Oh, how I love a bleak finale. Hats off to You, Me & The Apocalypse’s creator Iain Hollands, who after 10 weeks of expertly blending light and dark, delivered an absolute sucker punch of an ending—as it was revealed that the man in the Slough bunker narrating the story of these last few weeks was not Jamie (Mathew Baynton) but his evil twin Ariel. It worked because it was completely unexpected—as having Ariel pull that same trick last week, only to get caught out, ensured that our guard was down at the crucial moment. Thus, we saw Ariel looming as Jamie tried to help Rajesh (Prasanna Puwanarajah) but didn’t believe he could possibly pull the same trick twice.
Well, he could and he did—and in doing so Hollands pulled off a brutal but emotionally satisfying climax that was more horror than comedy and all the better for it. I have no idea if Sky 1 intend to have a second series of this show—and there are probably enough good story strands to justify one, most notably just who or what is in that box—but if they don’t then this will serve as a perfect despair-filled climax. The image of Jamie, naked, despairing and separated from his loved ones as the comet hit will linger long in mind. ‘Doofus’ is indeed a masterful game and Ariel a genius at playing it.
The Whole Gang
With everyone’s final few hours on earth drawing to a close, the final episode followed our disparate crew as they struggled, by any means necessary, to get to Sutton’s (Diana Rigg) bunker in Slough. Rhonda (Jenna Fischer), Leanne (Megan Mullally), Scotty (Kyle Soller), Rajesh, Gaines (Paterson Joseph), Spike (Fabian McCullum), and Agent Larsson (Bronagh Gallagher) made it on to their plane and out of America, only to crash land in a field a few miles from their intended destination in England.
With a newly hardened Rhonda refusing to give up—”Fuck, reasonable”—they managed to commandeer a truck and make it to safety just before the comet hit. Jamie, Dave (Joely Fry), Paula (Pauline Quirke), Layla (Karla Crome), Frankie (Grace Taylor), and Sister Celine (Gaia Scodellaro) were similarly late to the survival party, following several diversions; including a last-minute marriage between Dave and Paula, the revelation that Celine’s pregnant, the freeing of Jamie from his bank vault, Layla’s escape from Ariel (who gave himself away with an injudicious use of the word “babe”, and I’m with Jamie about that one), an actual miracle performed by a despairing Jamie who parted the River Thames, Moses style—ensuring that they could get from Windsor to Slough, and the grand reunion the show’s been building to for the last few months.
Along the way there were some lovely small touches, as it was revealed why everyone was reacting the way they were in the bunker: Scotty’s fearful expression was down to hearing the woman in the box talk about Sutton’s “evil monkey”; Gaines was not crazy but planning to free Leanne, who’d earlier saved his and Scotty’s life; the seemingly manic Sister Celine was in fact clutching a pregnancy stick and celebrating the new life inside her; Rhonda was devastated because Rajesh had chosen to sacrifice himself so that they could all survive; Leanne’s gun is pointed on Jamie—whom she believes, correctly as it turns out, is Ariel; and Frankie is hitting the sofa with a giant leg because Frankie is awesome and strange and, well, likes hitting things.
- If there was a second series I don’t think things would be very cheerful given Sutton’s conversation with her doctor about dumping the “diversions”. Those who aren’t blood relations aren’t likely to be sticking around. Although Sister Celine might just make it, given that she’s carrying Jude’s child, and Jude was clearly Sutton’s favourite…
- Talking of Jude, that’s some sperm he has—managing to knock up Mary after a brief fling and Sister Celine despite her supposed barrenness—although I wasn’t sure how she knew she was barren. Why would it have come up given she was raised in a nunnery all her life prior to Jude?
- The moment when Jamie saw Layla was supremely cheesy and yet totally worked because you really wanted them to be reunited. I’ll admit I cheered—yes it was a bit hackneyed but it was also what these characters deserved (plus full marks to Hollands for giving us that sentimental moment only to comprehensively pull the rug away at the end).
- Jamie’s miracle parting of The Thames was fantastic, and I loved the idea that Mary was right and he really was the Son of God. It was somehow fitting that, despite his divinity, he still lost out to Ariel in the end.
- I knew Gaines was having second thoughts about the suicide pact, and I loved the way both he and Rhonda would do anything to ensure their partner’s survival.
- I also liked the mutual respect that grew between Gaines and Leanne. They don’t like or trust each other, but each respects the other’s survival instincts.
- Talking of survival instincts—it’s a brutal but probably true fact that those who thrived as the series went on were those with the most finally honed survival instincts—from the cold-hearted Sutton to the callous Ariel. If there were series 2 I’d be interested in seeing that explored.
- Poor Rajesh turned out to be the noblest one of all in the end, sacrificing himself on the logical grounds that he was dying anyway. I loved his despair at what Rhonda was becoming and also her acknowledgment that it was hard to go back to the woman she’d been. The final scene of him waiting for the end of the world while Spike begged his mother not to look made me more than a little teary.
- My favourite scene of the episode—apart from the parting of The Thames—was that of Rajesh and Rhonda still strapped to their chairs staring out over the English countryside as mayhem raged all around and having a quiet conversation about how nice it all was.
- I loved the way Frankie calmly went around sorting everything out while the adults collectively lost their heads; plus she had the night’s best line when she announced to Celine “we had a chicken like you so my mum chopped its head off and we ate it.” Celine’s face was a picture.
- Yet more great random background moments this week, the best of which was The Queen calmly walking through the streets of Windsor as though the impending Apocalypse was no more dangerous than a stroll round Balmoral.
You, Me & The Apocalypse was a show that grew on me week by week. What initially seemed like a lighthearted romp darkened to become an expertly judged story of love, loss, betrayal, and sacrifice—with a wonderful sting in its tail. Like all the best shows it was character-driven and, over the course of the ten weeks, I came to truly care for these characters, which is why the ending was such a beautifully delivered stab to the heart. Some great acting, too: in particular Rob Lowe, who gave Father Jude an unexpected pathos among the wisecracks; Mathew Baynton, whose Jamie was so much more than a relatable everyman; Gaia Scodellaro, whose Sister Celine provided the show much of its warmth; and Kyle Soller, who as Scotty carried many of the most emotional moments with ease. Should they do a second series? I’m not sure. Perhaps it’s better to let the story die here after a perfectly conceived, occasionally surreal, and often hugely funny ten instalments, which I have enjoyed more than almost any other show this year.
So what did you think? Was it the right ending or would you rather they’d allowed Jamie to find happiness? Should it return for another run? And just what is in that box? As ever all comments are welcome below…