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Series / In the Flesh

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"I am a Partially Deceased Syndrome sufferer, and what I did in my untreated state was not my fault."
Undead Mantra

In the Flesh is a 2013-14 BBC series consisting of three episodes (Season 1) and six episodes (Season 2); set after a Zombie Apocalypse, zombies have changed attempting to integrate into a society ravaged by their initial slaughter.

Series 1 is set three years after the dead rose from the grave. It follows Kieren, a Partially Deceased Syndrome (PDS) sufferer, who is ready to return home. However his unlife is far from easy; suffering from flashbacks before his treatment and hounded by the Human Volunteer Force (HVF) he's stuck at home wallowing in the past. His parents are in denial while his sister, a member of the HVF, is more than slightly hostile towards him.

Series 2 sees Kieren's unlife improved for the better; family and friends accepting, local community less hostile, part-time job and an extended stay in mainland Europe on the horizon. However battle lines have been drawn between two extremist parties; the terrorist/cult Undead Liberation Army (ULA) and far right political party Victus, once again throwing the delicate balance of peace of Roarton into disarray.

Now has a character page in desperate need of wiki love.

In the Flesh contains examples of:

  • Ambiguously Jewish: The Walker family. They noticeably are the only Roarton natives that never go to church, and Walker is traditionally an English Jewish surname.
  • Applied Phlebotinum / Chemistry Can Do Anything: Neurotryptiline, the substance that the entire show is built around along with human hatred.
  • Armored Closet Gay: Rick. In his case, it's also fully stocked with weapons.
  • As the Good Book Says...: Vicar Oddie and the Undead Prophet are both fond of quoting Bible verses to justify their fundamentalist views.
  • Attractive Zombie: The PDS sufferers who were attractive in life more or less retain their looks.
  • Awkward Father-Son Bonding Activity: Kieren and his dad catch up on all the films he's missed while he was dead. It's mostly awkward because Kieren's just returned from the dead, and even more so because his death was self-inflicted.
  • Back for the Dead: Ken in Series 2. Doubles as No Good Deed Goes Unpunished as despite being one of the most vocal PDS supporters, he ends up getting murdered by ULA extremists when they turn rabid on the train he's riding with his grandson.
  • Badass Pacifist: Kieren, as a counterpoint to Rick.
  • Badass Preacher: Simon.
  • Betty and Veronica: Hayley Preston has to choose between old love Freddie (fun, irresponsible, undead) and new flame Amir (unexciting but mature).
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Maxine Martin, the new MP for Roarton in Series 2.
  • Boy Meets Ghoul: There's a PDS brothel in Roarton, and presumably more elsewhere. Philip is a frequent customer and pretty obsessed with Amy, he pays a prostitute who looks like her to pretend to be her.
  • Bratty Teenage Daughter: Jem, whose first appearance is listening to loud music and swearing at her parents while they're trying to sell the house.
  • Bring My Brown Pants: Jem literally pisses herself when face to face with a zombie without her colt; of course, it had to be in-front of her classmates to boot.
  • British Brevity: Due to BBC Three's decision to go off-air at some point in 2015, and the decision to only produce one drama series for that year, the show was axed with only nine episodes made, which means season 2's cliffhanger ending will never be resolved.
  • Bury Your Gays:
    • Literally with Kieren rising from the grave and all that and Rick being killed twice while Kieren committed suicide after the first death.
    • Played with by the whole series (it's about gay zombies!) and especially in Series 2 when Simon takes a bullet for Kieren, but survives since he's already dead.
  • Category Traitor: Briefly in Episode 3 of Season 2, Simon regarded Kieren as one of these.
  • Childhood Friend Romance: Kieren and Rick.
  • Chosen One: The First Risen — the very first PDS sufferer to come back from the dead, who the ULA believe are integral to bringing about the Second Rising, and may or may not be Kieren.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Amy.
  • Corrupt Church/Scary Amoral Religion: From what we see, Christianity seems to have split post-rising into two vocal opposing factions, both of them reinterpreting various Biblical passages about the resurrection of the dead for their own purposes and both of them bizarrely willing to condone straight-up murder.
    • The version preached by Vicar Oddie advises that all PDS sufferers be put to death.
