WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Season 2 of Netflix's The End of the F***ing World.
Season 1 of Netflix's The End of the F***ing World didn't really have a villain per se, as James (Alex Lawther) and Alyssa (Jessica Barden) simply met a number of quaint individuals as they ran away and made a trek across England.
However, the second season changes this drastically with the introduction of Bonnie (Naomi Ackie), a psychopath with a vendetta against the couple. By the time the season wraps, though, Bonnie turns out to be a sympathetic villain, drawing parallels to Michael B. Jordan's Killmonger, but ultimately standing out as someone who the audience can empathize with and mourn for due to the harsh circumstances she endured in life.
Killmonger was a highlight in Marvel Studios' Black Panther and is considered one of cinema's most sympathetic villains to date. Director Ryan Coogler framed him as the forgotten son of Wakanda and someone who truly believed he was heir to the kingdom. Killmonger, though, viewed his cousin, T'Challa, and his family as murderers, on the same level as conquerors and colonizers who he thought oppressed black people across the world. And ultimately, even when he seized power, all he wanted to do was liberate and arm his people so they'd never be enslaved again. That said, Bonnie's story is a bit more selfish but when you look at where her journey started and how it developed, it has nothing to do with birthright or entitlement of privilege, it's just pure tragedy.
Bonnie is indeed a victim, warped into a villain by people she loved. Killmonger made his decisions on his own accord and could have been the bigger person, choosing the righteous path, but Bonnie, even though she's in her early 20's, has the mind of a child. She was abused by her mom, abandoned by her dad and struggled to find love and acceptance at a tender age. She even lied about getting into university, working as a librarian as a cover to keep the act up. All this led to the catalyst that'd create the monster within her when she fell for Professor Koch (Jonathan Aris) -- the rapist who James killed in Season 1 when the old man tried to sexually assault Alyssa after they broke into his home for a meal and nap.
The show reveals Koch groomed Bonnie, who simply clamored for the love of a father-figure, to the point he even manipulates her into killing a student who rebuffed his advances and was ready to blow the whistle. Koch lured Bonnie with money, sex and the facade of love and marriage someday, so when this #MeToo incident occurred, Koch weaponized her by pretending to be the victim of a smear campaign. Bonnie bought the act and ran the girl over which landed her in prison. At this point you can see her origin is one based on corruption, power, abuse and toxic masculinity as a predator preyed on her ignorance and turned her to the dark side, gaslighting her every step of the way.
Eventually, in prison Bonnie would find out Koch was killed, gathering the pertinent info from newspapers so that when she's released two years later for Season 2 (as the vehicular collision was ruled manslaughter), all she has on her mind is revenge. This obsession drives her to stalk James and Alyssa in hopes of murdering them, and Bonnie comes off as someone who suffers from Stockholm syndrome, locked into this imaginary world where no evidence can paint the infallible and innocent Koch wrong. It gets even worse when she befriends the couple later on, only for a motel owner to drug and try to rape her the night she's about to shoot James and Alyssa. Once more, it's a toxic male ruining her life, exhibiting power over her and keeping Bonnie trapped in a web of aggression and hostility.
In fact, when a pharmacy owner finds her gun later on as she tries to treat a wound after she killed the motel owner, Bonnie confronts him, shuddering with fear. He sees something's wrong with her -- PTSD from her entire life -- and as she shakes holding the knife, she confesses all she knows is hate and violence. She steals her weapon back and threatens to kill the man if he calls the cops, but clearly, Bonnie's a scared child at heart. It comes to a head when she corners James and Alyssa in a diner hours later in the season finale, with the truth coming out about why they killed Koch.
Bonnie reconciles it with his sinister personality and his creepy ways, but still, part of her doesn't want to embrace the truth. Despite all this pain associated with their illicit romance, he's still the first love of her life and so, she tries to put a bullet in her own brain. Luckily, the couple dive on her and stop the suicide, embracing her in one of the series most powerful moments to date, comforting her and letting her know they understand and forgive her. In the end, James and Alyssa are actually relieved Bonnie's not facing maximum time for killing the motel owner and are grateful they got a chance to rescue her. They even try to get her a lenient sentence but still, Bonnie still can't help but think of what could have been, struggling to break free of the sins of the adults around her which shaped a tragic life filled with pain and bloodshed.
Written by Charlie Covell, Season 2 of The End of the F***ing World is currently streaming on Netflix. It stars Alex Lawther, Jessica Barden and Naomi Ackie.