one,” Covell says. “I thought there was something fun about jumping Alyssa forward in time and she’s like, ‘Oh s—. I’m a proper adult now.'”
Despite the solemn nature of this arc, The End of the F***ing World still bears the same deadpan humor, the same frank voiceover dialogue, and the same look and feel. It’s just more “mature,” as Covell puts it.
In its simplest form, if season 1 is about running away, season 2 is about coming to terms. “There is a need to return and the need to be in a single place,” the writer explains. “There’s an idea that you can’t keep running forever. There’s a point where you have to stop and move on and develop, and I think that’s where we’re meeting Alyssa. That’s the kind of journey she’s gonna go on in season 2.”
The nearly two-year time-jump reflects the real-life time-jump between seasons. When the show premiered on Netflix in January 2018, the creative team was stunned by the overnight response from viewers around the world. Covell thought at the time, “Best case scenario, we’ll get a nice review in The Guardian and 12 people [the creators aren’t] relatable to will have watched it and gone, ‘I liked it.’”
“We made it with a lot of love, but it felt like a small show,” she continues. “So, the fact that it had this international fan base suddenly, it was crazy.”
Some critics may have argued in favor of a one-and-done season for The End of the F***ing World, but conversations for a continuation were happening even before that 2018 premiere. “It was mentioned, ‘Could you do an anthology series, like they did with the show Skins? Could you re-populate the show in the same style with different characters?'” Covell recalls. “But I think, particularly with Alyssa, there’s so much more story there.” After further thought, the anthology idea felt faded away when compared to a more satisfying continuation of all that went down in season 1. “It has to feel like it was the right thing to do and that takes an interrogation of the material and the characters and where you would take the show next and the stuff you have to jettison to do that properly,” Covell says. “You can’t rush that kind of thing, basically… so we didn’t! It’s taken two years.”
Joining Barden in this season 2 journey are Tim Key, as motel owner Gus, and, as shown in the trailer, (Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker actress) Naomie Ackie as Bonnie, someone with a mysterious connection to Alyssa. That name may or may not come from the Bonnie-and-Clyde vibe of season 1.
While season 2 is “largely uncharted territory,” Covell vaguely mentions “a couple of things that we have woven in” from the original Charles Forsman comics, which serve as the basis for the show. With the fresh faces they are introducing, Covell says she and the producers are constantly asking, “How would Chuck draw this? Does this sound like a Chuck line? Would this character fit into Chuck’s world?”
There’s much left still to be said about season 2, but Covell doesn’t want to spoil. Instead, she leaves with this final thought: “I think season 2 has a finality to it. This is it.”
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