The iconic image of a zombie is brain-eating, staggering of the husks of the body, the dirt of their burial ground smeared over them. But, as with vampires and werewolves, these reanimated corpses have fresh ideas to explore. Recently, Last of us presented a unique hour of post-doomsday television showcasing an older gay couple (Murray Bartlett And Nick Offerman) survival in a world captured by the “infected”. Itself shifts focus away from human survivors and onto the undead, using zombies to focus the show on bigotry, depression, and weirdness. Aired in 2013, the series stayed out of the grave long enough to run two seasons for a total of nine episodes, offering a fresh take on the horror subgenre by looking at “two sides of every story” i.e. the living and the undead. .

‘In the Flesh’ is about recovering zombies

image in the flesh

Years have passed since the “Rebellion”, when the bodies crawled out of the graves as monstrous cannibals. A cure has since been developed, and the undead are soon reintegrating into society. Kieren Walker (ur.Luke Newberry) is one of those patients with partial death syndrome who return to their families. This will not be an easy transition for Kieren, nor for the village of Roarton to which he is returning. Distrust and anger seethe among the inhabitants, but Kieren is his own worst enemy, struggling with guilt over the murders he committed while in a “frantic” state. Kieren may not ask for it, but he takes on an important role in the community, helping to fight the bigotry that falls on other PDS sufferers. Roarton must understand that the PDS patients are no longer killers, although the sense of unity will not come easily as extremist forces take over from both sides.

“I suffer from partial death syndrome and what I did in my untreated condition was not my fault.” Kieren and others like him are required to follow this mantra as government treatment centers try to get back to normal. For a smoother assimilation, Kiren uses a daily routine for people with PDS to make life comfortable: an injection of neurotriptyline (medication); a mousse base to add pigment to his pale skin; contact lenses to hide pale milky white irises. What does it mean to be, essentially, a zombie in recovery? There will be an understandable backlash, and Roarton is divisive for good reason.

The rebellion took place all over the world, and in England the cities received stricter measures, leaving small communities like Roarton to defend themselves. They did this by setting up the Volunteer Group to hunt down the brutal “Rot”. From the pristine brain of the creator Dominic Mitchell, Itself keeps memories to a minimum by sticking to the present day to chronicle the aftermath of the zombie apocalypse. The fact that the series goes down this path shows that the zombie heart has not lost its humanity. Itself balances the macabre tone without shying away from the darkness known to the subgenre, while transforming the partially deceased syndrome into a metaphor that presents several problems.

How human can a zombie be?

in the flesh season 2
Image via BBC America

Mitchell explains in an interview with the BBC: “I always thought that since the government introduced this policy of bringing PDS patients back into society, it would cause a backlash, especially because Roarton is a microcosm of Britain, and I think that a lot of the things that happened in Roarton happened all over the place, and people were saying, “Wait a minute, I don’t want the undead living near me.” The show does not veer too far from the outskirts of the village, keeping the scope large but intimate. The word “z” is changed to “Rotters”, which sounds pejorative, and that’s the point. In Roarton, living people can be monsters, and religious fanaticism and paranoia spoil everything.

The local church has a strong grip on the residents, delivering sermons that demonize people with PDS. MP Maxine Martin (Wunmi Mosaku, Lovecraft Country) arrives to stir up crap as a member of the pro-life Victus party, enacting policies that strip PDS sufferers of their humanity, with a message saying: “Give something back to the society they once ravaged is something what everyone wants, living and PDS in the same way. Kieren and others are forced into manual labor in order to be “able to apply for re-citizenship of the United Kingdom”. Fighting them is the Undead Liberation Army, who take pride in their undead status, a ULA student tells a group of followers, “The first shackles we have to throw off is shame.”

