THE END OF THE F***ING WORLD: Episode Five – Review

Starring: Jessica Barden, Alex Lawther
Creator: Jonathan Entwistle
Director: Lucy Tcherniak
Writer: Charlie Covell
Based on the comicTEOTFW by Charles Forsman

Review by: Joshua Leto

Depression commonly includes feelings of numbness, emptiness, and agitation, while sociopathy (antisocial personality disorder) can include impaired feelings of empathy or sympathy. The episode introduces the idea that James’s self-diagnosed violent sociopathy (which we frequently call psychopathy) is more likely depression both inherited and socialized.

teotfw episode 5 review / image ©Netflix/BBC
Steve Oram as Phil

Last episode, James acknowledged that he may not be a psychopath after all. Here we see a flashback to the death of James’s mother by suicide1. When shown that his mother was severely depressed, his own self-harm and withdrawn behavior in previous episodes finds more context.

This episode continues the trend of our protagonists interacting with helpful adults. This is a welcome change and gives some hope for the future of the main pair. An ending befitting star-crossed lovers was a growing reality based on the tone of the first three episodes. Now I have some hope for redemption and growth.

A key component of the plot is throwing complications at our featured couple, and this is handled well in this episode. They are separated at the beginning of the episode and come together through their own journeys of self-discovery. James recognizes that he is lost without Alyssa now that he has escaped his little bubble. Alyssa realizes that she misses James and that maybe she was hasty in leaving him alone and on his own. She runs across a literal lost child and recognizes that James was not dissimilar. Their separation and return feel well-earned.

A frustration of mine, heavy-handed voiceover returns in this episode. When we see Alyssa in an alley, contemplating her recent near-arrest for shoplifting, there is one unnecessary line of internal dialogue. Again, Jessica Barden shows us everything we need to know in non-verbal cues. There is plenty of voiceover in the show that still works, providing irony or deeper characterization or a burst of humor. However, when the internal monologue of characters is such a part of structure, it needs more weight.

teotfw episode five review / image © Netflix/BBC
Jessica Barden as Alyssa

Verdict: Watch It. This episode has many nicely composed shots. Watching each episode a few times and looking at so many stills from the show (I tried to pick at least three from each episode), I found a lot of striking compositions. Director Entwistle lets some scenes breathe and gets claustrophobic and unflinching for some of the more horrific shots.

This episode ends with James and Alyssa, reunited, hand-in-hand in the location where they separated in episode four. We arrive naturally at the next step of heading toward her father.


1. I was partly right in my review of episode two when I suggested we would learn of her death by drowning. This episode shows exactly what happened via James’s memory.

Joshua Leto
I live in Texas. I write where I can.

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