In a hotel, Simon meets Julian – a fellow ULA member (a superior but apparently not the prophet) – to tell him about Kieren, the First Risen. Julian has a message from the Prophet (and Simon is almost childishly eager for it) instructing Simon to sacrifice the First Risen at 12:00 on the 12th of December to cause the second Rising. Julian leaves Simon a package, presumably to help with that, and leaves (Simon doesn’t look very thrilled by this plan). Julian leaves the hotel, staring down the man complaining about PDS like him walking around without their faces covered. Julian does not back down it seems. He’s watched – and apparently supported – by Gary which is rather odd
Simon has a little freak out – and we have a flashback to him in the conversion centre, when he was first made lucid with medication. The implication is he was the first one.
In Roarton, things are getting worse, with an unpleasant woman posting homes with leaflets looking for the signs of “going rabid” in PDS. Even Steve, Kieren’s dad, who initially challenges her, seems to back down. At breakfast Steve is still disturbed, remembering Kieren’s story of the rising and his admission that he killed people (unlike Sue and Jem, Steve maintained the personal fiction that Kieren hadn’t killed anyone when he was rabid). Steve is further shocked to see Kieren come down not wearing his cover up. This could probably have caused family drama when the inept Dean arrives – Kieren is under arrest for the release of the rabid PDS in the doctor’s surgery at the instruction of Maxine. They drag him off and Sue turns her disgusted look on Steve for just standing there.
Maxine goes to a phone box to call someone, to plead with them to let her talk – but they hang up on her. She returns home visibly upset and Sandra, the landlady of the B&B makes her a cup of tea; apparently Maxine tried to call her dad. Sandra tries to sympathise in that incredibly inept “let me compare my completely irrelevant situation to yours” fashion. Maxine also talks about a younger brother who means a lot to her
Phillip wakes up alone – Amy having left. She’s back at her place, taking her medication. She’s also received a leaflet about the problems of missed meds “zombification” and is clearly worried that they fit her symptoms. She continues to have problems while dismissing it with the others – and crying in private
Kieren goes to his “trial” which basically is the council heckling him to confess without any concept that he might be innocent. They threaten to send him back to Norfolk because they have the power to just declare Kieren (and Simon) a threat. Kieren refuses to confess and his anger is enough for the council to deem him a monster.
Back to Simon who is still having his collapse in the hotel and flashing back to a sympathetic doctor – and unsympathetic military forces – trying to help Simon through his medication and stop the war. Simon asks if it’s a cure – and the doctor hopes it will be since Simon is the very first the medication worked on. Simon agrees to help with the experiments but while sympathetic doctor is pretty kind and consoling throughout, his fellows are far from it. And during one such experiment he hears an odd voice in the speaker talking almost biblically about Simon being what was meant to be, alive forever more and that he is being lied to.
He met Julian in Norfolk (where the PDS are chained and led around on leashes like animals) who says they’re not infected or sick and that humanity is only driven to survive; everything else is a lie (he also shows off a knife wound that he says killed him – inflicted by someone trying to survive). While PDS are free “the first and the last, and behold we’re alive forever more”, the same speech Simon heard in the speakers.
Kieren is led back to his home by Dean with a cattleprod – and there’s already a group of people gathered outside his house to wave signs and shout at him. They talk about carrying weapons.
Inside, Steve thinks Kieren should just sign the confession he’s been given so he doesn’t get sent to Norfolk. He also seems to think Kieren did it, led astray by Simon to be part of the “in crowd”. Steven and Sue even worry about whether Kieren will behave if left behind, treating his reasonable anger about being accused by his own family as something to worry about. And Steven again puts the confession and the pen in front of Kieren.
Amy goes to see Phillip who is warring with his toaster again (the radio has a talk show where people discuss PDS sufferers becoming resistant to their meds). She takes Phil on a fun day trip – to play crazy golf. Which is fun and cute – until Phillip realises Amy is trembling and offers his coat and she tells him that she doesn’t feel anything, not heat or cold or touch which moves on to more sweet, romantic and complex things (like playing the game) and she kisses him and he grins and it’s super sweet.
It turns out it was Gary who was in the hotel with Simon – following him at Maxine’s instruction and stealing his notebook and the DVD instructions. She calms down Gary’s eagerness to attack and reviews the DVD. She also has a poster for an upcoming village fete – that the group outside Kieren’s house planned to turn up armed for.
Simon is still in the hotel – and flashing back. Sympathetic doctor John is forced to admit their experiments aren’t bringing the cure and all they can offer are contacts and make up. And Simon has to see his family as part of the program, despite Simon begging not to until he’s cured. When sympathetic John speaks to a minister and his fellow doctor he’s actually against them going back in society, he doesn’t think they’re ready, he thinks the danger of them missing one dose is too much; but the other doctor, Victor pushes for it and even raises the idea of them being a “superior species” and “otherworldly.”
