In the fifth episode of the second series of In the Flesh, everything is so messed up. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch In the Flesh.
Trigger Warnings: Please see the first review of this show for all continuing warnings.
Blah blah blah, I’m a broken record, this show is too much, help.
SO WHAT DOES THIS MEAN. WHAT DOES THIS MEAN? I spent the entirety of this episode preparing me for what I thought was the inevitable: Amy would die permanently because her body had become resistant to the neurotripteline. Every single thing we saw supported this. (OH GOD, NO IT DIDN’T. OH MY GOD.) It was such an agonizing journey because this young woman got a second chance at life, and she was so full of it, and she’d have to go through the tragedy of death AGAIN. AGAIN. On top of that, she has to deal with the fact that Kieren and Simon are off having their own adventure. At the very least, the writers explore her newfound respect for and relationship with Phillip. What’s so amazing to me is that I didn’t question this pairing once I got it. If you’d told me back at the start of this show that Amy and Phillip would begin to fall for one another, I would have laughed. It wasn’t possible! As Phillip’s bigotry and hypocrisy got worse, it seemed even less possible.
And yet? Amy trusts him enough that she asks him to do the awful deed in the end. She couldn’t even ask Kieren that, and she clearly adores him. But he’s got his own shit that he’s dealing with, and Amy’s behavior this episode is about accepting that her end is near. So she closes herself off to everyone but Phillip. She chooses to spend a “last” day with him, to play mini golf with him, and to hint at some of the distress she’s going through. That means something! That’s a big deal for someone like Amy. Still, it’s heartbreaking. (As is everything else, LORD.) I just want the best for her, so I’m hoping that my interpretation of the tent scene is correct. There’s no other explanation I have for her sensation coming back than the possibility that’s she’s coming back to actual life. SHE’S HEALING.
Please don’t let this end terribly, I’LL BE DESTROYED.
In the ongoing heartbreak that is this show, Kieren finally loses his family. While his parents and Jem haven’t always been a perfect support system for him, they at least tried. They’ve risked a lot to protect him and to try to make him happy. That doesn’t mean they always succeed at that, but at the end of the day, Kieren felt like he could depend on them to defend him and love him despite how challenging it was. Until the events in this episode, I think he had every reason to believe that. That’s not to ignore his anger towards his father because of the lunch scene, but it’s in this specific episode that the shit really hits the fan. When Kieren’s charged with the release of the undead at the hospital, he’s shocked to see his father stand by while he’s dragged out of the house. And it only gets worse! Kieren’s father doesn’t seem interested in protecting his son, and he’s actually afraid of him. To the audience, that’s not exactly surprising because it was hinted at a few episodes ago. Still, it’s the worst possible moment for Kieren to feel like his family has abandoned him, especially since they’re the only true constant in his life.
Simultaneous to the loss of his support system is the threat of his loss of freedom, SO YEAH, THE TIMING IS TERRIBLE. That council board is horrifying, y’all. There’s no pretense of law present at all. It’s a witch hunt, and they don’t care. They don’t even present any evidence aside from the fact that someone claimed to have seen Kieren and Simon leaving the hospital. It’s a Kafka-esque sequence, and it’s meant to convey the hopelessness of this situation. As Kieren becomes more aware of his sense of self and the world around him, he realizes just how powerless he is within the framework of this society. What’s a better demonstration of that than a forced confession that everyone wants him to sign because it’s easier for them? Seriously, that’s what is happening here. It’s so much easier for the council to blame whomever is most convenient for them. It’s easier for them to defer to Maxine’s power. It’s easier for them to do zero work at all and rely on their stereotypes and bigotry. It’s easier for them to view Kieren’s outburst at being compelled to make a confession as something that proves that he’s a monster. And it’s easier for Kieren’s parents to have faith in the system than to cope with their son’s complicated situation.
IT’S SO SAD. And like Amy, this is the exact time he needs the most support, and he doesn’t have it.
I never once asked for Simon’s backstory, and now I have it, and I can’t see how this show would work without it. I’m so thankful that this show gives us in-depth studies of characters in addition to Simon. But in this case, Simon’s flashbacks serve both his character and the story as a whole. There’s something poetic about Kieren being the First Risen while Simon was the… well, he doesn’t have some prophetic name for being the first of Dr. Weston and Dr. Halperin’s subjects to respond to neurotripteline. He’ll get a fancy name later! But through this, we get a glimpse at the post-Rising world that led us to the point we’re out now.
It’s fucked up. It’s so fucked up.
It was odd seeing Simon in this context. He’s got none of the charisma or certainty, and he has none of the fight in him. As he progresses further and further in Weston and Halperin’s experiments, it becomes clear just how this was doomed from the start. It’s not that the studies these men did were pointless or that they didn’t find a way to bring the undead back to some semblance of life. But there’s so much lifeless bureaucracy that came out of this experience. There’s the reveal that the undead were forced into confrontations with their family before they were ready to do so. THEN THERE’S SIMON REFUSING HIS CONSENT ANYMORE AND THE DOCTORS JUST KEEP GOING AND THIS IS SO AWFUL AND SIMON DESERVES TO BE PULLED OUT OF THIS AND PERPETUALLY HUGGED.
I mentioned this part before, though, and now it’s more obvious than ever: this new world was not built to deal with the multitude of issues surrounding the undead. Repeatedly, it became clear to me that the undead were hoist back into the world without any preparation. They were given make-up, contacts, and instructions for their neurotripteline doses. No one told them how to see their family and friends again. No one provided them with MUCH-NEEDED THERAPY SESSIONS. No one told them how to deal with bigotry. NO ONE GAVE THEM ANYTHING TO NAVIGATE THIS FRIGHTENING NEW WORLD. The same goes for the families of the undead, and goddamn it, THAT WAS SHOWN TO ME IN THE FIRST EPISODE AND I DIDN’T EVEN REALIZE HOW IMPORTANT THIS ONE. While Phillip’s mom did the best she could with this situation, I imagine she had some preparation. She provided some of that to Kieren’s parents, as well as Rick’s. But Simon was sent home with his father and his father was given nothing to cope with the return of his son.
They weren’t ready. None of them were ready, and look at the fucking mess that’s been made.
The only people who supported Simon in his most desperate hour were the Undead Liberation Army, and now they’re asking him to kill Kieren to start the Second Rising, and everything is so fucked up, and he can’t. HE CAN’T DO THIS. Please, Simon, DON’T. DON’T.
I’m more sure than ever that I’m right about her. She has wanted to find the First Risen this whole time, and she probably is going to try and kill Kieren herself, and I don’t want any of this to happen, and I can’t believe this show is real.
The video for this episode can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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