The series climax takes place against the backdrop of Roarton’s annual winter fete and traditional boundary march. Danger is descending on Kieren – Simon believes he’s the key to a Second Rising, while an unhinged Gary thinks he is planning a Blue Oblivion attack on Roarton.
Gary gets to Kieren first, determined to publicly out him as a ULA terrorist. He manhandles Kieren to the new graveyard where he knows the boundary march will be heading and then forces him to take Blue Oblivion. Kieren is made to face his darkest fear- becoming rabid again. When he endangers Steve, Jem finds herself pointing a gun at her brother’s head. It looks as though Simon’s job is going to be done for him.
Meanwhile, Maxine’s deepest secret is revealed when she has a public meltdown at the fete. The villagers finally see her for what she really is, but not before tragedy touches Roarton.
We’re introduced to a pair of new characters in the opening moments. It’s unclear who, exactly, they are based on a guarded conversation over diner coffee. It sounds like they’re on their way to Roarton to “collect” someone. Judging from the gear in their trunk, that someone won’t take the trip willingly. They make a visit to the clinic, where we’re lead to believe the duo may work for the drug company that tested on Simon and created Neurotripteline. We catch up with them at the end of the episode for a bit of grave-digging. Whose grave? Hold your horses, we’ll get there eventually.
The Walker family have done a 180* flip back toward how they originally treated Kieren. They don’t trust him or his new acceptance of his PDS status. Matter of fact, their trust is so shattered by their own fears, they’ve taken to locking him in his room. They plan to send him back to the rehab facility where he can’t be influenced by Simon or Amy. But not until after the village’s little celebration, of course. Can’t have anyone thinking something’s wrong in the Walker household. Must maintain appearances, and all that. Jem does her part, pushing aside her PTSD to deal with the celebration march and ignoring the obvious loathing her parents feel toward her brother. Her blind eye to the troubles around her from family and her idiot boyfriend Gary help lead to a vicious attack on Kieren.
Simon returns to the village with murder on his mind. He’s not the only one stalking Kieren, though. Gary’s connected the dots, tying the undead men together in a bond he can exploit in his scheme to stop Simon—despite Maxine’s insistence that he do nothing. She wants Simon to trigger the Second Rising. Wants so desperately to see her dead little brother again. Her words do nothing to quell Gary’s hate of all things PDS. Simon’s uncovered attack plans feed Gary’s fire. He attacks Kieren, dragging him from his home and dosing him with a hearty dose of Blue Oblivion—the drug that temporarily counteracts Neurotripteline and turns a PDS sufferer rabid. During their game of cat and rabid mouse, intentionally staged near the new cemetery to draw out Simon, Kieren runs into Jem, his father, the villagers on their march, and Simon’s ULA faithful who await the Second Rising. The stand-off is enough to make even my shriveled heart race. Steve Walker, of all people, is the one to confront Kieren. When faced with the possibility of hurting his father—who confesses he still loves his son—Kieren fights the effects of Blue Oblivion and returns to normal. In the mayhem, a villager shoots at Kieren. Simon takes the bullet and changes his mind. He can’t kill Kieren to bring on the Second Rising.
During the bru-ha-ha at the cemetery, Amy and Phillip take in the village celebration, like a normal couple. He even buys her a toffee apple. Wait, what? In addition to Amy’s regained sense of touch, she’s feeling temperature changes and eats solid food without the explosive GI consequences most PDS sufferers experience after a meal or a drink. After Phillip’s mother takes notice, they slink away for a private stroll through the old cemetery to visit Amy’s mother. Neither notice Maxine nearby, waiting for the Second Rising that never comes thanks to Simon’s change of heart. Only Maxine doesn’t know the truth of the First Risen and thinks Amy is the key to reviving her brother. In her desperation, Maxine stabs Amy in the heart. A heart which had just begun to beat again.
The Second Rising still does not happen.
A desperate Maxine appeals to the underling hatred the villagers in Roarton have expressed since the first PDS sufferers returned from the rehab facility. Kill all the PDS people in the village and they’ll have their loved ones back. Surprisingly, mass slaughter is beyond what the masses consider acceptable. They apprehend Maxine—after shocking her with a cattle prod intended to use on the PDS. For once they’ve done the right thing. Does it mean they’re okay with the undead? Not really. But in time, they might be.