Simon has to meet his father – an incredibly awkward and painful moment that becomes absolutely nightmarish when his father has to leave rather than tell Simon that when he rose he killed his own mother.
At home and in the present, Kieren evades Dean by leaving via the back door to go see Simon (his house painted with anti-PDS graffiti) except he’s not there of course, he’s finally checking out his pack of sharp things and having more flashbacks. The experiments at Norfolk became more gruesome and his wish to stop was completely ignored with more words from the Undead Prophet telling him to stick to his own kind. Kieren instead searches Simon’s home and finds Blue Oblivion – which he pockets when Amy appears. Kieren and Amy talk and there’s more unsaid than said – but it contains a lot of understanding and forgiveness and assertion of friendship.
More flashback, Simon left treatment to go with his father who is clearly trying so very hard to accept his son; him returning to his childhood room and not eating dinner with his dad – and his painful attempts to apologise to his dad for killing his mother and his dad just being unable to talk about it. Especially since he still spends the night in his empty bed crying piteously – which Simon can hear through the wall – after which he kicks Simon out; unable to get past the death of his wife.
Back home, Kieren avoids Dean but his parents realise he went out. Steve accuses Kieren of being under Simon’s spell – and admits to being afraid of him. He even says he doesn’t recognise Kieren – which can’t be seen as anything but an attack on him not wearing makeup. Kieren goes to his room, angrily telling his dad that this is who he is.
Amy spends the night camping in a tent, updating her will and addressing it to Kieren. She has a screw driver and her goodbye to Kieren now looks a lot more sinister. She’s invited Phillip to come see her, not for fun hijinks. She asks him if he ever killed a rabid PDS – not as an accusation, just to know. He says not, which she thinks is unfortunate. She hands him fluffy pink handcuffs to chain her with but she’s far too serious for this to be about fun times. She thinks the medication isn’t working, she’s going to go rabid and she wants to die before that happens. Living forever as a rabid is a fate worse than death – she wants him to “put her down”.
At the B&B, Maxine has circled Kieren’s face on her wall of PDS and is praying for a sign before being dragged down to watch a TV show by Sandra (ah Maxine, you shouldn’t have pretended to be interested to ingratiate yourself). Sandra continues to snipe at her PDS mother-in-law, not pouring her a drink. So the mother-in-law spoils her show for her and Sandra rants about the rising in response – since she witnessed it (Maxine’s definitely interested now) which they never ever talk about because Sandra was with another man that night (horror of a zombie rising? That’s nothing compared to her making out with a guy in a car!). Not quite what Maxine wanted to hear but she is planning something
She takes Sandra to her wall of faces and asks her to point out who the first to rise was. We don’t see who she points to.
Back to Amy and she’s managed to convince Phil, she’s waiting for him to stab her, urging him, he raising the screwdriver – and then she tells him to wait because her face is wet. She can feel the water – she can feel again.
Kieren’s story is much less happy – as Steve and Sue actually think it may be a good idea for Kieren to go to Norfolk; overheard by Kieren, adding that his choice is go back or confess he’s done wrong. They seem to have accepted his guilt as well. Kieren struggles, considers signing the confession (was I the only one screaming “nooooooooooo!”?) before tearing it up.
In her room, Jem is having her own struggle about taking a gun and joining Gary.
We have another flashback to Simon, in the haunting days at the tail end of the war, him reaching out to the Prophet joining Julian and the other ULA, sat almost Last Supper-like at a table. Everyone welcomes him warmly (ah, love bombing the vulnerable!)
Simon returns home complete with his batch of nasty pointy things and he picks one.
This episode focused a lot more on Simon’s past which informed his character a lot more – but also seemed to go to the realm of the unnecessary gruesome more than is In the Flesh’s habit. And… I don’t know but In the Flesh has had moment that would make a stone weep, the last season had me in bits and this felt lacklustre, even Simon’s treatment (and relying a little on the gruesome aspect) just missed the emotional impact that this show has elevated to an art form. The scene with his father and in his childhood home had far more power but felt below the devastation of the first season. I think part if high expectations (or fears) from a show I expect to be fully able to render its audience a gibbering wreck by the end of a season.
It was still very powerful and intense – Simon, Kieren and Amy all had some really strong moments – but I haven’t felt the same gut-punch as last season.
The tensions in Kieren’s family are more dramatic in some ways than the escalating societal persecution and both have mirrors to real world persecutions. Kieren’s family accepts him – so long as they can pretend he is not PDS. So long as he wears his makeup and contacts. So long as he’s willing to keep silent while dinner guests say terrible, brutal things about PDS. So long as he pretends to eat dinner, so long as he’s willing to conform and keep his head down and not be like other PDS.