In The Flesh series 2 finale review

Review Louisa Mellor 8 Jun 2014 - 23:00

In The Flesh’s superb second series bows out on an eventful and emotional finale…

Read our spoiler-filled post-finale discussion with In The Flesh creator, Dominic Mitchell, here.

This review contains spoilers.

As flies to wanton boys are we to TV writers, they kill us for their sport.

Dominic Mitchell should have all his toys taken away for the cruel trick of starting joyful Amy’s heart beating just seconds before it was stabbed into a bloody mess. Move over Joss Whedon, there’s a new writer here to try on your ‘killing fan favourites and causing untold grief’ crown. The only way the In The Flesh creator must be able to live with himself is if he knows that’s not really the end for Amy Dyer. She’s coming back isn’t she? We all saw that plush tiger move. We all heard those Halperin & Weston employees. There’s still time, isn’t there? Tell us there’s still time.

Amy’s death wouldn’t have been anything like as affecting had Emily Bevan not done such tremendous work throughout the second series, particularly in its final two episodes. Bevan showed us Amy’s vulnerability and fear through the character’s breezy, optimistic front. She let us savour every drop of pathos in the story of a woman who died of cancer thinking her body was giving up on her again, only to be rewarded with a literal new lease of life. It was hugely emotional and rewarding to watch.

And then it was all taken away.

We can’t stay mad at Mitchell of course, not after all he’s given us. In this finale alone there were surprises, capably handled genre scares, relationships that rang true, fear and joy and romance and the gentle wit that’s become standard of In The Flesh.

The scene of Simon, Gary and Maxine, three enemies praying to the same God was a canny comment from the finale on belief structures. Belief had governed the behaviour of series' extremists, Simon and Maxine, two characters who arrived as the antithesis of one another but ultimately shared a common mania. The difference between them at the end of the series is that Simon shook himself clear of his, and Maxine submitted utterly to hers.

I’ve been critical of the Maxine Martin character this series, as for weeks there seemed no sense of a human being underneath her supercilious looks and patronising rhetoric. All that changed in the finale. From Maxine’s scene at Daniel’s gravestone to her desperate, unhinged speech at the winter fête, Wunmi Mosaku made me care about the character, sympathise even, with her grief-driven madness.

After that eventful village fête, we were left with a budding romance between Simon and Kieren, a re-forged Walker family and no second Rising. Not that that’s going to stop Simon’s band of ex-followers, who’ve hitched their wagon firmly to the Undead Prophet’s teachings and are persisting in their mistaken belief that a second Rising can be brought about. Amy was the First Risen, and her murder didn’t trigger any such thing, but who ever let evidence stand in the way of what people decide to believe.

After all the character lessons learnt in series two - Simon choosing love over dogma, Kieren deciding not to run away, Philip having the courage to stand up for what’s right, Jem finally seeking the psychological help she needs - that scene in the Legion showed that personal growth will always be challenged by public attitudes. Kieren still lives in an intolerant, parochial town, even if he has finally made peace with who he is.

Or perhaps I should say ‘was’. Having spent six episodes watching Amy’s gradual return to life, the significance of that scene of Kieren getting the shakes in the bathroom was lost on nobody. He’s moving on to the next stage, whatever that means. Having the undead rehumanise was this series’ genius moment, one that opens up so many potential paths for future episodes, if and when they’re commissioned.

From the tantalising cold open at the motorway service station to the mysterious final scene at the graveyard, this was a belter of a finale. In The Flesh’s audience were given things to cheer (Philip declaring Amy valid, his mum’s touching “You’ve done good son”, Steve's belief in his Rabid son), things to surprise them (the tense, well-directed graveyard scene, the world of Halperin and Weston), things to wail about (poor Amy’s death), and a satisfying amount to ponder. A round of applause to all involved, now let's have that series three order sharpish.

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

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Fantastic episode and a fittingly downbeat ending to an emotional season. I'm glad they didn't go with the "hand coming out of ground" ending that I was totally expecting as well. Anyone notice Kieran's shakes at the end too? Looks like a third season is definitely on the cards.

(*folds arms, awaits a third series, looks at BBC Three expectantly.*)

Brilliant brilliant brilliant....Need time to process all that went on but need a third series or else BBC!! Was willing Amy's hand through the grave thou... and wondered if that was Kieran having tremors. Wonderful script, acting and all..best thing on the telly box

That graveyard scene... Philip holding on to the tiger for as long as he could... Brilliant but painful. Hopefully Emily Bevan gets recognised for next years BAFTAs

But Keiran was the first risen, no? - he said he saw noone around himself when he rose and also thats why Simon was going to stab him.. and why he tried to take him out of town at the end?

