In The Flesh episode 3 review

Review Louisa Mellor 31 Mar 2013 - 23:00

Impressive BBC Three drama In the Flesh came to an emotional conclusion. Here’s Louisa’s review of the final instalment…

This review contains spoilers.

Midway through the final part of In the Flesh, it was all going so well. Kieren had cathartically confessed to the parents of his last victim, Amy was off to seek her undead fortune (admittedly a departure more bitter than sweet after she’d been used and abused by the supposedly non-monstrous men of Roarton), and the Walker siblings were pals again. You’d have been wet behind the ears to drop your guard at that point though, as there was anguish aplenty in store.

We’d learnt what In the Flesh was capable of in the brutal last ten minutes of episode one, so this conclusion shouldn’t have come as the surprise it did. Killing off the pathologically bigoted Bill Macy (Steve Evets) wasn’t the sting - where else could his character usefully go from here but into a coffin? No, it was the second death of Rick Macy, the only boy in history ever to take off his make-up to come out to his dad, that came as such a blow.

Imagine Romeo and Juliet waking up from that churchyard tomb and realising that they’re alive and have another chance, it’s a gift, the world is full of possibilities… but hang on a minute, who’s that? Mr Montague? And what’s that in your hand? A hunting knife and the misguided belief that you’re on an Abrahamic mission of faith? Poor Rick and Ren. If writer Dominic Mitchell keeps swinging the scythe so unflinchingly around his characters he’ll soon be battling Joss Whedon for heartbroken fans.

What Rick’s death led to of course, was a chance to rewrite the Walker family’s personal history with a happier ending. With Rick dead, Kieren found himself in the same spot as before - literally in terms of the cave location. “It’s becoming just like it was before and I don’t know how to change it” he told his mum. “I’ll tell you how you change it,” she said, “This time, you live, you don’t leave, you stay.” In that exchange and the charged scene between Kieren and his numb-with-grief father, In the Flesh, like Rick emerging from that bathroom, revealed what it really was: an anti-suicide prayer, a dramatic rehearsal of what could be if that permanent solution to a temporary problem wasn’t permanent after all.

Unsurprisingly, with just three episodes in play, elements of In the Flesh felt concertinaed or undeveloped. Jem’s transformation from caustic teen to loving sis and Amy’s one-night-stand were the first, while zom-drug Blue Oblivion was the second. Bill Macy’s momentary Lady Macbeth-style remorse after killing Rick, too, came and went in a melodramatic flash, and supporting character Vicar Oddie didn’t receive the wished-for second dimension either. In the Flesh’s writer says he has more ideas up his sleeve should a second series order arrive, and that was in evidence in this crammed final instalment.

Just as they were in episode one, the finale’s best moments were the tender ones away from the histrionics. Shirley’s coffee morning was a showcase of subtle performance from Marie Critchley and Karen Henthorn as Roarton’s mothers of the undead, and Amy’s goodbye scene made me take a mental note to watch whatever the talented Luke Newberry and Emily Bevan do next.

In between the heightened emotional confrontations this week, Johnny Campbell’s assured, slow-paced direction really shone. Campbell provided the necessary pauses and breaks in the emotional onslaught so the audience wasn’t deluged with grief. Silent shots of Kieren on the bridge, or stalking those Kes-ish moors gave viewers the chance to take a breath, swallow the lump in our throat, and reach for another tissue.

It’s at Dominic Mitchell’s feet though, that the roses deserve to land. In the Flesh was such a confident, layered, well-conceived debut, I'm left more curious to see what else Mitchell can do with a screenplay than whether or not the BBC is planning a return trip to Roarton. 

Read Louisa’s review of the previous episode, here.

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Loved it. Please BBC3, dont dump it like you did with the fades

Following the death of Bill and fade to black, followed by Kieren walking into the cave, I feared we'd seen the end of the series one story, and were going to spend the last five minutes looking at the setup for series two. I'm very content that that's not what happened. The story was concluded properly, and the stuff about the blue pill cult can remain an unresolved back story as far as I'm concerned. It would be easy to label In the Flesh as a natural schedule filler for the now departed Being Human, but I think that would be doing it a disservice. Performances throughout the series were blinding from pretty much the whole cast. I recall seeing Kenneth Cranham's name coming up in the titles of episode one, and wondering how they'd secured an actor of such pedigree for a teen zombie drama on BBC3. I think it's clear from the finalé, that the incredible script would have been the biggest draw for the talent which partook. No series two is necessary or desired. Write something else just as good.