Unfortunately, Maxine’s aim is true. Amy dies before Phillip and Kieren get her to the clinic. The doctor is astounded. By all appearances, Amy is human. She’s bleeding. Her eyes are their normal color—not the glazed white of the undead. Her skin is human normal, if a bit pale from blood loss. Would she have completely reverted had Maxine not killed her? Seems likely. Amy was the first, and so far only, PDS sufferer to revert to a normal life. And that makes her unique. Remember the shady folks we met at the beginning of the episode? Yup, they’re in town to collect Amy. Which now means digging up her grave after waiting hours for Phillip to give up hope of her return and leave. Late-night grave digging in the rain. Sounds fun. Sign me up.
The episode wraps up with Kieren and family working through their issues. Jem confesses to killing Henry and needing help for her PTSD. Simon gives up his plan to run away with Kieren, instead he decides to stay in Roarton. Does he want to be near the man he has grown to have feelings for, or is he staying put to make sure no one finds out the truth, that Kieren is the First Risen and his death may still bring on the Second Rising?
These are questions we’ll only have answers to if the show survives some hiccups with its mother channel. I, for one, hope we get to see the full five series the show’s writer says has already been plotted.
We’re nearly finished with the second series of “In the Flesh.” There’s only one more episode after this and the fate of the show for a third series has yet to be determined. We’re not saying goodbye to the citizens in Roarton just yet, so let’s see what havoc they’ve wreaked this time around.
From BBC: Kieren finds the strength to shed his contact lenses and cover-up mousse in public for the first time. However, he’s wrongly accused of freeing the rabids at the GP surgery and hauled in front of the increasingly tyrannical parish council. The council place Kieren under house arrest, threatening to send him back to the Norfolk treatment centre if he doesn’t confess. Disappointed by his parents’ reaction, Kieren seeks out Simon and is floored to discover he has disappeared.
Meanwhile, we follow Simon to the city. We flashback to his horrific experiences in and outside the treatment centre, learning how he was radicalized and became the Undead Prophet’s final and most beloved disciple. When the Undead Prophet tells Simon he must sacrifice Kieren to instigate the Second Rising, his faith is rocked for the first time. However, he returns to Roarton grimly resolved to carry out his mission.
At last we’re given a glimpse at what makes Simon tick. The main focus of the episode, aside from what’s going on with Kieren, was the mysterious Simon’s backstory. He’s tucked away in a hotel room—which seems out of place in Roarton, given the scope we’ve seen of the village—to meet with another ULA member. His fellow disciple delivers a DVD and a leather-wrapped package full of crude weapons. The message? Kill the First Risen. The weight of his task triggers a psychotic episode, slamming Simon back to his first memories after the Rising. A cheesy way to get a character’s backstory, true. But it does deliver vital information. For instance, Simon was the first rabid PDS sufferer to have a positive reaction to the experimental drugs that’d eventually turn into Neurotripteline. He volunteered, with some coercion from scientists, to remain a guinea pig for their continued drug testing.
Simon was tortured in the name of science, even after he regained enough of his mental factions to realize he wasn’t happy with what they did to him.
Eventually he convinced them to let him go. But what damage did they do during testing? He seemed to suffer several hallucinations, where the first idea of the Undead Prophet occurred to him. Was it an outside source messing with his already clouded mind or an internal manifestation of Simon’s desire to liberate his kind? Being released from the drug tests and the rehab facility didn’t mean the end of Simon’s mental anguish. We find out, through a tense encounter with his father, that Simon murdered his mother during the Rising. The guilt eats at him, even after his father seemingly forgives him. That lasted for about six hours.
In the middle of the night Simon’s father booted him from their flat with nothing but a bag of clothes and whatever money is in his pockets. Adrift, Simon reached out to the only person who’d tried to help him—the mysterious voice he’d heard during his maybe-hallucinations and snuck a phone number into his belongings before his release. The ULA and their masked Undead Prophet gave Simon a family, a home, and a purpose in life. At last we understand why he’s so committed to them, despite his growing feelings for Kieren. But is his loyalty greater than his love?
