Monday, May 5, 2014

In The Flesh: Series 2, Episode 1 - TVReview

Article author: Alwyn Ash

"The living can be just as dangerous, son. You mark my words."

Dominic Mitchell's zombie drama "In The Flesh" returns for a second season and, just like its first outing, delivers right on the money, with a shocking opening involving terrorism and the murder of former Roarton resident Ken Burton (Ricky Tomlinson) and his young nephew. Most of the cast return, including Luke Newberry, Harriet Cains, and Emily Bevan. There is also a new face as actress Wunmi Mosaku ("Moses Jones") joins the production.

In Series 1, PDS (Partially Deceased Syndrome) sufferers were reintegrated back into their old communities following treatment, with much suspicion and tension firmly present. Family, friends and neighbours watched for signs of danger, some unable to accept that anyone who had died and been resurrected during The Rising, in 2009, were capable of reintegration. There was much hostility, and killings, as two worlds collided. In the end, old friendships were reignited. It was to be a difficult struggle, but one with hope.

Series 2: it has been eighteen months since "Rotters" were resettled into their homes, but all is not well. A radical group calling itself the Undead Liberation Army (ULA) is striking fear into the living community, this is brought into tragic focus within the first four minutes with an attack on a tramcar involving members of one cell who have access to an underground drug called Blue Oblivion ("...Still on the streets even after supposed crack down..."). Within moments of taking the drug, the group of four revert back to their primal zombie state, indiscriminately killing other passengers. This scene really touched upon a raw nerve, as the zombie thriller embraces a political and extremist edge.

In The Flesh

Meanwhile, back in the English village of Roarton, Lancashire, Kieren Walker (Newberry) is adjusting to life, working at the local Legion pub. His relationship with Jem (Cains), his nineteen-year-old sister, could not be better. Amy Dyer (portrayed by Bevan) returns as lively as ever, last seen leaving for a commune. However, she is not alone, accompanied by the mysterious Simon (Emmett J. Scanlan). Apparently Amy has been "chosen", and we are yet to learn just what consequences will lead from this further into the new series.

Kieren is restless, and wants to travel; his sister suggests Paris, to follow his passion as an artist. Both are holding back emotions, scars that will take longer to heal emotionally than physically. Jem is the best example of this - no longer a member of the "Human Volunteer Force" (HVF) vigilante group, her attempts at readjusting to every day life is taking its toll, best demonstrated during a visit to the local supermarket with her mother, where haunting memories remain. And, of course, there are parents Sue and Steve (Marie Critchley and Steve Cooper), who are clearly delusional about their son's activities as a Rotter following The Rising. However, this is a family determined to bring itself together, and leave the past behind. Other residents are clearly not so keen to let go...

A potential new threat to the peace of Roarton comes in the form of devious MP Maxine Martin, a member of Victus, a political party whose hatred towards PDS sufferers continues to ignite retaliation by the radical ULA. Martin's personal feelings towards the undead are very clear, leaving a distinct foul taste - we can only imagine what horrors will be unleashed upon her victims, just ask Vicar Oddie (Kenneth Cranham).

With the length of Series 2 doubled from three to six episodes, there will be plenty of time to explore new ground and widen the world in which writer and director work so passionately to create. Dominic Mitchell once more crafts an ingenious tale, skillfully maneuvering both tension and drama from one scene to the next. As with the first season, we take a look at stigma, suspicion and hatred, all manifesting within the hearts and minds of ordinary people. Though Rotters and the Undead Liberation Army are terrifying, it is the actions and prejudices of Human beings that are to be feared most. And, believe me, there are still Rotters at liberty, attacking unsuspecting folk!

As I have said in previous reviews, what makes "In The Flesh" different to other zombie fiction is its appealing look at the reanimated as beings that can be rehabilitated, medicated and released back into society to resume their lives. Agreed, they cannot grow old, and without makeup and contact lenses their appearance is startling; but deep within them lies a soul, capable of feeling. They yearn to be accepted. This style of writing has heart in a way unexplored previously. Mitchell won the Drama Writer category in the 2014 BAFTA TV Craft awards for "In The Flesh" and, with talent like this, you can see why...

Purchase In The Flesh from the Store:
DVD / Blu-ray - Series 1-2

Picture: BBC