Mental health is the main storyline of Kieren Walker, a sweet and quiet teenager who ended his first life due to severe depression. Reunited with his family, Kieren recognizes her younger sister, Jemima (Harriet Keynes) became radicalized over HVF, further dividing the Walkers. In an interview with SciFiNow, creator Dominic Mitchell talked about the importance of Kieren’s past: “In most dramas, if someone commits suicide, that’s it, but in a zombie drama, you can go back and say whatever you couldn’t before.” This is the last chance and I wanted to know what’s going on in the family that went through this.” What really hurts the Walkers is that Kieren didn’t let them help him. The show places no blame on anyone’s shoulder, Kieren’s pain is just as real as the pain his family feels, and their path to healing is difficult but not impossible. If the undead can be resurrected, anything is definitely possible.

The drug Kieren takes regenerates his brain cells, bringing back terrible memories of his time as Rotten, but he’s not the only one suffering. His parents are struggling; Sue’s momMarie Critchley) tries to keep everyone together while dad Steve (Steve Cooper) looks to the eternal bright side to avoid painful conversations. Kieren’s sister, Jem, is not a rebellious child empowered, being a member of the HVF with weapons, she is deeply hurt that Kieren killed himself without even leaving a note behind. Away from her family, Kieren finds solace in Amy (Emily Bevan), another PDS sufferer whose cheerful nature serves as a shield to protect her from the ignorance she faces in public. When he reunites with childhood friend Rick (David Walmsley), their relationship returns to a story of unrequited strange love, while exploring Kieren’s pansexuality. It seems that a zombie story cannot do without realistic fanaticism. Rick does everything to please his father Bill Macy (Steve Evets), the leader of a group of human volunteers, and this includes Rick’s feeling that he should stay in the closet. Tensions are high throughout Roarton, and while there may be a distinction between the living and the undead, the line is blurred. This is aided by the show’s color grading, which in many cases makes everyone and everything so muted gray that it can be hard to tell who has PDS and who doesn’t.

“In the Flesh” will breathe new life into the undead

Kieran kneels before the grave in the flesh

Mitchell went on to say in an interview with SciFiNow, “Itself it’s really a story of identity. How do you fit in when you’re completely different and people label you? The government labeled him suffering from PDS; The HVF branded him rotten and his family doesn’t know who he is.” Identity is an important topic, as is duality. His us against. their on the show, and Kieren finds himself at odds over which side he should switch to. He may feel uncomfortable with Amy, who injects daily, forgoing mousse and contact lenses for a brazen act of self-love. Kieren may be getting more confident in his queer identity – bringing a guy home to meet his parents – but his PDS status never lets him relax, and by hiding his face, he ends up hiding who he is now. For two seasons, he struggles with his seat.

The family is an important aspect Itself including a kind-hearted father and a fanatical one. Mr. Walker loves Kieren, he is a gentle man who keeps quiet about his feelings when he is not a stupid dad who dresses everyone in berets to celebrate Kieren’s plans for a trip to Paris. Bill Macy, Rick’s father, really embraced the ideology of the Church and the Volunteer Forces, treating Rick like a member of the HVF and not like his own child. Mothers, Sue Walker and Janet Macy (Karen Henthorn), take on many unspoken worries at home, when Roarton hosts a support group, the two women discover that they have similar problems. They love their sons, but can’t help but grapple with PDS fears that linger in their village. This is why the church’s agenda, along with the Victus party, is dangerous, the goal is to exploit a prejudice that completely ignores the humanity of the suffering PDS. The Undead Liberation Army goes against them with their own extreme actions, such as the Blue Oblivion pill, which returns the undead to their frenzied, rotten state. Both sides are wreaking havoc on communities and families through this power struggle.

If the show was only focused on Kieren, it would still be a brilliant show, but by delving into social conflicts, it brings up a unique premise. Itself provides hope without shying away from the darkness of the zombie genre, and it’s to the show’s good that it doesn’t include extended flashbacks of how horrifying the end of the zombie world must have been. Kieren Walker won’t forget his violent past, but he’s growing up to embrace a second chance at life, knowing he’s not the simple, mindless monster Roarton fears him to be.