‘In the Flesh’ Series 2 Episode 3 review

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You could, especially after a few glasses of gin and a Katherine Heigl movie, argue that every relationship is doomed.

For you and your partner it’s eventually going to end, either with a softly closed door and a note saying they’ve run off with the postie, or by one of you selfishly dropping dead first and leaving the other to fend off the forces of entropy from a rocking chair with naught but that free Parker pen from the life insurance people.

In summary: in any relationship, someone’s heart is eventually going to be broken. More gin please.

Pessimistic? You betcha. But it’s impossible to shake that feeling as you watch Episode 3, which has the shadow of amateur romantic Henry’s (second) death hanging over it. Now there’s a failed relationship. Jem, reeling from killing him, is drawn deeper into Gary’s arms. And that’s another relationship we can count on falling apart, probably amid a hail of bullets and brains.

But this week focus largely shifts from the main characters to a chap we’ve barely seen: Freddie Preston. Actor Bryan Parry makes Freddie throughly convincing in his ordinariness so that we instantly recognise him as an everybloke, albeit without a pulse. He’s you and me, but in the unfortunate position of being a third-class citizen as well as a third wheel.

In The Flesh

Undeady Freddie is living with his ex-wife Haley (Linzey Cocker) and her new boyfriend Amir (the omnipresent and always welcome Sacha Dhawan), in the most awkward third wheel situation since the first couple to attempt sex on a tricycle.

It’s a necrotic love tricycle, sorry, triangle. And though it does have the fragrance of a soap opera in the dramatic predictability of the plot, it’s the unpredictability of the zombie element that keeps it interesting, even with the expediency of the ‘trapped in the lock-up and forgotten my meds’ finale. Taken away to the ‘Detention Centre’ (more of that soon), Freddie’s re-relationship is over before it’s even not begun again.

Kitchen sink though it may seem on the outside, it all has the deeper purpose of exploring the legal, moral, and even romantic implications of a post-Rising world. It’s a welcome chance to have more than a sideways glance at life beyond the Walker household and the implications of Britain beyond the drizzly snowglobe of Roarton, and it’s yet another of the series’ ‘show don’t tell’ representations of the undead becoming an underclass.

Last series drew parallels between homophobia and anti-zombie sentiment. This series there’s a sensation of a wider segregation; of an undead apartheid, and the wounds that such violent resentment inflicts upon society.

That’s a disturbing notion very much on the minds of Kieren and Simon – who bond/clash/bond over the moral and legal rights of the undead – and one that ultimately leads them to consummate their passions in a kiss. Oh dear, what will poor, mysteriously quivering Amy think? It’s surely the end of one relationship, and the beginning of another. One that will likely plummet to disaster just in time for a series finale. Just a guess.

Yes, it seems every relationship in Roarton is doomed. Except, maybe, for the near asexual granny-jeaned semi-detached substitute for romance shared by Kieren’s parents.

Ugh. What a horrible thought. That might be worse than a break-up. Pass the gin wouldja?

Aired at 10pm on Sunday 18 May 2014 on BBC Three.

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