Review of “In the Flesh” S1E3
By A. Zombie
The final episode in the short first season of BBC’s “In the Flesh” is a doozy. Grab your Kleenex, a favorite stuffed animal, and something to muffle your sobs before you watch. I’ll wait . . . . Got yourself together? Then let’s get to it.
After visiting the supermarket where he used to hunt with Amy, Kieren remembers that Jem once spared his life. Together, brother and sister confront the demons in their pasts and visit Mr. and Mrs. Lancaster. Kieren feels momentarily better, but then has to say goodbye to Amy who is leaving Roarton in search of The Prophet. Will Kieren and Rick be able to find peace and acceptance as PDS sufferers in this highly-charged new world?
On the heels of the previous episode, we see Rick ditch Kieren in favor of driving back into town with his father, Bill. Of course, Bill takes advantage of this. Thinks he’s got his son firmly on his side when it comes to his position on PDS victims. The problem is, Bill still doesn’t see his son as one of the undead. As long as Rick keeps up appearances, he continues to treat Rick like he always has and Kieren is the devil. Sadly, that’s how Bill has always seen Kieren. Because he had the audacity to love Rick. Just like Bill can’t accept Kieren’s PDS, he also couldn’t tolerate the love Rick shared with the boy. Though never stated outright, Rick’s decision to go into the army was instigated by his father. As was the fact that Rick left without a word to Kieren, and none of ‘Ren’s letters reached his friend while he was in the service.
Where Bill failed to accept reality, Jem, Kieren, and their mother Sue have begun to adapt to the new reality. Sue attends a counseling group for parents of PDS victims, where she’s finally able to vocalize her anger over her son’s suicide. Once it’s out of her system, she can move onto the idea of a new start with him. Jem and Kieren make a pilgrimage to the house of his final victim on the heels of a flashback showing that Jem spared his life when he was rabid. She was the sole reason ‘Ren and Amy went into the rehab facility when the standing HVF orders in Roarton were to kill Rotters on sight. Somehow, through seeing the hope and pain Lisa’s parents deal with every day, the siblings are able to finally bond—their guilt is a better glue than all the yelling and fighting that’s gone on since he came home. Guilt gave them equal footing. A way to see the world from the same vantage point. Which is a good thing, because by the end of the episode, Kieren’s going to need as much support from his family as possible. But more on that later.
Say goodbye to Amy. Hopefully not for good, though. After a council mandate stating all PDS households be marked, one of the HVF members tasked with the job takes extreme offense to Amy’s acceptance of her new lifestyle. He attacks her, in her own bedroom, and forces her to put on the flesh-toned makeup all PDS victims are presented with when released from the rehab facility. It’s a stark reminder that, though seemingly free to do as she wishes, Amy has no one to protect her. She lives alone. There’s no family to step in on her behalf. If she stays in Roarton, either she denies her new identity and covers up, or the HVF put her down like a rabid Rotter. For them, there’s no distinction between a treated PDS victim and the rabid animals out in the woods. They’re so tied up in what the undead uprising means in relation to their faith, they can’t begin to see the truth—this is a second chance for many to do things right in their lives. Or have a life at all, in Amy’s case.
The last portion of the episode were difficult to watch. When Rick finally strips off the human disguise he’d hidden behind since returning home and refuses to kill Kieren, Bill snaps. We don’t know how bad it is until Rick’s truly dead body is found propped against the Walker family home. And of course Kieren is the one to find his best friend’s corpse. Back at the Macy house, Bill goes through a psychotic snap, forcing himself to forget Rick’s return as a PDS victim. To him, it’s been five years since he saw his son. But not really. He knows what he did. Bill can’t face his actions. Lies to his wife. It isn’t until Kieren confronts him about it that we see how far gone Bill truly is. He’s bought the Vicar’s bull. Fully believes this round of undead visitors is temporary—there will be a second rising, one where only those who deserve it will return to life as true humans, not PDS. Something snaps Bill out of it, blood on his hands from the fight with Kieren. Bill runs from the argument, from his wife’s mourning. Only to wind up with a chest full of lead, a gift from a man whose wife Bill shot down in the first episode.
Bill reaped what he sowed. Unfortunately, he took his son with him and almost took Kieren down as well. One good thing came from the tragedy—the Walker family finally pulled their heads out of the sand and talked openly and honestly about everything that’s happened since Kieren’s suicide. They’re in a better place emotionally. How long will peace last, though? There’s still the Vicar, who wields manipulation better than a surgeon with a scalpel. He won’t stand for PDS people being in Roarton.
We’ll revisit this quaint town soon with the first episode of season two. Maybe things will be better for the undead. One can only hope.