The first season of In the Flesh was very good, but also very bleak. As bleak as its setting in a lonely North England town. It drew some fairly obvious allegories, using the
zombies Partially Deceased Syndrome Sufferers as stand-ins for homosexuals, religious and racial minorities, immigrants, HIV/AIDS sufferers, and any other group that can most easily be trodden upon by the heartless masses.
I really grew to like Kieren and Amy, who have a pretty adorable friendship. The terrible prejudices and actions of the citizens of Roarton were really difficult to watch. Excruciating, in some cases, because of how easy it is to relate the way the PDS are treated to the way gay people are still treated, and the fact that some of them are attacked. Sometimes by family. In 2014, for fuck’s sake.
The second series is longer (6 episodes, rather than 3), and uses a different sort of allegory. A new political group, Victus, has been winning seats at Parliament by campaigning with aggressive anti-PDS policies. They (like most far right parties) are channeling people’s fears to enact policies that restrict and control the PDS population. In Roarton, a new MP from Victus shows up, Maxine Martin.
Soon, she has put a system in place to invalidate the passports of all PDS persons. Kieren discovers this when he tries to leave town, to head to Paris and to live a life where he is not completely surrounded by people who hate him and his kind. In order to ‘earn’ his passport back, he has to work to ‘give back’. All the PDS people have to do a certain amount of community service in order to make up for some of the damage they wrought. But as time goes on, it becomes clearer that this is not a system that they can really get out of. The ‘community service’ is mandatory, and they shift the guidelines at a whim. You can draw obvious parallels to concentration camps and internment camps and no-fly lists and ‘random’ inspections of people of color, or anyone with Muhammad in their name. Also to immigrant populations, vilified and contained, mistrusted by the generally douchy public.
The overarching story of the season is the fabled ‘second rising’. There are a few schools of thought on how it may come about, and whether it should come about. The Undead Liberation Army and its creepy prophet is trying to bring about the second rising. Enter ULA member, Simon. He’s Irish, and he’s all in for the ULA movement. Amy has a crush on him, but in typical Amy fashion, he turns out to be more attracted to Kieren. Que sera, sera.
Simon helps Kieren start to accept who he is–going out without the ‘mousse’ and the contact lenses, looking like the undead person he is. His family hates this, and sees it as such a radical move that he may need to be sent back to a treatment facility to be re-brainwashed.
The second rising can only happen with the help of the first risen. The actual first person that came up from the ground. Simon thinks this is Kieren. But it’s not.
Amy, once she gets over the fact that Simon isn’t straight, turns her attention back to Philip. She’s going through some stuff–she has tremors sometimes, and occasionally forgets that she’s dead and tries to eat something. Things are changing for her and she’s not sure if that means she’ll turn back into a ‘rabid’ or what. Scary stuff. The good news is that as soon as she reaches out to Philip, he immediately stops being incredibly creepy and pathetic, and starts to be a little bit adorable.
In typical Roarton fashion, that doesn’t last long.
It’s a very bleak show, but I actually really enjoy it. The whole zombie thing is such an easy stand-in for so many awful social issues in history and in the modern day. I’m hoping it gets a third season/series, because I still want to see what happens next. It did not end on a resolution, but a cliffhanger. I don’t mind a cliffhanger when the show has definitely been renewed, but I get pretty annoyed when I watch a cliffhanger and then have to accept the fact that I’ll never get to see what happens next. There should be some sort of post-season special. Whenever a show is cancelled after a cliffhanger, they should shoot one more episode to wrap it up. If you are reading this and you work in TV, make this shit happen.