While Simon struggles with his past, Kieren is very much involved in the present dangers for PDS sufferers. At home, he finally decides to embrace his true nature and goes without the makeup and contacts he’s hidden behind since returning to Roarton. This does nothing to soothe his parent’s rattled nerves after Kieren confessed that he remembers killing people before his treatment. They can’t bury their heads in the sand anymore, lie to themselves and say their son is different from the Rabids. On the heels of their argument, Kieren is dragged from his house—blamed for the clinic break-in and resulting Rabid attack, despite a complete lack of evidence. Point-blank, the village council tells him to confess to the crime or he’ll be taken back to the rehab facility with no promises he’ll ever see freedom again.
He’s given time to think about it and put on house arrest. The family tells him to sign the confession. What could it hurt? Why buck against the system? Surely the council knows what’s best for Roarton. As this second argument escalates, Steve expresses his annoyance with Kieren. Anytime his son fancies a new boy, the trouble starts. It happened with Rick Macy, and the problems are doubled with Simon’s influence. Maybe sending him back to the rehab facility would “fix” what’s wrong with their son. All Kieren can say is, “This is who I am.” Which applies equally to his sexuality and acceptance of his condition as a PDS sufferer.
Amy’s strange reaction to the Neurotripteline continues to plague her. She’s convinced this is the end and embraces the notion with one last day of fun with Phillip at her side. They take in a game of crazy golf, which is over too soon for her tastes. In a quick run-in with Kieren, Amy tells him she knows about his maybe-relationship with Simon and gives her blessing. She’s washing clean the slate. But why? We find out toward the end of the episode when she invites Phillip to an impromptu camping trip in the rain and asks him to kill her. Despite her bravado about the time before rehab, Amy is terrified to turn rabid again. She’s lived enough in the months since gaining her freedom to know turning rabid would cost everyone she’s grown to love. What if she hurt Phillip or her BDFF, Kieren? Her life has been about finding happiness. But lately, she can’t feel anything. It’s making her miserable. Something happens, though, just as Phillip is about to go through with her wish to end it all. Amy feels the rain on her face. What does this mean? Has she evolved to another level of PDS that doesn’t require drug treatments? Are the tweaked drug doses finally regulating her system? There’s so much yet to learn about their condition.
The next episode will be our last with Kieren and the folks in Roarton—for a while or for good is yet to be seen. I, for one, have thoroughly enjoyed this look at life through the undead’s eyes. It’s about time our kind was fairly represented on television.
It’s been a while since we caught up with the undead trying to make a life in politically backwards Roarton. How successful has the Give Back Scheme been? What did the kiss between Kieren and Simon mean for the future and their mutual friend Amy? Episode four didn’t answer a lot of the questions burning a hole in my slowly rotting brain, but pushed up the stakes leading to the final episodes in series two.
Kieren is conflicted about seeing Simon behind Amy’s back and frustrated by his cult leader persona around the adoring Undead of Roarton. However, Simon proves how much he cares by stepping into Kieren’s world and having Sunday lunch at the Walkers’. Unfortunately, Amy witnesses the loved-up pair en route to Kieren’s house and is crushed by their betrayal.
After a positive start, the Sunday lunch descends into chaos. A tipsy and trouble-making Jem and Gary descend on the meal, provoking Kieren into a confession which sends shockwaves around the family – and astounds Simon.
Philip can’t reconcile himself with Maxine’s questionable politics and the two go head to head. Seeing Philip as a thorn in her side, Maxine orchestrates his downfall and is delighted when his Undead perversion is publicly revealed. Philip’s political aspirations come tumbling down around him, but a silver lining is provided by an unexpected romantic encounter.
