In The Flesh sidelines a majority of its storylines to focus on a secondary character in a compelling, but odd mid-series episode.
Let’s bitch it out…I’ll be honest: Freddie (Bryan Parry) didn’t make much of an impact before this episode. On one hand, telling Freddie’s very person story makes episode three unique in that it feels like more like the small scale stories of series one that have been pushed aside in order to focus on the Undead Liberation Army vs Victus stuff. On the other hand, however, because we don’t know Freddie particularly well, it’s hard to get invested in this storyline, especially when it sidelines Kieren (Luke Newberry), Jem (Harriet Cains) and Amy (Emily Bevan).
The story is the kind that In The Flesh does well: an examination of how dying and then returning to try and fit back into your former life is a challenge for PDS sufferers. Freddie had a lot going for him when he was still alive (or at least he thinks he did), so crashing his beloved car, Rising and then being shipped off to a detention centre for a few years has effectively wrecked his life, the life of his former wife Haley (Linzey Cocker) and the life of her new husband, Amir (Sacha Dhawan, currently pulling double duty on 24: Live Another Day). Lurking around the edges are all of the implications of the Give-Back scheme and how the loss of rights is have a detrimental effect on the lives of PDS sufferers (which is, presumably – from what we know of the Victus party and Wunmi Mosaku’s Maxine – the very point of the program).
The drama between Freddie and Haley goes about exactly as you’d expect: turns out the fairytale romance he thinks he lost when he died is a bit of a fantasy and Haley has come to appreciate her more “mature” relationship with Amir. Naturally the personal aspects of the story intersects with the generic aspects of the show and Haley ends up in danger of being bitten by Freddie (her past literally comes back to bite her). It’s a bit of overkill that I almost wish hadn’t occurred – their inability to reconnect was already clear, so the climax simply reinforces what we already knew with some requisite biting/chomping. Having said that, the result – Gary (Kevin Sutton) packing Freddie away with the intention of sending him off to the retention centre – is a brutal reiteration of the realities of this new world. One slip-up is all that the PDS sufferers get…one slip-up and it’s back to a life of imprisonment.
Nestled in between the domestic drama are tidbits of our regular on-going narrative. The biggest development – and the most disheartening – are the kisses that end the episode. After the events of 2×02, it’s not entirely surprising that either Kieren and Simon (Emmett Scanlan) or Jem and Gary kiss, but it does set brother and sister on a dangerous path that portends future conflict. We know that Gary is bad for Jem (their relationship already had a body count after poor Henry’s death) and we know that Gary has a hate-on for Kieren, so putting him together with Jem when she’s already fragile is practically combustible. Not that Kieren’s impromptu lip-smacking Simon is any more advisable; the Roarton leader of the ULA is trying to incite a revolution among the PSD sufferers and he’s scamming on Amy. Plus he clearly has ulterior motives when it comes to finding the first PDS who rose (and I just don’t like/trust him). The combination of Gary and Simon in the mix suggests things will get worse before they get better (as the preview for next week suggests), but my biggest concern is that Jem and Kieren are going to end up on opposite sides before the season is out. Considering all of the shit that’s going down around Roarton, I really don’t want to see the siblings at odds with one another…
- Philip’s (Stephen Thompson) obsession with Amy continues to percolate in the background as he uses his supervisor status to keep Amy around as a
personal assistantsecretary for the day. Needless to say Maxine puts an end to that the minute she sees it.
- Speaking of Maxine: although she doesn’t get as much to do in this episode, we do get confirmation that the new MP is – as predicted – seeking the first person who rose in fear that they’ll be discovered and used to bring about the second Rising. There’s also a hint that she’s guarding a more nefarious agenda as we hear her whispering to someone (or something in her B&B room). I love that this scene is shot through the keyhole in her door so that the audience is implicated in the eavesdropping.
- Kieren (when Jem refuses breakfast): “I had breakfast five years ago – still full”
- Amy (inquiring of Kieren what Simon said about her): “My breasts? My…derriere? Filthy animal.”
- Amy (answering the phone): “Village of the damned, how may I help you?”
Your turn: are you worried that Kieren and Jem will end up at each other’s throats? Did you enjoy the break from the ULA and Victus conflict for a more personalized story? Is Philip’s obsession with Amy cute or creepy? And what is Maxine hiding? Speculate away below.
In The Flesh airs Saturdays at 10pm EST on BBC America