I thought this was absolutely brilliant and if I am honest I don't really care about the throwaway of the masked man with the blue oblivion. (I had been thinking he was very absent last week and wondered how they were going to resolve that) . It seems that in retrospect he was more of a metaphor for running away from your problems and roartonsucceeded in breaking Amy. Kieran found his own meaning in the rising-getting a second chance and it was beautifully done. As his self contained story it was very life affirming.

I would be afraid that the open end on blue oblivion would be what the writers want to explore if this gets recommisioned and it would lose some of its heart. I could of course be wrong I dunno what their thinking, after all I didn't know during this run.

Anyway I have been prompted to comment after years of being a browser on this site so therefore I think very well done to all.

That was properly moving. Kieren's mum and dad, Jem and Amy.. there must be a secure series.

Or Being Human, which last year was claimed to be the budgetary reason Fades got canned.

Omg in the flesh last episode I got so emotional I cried twice it helps in aspects in everyday life that don't occur often but nearly everyday it shows what people will feel if you decide to leave you can reflect on everything how Kieran's dad told Kieran how he felt it was touching it just comes to you, you need to think because they were lucky because of the rising but that doesn't happen in everyday life once your gone, your gone and you don't always get to say good bye or sorry if you take your own life so make the most of it plus it was amazing through the whole thing it was inspirational I got so into it after these 3 episodes I really hope there's going to be a series 2.

The heart of this series has been tackling big issues; it's been one big allegory for racism, homophobia, domestic abuse, suicide and religious fundamentalism. Them getting another series, with more issues, would be great.

Maybe a series with Amy in this community the prophet has, focusing on cultism and drug abuse would somewhere to go. Maybe something akin to X-Men's Brotherhood of mutants. were a group of zombies feel that they're superior to humans and try to fight them.

That would open up lots of interesting avenues for exploring insurgence/militant resistance and the like. Would have to be carefully handled to chime with the whole domestic tone of the piece but it would certainly be interesting. And I suppose terrorism does start at home.

I'm actually quite annoyed by what happened to Rick. His death felt somewhat forced, as though the show was too frightened to flesh out (mind the pun) their love story. It was told that they were obviously in love but their time together was brief, not happy, and didn't flesh out their love story beyond an argument that they were quickly rushed out of and into a different situation. Then they don't talk for the rest of the series, despite the fact Rick dying was the biggest thing to ever happen in Kieren's life and him being back should have been monumental, with every attempt being made for them to try and be alone together, but the most contact they had was a handshake. Not even a kiss on Ricks forehead when he found him dead.

Rick being killed just when his character had an emotional breakthrough, and the lack of real acknowledgement of their relationship between each other, just annoyed me. It didn't have to be a happy ending, but they should've had some sort of love being shown between them rather than just being told he sent him a mix tape once or that they (or just Kieren?) wrote their names on a wall. Disappointed.

Does anyone know the name of the song playing at the end of the show? Been searching everywhere!

Not sure of the name, but it's by Keaton Henson if that helps :-)

Damn it, through this whole channel swap from BBC HD to BBC2 on astra I missed it. I am also suspecting that it wasn't transmitted in HD and only on BBC3?

I enjoyed it but it felt like there were a lot of holes that just were left quite empty and really could have done with exploring, i don't think killing off either Rick or Bill was very emotional at all, I really hadn't had time to empathise with either of them.

The entire setting felt kind of flawed, budget reasons I guess is why it happened in the middle of nowhere but it feels very lacking in substance because of that.

Overall, 6/10 and that's a generous score honestly, it's nice to see a less traditional zombie (sorry ... post death sufferer) series but ... honestly that's not what i want, gimme the walking dead any day.

All 3 parts are repeated on BBC3 this week; 2/4 at 03:00, 4/4 at 02:00 and 6/4 at 00:30. There's also I player too.

This was nothing more than Emmerdale with Zombies. Slightly - only slightly - grittier but soap opera nonetheless.

Do Gay guys still have this closeted lifestyle in Britain ?

One that can't be openly talked about or acknowledged ? They were boyfriends so what's the big deal ?

I really couldn't careless about their `emotional Journey' . it had promise but lapsed into a yawn fest.

"Do Gay guys guys still have this closeted lifestyle in Britain ?"

Unfortunately yes they do, especially in isolated rural communities where they have no escape bar the internet.

What a great show! Loved every single bit of it. And there is enough left to have a connection for a possibly second series.

I kept thinking that the Liberation Army is a trap for PDS Sufferer who are not willing to be a proper member of society...

SO whats the deal with kirean and rick are they like best mates or something?