Maxine, with help from the villagers who feel the need to persecute anyone not sharing their warped morals, go on a seek-and-destroy mission. Any PDS person not complying with the bizarre laws now governing the undead will be brought to justice—or their idea of it. Which ranges from public humiliation to murder. Their mission isn’t limited to PDS persons, either. Maxine uses her office to bully the mother of supposedly missing Henry Lonsdale into silence. She employs similar tactics to blackmail Phillip Wilson—village council member who is hopelessly in love with Amy and has been using PDS prostitutes to live out his girlfriend fantasies about his one-time lover. He had a solid plan, sneak in, get some cuddle time, and sneak back out. Too bad the old lady across the street is tech-savvy and recorded his comings and goings. Maxine gets her paws on the tape. But Phillip’s initial shame of being found out is overcome by his sense of what’s right when he’s ordered to perpetuate the lies Maxine cooked for Mrs. Lonsdale. He outs himself as a PDS-lover and brothel regular during the staged protest to undermine Maxine’s control and delivers a stirring speech outing the villagers’ hypocrisy. None of them are perfect, so who are they to judge how others find employment and comfort. Unfortunately, they’re all so comfortable in their hate, no one listens. Except Amy.
The mysterious side-effects from the Neurotripteline plaguing Amy aren’t getting better. She’s reflexively doing human things like making herself breakfast. Worse, though, is her memory loss and continuing nose bleeds. All of which she hides from Kieren and Simon. With her rekindled friendship with Phillip, can she find someone to confess her problems to? Phillip’s mother knows, but there’s only so much she can do to help. Amy’s reaction to the drug is unique, or simply not advertised by the drug makers to cover their collective backside.
One thing to be said about this show, it likes to push the limits. How many paranormal shows have a non-stereotypical gay main character, let alone a character who doesn’t instantly fall in bed with their main love interest seconds after their first kiss? Kieren, despite being attracted to Simon, is still wary of everything the guy says and does. He doesn’t completely agree with Simon’s politics and calls him out on the cult-like activity he perpetuates on behalf of the ULA. If Kieren were a woman, she’d giggle, flip her hair, and forgive her man his many sins after the kiss they shared at the end of episode three. Instead Simon has to work for Kieren’s trust, going so far as to apply the required makeup and contacts before they go to lunch with the Walkers.
Steve Walker has his head in the sand again. So much for the progress he’d made since the end of series one. He’s convinced the Give Back Scheme will be good for PDS persons. Considers it a work program that’ll give his son skills to use once he’s done his Give Back time to get a real job. Kieren had a job. Steve argues that it’s a good start. Kieren replies with, “. . . it’s not a start if it doesn’t go anywhere. It’s just showing up for that day’s humiliation.” Kieren’s pub job was nothing like what the council force him to do now, which includes ridiculous classes where PDS sufferers are taught to say, “Sorry I caused your anxiety . . .” and various other self-blaming phrases to use with the living.
The big revelation of the episode came during the Walker family lunch. Jem drags her patrol mate, and maybe-boyfriend, Gary along, putting two former HVF soldiers and two PDS sufferers at the same dining table. Kieren’s parents are willfully oblivious to the tension. Until Gary decides to share a gruesome and insensitive war story. Kieren retaliates, telling his rising story for the first time. Simon, who’d done his best to sit quietly and suffer through the meal in hopes of getting Brownie points, perks up and grills Kieren about his rising. By the end of the meal, Simon is convinced Kieren is indeed the First Risen.
What does this mean for Kieren? It’s unclear. But with two episodes left in series two, things are about to hit the fan.
In this episode, we take a slight detour and focus mainly on a side-character’s struggle to return to a normal life after the implement of the government’s Give Back Scheme. Can Freddy find normalcy? Can any of the PDS sufferers who’ve returned to Roarton regain their old lives?
Fate throws Kieren and Simon together on the ‘Give Back’ scheme, this time at the doctor’s surgery. Simon reassures Kieren that he’s not leading Amy on, but the pair come to blows when Kieren thwarts his plan to free two caged rabids.
We also get to know PDS sufferer Freddie Preston. Freddie returned from the grave to find his childhood sweetheart Haley shacked up in their marital home with her new boyfriend Amir. Haley and Amir are allowing Freddie to stay in the spare room until he’s back on his feet. This is not ideal, as Freddie struggles with the notion of ’till death do us part’ and is determined to win back the woman he loves.
