The Second Rising is upon us as BBC America’s In The Flesh second series draws to a close.
Let’s bitch it out…
With this final episode, the majority of the storylines come to a (relatively) satisfying conclusion. I put the relatively in brackets because there’s very little that’s unexpected in this episode, which is either disappointing or the mark of a very well-structured and executed narrative. I came down somewhere in the middle: looking back over the second supersized series, I found several storylines satisfying, while others left me cold.
I’ll admit that around the half-way point I lost interest in the idea of the Second Rising, so the continuing adventures (and parallels) between Maxine Martin (Wunmi Mosaku) and Simon (Emmett Scanlan) didn’t really do much for me. It seemed pretty obvious that Simon would end up rescuing Kieren (Luke Newberry) – not kill him – so the dramatic confrontation in the graveyard ended up feeling fairly anti-climatic. Ditto Maxine’s murder of Amy (Emily Bevan). The result of the grief-crazed antagonist led to one of the few legitimately emotional moments of the series as everyone gathered to say goodbye to Amy, but the murder itself felt extremely telegraphed. Maxine has been out for blood for the majority of the season (hell – she basically murdered someone in her first episode) and we know that she’s been keeping an eye on PDS sufferers in order to identify the First Risen so her descent into madness had a ring of inevitability to it. Plus anytime you see characters acting happy on a moody genre show, you know that someone’s going to get a knife to the chest.
While the circumstances that lead to Amy’s (second) death are hardly surprising, it doesn’t make her funeral and wake (featuring “morgeous” bright coloured mourners and a flowered coffin, naturally) any less emotional. While I was initially pissed that creator Dominic Mitchell would kill his most memorable character, it’s clear that his intent is to wound us. I can’t think of a single character whose death would affect us more, and I include Kieren in that statement (let’s be honest: we love him, but he is a bit of a sad sack. Plus his judgement is frequently iffy). It’s particularly upsetting witnessing Philip’s (Stephen Thompson) reaction, especially after the events of the last few episodes when he and Amy appeared well and truly on their way to happiness.
Of course, there is no way that Amy’s death is the end of the road for her. Just like the first series, we once again end on a dangling plot thread. Whereas the Blue Oblivion / ULA angle was the mystery in the first series, here we have the presence of two apparent government agents who come to collect Amy, dead or alive. The two remind me of Twin Peaks characters, what with their introduction over breakfast in a diner, the odd-banter and the subtle threats they carry with them into Roarton. Their presence is a clear bait-and-switch: just as we previously believed that Maxine was after Kieren, so too do we believe that these collectors are brought in to bring Kieren back to Norfolk. Instead their interest in Amy and her changing condition (completed by the time Maxine stabs her) leads them to dig up everyone’s favourite BDFF at the episode’s conclusion.
And so series two ends on a cliffhanger as we’re left to wonder whether Amy can return. And if she can, will Kieren and Simon be able to find and rescue her? Here’s hoping the BBC makes the wise decision to renew the series so that we can find out.
- It feels as though we’re meant to consider Jem (Harriet Cains) and Steve (Steve Cooper) rehabilitated by the way they treat Kieren after Gary (Kevin Sutton) turns him rabid with Blue Oblivion. Considering how terrible they’ve acted this series, I felt nothing but disdain for them both. I think they both got off rather easy.
- The truth about Jem’s murder of Henry Longsdale finally comes out, but there’s surprisingly little closure. Kieren gives his unbalanced sister a hug and reassures her that they’ll get her help, but we don’t know whether Henry’s poor desperate mother ever learns the truth. It’s a strange oversight unless the ramifications of this are being left for a potential series three.
- Did anyone else groan when Kieren and his parents persuade Simon to stay in Roarton? I appreciate that Kieren has grown enough emotionally over the six episodes to recognize that he needs to stop running and this pays off the arc he began at the start of the series when he attempted to flee town, but why does Simon have to stick around? I appreciate that Simon is the love-interest but I find the character (and Scanlan’s acting) both bland and unexciting.
- As much as the outcome of the graveyard climax doesn’t produce many surprises, the manner in which it is edited – the clock chiming, followed by a cut to Maxine in the adjacent cemetery as she hears the gunshot without revealing who has been hit – is effective at delaying the truth that Kieren is fine.
- Speaking of our titular hero: the episode ends with Kieren experiencing the same hand shakes that plagued Amy as she became human. Guess we know what’s to come for our protagonist, but how will Kieren and the other characters on the show adjust to the idea of him being human again?
- Amy (when Philip suggests they see a doctor): “They said I was special but I figured that that was something all men say.”
- Philip (reassuring Amy he’ll like her regardless): “I’d like you cold. I’d like you hot. I’d even like you tepid.” Sweet and Seuss-ian!
- Sandra Huggett’s Shirley (seeing her son, Philip, with Amy): “Philip…you done good.” Awwww!
- Kieren (reading Amy’s instructions): “Everyone at the funeral has to wear totally “morgeous” outfits.”
Your turn: what are your thoughts on the finale and the second series on the whole? Were you hoping for more shocks/surprises, or did the well-constructed pay-off satisfy you? Will Kieren become human? Will Amy rise for a second time? Are you disappointed Maxine never became more than a two dimensional cartoon villain? Sound off below.
In The Flesh has finished airing its second series on BBC America. It has not yet been picked up for a third series.