In The Flesh: Review: Series 1 Episode 3

in_the_flesh_3The presence of the PDS sufferers in the village brings tensions to boiling point…

And so ends what is hopefully just the opening salvo in the story of the Rising and subsequent return to “life” of the PDS sufferers of Great Britain. Those who had been hoping for a massive HVF versus Zombies fight, on the lines of a Northern version of The Walking Dead, will have been disappointed: those of us who have enjoyed the human drama at the heart of Dominic Mitchell’s debut will recognise that this is the only appropriate ending. It provides closure for some of the plotlines while leaving some – if not many – hanging ready for the next series.

There’s more death and misery in this episode than its predecessors, as the almost Jacobean tragedy of the Macy family plays itself out. Mitchell doesn’t give Bill Macy a sudden change of heart; that’s reserved, to an extent, for Kieren’s sister Jem: the bedroom scene this episode being as powerful as its reflection in the opener.

When the bedrock of your beliefs is destroyed in the way Bill Macy’s is, you question your sanity – and Macy’s is found wanting. The moments before we learn the fate of his son, as he talks to his wife about the last time he saw Rick, are terrifying in a way that no amount of blood and gore can ever be; the revelations about Rick and Kieren’s relationship come as no surprise, nor Bill’s reaction to it. Matters are compounded as he goes outside to find his fate at the hands of Ricky Tomlinson’s bitter widower. (And I was half-expecting to hear an off-screen shot suggesting that character’s suicide…)

But there’s redemption as well. A family that was torn apart by death is reunited by it, as Kieren’s mother builds the bridges that are needed and then Kieren and his father have the cathartic shouting match that both need. Life isn’t going to be easy for them – particularly when we see the way that even a suspected PDS sufferer is treated – but they will have more strength to face it.

Put simply, Dominic Mitchell’s three-hour drama is one of the best pieces of genre work we’ve had for some considerable time. Even if In the Flesh doesn’t get picked up, keep an eye out for his name on future projects, because if he brings the sense of character, humour, scale and pace to those as he has to this debut, they will be worth watching.

Verdict: A fitting end to a strong trilogy. 9/10

Paul Simpson


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