When Kieren is thrust into the aftermath of Freddie’s plan, he sees Simon’s views in a different light. Even though he hates the thought of hurting Amy, he can’t help but follow his heart.
In the aftermath of last week’s accidental shooting by Jem, we see her attempt to do the correct thing . . . while the adults play “Hide the corpse in the woods.” Maxine and Gary do the exact opposite of what Jem needs to get her head on straight—with her guilt over shooting Henry and the PTSD she’s dealt with since the HVF was disbanded. As the adults in charge, they should take proper legal action. Instead, their hatred and fear of PDS people makes them accessories to her crime. The only reason Maxine isn’t upset is because Henry wasn’t the mythical “first risen” everyone’s searching for in Roarton, the undead who will ultimately bring about the second rising. After Maxine’s strange behavior—hello, talking to a suitcase—one begins to wonder how personal her efforts are to see this supposed second rising. Did she lose someone during the first rising, an undead lover or child who was slaughtered? Was she expecting someone to return who didn’t when Roarton’s graveyard vomited up its dead? She’s cagier than a parakeet, that’s for sure.
A large piece of this episode was dedicated to Freddy’s struggle to find his place in the village. After his release from the rehab facility, he returned home to discover during the years he roamed the countryside rabid, his wife had moved on and moved her boyfriend into the house they’d shared. As a favor, possibly out of pity, she’d allowed Freddy to stay with them. But they boyfriend’s had enough. Freddy is obviously still in love with his wife, but she’s having a hard time accepting that after years of mourning and maturing, whereas he’s stuck where he was the moment he died. His attempts to court her go awry. Freddy lures her to a place where they can be alone, where he tries to convince her one last time to run away with him. In the process, he forgets his meds and turns rabid. His inability to move on nearly cost him his life when Gary showed up. If Kieren hadn’t intercepted the call Gary put through to Jem asking her to help put Freddy down, they guy would be dead. And for what? A woman who said her goodbyes already and wants the freedom to settle down as she nears thirty? Freddy is desperate for anything to call his own. He’s been denied the opportunity to own his own business. He can’t even legally drive a car. And how can he make money to provide for himself when he’s forced into the Give Back Scheme? The PDS are stuck in a hole. Freddy is just the latest victim.
Kieren’s interactions with Simon started to heat up in the last episode. This time around, they’re fanning the embers. During the Give Back tasks for the day, the men are scheduled to work at the clinic as a clean-up crew, while Phillip traps Amy in the council office to play as his (unwilling) secretary. The guys argue over whether or not to free a pair of rabid undead caged in the clinic. When Kieren protests and stops Simon, Simon’s disappointment has teeth. He says a few times, his feeling for Amy aren’t romantic. Simon loves her, but not in the way she loves him. Has he used her to get to Roarton and Kieren? Undoubtedly. Everything he’s said in the last two episodes points to manipulation on his part. Amy is convinced she’ll marry Simon.
Simon is about as willing to do that as she is to have another one-night-stand with Phillip. How will she feel when she finds out her undead best friend kissed her maybe-to-be fiancé? Who knows? Perhaps the betrayal will aggravate her still unknown condition. We saw what happens when a PDS sufferer’s meds wears off when Freddy forgot his dose.
Will the same happen to Amy? It’d be awful to lose her vibrant personality amongst the doom and gloom generation.
Just when we thought we’d get to see the world outside Roarton, our hopes—like Kieren’s—were dashed. With the Vicar’s death, changes are afoot. None of them beneficial for the undead. Before we get into what happens in the episode, let’s have a quick rundown.
Kieren’s dreams of escape are left in tatters when Maxine imposes an Undead travel ban on Roarton, also introducing stringent measures for PDS Sufferers to pay back their debt to society. However, being thrust together with Simon on Maxine’s ‘Give Back’ scheme has its benefits. The two have a connection, and Kieren agrees to go to Simon’s Undead party that night, where Simon makes a surprising declaration.
Jem is troubled at school. A 19-year-old amongst 16-year-olds, she feels completely alienated, until she’s revealed to be an ex-HVF war hero. Jem’s reputation soars and she is befriended by the popular girls. However, when a PDS prank goes wrong, resulting in a terrifying rabid in the corridors, Jem is humiliated in front of her classmates. She gravitates to Gary, finding solace in a world she understands – hunting rabids in the woods. But it’s here that disaster strikes.
