In the third episode of the second series of In the Flesh, Kieren, Jem, and Freddie are honest. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch In the Flesh.
Trigger Warning: Please see the first review for all continuing warnings.
Y’all, this is simply one of the best things I’ve ever watched for this site. Six episodes into In the Flesh and I’m blown away. IT’S SO CONSISTENT AND EVERYTHING HURTS.
I think it’s actually quite rewarding that the show spends so much of this episode developing the character of Freddie, who previously only had a line or two in a handful of episodes. On the one hand, it further develops this world by showing us the aftermath of the Rising. In this case, Haley moved on from Freddie because Freddie had died. So what happens when your husband comes back and you’re in a relationship with someone else?
It’s a complicated emotional nightmare, and this episode is RELENTLESSLY uncomfortable as we see how Amir, Haley, and Freddie navigate something that literally no one is prepared for. That’s an ongoing motif of the show, since we get to see how this world adapts to shit it had never previously had to deal with. While there’s plenty in In the Flesh that examines the political ramifications of the Rising, I really liked that Freddie’s story is largely a personal one. That being said, it’s important to note that part of the reason Freddie feels stuck is because the Give Back scheme has prevented him from growing away from Haley. He depends on her because he’s just barely entering the job force again, and now he has to provide free labor every single day to even be allowed to live in Roarton. It’s humiliating and severely restrictive, and Freddie, by law, has no means to climb out of the social debt he’s in. (My god, the parallels to immigrant labor and poverty are unreal. THIS SHOW WHAT THE HELL.)
However, this is not the sole reason he’s stuck, and I’d even go so far to say it’s not the foundation of this conflict. He simply cannot move on from Haley, and he uses her kindness and generosity to stay close to her. It’s easier for him to entertain the notion that he can turn her away from Amir with promises of change and glimpses from their wild past. It’s such a perfect demonstration of the fact that Freddie is unable to accept the fact that people grow and that they change, since he is so determined to remain in the past. It’s sad to watch because it’s not like it’s fair for anyone involved that things have happened as they did. It’s not fair to Freddie that Haley fell in love with someone else, and it’s not fair to Amir that he should have to compete with Freddie, and it’s not fair for Haley to be suddenly torn between two men like this.
There are few (if any!) easy answers on this show, and Freddie’s apparent end here is just sad. I think he might have been able to accept Haley leaving him if he’d not forgotten his medicine. What’s so frightening about the conclusion of this story is that to Gary, Freddie is simply another statistic. He has no idea of the journey that Freddie’s been on, and he doesn’t care. That’s the whole point. Again, we’ve got a dichotomy here, and Gary refuses to see anything other than the undead and the living. There’s no gray areas for him, and because of that, Freddie is sent off to a treatment center, and we might not ever see him again.
Gary’s having a much bigger impact on the plot than he did before, and I worry about what that means for Jem. I was so impressed with her honest to Maxine because she was reaching out for help and so she could be accountable. It was such a mature thing to do, and if Maxine and Gary hadn’t pushed Jem in the direction of radical anti-undead, I think she might have begun some sort of healing process. But after Gary finds out what’s going on with Jem, he tells her he’ll cover up the murder she committed and she needs to go into denial about the whole thing and THIS IS LITERALLY THE WORST THING FOR HER TO DO. But I don’t think Gary has Jem’s best interests in mind here, and given that final scene, he’s far more interested in manipulating someone to his side than in caring for Jem. At the same time, he so wholly believes in the evilness of the undead that he might not even be totally aware of what he’s doing. (I personally only believe that to a point, though. Once he used Henry’s bracelet as a gift to Jem, he completely lost me. WOW, THAT’S SO TERRIFYING.)
NO. NO. Phillip is so bogus, and again, I’d feel more sad about him if he wasn’t actively participating in the heinous oppression of an entire group of people. You know what he’s like? Those assholes who love Mexican food but want the borders closed and children deported for safety. He’s like those jerks who say they’re your good friend and it’s not personal, but he doesn’t “support” gay marriage. He listens to hip-hop and rap and R&B, and then he drops the n-word and says Trayvon Martin deserved it. He wants to lock up the undead because it’ll further his career and give him more power, but then he keeps Amy around because he’s a creep.
Say no to Phillip, 2014.
SAY YES TO KIEREN IN 2014
My god, this is such a great exploration of the concept of internalized oppression. Even though Kieren’s well aware of the bigoted nature of the society he lives in, he constantly tries to rationalize microaggressions and outright prejudice with these tiny little lies, and up to this episode, it probably has worked for him. It’s allowed him to compartmentalize what’s been happening to him. It’s a coping mechanism. He just wants to complete his six months and get reviewed and leave Roarton. But as Simon points out while working together, Kieren still has a lot of faith in a system that’s proven to be broken. Yes, Kieren’s doctor is nice, but NICENESS DOES NOT MEAN SOMEONE IS A GOOD PERSON. Niceness does not negate an oppressive framework, and as nice as that doctor is, he’s still part of the machinery that actively represses the undead. And until he leaves that system and refuses to be a part of it can that man ever truly support the undead.
It’s a complicated, messy thing, but until the end of this episode, Kieren doesn’t see it. He just wants to avoid making a scene or participating in any conflict. Which makes sense! He’s a shy kid, and conflict isn’t his thing. But how much can he deny what he observes? After he sees the kind of power that Gary can wield on the undead, it’s clear that he really is powerless in relation to the living, and it terrifies him. And it’s something that Kieren realizes all on his own; it’s not like Simon manipulated Kieren into this epiphany. That happened genuinely all on his own.
I was pleased to see Kieren call out Simon for possibly leading Amy on. Simon assures Kieren that Amy is aware of what’s going on, but I’m personally not all that sure of him. Amy seems completely in love with Simon, and I don’t think he’s ever truly communicated how he feels about her. (Oh god, In the Flesh, please don’t invoke the trope that bisexual people are greedy and cheating, PLEASE DON’T.) I do suspect that she’s aware that Simon isn’t actually into her romantically, since we’ve seen that Amy is operating under a bit of delusion herself. Is she overcompensating because of whatever’s happening to her body? I don’t understand that part, by the way. Is it a drug resistance or something else? Regardless, I adore Amy A GREAT DEAL and I don’t want her to get hurt.
Hahaha, who am I kidding, everyone gets hurt on this show.
The video for this episode can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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