In The Flesh S2 Ep2

It’s pretty clear by now that there’s something different about In the Flesh’s tiny town of Roarton. The powerful on both sides of the simmering living/dead conflict have got their hands all over town, so it’s really no wonder that things are starting to reach a boiling point. Even Kieren, who wants no part of the undead revolution, can only take so much.

All Kieren really wants to do is get away from Roarton and its ever-present remnants of the Human Volunteer Force, an echo of the not-too-distant past that wants nothing more than to take up arms against the undead again. Even Jem, who’s been having nightmares and flashbacks of rabid attacks, is starting to succumb to the fear of the undead again.

Kieren has high hopes that a new life in France will be an improvement.

Amy makes it her mission to make sure Kieren doesn’t leave town. In fact, it’s becoming more and more clear that Kieren is her special mission, and that she was chosen by Simon because of her rare friendship with him. She tries to talk him out of leaving, but his refusal doesn’t make a difference. When he tries to purchase a ticket, he’s told that all PDS must stay in town today for some kind of orientation. Amy’s outraged — just a bit. Whether this convenient turn of events is a coincidence or an indication that Maxine, who is in charge of this mystery PDS meeting, has a common interest with the Undead Liberation Army remains to be seen.

It turns out the orientation is for a “Give Back” program that mandates that all PDS sufferers do menial volunteer work for the community they “once destroyed.” Once the required term is completed, they will be eligible for “re-citizenship.” Which, of course, means that they currently have virtually no rights. It doesn’t take Kieren long to learn that a re-citizenship certificate is required in order to re-validate his now invalid passport. If he ever wants to leave, he has to complete the program.

Jem breaks down

Jem breaks down

Jem, meanwhile, is still struggling to fit in at school, and a lesson on The Rising doesn’t help, though she does get in with a few of the popular girls after reluctantly telling the class about her HVF days. The class is told to bring something from The Rising to class, but before one of her new friends can do her presentation on how Jem killed her risen dad in a supermarket, a rabid is heard stalking the halls — Rob, a PDS student high on Blue Oblivion, the same drug used in the train attack (the PDS kids see it as a prank just to scare people, which shows the level of complacency in Roarton). Jem is put on the spot to use her skills to take him down with a weapon brought in for presentation, and somehow the teacher allows it. Faced with the rabid, she freaks out and tries to escape. Fortunately, he’d only sniffed a tiny amount of the drug and it wore off (note to the undead: Blue Oblivion will get you killed).

Philip's got a secret.

Philip’s got a secret.

Though she’s satisfied that Kieren can’t leave, Amy isn’t doing so well. The ULA doesn’t use the pharmaceutical  drugs for PDS, prefering to make their own, and she’s having side effects so bad she goes to a real doctor, who prescribes her the proper drugs. But has the damage been done? Are the Redeemed building up an immunity to the drugs? And while I’m on the subject of Amy, Philip’s secret obsession with her is more than a little creepy and fetshistic.

Kieren, grudgingly participating in the Give Back program, is forced to help build a giant fence around the town to keep out rabids.  Simon sort of puts himself in charge, even without an ugly orange vest or even an assignment, it seems. The Give Back program isn’t going to hurt recruitment, that’s for sure. Kieren is optimistic — in six months, he’ll have his re-citizenship. Simon tells him there are no plans for re-citizenship. It’s all a scam, something a bit of googling confirms.

Dejected, Kieren goes out to a raging ULA party, where all of the other undead are high on sheep brains (not sure how animal brain isn’t food that would make them sick as an alternative to cannibalizing humans, like other meats, but it’s an interesting new detail). When Amy goes out to find firewood, Simon (who for the record is supposed to be Amy’s fiance) totally comes on to Kieren. Meanwhile, Jem is reacquainting herself with her gun and chases what she thinks it’s a rabid into the woods and killing Henry, a classmate with managed PDS.

The big question from me after this ep is the same as the last: who is Maxine, really? Her plans and programs benefit the ULA a little too perfectly. Does any other town even have a Give Back program? Are PDS sufferers in other towns not citizens? Why does everything come back to Kieren?

(Bonus points for this episode for a Being Human reference where undead teenagers scoff at the thought of werewolves and vampires running around in Wales.)