Kieren’s escape route is blocked. He’s denied what he considers a chance to start again in a city that may or may not allow him to be himself, unlike the small minds in Roarton. Given the fact that his father insisted to send him on his way with a French-themed breakfast—complete with awful “French” music, berets, French-pressed coffee, and French toast (the latter two Kieren can’t even enjoy)—the poor kid needs to get away. Instead he’s ordered back to town after being refused a train ticket. Amy, too even though she wasn’t trying to leave. She tagged along to convince Kieren to stay, acting on Simon’s orders. Most of what Amy has to say comes from the heart, though. Kieren is running away from his problems. He isn’t trying to fix anything. This trip isn’t so much about finding himself as putting distance between him and the painful emotions in Roarton—his parents’ failure to understand who he really is, the town’s small-minded anti-gay sentiment, and Rick’s second and final death. Try as he might to start over, Kieren’s problems start and end with his inability to accept himself. He’s hiding behind layers of makeup, lies, and evasion.
Amy said it best: “How many miles will you have to travel to be able to take it all off?”
What’s so special about the undead in Roarton? This underlying question has filtered through the first episodes for series two. The longer they pull out this question, it becomes more and more apparent that Kieren is the man of the hour. Everyone is focused on him, from Simon and his mission passed down from the Undead Prophet to Maxine and her hush-hush info search through the town records. Could Kieren be the first risen? What does that mean for the PDS community?
The government plans to use PDS sufferers as slave labor. They’ve concocted a scheme in which the undead “give back” to their communities after leaving rehab. If they’re good, their cases are reviewed after six months and their rights as a living person renewed. It sounds almost reasonable. Until you stop and really think about it. They’re making people who had no control over their return from the dead earn a place in society again as though they’re car thieves and drug addicts. We make criminals work community service hours in order to prove they can be trusted and let off the leash, so to speak. And there is no guarantee PDS people will actually regain their rights. The law is written to only promise their cases be reviewed, nothing more. It’s entirely possible that every PDS sufferer whose case is reviewed in six months is ordered to complete more “give back” hours. A reality Kieren is now considering after a talk with Simon.
Naughty Phillip, the newest council member in Roarton, has been visiting PDS prostitutes. But not necessarily for the obvious reason. He’s using them to replicate his fleeting relationship with Amy. Which I’m pretty sure was a just a one-night-stand. Someone is watching him. They know what he’s up to. The fall-out from his nightly visits will rattle the council again.
The major focus of the episode wasn’t so much Kieren and the other PDS trapped in town—who make the most of it by partying and getting high on lamb’s brains—but Jem’s continuing failure to seek treatment for her PTSD. She has a fleeting moment where everything seems okay. The kids at school find out she’s a HVF “hero” and the harassment turns into a form of worship. She’s bringing friends home to hang out. Going out to spend time with the girls. Sure, Jem still suffers hallucinations, but they’re easier to brush off. Until an idiot PDS kid gets his hands on Blue Oblivion and turns rabid at school. Of course everyone will think sending the hero in to kill the rabid undead is a good idea. They don’t understand what it was like for Jem—who was only fourteen during her first mission—during the rising. Of course she panics at the school. Fails to dispatch the “rotter”, which is a good thing because the drug does wear off. Something we hadn’t seen before. Instead of talking it out, getting help for her PTSD, Jem decides to arm up and resume patrolling for rotters. And kills an innocent PDS boy who had the biggest crush on her.
The next episode should be interesting. There’s a lot secrets in the air and given what Jem’s done, what Kieren is beginning to understand about the way his people are being treated, a whole world of chaos is about to fall on Roarton. Hang on to your hats.
We’re still trucking along with BBC’s “In the Flesh” here in the ZSC command center. By “we,” I mean I am still watching. Everyone else is busy cleaning weapons and ignoring my requests for show time snacks. Would it hurt them to take a little time to bring in a leg of someone delicious? Really, sometimes I feel trapped in this gig. What’ve the folks in Roarton been up to during the series break? Nothing good.