    • The version preached by the Undead Prophet and his disciples advises that the First Risen be sacrificed in order to start a second rising.
  • Cowardice Callout: In Season 2, Jem gets called a coward by a classmate who's vengeful that the former killed her rabid zombified father. This accusation comes after the classmate has retroactively proven her point when she persuaded Jem to confront a rabid zombie in the school and Jem was only able to piss herself and turn into a screaming, terrified wreck.
  • Crucified Hero Shot: Simon gets at least three of these in his flashbacks; just in case you didn't catch it the first time.
  • Dark Messiah: The Undead Prophet.
  • A Day in the Limelight: Episode 3 of series 2 focuses on minor character Freddie Preston, one of the PDS sufferers in Roarton.
  • Disposing of a Body: Gary gets rid of Henry's body by burning the flesh and scattering the bones in the woods.
  • Driven to Suicide:
    • Kieren after finding out about Rick.
    • Simon suffered from depression in life and was a chronic drug user as a result. He eventually OD'd.
  • Drunk on Milk: Series 2 reveals that sheep's brain has this effect on the undead.
  • Fantastic Drug: The Undead Liberation Army have manufactured a drug that reverses the effects of their medication and turns them rabid once more, supposedly permanently. A small dose of the drug is also enough to cause them to temporarily revert.
  • Fantastic Racism: Zombies are not well liked for some obvious reasons.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: A slightly twisted version — Kieren and Amy first met during the rising when they killed and ate a HVF fighter together
  • Flashback Stares: Kieren instigates a flashback, of him clawing out of his grave, by staring at his headstone several years later.
  • Gayngst: Poor Kieren.
  • Good Parents: The Walkers go through ups and downs and some straight-up bigoted reactions, but they love their children.
    • Rick Macy's mother also applies here. Rick's father does not.
  • Good Samaritan: Played almost biblically straight by Dean and Ken. Dean is put into a zombie pen because he was bitten, even though by then he and his friends in the HVF knew bites weren't contagious. Being a diabetic, he needed something to eat to keep his blood sugar up. He asks a boy and an old woman for help; the boy tells him off and the old woman spits in his face. When Ken walks by, he's the only one to actually help him, much to Dean's shame after he aided Bill when he killed Ken's wife.
  • Hate Sink: Fuck you, Gary.
  • The Heavy: Bill, as the head of the HVF, is the main villainous presence in series one, although he can't quite be called the Big Bad since the vicar seems to have more authority in the village. In series two, Maxine Martin takes over as both The Heavy and the Big Bad (although technically there's something of a Big Bad Ensemble going on between her and the Undead Prophet).
  • Heroic BSoD: Steve before the events of the series when Kieren takes his life and again at the end of the series when it looks like he's about to do it again.
  • Hope Spot: In the first episode, when it looks like Bill is about to spare Ken's wife, and then shoots her in the head. Also in the third episode, when he seems like he might accept Rick after his "coming out" moment. The next time we see Rick, he has a knife sticking from his skull.
  • Incompatible Orientation: Amy has a crush on Simon, who's gay. He says nothing to dissuade her because he thinks that she needs love. Naturally, she finds out, and in the worst way possible: she discovers Kieren and Simon kissing in public.
  • Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain: Phillip. Before his Heel–Face Turn, anyways.
  • Irish Priest: Simon brings fellow undead to "church" meetings and has very effective sermons. Very effective. Whether or not this is a good thing for him...
  • Karma Houdini:
    • The Vicar who put Bill up to two murders and is free to continue preaching hate.
    • To a lesser extent, Dean's friend in the HVF who abuses Amy in her own home.
    • HVF member Gary has yet to be brought to justice or show any shred of regret for any of his crimes, including attempted murder of Dean (locking a diabetic up without medication or food is, after all, usually fatal) and accessory to the murder of Henry and forcing Kieren to go rabid in front of his own family, endangering their lives and his. Plus just generally being a complete douche towards PDS sufferers and anyone who sympathises with them.
  • Karma Houdini Warranty: The Vicar does eventually get his comeuppance after he suffers a heart attack whilst arguing with MP Maxine Martin, who callously leaves him to die rather than phone for an ambulance.
  • Kick the Dog: Bill's favorite pastime. Eventually, The Dog Bites Back.
