An Almighty Apocalypse – Thoughts on “You, Me and the Apocalypse”

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Guys. Woah. I’m kind of glad I left two amazing shows from last year until now. Both Fargo, which I’ve mentioned in previous post, and now You, Me and the Apocalypse. I watched You, Me and the Apocalypse this weekend. Here’s the thing – although I love this stuff, as evidenced by this blg, I’ve never been one for binge-watching. After an episode or two I tend to get up and do something. But this – this I couldn’t stop watching.

Now before I go any further I need to tell you something. Usually when I do posts like this for the blog, I strive to make them spoiler free. This is going to be opposite of that. Look left – spoilers. Right – more spoilers. Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Nope, it’s a whole load of spoilers dropping from the sky. I really want to discuss this with you guys, so if you haven’t seen the show, know that I absolutely loved it, really want to discuss it with you guys and come back here and read this afterwards. For those of you who have seen the show – read on and discuss!

So usually here I would open with a synopsis of the show, but I assume if you are still reading at this point you have seen the show, so instead I’m going to launch right in to what I loved about it.

First off, the characters. The cast was stellar, and I can’t think of a single character who I felt was broadly drawn, or a caricature, or anything other than a real person. Even the villains felt very real (sometimes they were even the heroes we had been following.) Father Jude was my absolute favourite. I admit, on intially seeing him, I thought they were going for a cheap laugh. A smoking, drinking, swearing priest. But he was, in fact, a very believable character, who’s character was instrumental in demonstrating the show’s stance on religion, which I think was delivered brilliantly to the audience without being preachy. Some characters don’t change much throughout the show, but most of the main cast certainly do. Jude realises his mistake in believing that faith and the Church were interlinked in one of my favourite scenes of the whole series(more on the religious side later, but I know I wasn’t the only one roaring with triumph when the cardinal reminded him that “This meeting was held in the strictest confidence”. He looks pensive for a moment, ready to nod in agreement, and turns around with a rather epic “Go fuck yourself.” Rhonda becomes necessarily hardened by the end, really culminating in her calmly shooting a man in the head for his truck. Leanne, through her time with Rhonda, learns that she has been wrong all her life, and renounces her life as a white supremacist by the end. Gaines cared only about the political fallout and was willing to let people die oblivious rather than cause panic by revealing the truth. But Scotty convinced him that everybody deserves the chance to say goodbye, and he became more humanised by the end of the show. This was a real character-driven show, and all the better for it. The impending apocalypse only provided a backdrop for these characters journeys, and there was justifiably little focus on it considering it was the core of the show.

Even the villains were justified in their actions. We saw the steps that led Gaines to tell the world that Project Saviour had succeeded. Ariel spent his entire life being told that he wasn’t good enough by a mentally ill mother. The cops chasing Rhonda genuinely believe her to be a dnagerous and wanted criminal. There’s no cackling villain with a goatee who wants to see the world burn here. Except for maybe the evil grandma, but we really don’t know anything about her.

Jude Dead

It’s also worth pointing out that in just ten episodes, which I watched over a day and a half, the show moved me to tears twice. Once when Jude died for his beliefs, and when Rhonda and Spike had to say goodbye to Rajesh as he waited for his death. Worse still was the ensuing scene, where Spike tried to get his mother to look away from the live feed of her husband’s death. For her to come so far to be reunited with her family, only to have it torn away from her so quickly was heart wrenching. Add to that the fact that Rajesh died somewhat repulsed by his wife after witnessing her killing a man, and it makes the reunion that much worse.

So now let’s move on to the shows stance on religion and faith. It very much brings to the fore the fact that the Church and faith are two different things. We all know that this is referenced several times in both Jude and Celine’s story, and Jamie and Frankies, but the absolute most hard-hitting scene for it is the one where Jude renounces his faith. A quick reminder(although I doubt that anybody who has seen the show could forget it) – Jude is meeting with Benedict and three cardinals in a clandestine meeting, the pretence of which is to get a status update on Jude’s analysis of the possible false Messiahs. When the Cardinals reveal that they want to proceed with presenting one of the candidates as the second coming of Christ to placate the masses, Jude gives up the priesthood. He dismisses the four men with him – “So am I really the only one amongst you with the balls to stand up for the truth?” and “It’s time to admit. The faith has failed. Christ is not returning.” “No. You’ve given up on him. But I have not.” – and renounces the Church and the priesthood, but not his faith – “Yes I’m done. You’re right. I’m a liar. And a hypocrite. I thought I was doing God’s work but he’s out there. Not in here. And I was a fool to think that he was. I want to be a good man.” “Father I want to remind you that this conversation was held in strictest confidence.” “Go fuck yourself.” Both the fact that this was the thinking of the cardinals, ad the fact that they killed Jude for his strong faith showed them as politicians and little else. They had no faith, and they cared more about the public perception of the Vatican than about God.