Kieren Walker, in the now seemingly PDS-friendly world of Roarton, is keeping his head down, working soul destroying shifts in the Legion pub and squirrelling money into his ‘escape fund’. The only problem is that he can’t escape himself.
In the wider world, tensions are re-igniting. The radical pro-living party, Victus, is whipping up hatred and the Undead Liberation Army is retaliating violently. When Victus MP Maxine Martin enters Roarton, Kieren is dismayed, sensing that danger is encroaching. And when Vicar Oddie violently clashes with her, it seems Kieren’s instincts are right.
Kieren is also overjoyed by the return of his BDFF (best dead friend forever), Amy Dyer, though his delight is cut short by a tense encounter with Amy’s opinionated beau, ULA member Simon. When Amy and Simon reveal the prejudice still bubbling under the surface in Roarton, Kieren knows he needs to leave the village immediately.
The episode opened with a supposed ULA attack on a busload of innocent bystanders—including the man who killed Bill Macy during the first series finale and his young son. This is only the second time they’ve shown the effects of the Blue Oblivion drug, and it doesn’t look like a good time for anyone involved. Blue Oblivion negates the effects of daily government mandated Neurotripteline treatments. PDS sufferers must use the treatments in order to pass from the rehab facilities back into the world. Without, they’re considered rabid and put down or held in rehab and forced to receive treatment. The legalities around PDS abuse isn’t clear. How many rights do they retain after release from rehab? It’s clear they are capable of finding jobs, as Kieren has once the village calmed down and accepted the returned citizens. They even disbanded the HVF and declared the village a weapons-free zone. To protect themselves or their PDS citizens? Who knows? It’s just a good thing the guns are gone, some of the former HVF “heroes” can’t let go of the past and are itching to stir up trouble everywhere they go. Dead guys can land jobs, but these HVF members can’t be bothered to try, blaming Kieren and his kind for their unemployed status. Not their bad attitudes, lack of hygiene, and lack of motivation to get off their backsides.
Despite the tension rife within almost every character interaction, the tone for the second series is, so far, much lighter. Even the color pallets are brighter. Except Kieren. He’s still a blob of drab compared to Amy’s vibrancy. Part of it may well be that he wants to blend in as much as possible. Fall into the background, work, earn money, and get gone before people realize he’s still there. Still the loner. And most importantly, still the boy who killed himself and rose from the dead. How often each day does Kieren curse his family for burying him instead of cremating him, as he’d requested? His parents are coping. Slowly. Sue fell back to her role of, “don’t rock the boat,” “everything is normal.” Steve’s adjustment period is taking much longer. He’s at the over-sharing stage of talk therapy. Anything and everything bothering him comes out his mouth. Unfortunately, it’s usually something that pains Kieren or embarrasses him. Jem, unlike the others, is having the hardest time moving on. She’s back in school. A loner now, like her brother. Worse is the PTSD she won’t talk about with anyone, but it’s begun to affect her life day and night.
Maxine Martin is a new/old face in Roarton, with a completely unknown agenda. She’s supposedly there on official business, but there’s glimmers of something under the surface of what she’s saying to the Vicar and others in the village. She’s hunting for something. Or someone. And her fixation on the PDS sufferers in town, especially Kieren, is unsettling. Could she be connected to Lisa, the girl Kieren ate before Jem found him and sent him to the rehab facility? Is she searching for a loved one who was buried in Roarton, hoping they rose and simply weren’t found or reported? We have no clue. It is clear, though, that she’ll do whatever necessary to obtain information and keep her cards close to her chest about her true intentions. Just ask the Vicar. Oh, wait . . . . That ship may have sailed.
So far, this series of “In the Flesh” is much more complex than the last. Can’t wait to see how it unfolds over the next five episodes.
These little visits with the not-so-nice people of Roarton have become the highlight of my week. What are they up to in the second episode of BBC’s “In the Flesh”? Lies, lies, and—surprise—more lies.