I sort of cheated the system and streamed the finale from the States. This was by far a better finale than series one. I will be extremely disappointed if there is not a third series.

I was waiting for Kieren to see pigment in his eyes in the mirror after his hand shook.

Overall it was OK but I could have done without the Orange Men style Northern Irish march around town which was completely out of place in its Yorkshire setting. We just don't do this type of thing around these parts!

Am I the only one who was left uncertain - and I thought deliberately so - as to whether Simon pounced on Kieren intending to stab him or take the bullet? The clock struck 12, and Simon made his dash - I thought perhaps the bullet stopped him in his tracks and was misinterpreted as saving Kieren?? Am I off the mark here?

I'm not sure anyone noticed amongst the carnage but

"The disciple was meant to kill the first risen"
Maxine Martin

She knew about the plan all along and clearly had insider information from The Undead Prophet.

Regarding the finale, I thought it was very predictable but quality regardless. I'm not sure about the dead becoming living again, it seems a bit early for that storyline

Nope, Amy first. Witnessed by that awful woman with the fantastic undead mother-in-law.

Would honestly rather see Kieran die than never see Amy on the show again.

I believe u might indeed be/have, as otherwise Simon who was running at Kieren from behind would have just stabbed K' in the back (due to the urgency, bells already mid-ring & all) and not need to instead jump him from the front as he did in order to shield him from the gun shot (which he would've clearly seen being pointed at him as he ran up - & probably exactly why he actually ran up in the first place.) ... It's one thing being conflicted about having to kill off your new loved one, BUT quite another seeing someone else threaten them, enough to shake one to their senses I imagine.)

Plus it's obvious the scene was played out purposely ambiguously just to ratchet up 'will-he-or-won't-he' suspense for us, only to instead play out as it did (so perfectly understandable you read it that way). :) ... Anyway, that was my understanding of the scene, (but we might all be wrong of course.) :)

Nah, the extremist Prophet & his misguided followers just got it all wrong (as they wont to !) ;) Not only about who was the first risen but I imagine the true meaning behind said 'second rising'. ... IMO Amy is the 2nd rising - or rather was in the process of becoming/going thru it just as she was stabbed. The '2nd rising' IS their re-humanising. ...

But we'll see .... (fingerz x'd next series)

yes and if u think about it..amy became human at exactly the time the second rising was supposed to occur so i agree the second rising is becoming human not another zombie rising.....

But that's because she had seen the Undead Prophet's video that was meant for Simon (Gary stole it remember).
As far as hints go, it looks like a lot of signs were pointing to Dr Russo as being the Undead Prophet -
a) nobody said the Undead Prophet had to himself be undead
b) his refusal to assist the Halperin-Weston employees in finding Amy early on
c) his dawdling when Amy was brought in dying (as life saving efforts go - it wasn't the best)
d) the Halperin-Weston employees dropped it in there that Dr Russo used to work at the Norfolk Treatment Centre.

I really hated Kieren's funeral outfit. Awful.

And was I really the only one who DIDN'T sympathize with or come to care about Maxine Martin just because of her sob story about her dead brother? The 'reveal' (for those who couldn't see it coming a mile off) only added "hypocrite" to her list of character faults.

:) - (glad u agree) ... tho' of course I may well be totally wrong, but that was my understanding of the 'second rising' anyway. I imagine that's wot the Helperin&Weston people were expecting from their Neurotriptyline - & the whole thing just got twisted by the 'prophet' (who I actually believe is probs one of the doctors we saw) ... BUT I imagine DM probs has all other sorts hiding up his sleeve still, so ... . :) (& anothr whole yr to wait for it at very least - aaaaargh !) :(

If a new series of In The Flesh isn't commissioned by the BBC then that's proof to me that there is no god! And the second rising is either the return to full life of the partially dead, or the second rebirth of Amy Dyer.

It was so fantastic and brilliant. I was scared for certain characters, even laughed a little, teared up and felt shocked in the same episode.

Series 2 was awesome very emotional and entertaining please make a season 3 as there is a lot more to be discovered in this brilliant series bring back Amy :0)

I don't think Simon can be trusted I agree with what Linda said I think he was going to stab Kieran not save him I think there is a darker sinister side to Simon that we haven't seen yet :0)

Looks like another BAFTA award. This series was even better than the first.

D'oh!

Some think one of the Halperin-Weston pair is the Undead Prophet. The one who claimed the undead were superior species, could find some tumblr spectulation but laziness~

But Halperin and Weston won't want a "re humanising", would they - think of the money and influence they'd lose? Plus the Prophet has to be *someone* from Norfolk (his voice was heard in the treatment center when he talked to Simon). My money is on that guy who played Mr Rook in Being Human :-)

Make the most of it as assuming they show it May-June again as subject to the approval of the BBC Trust BBC Three closes as a broadcast TV channel in autumn 2015.

