In the Flesh S2 Ep5

In the Flesh continues to show that it is the best show currently on television, never afraid to make viewers question its characters or allow characters to make difficult decisions.

After a very relationship and romance-focused episode last week, In the Flesh 2.5 grows ever darker (with a small ray of light), as the show eases toward the big finale of the 6 episode season (which, hopefully, will lead to a third season. Be sure to watch on BBC America in the US even if you manage to stream it early to show the BBC you are watching). This episode is about family and loss, and it puts the focus on fathers, a major theme in season 1 that we haven’t seen much of in season 2. At long last, we also get a closer look at the facility that more or less created PDS as we know it.

All in all, this week will be remembered as Simon’s big episode, his origin story, the one where he grew (mostly through flashback) into a complex, developed character, and not just the creepy cult terrorist-slash-love interest. Well, he’s still a creepy cult terrorist, maybe even creepier by the end, but now we know what made him that way.

Simon, as it turns out, was the first of the captured rabids to respond to medication. He not only ceased trying to kill and eat people relentlessly, he became lucid, looking around and asking where he was. The doctors were elated at their progress and, at first, surprisingly ethical — they asked Simon’s permission to continue testing on him, and he agreed, believing it would make him fully human and alive again and help the others. The tests were disturbing (but not painful, as the undead lack the ability to feel such sensations), and at one point while strapped to a table alone in the dark, he heard the voice of what we can assume was the Undead Prophet. Ultimately, the testing didn’t yield the total cure they were hoping for, and the term Partially Deceased Syndrome was born, a clinical name for a mysterious and probably (though the doctors don’t want to admit it) supernatural condition. Simon was given makeup and contacts and the first PDS visit with family, despite the fact that Simon said he didn’t want to be seen until he was cured. During his visit with his father, Simon learned that he had killed his mother in his rabid state and had to be restrained and removed as he was overcome with grief.

Kieren, accused.

Kieren, accused.

Still, it was decided that he should return to live with his father, among a first wave of returnees. His father accepted him at first; they share a quiet dinner and Simon retires to his old bedroom. It’s all too much for his dad. Simon’s return seems to trigger violent flashbacks of his wife’s murder, and he loses it, forcing Simon out of bed and out of the home for good. It’s sad — Simon was grieving, too, he had to live with the guilt of what he’d done in his rabid state, and now he had lost his father on top of everything. After all he had been through, it was no wonder he found space in the accepting and of the ULA.

All of these flashbacks occur after Simon is told by the Undead Prophet, via a video message, that he must kill the First Risen, believed to be Kieren. He has a PTSD episode that brings the memories flooding back. When it’s over, he pulls out a knife, ready to do the Prophet’s bidding. So much for cuddly boyfriend Simon — at least for now.

Meanwhile, Kieren is having his own family troubles. Ever since he made that speech about killing people in his rabid state at the dinner table, Steve has had a hard time seeing Kieren in the same way. Both Sue and Steve had been deep in denial — they’d only just come to terms with his suicide, and preferred to believe that he had be captured and treated before he’d had a chance to kill (Jem had witnessed Kieren kill her best friend Lisa, so she knew otherwise, but had spared her parents from knowing what she’d seen). Now that they knew, and with word of Freddie going rabid after missing a single dose, Steve is becoming scared. When Kieren is told he must sign a confession starting he and Simon released the rabids at the clinic, Steve encourages him to do it, even though Kieren swears he had nothing to do with it (and he’s telling the truth — a ULA member named Zoe did it to impress Simon). And now that Kieren, under the influence of Simon, is walking around without makeup and contacts, the tension is even worse. Jem understandably can’t look at him, and all Steve wants is for him to return to the facility for more treatment. He’s just now facing the reality that his son did, in fact kill. Rabid or not, that’s a traumatic thing to take in. It would be nice if PDS sufferers could have gone home and everything could be happy, but that hasn’t been the case for any of them. And it’s not only because the living families are hateful bigots.  It’s because no one, not even the doctors and scientists, understand it. Freddie really did go rabid after missing one dose. As much as I love Kieren, I don’t think Steve is wrong for being scared.

A round of crazy golf.

A round of crazy golf.

As for Amy, a side arc involves her worsening condition. With pamphlets circulating about the symptoms of a PDS sufferer who is going rabid, she knows what’s happening to her and says her goodbyes, first to Kieren, who she makes sure knows he hurt her by dating Simon behind her back before taking him back as her BDFF, then Philip, who is still awkward around her even after their second, night no-shame night together. They play putt-putt and kiss. It’s all very sweet, until you realize she is building up to get final goodbye — she invites him to join her in a small tent outside and asks him to kill her before she goes rabid. After some begging, he agrees to drive a screwdriver into her brain, and he’s really going to do it, when rain from the leaky roof hits Amy’s face. And she feels it. She begins to cry joyful tears as the soundtrack soars, and Philip puts down the screwdriver in relief. Has the medicine over time done the job and finally turned her back to a living person? Was it the Undead Prophet’s “homemade” medicine? Who is the Undead Prophet, and will Simon complete his mission? Does the First Risen really matter? Is the Second Rising just superstition? Who IS Maxine? Only one episode left!