In the sixth and final episode of the second series of In the Flesh, IT’S A CRIME THAT THERE IS NOT MORE OF THIS SHOW TO WATCH. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch In the Flesh.
Trigger Warnings: In addition to all the warnings in the first review, there is a warning for nonconsensual drugging for this episode.
This show, y’all. It’s seriously heartbreaking in and of itself that there isn’t another episode for me to watch. YET. I really hope the BBC continues to allow this show to grace our lives because how the hell is it real.
Let it be known that Simon turned against the very group and religion that had kept him alive and loved all because he loved Kieren more. He chose Kieren over the idea of worldwide redemption of the undead. He chose Kieren over literally everyone else, and he chose Kieren by LITERALLY TAKING A BULLET IN THE BACK.
Greatest love story or greatest love story?
Jesus christ, WHAT A TURN OF EVENTS. Here’s a character who does unmistakably despicable things all so she can get her young brother back and it doesn’t matter that I figured this out because I WASN’T READY FOR WHAT SHE’D DO. I totally fell for the misdirect that the B&B owner had identified Kieren as the First Risen, and that didn’t matter either because THIS IS THE CRUELEST THING IMAGINABLE. I do appreciate that Maxine is such a complicated character, and it helps allay my concerns about how one-note she seemed in the first episode of this series. Like I said before, it’s a complicated issue for me because I want layered characters like this. Maxine has a heartbreaking backstory, and despite that I hate what she did to this town for her own benefit, Wunmi Mosaku’s performance as Maxine in the finale was electrifying. I felt sorry for her. (Kind of.) I ached for the unfairness of it all, that all these people got their loved ones back, but Maxine did not. (And then I thought about the terrible things Maxine did to get her brother back, and I don’t ache all that much.) She’s just… unlike pretty much any character I can think of. At the very least, that makes me thankful for her use in this series. She’s original. She’s unpredictable, and she surprised me to the very end.
It was clear that Maxine thought she could rely on the bigotry she’d helped inspire when she needed the Second Rising to happen, but she severely misjudged how far Roarton was willing to go. AND WHEN THE PEOPLE OF ROARTON THINK YOU ARE TOO RADICAL, YOU PROBABLY ARE. She didn’t realize that Vicar Oddie had already tried this line of reasoning before, and it didn’t work. Most people don’t want to deal with another Rising because there’s no evidence that it would be a positive thing. The first one has been hell on Earth; why would they start another one willingly?
But the concept of the Second Rising is really strange as an audience member. I imagine that if you were within this world, something as fucked up and seemingly supernatural as the dead rising from their graves could make anything possible. There’s certainly a lot of commentary on religious fervor within In the Flesh, but I think any society would turn to their gods to help explain something as fantastical as this. It makes sense that certain people would take their faith into a more fundamentalist, conservative direction to feel safe, and it makes sense that another contingent would head in the exact opposite direction. On top of that, there are real-life parallels to this sort of conflict (SO MANY OF THEM) that help put this sort of story into a personal context for the audience. To me, I view Maxine’s role in this as both a free agent and a disciple. Her comments at the Village Fete imply that she was in-the-know of the operations of the Undead Liberation Army; she knew that Simon was meant to kill the First Risen, though she mistakenly thought Amy was the First Risen. (AHKLJHASDFJADSF I AM STILL FURIOUS.) At the same time, I don’t think she was acting in accordance with the ULA. She found a way to exploit the prejudicial nature of Roarton, and she did it, ruthlessly so, all in the hopes of identifying the First Risen.
She failed, and everything is so fucked up.
If the last episode was about Kieren losing his support system, then this episode hints at the ramifications of that. Kieren’s parents lock him in his room; Jem won’t look at her brother; and everyone tries to keep themselves busy so that they have to deal with the implications of their actions. It’s the fucking worst, and I speak from experience. At least here in America, we’re taught from a very young age that family is everything. The family you’re born into is who you must respect and love and cherish, and while there are problems with this sort of unrealistic expectation, it’s not a terrible thing. When you see families that seem to get along and love one another and support each other, it supports the notion that families are a primary support system. So when your own family increasingly turns your back on you, you can’t help but feel like the world is wrong. In the first series, I think Kieren would have blamed himself for this kind of treatment, but after all that’s happened to him this series, he’s done blaming himself. This is everyone else’s fault. It’s this society’s oppressive structures that’s screwing him over, and he is not flawed as he is.
It’s Gary’s delusional bigotry that gets him in trouble. It’s Gary who drugged him with Blue Oblivion and then set him up so that Jem would be forced to kill her own brother. (GARY IS THE FUCKING WORST, Y’ALL, THERE IS NO DOUBT IN MY MIND THAT HE IS AWFUL, HOW COULD YOU DO THAT TO YOUR GIRLFRIEND WHEN YOU KNOW SHE’S DEALING WITH TRAUMA AND GUILT RELATING TO HER PAST IN THE RISING, I HATE YOU SO MUCH GARY.) It’s the village council who threatened him with non-compliance because they were uninterested in the truth. None of this is Kieren’s fault.
So I love that at the end of this episode, Kieren refuses to let the awful experiences in Roarton force him away. There’s a power in that narrative, though I don’t think In the Flesh is saying its cowardly to run away from shit like this. In Kieren’s case, he wants the right to live where he is currently without having to worry about being harassed or assaulted or threatened with a form of deportation. He likes Roarton, and he wants to stay here, and that’s his right as a person. Is it going to be a challenge to remain behind? Probably, though I’m curious how much Roarton will change. It’s not going to be an immediate thing, but I wonder if the citizens will realize how much they were tricked into supporting terrible policies for Maxine’s benefit. Will that force them to examine their society as a whole?
At least Simon is staying behind with Kieren. IT’S SO GREAT.
Amy / Phillip
The tragic irony to Amy’s story will hurt me FOR ALL TIME. (Which is why we need a series three, BBC. You can’t allow this show to give me a cliffhanger like that and not resolve it.) Just as her body begins to heal and turn her back into a living human, just as she’s found someone who loves her and her body for what they are, just as hope appears on the horizon, Maxine Martin stabs her to death in order to start the Second Rising. I’m still so surprised by how both Amy and Phillip were developed this season, and it’s a testament to the writing that we can now sympathize with someone like Phillip. BUT AMY. AMY. IT’S JUST THE MOST UNFAIR THING EVER. Yes, there’s a huge chance that whatever the Halperin & Weston people know means that she can be resurrected. I think? But even then, doesn’t that mean her worst fear will come true? She didn’t want to go back to Norfolk and become a human experiment again, and I worry that that’s what this is leading to.
I just… oh god, I constantly said I’d be destroyed if Amy was hurt and I WASN’T LYING. It’s the absolute saddest thing in this finale, but I have the tiniest shred of hope that she’s not gone. PLEASE. MORE. PLEASE.
Again, thank y’all for getting me to watch this, particularly Lore. This was seriously one of the best things I have ever watched for Mark Watches. EASILY. I just want so much more??? And I can’t deal with these characters??? H E L P.
A note about the schedule: I wrote this review on November 19th, long before it went up. I had to write an extra week in advance to accommodate for Thanksgiving travel last week, and I realized that I had scheduled The Sarah Connor Chronicles to start on December 4th. Problem: by writing in advance, that means I’d be watching the show BEFORE the liveblogs that just took place. WHOOPS. So, no double features for two days, and The Sarah Connor Chronicles starts on Monday. We’ll have seven reviews next week to make up for the two lost days so that my entire schedule isn’t upset. I HOPE THAT MAKES SENSE.
The video for this episode can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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