They've said it on here too, on previous weeks' reviews. It's a fair guess given what he said, but also somewhat obvious given what he said.
Personally I think they should surprise everyone and make the Undead Prophet be Kieren's dad, or someone totally unexpected.

Loved it! I spent the first series shocked at how good BBC three could make a show in a zombie genre that is at risk of overkill, but series 2 was just as good and gave the show more depth and layers. The finale was perfect, a lot happened. I got really upset at Amy's death which I thought was ironic because she was already dead haha but they really have set up a season 3 so well they have to do it! I noticed Keiren's hand shaking too and thought one of his eyes might go brown. I never really thought of the 'second rising' being rehumanising which is awesome and the whole pharamceutical company stoping that happening :O I'm confused though, was Amy the first risen or Keiren? I thought it was still Kieren, and Stephen wanted to get him out of the village to save his life. I'm just curious why Amy was the first to rehumanise...

Ren didn't see anyone because he was facing away while others were rising behind him. Although it does imply that he rose with sufficent intelligent to know what he seeing and remember it. Which also fits with him stopping to read his own gravestone. He didn't seem to rise as rabid as others, although maybe it was just a bit of artistic license.

Yep he's probs just as good a bet - tho' personally I was actually thinking t'was probs the other quieter one, playing more '2nd fiddle' to your 'Rooks' doc guy. (one wth the darker hair). ... As for H&W I don't know, but Neurotrip' stuff was designed to 'jumpstart' brains to I imagine their interest to potentially repurpose them towards human re-animating for eg. could potentially be even more lucrative too in the long run, surely ?? (Their experiments with the rotters could be jst a small part or early phase of much bigger expectations/plans. ... BUT wot do I kno (except that there's obviously much goin on we kno nuttin' about yet, that much was apparent ) the rest, alas, jst me blind wild speculating :)

Was there meant to be any significance to what Kieran was doing with the wire at the graveyard as he turned rabid? I thought he was restraining himself so that he wouldn't be free to roam in a rabid state (e.g. by tying his ankles together or tying his legs to the grave marker). Did he break the wire or did he not manage to secure himself before he turned rabid?
And I'll echo everyone else - I really want to see a third season!

I'm so glad the second series was better than the first. The finale was poignant and beautifully done, but I do feel like it was let down by Maxine Martin. The resolution to that plot wasn't satisfying for me, so it felt disruptive to everything else around it. But all the scenes with Amy and Philip were fantastic to watch. I hope it gets picked up for series three and I really hope Amy comes back.

Surely the undead prophet is the other PDS sufferer that was being treated at the same time as Simon in all those flashbacks, hence why Simon has apparently never been able to meet him etc.

No surprises why they started putting TV on iplayer first then...
Anyway In The Flesh deserves to be bumped to BBC2, its an amazingly well made show

My thought was that he was about to kill Kieren and just got shot by accident,And his deciding to stay in the village was a sign that he hadn't finished his task.

The undead profit is the guy helper of the main scientist. If you hear the accent it's the same guy plus the actor is well known enough to not just play bit-part but set up for a larger part later on. It would be too obvious if it was the main scientist guy. Plus the flashbacks to Simon's days in the centre have that guy there at the same time as when the 'profit' first spoke to simon. It makes sense.

Having seen " The Walking Dead " almost since season 1, this series takes a refreshing new tack, a somewhat more cerebral view of zombies / " walkers ", etc., as something more than rabid slobbering, groaning monsters. I'm recommending it to a lot of people.
I was saddened by Amy's sudden ability to feel a heartbeat, only to have been robbed of her full return to life by Maxine Martin. But I have hope that that's not the END of her story. I freaked when the local Roarton equivalent of a Southern " redneck " drugged Kieran, Kieran starts to go rabid, then fights it off after his dad talks to him.
Yes, I WANT to see MORE ! Thank you BBC America !

Part of me agrees, but Luke Newberry just has such terrific eyes, I'd hate to never see them with the PDS contacts again.

I wasn't sure if I was more upset about Amy's death or that outfit. I guess he was trying to look quirky as a way of honoring her.

He was being "moregeous" per Amy's request. Everyone looked awful but Kieren's was the WORST. LOL.

The article said that Amy was the First Risen, but she really wasn't right? When the cult said that they will still continue the hunt for the First Risen, the camera moved to Kieran. Plus Maxine said in her meltdown that she was wrong I thought.

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