James and Alyssa find closure and perhaps new beginnings in a low-key but moving, frank finale.
This recap of The End of the F***ing World season 2, episode 8 contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
You can check out our thoughts on the previous season by clicking these ones.
The finale of The End of the F***ing World Season 2 opens with Alyssa in the police station, flanked by her mother — who’s admittedly asleep — and Leigh. James is, apparently, giving a statement. When she goes to a vending machine for a coffee, she sees Koch standing in the hallway, and declares that she can’t do this anymore.
In his statement, James is concerned with what might happen to Bonnie — he doesn’t think she’s very well, which is perhaps an understatement. Nevertheless, he signs his statement and hands it over. When he gets out of the room, Alyssa is gone, having left a note saying she has to do something. James immediately heads out in pursuit of her.
With each place James searches and finds empty of Alyssa, his worry gets more palpable. One of his stops is Todd and Iggy’s house. Todd can’t help, but he does seem genuinely concerned about Alyssa’s whereabouts. He seems a nice guy — maybe marrying him wasn’t a bad idea. After returning to the diner and finding it empty, James gets an idea of where Alyssa might be.
We cut to two hours earlier, back to Alyssa’s perspective, and see her leave the note at the police station. The next we see, she’s on a bus, making friends with her fellow passengers (ha!). In her voiceover, she explains, “You can think you’ve run away from something, but actually you’ve been carrying it with you the whole time,” as she arrives back at Koch’s house. The room she never left. The trauma she never processed.
It looks much the same, just empty and sterile now. When she remembers her and James dancing there, it seems more lived-in. She walks upstairs and sits in the bedroom, saying in voiceover, “It’s like a haunted house. Only I’m the ghost.” She notes how you can get stuck in a place without realizing, and perhaps get stuck there forever, like Bonnie. She goes outside and swims in the pool, but the camera keeps returning to the empty interior. Eventually, James arrives and plays back similar videos in his head as Alyssa did. This place is the site of their greatest trauma, but it’s also, in a way, where they were when they were most free, before their impromptu road trip became a crime spree. When James finds Alyssa, he starts sobbing, explaining that he thought she was going to do something bad, based on her note. She says she wasn’t, and that she’s sorry for scaring him, and I think she really means it.
They leave — together. They go to the place where James’s parents met; it used to be a park, but now it’s an underpass. (“What were they doing?” asks Alyssa, “dogging?”) It’s time to say goodbye. But when he unscrews the urn’s lid, he realizes the ashes are still wet, As Alyssa describes it, he’s “like a paste”. James pours him onto the ground in soggy clumps. It might not be pretty, but it’s an act of healing nonetheless. Both of them feel it. Both of them apologize. They go for chips.
It’s there that Alyssa confesses to having heard what James said when his car was towed, and that she feels the same. She loves him. And while she might need time and psychological and financial help, she still loves him. And he loves her too.