Is James Alive in 'The End of the F***ing World' Season 2?
This story contains major spoilers for Season 1 and Season 2 of The End of the F***ing World. Proceed with caution.
The first season of Netflix and Channel 4's dark comedy co-production The End of the F***ing World literally ended with a bang: It featured a gunshot before cutting to black, leaving it ambiguous whether Alex Lawther's character, James, is alive or not.
James' fate was just one of many questions fans had going into Season 2 of the British teen series. Since Season 1 was a straight adaptation Charles Forsman's graphic novel of the same name, and concluded where the book did, it was a bit unclear where showrunners Jonathan Entwistle and Charlie Covell are taking the show in the upcoming installment that's out on Netflix Tuesday, November 5.
As you may recall, Season 1 followed self-described-psychopath-but-actually-very-sensitive James and his troubled girlfriend Alyssa (Jessica Barden) on the run. At first they're just escaping home home… but then they have to dodge murder charges. It was the man whose home they broke into that James kills when the man -- who turns out to be a murderer himself -- attempts to assault Alyssa. But because this is TV, they obviously don't go to the police and instead make teenaged fugitives of themselves.
The slightly deranged pair was last seen on the beach outside of Alyssa's (Jessica Barden) father's home, where police start to shoot at James when he tries to run away. You may remember it was actually her dad (Barry Ward) who ratted out the runaways to the authorities, and officers fired even as the original detective on the case, Gemma Whelan's Detective Noon, protested. It was all very shocking and dramatic and has left fans wanting answers since the series dropped on Netflix in February 2017 -- but while many believe the original book implies James' death, that (thankfully) isn't the direction Season 2 took.
Don't expect to see James in Episode 1, though. The season premiere actually focuses entirely on a new character, Bonnie (Naomie Ackie), introducing her as the former lover of Professor Koch (Jonathan Aris) who went to jail for killing a woman who accused him of assault. It's a surprising start, especially if you were expecting to be brought right back to the infamous beach, but it sets up the season as Bonnie proves to be out for revenge against James and Alyssa.
It's also of course meant to keep you bingeing -- and if you do (which you definitely will), you'll finally see James' shining face, alive and (sort of but not really) well in Episode 2, which takes place two years after the events of the first season. After we find out what Alyssa's been up to -- sentenced to community service, living with her aunt, and engaged to a boy she met at the diner where she works -- it's revealed that James did survive.
That's the good news: After a long recovery, he got back on his feet and a jury saw him as acting in defense of another so he didn't have to serve jail time. But the bad news: His father recently died of a heart attack and he hasn't spoken to Alyssa since he last saw her because her mother forced him to break off their relationship. So, because the 19-year-old is on his own, he sets off with his fathers' ashes in tow (yeah, those foreboding Season 2 posters, not James in the urn) to find Alyssa, the only person left in the f***ing world who (he hopes) cares about him. That's when the show begins to return to an us-against-the-world form similar to Season 1, with quite a few twists once Bonnie is increasingly on their trail.
TEOTFW definitely made an effort not to reveal if James would be back for more brooding and shenanigans -- but as Entwistle told us after the first run, the relationship between him and Alyssa is at the heart of the show, so it wouldn't have made sense killing him off. It's like James says when he first appears in Season 2, "It was a fitting end: a doomed loved story, a perfect tragedy. But then I didn't die." Because this is TEOTFW and it's a f***ed up show that wasn't going to put an easy, albeit somber, bow on their story.