Feeling trapped at home, Kieren escapes to his grave where he is reunited with his old hunting partner, Amy Dyer, who persuades him to take a dangerous day trip. After fleeing when he is spotted, Kieren discovers that Rick, his former best mate who died in Afghanistan, is back in town and is persuaded by Amy to go and see him at partisan local pub, The Legion. After an awkward reunion, Kieren finds himself on an HVF hunting mission in the woods, where the night patrol has reported live rabid zombies roaming free.
Which liar to tackle first? Might as well make that liars and point out the Swiss cheese logic fueling the Walker Family. Kieren is being treated like a mental case from the good ol’ days, back when the mentally disturbed were treated with ice baths, overdoses of opiates, and left to wallow in their filth until such time as they became mindless zombies, easily manipulated by doctors. Once they were free from the asylum, their families secreted them away. A dirty family secret best left locked in the cellar. Jem, despite still hating her brother for killing himself, knows the lies their parents feed Kieren are wrong and will only hurt him. She’s constantly talked over in this episode, and at some points walked out of the room before she says anything to undermine the fantasy Sue and Steve have created for their new way of existing. They’re living in a yacht on the Nile, so far removed from reality it’s going to bite them in the backside like a starving crocodile.
Which is exactly what happens when they leave Kieren alone in the house for the afternoon. He gets cabin fever and takes a walk. To a cemetery. Because all well-adjusted zombies like to take a stroll to their own grave. Except Kieren isn’t well-adjusted. He’s an emotionally traumatized and bullied teen who thought he’d finally ended his pain when he cut his wrists four years ago. Not only did he return, but was dumped right back into the same awful place which forced him to take his life. And this time there’s no way out. No friend to buffer him from the cruelest alpha-male jockstraps walking around Roarton. He’s an artist, or was before his death. Small town men don’t understand him. Small town women don’t trust him to be capable of providing for them. Aside from his seriously dysfunctional and lying family, he’s alone.
Enter Amy—who’s a few crumbs short of a cookie and doesn’t care. Really, she doesn’t. In a breath of fresh, possibly insane air, she swoops in and saves Kieren from being, well, himself. She points a shining mirror at his life. Questions everything he’s done since returning home. Amy even invades his home, spills a bunch of lie-abolishing truth about PDS people on his family’s dinner conversation, and makes him seriously think about his quality of life and the lies he’s allowed his parents to live in.
“They don’t like admitting that I’m—”
“What? The undead?”
“Shouldn’t they start getting used to it?”
“Shouldn’t you start getting used to it?”
She’s also the only person who’s stopped and really talked to Kieren about his suicide. Not blame him and hate him like Jem, but try to understand why he did it. Show a little sympathy for the decision he made. And then point out how stupid he was to waste the life he’d been given, when she’d had no choice—dead from leukemia before ever truly living.
Every PDS person returning to normal life needs their own Amy. Rick Macy, son of HVF leader Bill Macy, could learn a lot from her. From the second he steps off the transport truck, he’s telling similar lies to the one’s the Walkers peddle with every single breath. Rick tries too hard to be normal, to make his father believe nothing’s changed—because Rick knows the second he acts like a zombie, his father won’t respect him. Zombies are not normal. They won’t make their father’s proud. They can’t continue the family name. What good is a dead person to a man like Bill Macy? So Rick lies. He commits self-harming actions, like drinking and eating even though PDS bodies cannot process anything they ingest and get violently ill. The one good thing Rick accomplishes amidst his lies and acts of normalcy is reclaiming his position as buffer in Kieren’s life. But does Kieren really need that buffer now that Amy made him stop and examine where his future could lead?
It’d appear she’s done some good. When Kieren and Rick help the HVF track down a pair of rabid Rotters in the woods, he steps in and uses sound reasoning to keep first Rick, then Bill and his cronies from slaughtering the zombies. Sure, Rick is now diminished in his father’s eyes—why would anyone listen to a pansy who slit his own wrists? But Kieren may have found a purpose to his second life. If he takes Rick down a similar path, they’ll be golden.
Can Rick and Kieren break the habits hanging on from their old lives to start something better or will Bill’s grip on their lives derail the positive influence of Amy’s presence? There’s one more episode in season one of “In the Flesh.” We’ll find out which way the guys go soon.