Celine meets God

The show further concretes that there is a God – from the voices in Frankie’s head, to Celine’s meeting God in the pub bathroom, to Jamie parting the Thames river a la Moses, proving that he was the Messiah – fittingly Jude’s son was the second coming of Christ for which he died. It’s the most wonderful of sentiments – that a person’s faith and there worship of a corrupt organisation are two entirely different things.

And now guys, the bit I really want to talk about. That ending. Endings are hard. I mean I loved Fargo – a lot as you guys know – but the ending was really anticlimactic. You, Me and the Apocalypse pulled it’s one off perfectly. Can we first talk about the show’s opening credits? Ariel(who we believe to be Jamie, right up until the closing seconds of the series) narrates to us, from the Bunker under slough, what is happening to the world. Comet coming, going to destroy the world. So we learn episode by episode who made it to the bunker in the end. With another face revealed every week we’re left to wonder how these character’s meet. Who else is off camera? How do they come to be in a bunker under Slough? Why is Rhonda crying? Why is Celine delerious? Why is Scotty wounded and nervously eyeing a box? Why is Dave in a tux? And all to the backdrop of “I can see clearly now” playing cheerily in the background. I think it’s one of my favourite openings ever, and an ingenious storytelling device. But the thing we’re assured of, right from the opening minutes of episode one, is that Jamie makes it there. He’s telling us the story after all! At the beginning I did wonder if it was Ariel – but after he stole Jamie’s identity, got found out, and was left in a wrecked car I breathed a sigh of relief. Jamie’s OK! Only he’s not. As we see a naked Jamie outside the bunker, having been attacked by Ariel. Jamie is left to witness the end of the world with Rajesh outside. And those closing moments, the exact same as the opening we’ve seen ten times already with just a few extra seconds added as Ariel smiles sadistically, all while “Happy Together” plays us out.

Not everything is answered. There’s still a lot of mystery surrounding the grandmother, and we have no idea who’s in the box, or why the monkey is evil. But you know what? That’s ok. We know that these characters are going to have problems in that bunker. And we’re not going to see all of that. The most we’ll ever get to do is speculate what might have happened in the bunker in Slough. Or rather, under Slough.

Ariel smiles

I’ve seen this called a bittersweet ending. But I’m struggling to see the “sweet” side of that. Frankie and Layla are left with an imposter for a husband and father respectively. This being the same man who was quite willing to leave Frankie to die in order to save himself and Layla. As opposed to Jamie, who willingly put his life at risk to ensure Layla got to the bunker with them. The grandmother(who’s name I don’t actually know – did I miss it or was it never mentioned?) is going to kill those she can’t support and use Frankie as a bloodbank. There’s a hostage in the box who warns against the evil monkey. Celine is going to be left to raise a child by herself(assuming that the grandmother doesn’t kill her as she’s not related to her.) And Spike and Rhonda are left without their husband and father, just like Layla and Frankie. This is the exact polar opposite of a happy ending – and it’s all the better for it.

I suppose in the interest of balance I should try to list a few flaws. I do have them, but guys they’re so minor.

My biggest problem with it for a long time was the fact that everybody was related. I was working on the assumption at the time that these independent stories all happened to end up at the same bunker. But having discovered, of course, that it was orchestrated by the matriarch of this family, that issue becomes pretty null and void. Other than the fact that early on, they’re just telling us that everybody is related to everybody else.

I did feel that early on in Ariel’s story the show fell back on the “hackers are basically Gods” trope. Hacking into the NSA, organising prison breaks in very little time, tracking people down using camera’s all over the world. It’s a plot device that has often irked me, but not enough to detract from the show I think.

And the fact that early on I sometimes felt that the show strayed away from the fact that it was a serial show – in particular for Rhonda and Jude’s stories. They sometimes felt a little “adventure of the week” to me, and provided little in the way of plot development.

But guys – these are tiny, irrelevant points. The show rocks. It’s got a great diverse cast of characters, some awesome humor, some really emotional moments, and a really thrilling and engaging set of stories. I wonder what I’d do if I had 34 days to live?

About the Author:

Rumored to have been born with a games controller in his hand, Noel Gleeson works as a Java Developer in Ireland and loves all things pop culture.

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About English Den

Experienced, qualified and professional English teacher working in Warsaw, Poland. Interested in pop culture, and using pop culture to teach languages. Available for private or in-business classes. International classes also available on Skype. Contact Cian.shep@gmail.com for further information.
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