In the Flesh Series 2 Episode 1 Review


The first series of BBC3’s In the Flesh caught a lot of people’s attentions, but there was always a lot of unfulfilled potential. Intelligently allegorical and completely of its time, shows like this don’t come around every day and, as important as it always felt as a piece of social commentary for racial tensions in the UK, watching it always felt like the beginning of something special, never given the room to properly evolve. Some complained of the heavy-handedness in which Kieren’s story attempted to comment on modern-day Britain, while others applauded it for its commentary on certain, still sadly taboo, themes, but most just wanted to see more – to see what else it could do.

This second series, then, had a job to do. It had to build on what just three hours had done last year while maintaining those elements that made it special in the first place. Judging by this first episode, it has every chance of succeeding. The politics and thinly-veiled political references have smartly been given the focus this year over the more personal themes that were movingly explored in series one and, with six whole weeks to look at what the aftermath of zombie reintegration might look like, we can bet that this will go to some wholly uncomfortable places before the end.

And I think that’s the area in which In the Flesh needs to reside – uncomfortable. Whether it’s the bleak, bleak tone, the horror imagery or the indisputable human truths it chooses to show, this is a series that isn’t afraid of going to those dark places, shading them in with a whole load of grey in the process. Back in Lancashire, we’re told that the Vicar’s desire for a second rising and festering tensions all over have meant that, while PDS sufferers are walking around freely serving pints, stacking shelves and attending school, an extremist faction has also formed. We open with this reality, actually, with Ricky Tomlinson biting the dust early in the episode.

We’re also introduced to two new players – Victus MP Maxine Martin, serving as the year’s living villain, and PDS leader Simon, who brings Amy back to town along with a whole load of trouble. How Simon’s story will play out is a bit of a mystery, but painting the minority of each side of the war as equally irresponsible, ignorant and dangerous instantly makes In the Flesh into something more interesting than it could otherwise have been. The show aims to depict troubled times by using horror and fantasy elements, and with that comes a certain amount of responsibility to not just be good, but also be insightful.

This was a strong start for a show that has a lot of work on, and the sheer, immeasurable potential of In the Flesh makes that a huge relief. Can it top what it did in those first three episodes? If so, then this second series is going to be essential viewing.

What did you think of the episode? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.