Directed by Entwistle and Lucy Tcherniak, and written by Charlie Covell, the rest of TEOTFW's lean eight-episode run hews to the thrust of Forsman's book, giving James and Alyssa no dearth of obstacles. Among them: a car crash, a pervert, a professor who moonlights as a predator, and a murder. Though the couple face an unrelenting string of disasters, it's this murder -- James' first, in the name of self-defense -- that, oddly, becomes the best thing to happen to them. While Alyssa wonders whether she was complicit in a stabbing death or saved from sexually assault, James learns he doesn't enjoy killing humans. He just hasn't met any he likes. Until now.
A closer look at the show reveals a world populated not with numb or depraved characters, but lonely ones, many of whom are looking to connect. It's a particularly poignant theme, especially coming from a country that just appointed a Minister of Loneliness to address the concern. After the murder, when James tries to find his way in the world without Alyssa, he soon realizes she's protected him as much as he's protected her. As their road trip turns into an escape from authorities who believe the kids murdered the professor in cold blood, that epiphany becomes mutual: they need each other to survive.
It's a bit of a surprising turnaround from the pilot. You're no longer watching Dexter Jr., but a fucked-up teen love story sans the cliché six-packs and twee romances. It's closer to Julia Ducournau's cannibalism-heavy Raw than Riverdale, and fans and critics alike -- including this one -- have been unreserved about championing the show. TEOTFW, which first aired last fall on the UK's Channel 4 before finding a larger audience on Netflix at the beginning of the year, has maintained a high 97% on Rotten Tomatoes. The site lists it as its second-most-popular show of the year so far, behind the CW's newly released Black Lightning and right above Black Mirror's fourth season.
Part of what makes TEOTFW work so well is the creative vision, which has been gestating for close to a decade, ever since Entwistle discovered Forsman's comic in the trash on a street in London and began dreaming about adapting it. As Entwistle explains it, he wanted to create a specific tone, a weird world where mundane events could still occur.