In the Flesh S2 Ep4

In the Flesh has always been more about interpersonal relationships than zombie uprisings, dystopia, and violence. I confess, coming into Season 2, I was a little worried that the Undead Prophet storyline, and more of a focus on political extremism, both from with the ULA the Victus party, would lessen the impact of the characters and their relationships.

I needn’t have worried. In the Flesh is still entirely character driven, and, if anything, has become even more about relationships. Many of the newer relationships in Season 2 are romantic, something I didn’t necessarily expect (by the end of 2.4, Kieren, Jem, and Amy are all paired up, with Simon, Gary, and Philip, respectively), but the relationships are suitably complex. And it’s not just those romantic relationships, it’s those relationships’ effect on the other central relationships. And In the Flesh does relationships really well — this is the show that has the gutwrenching love story between Kieren and Rick, and Sue and Steve Walker’s story, which is, in my opinion, one of the most moving and enduring love stories in the entire genre .

The Shippers may bristle at this, but none of the new romances are particularly romantic (which I will say is a good thing — nothing more boring in my book than flawless fairytale romance). And all are fueled by deep, oppressive loneliness.

The townsfolk react to news of a local undead brothel

The townsfolk react to news of a local undead brothel

Kieren — who is becoming less and less stable — is blown off by Simon the day after their sudden kiss. He finds him proselytizing to lost PDS sufferers, and makes out with him pretty much right in front of Amy, who deserves much better than the treatment she’s getting from either of them. Simon had ulterior motives – I don’t believe that he truly stepped away from his ULA  mission for a second. After putting it together that Kieren was (probably) the First Risen during a brilliant dinner table scene at the Walkers, where Kieren responds to Gary’s stories of killing rabids with his own story of rising and killing people, Simon wastes no time in reporting Kieren to The Undead Prophet. He describes him as “beautiful,” as if he’s the jewel-encrusted Holy Grail.

Jem and Gary are clinging to each other, their traumatic experience in the HVF binding them as they serve on a new, less apocalyptic, protection force. Gary still doesn’t see rabids as people, and maybe deep down, despite the love for her brother, Jem doesn’t either. Her PTSD affects her almost constantly. Gary is one who understands what she’s seen. And, as much as she’s come to see PDS as human beings (she wouldn’t be so troubled by killing Henry if she didn’t), she understands Gary’s point of view. Is he what she needs? In some ways, yes. Jem was very isolated with her trauma before Gary pursued her. The concern, of course, is that she’ll turn against all of the undead again under his influence. Then again, maybe Gary will become more tolerant. As chauvinistic as Gary maybe should be, he clearly sees her as an equal and respects her.

Amy lets her guard down

Amy lets her guard down

Then there’s Amy, who witnesses Kieren kissing Simon in the street and winds up in the arms of Philip, who’s had a romantic obsession with her for a while now, illustrated by his hiring of an undead prostitute to play her. Not exactly healthy, but Philip’s not a bad guy — his big redemption moment comes when he makes a big speech castigating the townsfolk for protesting the undead brothel, going so far as to stand with the living men seized in the raid. The speech breaks down the notion that there are good guys and bad guys in Roarton, something the show itself does a good job of. In any event, it impressed Amy, who feigns drunkenness and approaches him. Rebound plus obsession — we’ll see how it goes. I’m not one who sees obsession as tantamount to love, but I do think she’s better off with Philip than with Simon, even as one of his followers.

All of these relationships tie in to the Rising in one way or another, and all are connected to, or of interest to, Maxine. Maxine was at her most cold and ruthless in 2.4, and at her most vulnerable and sympathetic. It appears she’s doing this for a loved one and, maybe, the possibility of a second rising. Theories abound about Maxine’s true role in the story — is she out for revenge? Is she trying to take down the ULA? Is she trying to take down Victus? Is she undead herself? Is she the Undead Prophet? Only two episodes left to tackle the fans’ burning questions!