I must say I disagree. As audiences we are very often given characters that are assumed to be heterosexual, it was nice to have characters that couldn't be assumed to be heterosexual but who also were not subsumed under an easy homonormativity. It was a welcome shift to something more queer and ambiguous as opposed to simply homosexual.

Thank you :)

Thoroughly enjoyed the series. I particularly liked the diabetic HVF member they quarantined - that could have been an awfully cliched element in the hands of a lesser director. But he did just enough to keep it interesting (and darkly humorous) while keeping you guessing as to his fate. Great stuff.

I hope it gets a big audience on iPlayer and DVD and that non-geeks aren't put up by the 'undead' storyline.

BTW - the only reason I knew about this series and gave it a go was because of Den of Geek. Thanks DoG. Keep up the good work.

As the previous poster confirmed it's 'Don't Lie' by Keaton Henson, all the songs at the end credits of each episode are his - he's a great artist, was good to see him getting airplay

I was pleasantly surprised at how the BBC handled this. I was worried we were in for another gritty kitchen sink take on something that is supposed to be exciting. However although I am a horror and zombie genre fan so don't need the "the necessary pauses and breaks in the emotional onslaught" so as not to be "deluged with grief" (after all the zombie genre is supposed to be a roller coaster ride) I enjoyed the characterisation and subtle portrayals of grief; there was a modern feel and enough excitement to keep me hooked. I hope this comes back for another series, with more episodes I'm fed up of the BBC's 3 part mini series, or the 6-8 parters laughingly called a series.

The songs called Corpse Roads :)

This happened to me too - I was livid not to be able to watch in HD and had to go to iPlayer. I hate it when series linked programmes don't record - I shouldn't have to double check the things I've set up to record :(

Having said that - what an amazing programme - soooo so good. It had lots of pathos and such a lovely subtle message about sticking around no matter what and seeing what the future holds rather than just giving up. Beautiful.

Put a top on!

best mates who are (not so) secretly in love with each other.

It's just awful that this only had three episodes; so so many unexplored avenues that it's actually irritating!

Commission a second series -a six part one!

In The Flesh Series 1 had a compelling story told in 3 episode than The Walking Dead Season 3 told in 16 episodes. (Finale was horrible, disappointed)

In the Flesh Series 2 possibilities.
- 2nd Rising, possibility of bringing back Bill, Rick from the dead. Even Lisa ( long shot)
-explore the blue oblivion pills
- follow amy and her journey to mysterious cult.
- want more background on vicar
- explore where the zombie dad & daughter went to. inside look
-keep Rick's Mom there, i want to see what happens to her next. what does she do?
- have more PDS in roaraton
- have kieren find more info on the guy with the skull mask on.
- kieren visit amy
-more history on HVF
Any more ideas?

To be fair, this ended in a much better place than The Fades, I'd be
happy whether this gets another season or not, but I'm still angry about
The Fades not getting picked up.

The suicide message was the least subtle of any of the issues addressed, but otherwise I agree, a great series.

They were a gay couple. Sorry. Even a child could get that.

yeah bbc is funded through the taxes and is therefore meant to take chances on little shows even if not many people watched them! not many people watched in the flesh and the point of the bbc is to help shows like it (that don't do well) grow and gain popularity! no one watched gavin and stacys first 2 series but at the end it was really popular because the bbc stuck by it!!! i really hope they treat in the flesh in the same way!!!

AT LEAST!!!!!

*applause*

Well, that was two cries for one hour of television, well done Mr Mitchell. I'm personally happy for it to end where it did, yes there are some unanswered questions about the world outside Roarton, but I liked that this series focussed in so tightly on one small part of a much bigger universe. Even the questions remaining inside the town can be left to the imagination I think, there was an impression that the people's attitudes were changing, even the labelling of PDS houses served to show just how many people were now living with the not living. Just how many of those houses, their neighbours, and their friends are going to keep turning up to those fire and brimstone church services after what happened to Bill and Rick?

It's inconclusive yes, but that doesn't mean it's left hanging. Good luck to them all. :)

Yes but my feeling was that was where it was going but when it came down to it, it all took a backseat to kieran's personal story. I am not sure if Amy can hold a story on her own. On the Beeb's in the flesh page the writer explain that the 'masked prophet' will be explained more in series 2 ....Funny they left that vid on there if they weren't recommissioning.

Halfway through the 3rd installment (when Rick came home), I realized the title for "In The Flesh" all along should have been "Chronicles of a Gay Zombie," but I realize that one may have been off-putting... :-) (Each your heart out, Ricky Gervais) .
But, in all seriousness, it was good filler now the "Being Human UK" is no longer on the air :-( . Let's see where this continues, aye? :-)

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