Dead Set review episode 3

Put up with Patrick's diarrhea or face a ravening zombie who wants to eat you? Nothing's easy in Big Brother...

Warning: spoilers

Tonight it was time for old leaders to fall, new ones to emerge and a bit of dead wood to fall by the wayside in Charlie Brooker’s 5-part tale of a zombie apocalypse centred around the Big Brother household.

The Kelly/Marky/Space expedition for drugs to treat Angel starts well, with a lot of creeping around darkened goods-aisles, and the innovative notion to roll a tin can down them first, to draw out any waiting nasties.

Then Marky – who makes a bag of hammers look like a suitable Oxbridge candidate – drops his crowbar and attracts a handy couple of zombies. It’s chase time again!

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Waiting in the van outside the chemists, Space falls foul of two rogue coppers who try to arrest him for looting and then admit the futility of it – they don’t even have a base of operations or a boss anymore. A run-in with some errant undead unveils a new layer of survivalist reductionism, and pretty soon the cops are history – the last fallible remnant of law and order.

Meantime Grayson was foolish enough to untie Angel and wasn’t quite quick enough with her post-mortem head-stab. Consequently, stay-behinds Veronica and Joplin The Coward are faced with the task of killing Zombie Grayson before the returning shoppers walk right into him. Joplin has to be bullied into this by tough-as-nails Veronica, who he’s been ogling all episode, and you wonder if he even has enough guts to make any kind of a meal for a zombie.

Having escaped from undead dinner-ladies and roaming coppers, Kelly gets back to the BB household with Marky and Space, to find Grayson with multiple stab-wounds to the head – thanks to Veronica – and zombie Angel flailing about in the Jacuzzi, unable to climb out.

It’s Kelly’s moment, and as she puts the super-size zombie out of everyone’s misery, it’s clear that she’s the leader of the pack…for now.

There’s not much happening in the Patrick/Pippa siege scenario. Patrick is woken up with diarrhea, as he sank at least a bottle of champagne the previous night. Having established – at some peril – that Zombie Davina McCall is still in wait for them outside the door, he’s forced to resort once more to his make-shift slop-bucket – the waste-paper basket. This makes Pippa so hysterical that you believe she might prefer to take her chances with Davina…

Over in their new country refuge, Riq and Alex are pleased to find the house zombie-free. There’s some French guy on the radio talking about dealing with the dead, and ‘shelter’, but the pair are hardly able to understand what he is saying. For a while it looks like they could become the new Adam & Eve of the Cotswolds.

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But Kelly doesn’t hook up with any arseholes, and pretty soon Riq is pining for her and re-thinking his circumstantial lust for Alex. By a very improbable stroke of luck, the live-feed from Big Brother turns out to be the only TV channel still going, and there our hero spies his true love – alive!

Tomorrow we’ll see if the pair are dumb enough to cross twenty miles of zombietown when a hundred nasties seem to be waiting mere yards from any siege stronghold…

It was good to see at least one of the characters developing concern for their loved ones in tonight’s episode. It’s hard to say whether the more hard-boiled characters such as Veronica are being painted so tough and selfish as to forget all outside ties in the circumstances, or whether such issues would slow rather than advance the development of the show.

The spectre of authority that’s still armed-to-the-teeth but no longer accountable is ‘zombie trope’ of the evening, but Brooker plays the coppers mainly for laughs, and to emphasise the bizarre situation that the Big Brother household has become possibly the last bastion of sanity in the UK.

It was a shame to see Grayson go, but the character had gone from camp icon to earnest hero, and only had ‘ravenous zombie’ to tick off the list. Veronica’s deflating speech to peeping-tom Joplin was the comedy high-point, though the exploration of Joplin’s hidden shallows is getting a bit predictable by now.

Space is proving less irritating, particularly after being humbled by the coppers, but I’m unsatisfied with these quick vignettes of the domestic life of hateful Patrick and tearful Pippa – having given a taste of the full fury of his insult-cannon, Patrick seems to have been relegated to the back burner until the finale. Likewise Zombie Davina, who’s become a standard undead jack-in-the-box, and hopefully we’ll get back to them a little more in the remaining two episodes.

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Angel’s resurrection ‘sting’ was as predictable as it could be, but edited so perfectly that it still managed to make me jump. Dead Set is providing creep-outs, zingers and atmosphere in equal measure, whilst furnishing the odd surprise about who you end up really hating.

COMPLETE EPISODE REVIEW LIST:episode 1episode 2episode 3episode 4episode 5

episode 2 reviewCharlie Brooker chats with us about Dead SetZombie Zen: do the undead have souls?