  • Kick The Son Of A Bitch: Maxine Martin leaving the Vicar to die from his heart attack. While Maxine may be even worse in terms of villainy, it's really hard to feel any sort of sympathy.
  • Knight Templar: Most of the HVF, most of the ULA, and probably most of Victus.
  • Made a Slave: In Series 2, the "Give something back" scheme effectively makes those with PDS into indentured servants, having to do community service for six months to be able to apply for the right to regain their UK citizenship, before being reviewed by a committee for another six months. Simon breaks the truth of their situation to Kieren.
    Kieren: It says on the website, they'll review all of our cases in six months.
    Simon: Yeah, and then they'll add another six months and another six months and another six months. Those certificates they promised, they don't exist. No-one is ever going to be re-citizenised... It's a scam.
  • Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Amy to Kieren, platonically.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Played With. Rather obviously, there are indisputably zombies walking around and they maintain rationality through medication, but the series never actually answers what caused the First Rising with several character postulating a cause derived from Christian theology. This makes the second season finale interesting: did killing Amy fail to trigger a Second Rising because Maxine was wrong and Kieren was the First Risen or because Maxine and the Undead Prophet were both wrong and there is never going to be a Second Rising regardless of who died?
  • May–December Romance: Jem and Gary. She's a teenager, he's probably in his early thirties.
  • Meaningful Echo: "I know you!"
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Kieren's surname is Walker.
    • The series is set in the fictional town of Roarton, which sound an awful lot like Rotten.
    • Neurotryptiline, which is distinctly similar-sounding to Nortriptyline, an anti-depressant.
    • "Dyer" isn't exactly subtle, either.
  • Morality Kitchen Sink
  • My God, What Have I Done?:
    • Bill, after killing Rick. He even has blood on his hands for added effect (not Rick's, though).
    • Kieren and many others with PDS suffer from flashbacks of all the people they either killed or ate during the Rising.
    • In Series 2, Jem's reaction after accidentally killing Henry, who she believed to be rabid due to him stumbling around drunk (on sheep's brains) in the woods late at night.
  • No Communities Were Harmed: Obviously, no town would like to have the reputation of Roarton.
  • Nobody Poops:
    • Averted, in a unpleasant overlap with No Dead Body Poops. Amy cheerfully talks about what happened when she tried to eat, much to the discomfort of Kieren's family. New clothing was required, apparently.
    • It's also a sign of Rick's denial. He drinks lager and pukes it up as a horrid black bile later. When Amy notes to him later that drinks are toxic to them, he feigns ignorance.
  • Not Using the Zed Word: While "zombie" is said, the government prefers Partially Deceased Syndrome while the HVF uses the derogatory "Rotters". For the ULA, they are either the good old-fashioned Undead or the "Redeemed".
  • No Zombie Cannibals: Zombies actually hunt in "packs" according to ex-feral zombies.
  • Nuclear Family: All that the Walkers are missing is a pet.
    • Averted with Amy, who lived with her grandmother before her first death, and with Phillip, whose family outside of his mother Shirley is never mentioned.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: Phillip.
  • Oop North: Roarton, Lancashire. Grimness abounds.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: Zombies post treatment behave almost completely like humans, other than the fact they can't eat.
    • There's also the fact that the Rising was just a one-time event; being bitten by a zombie doesn't turn you into one, and no more have risen since.
  • Pac Man Fever: In Episode 2, Dean is seen playing Resident Evil: Deadly Silence on a Nintendo DS with Atari 2600-like sounds.
  • Perpetual-Motion Monster: Zombies had to eat the living in this universe but once on the drugs it becomes impossible (or highly inadvisable at any rate) to eat or take liquids. Series 2 also makes mention that they are now Biologically Immortal, with no PDS sufferer having aged a single day since the Rising.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Jem gets given a devastatingly harsh one by her friend (and the daughter of a zombie she killed) after failing to defend the school from a lone "rabid" zombie.
  • Removing the Head or Destroying the Brain: As in most Zombie Apocalypse stories, it's the only way to put them down.
  • Rewind, Replay, Repeat: Freddie is caught replaying his wedding video over and over again, focusing on his (now) ex-wife saying that she loves him. Kicks off major problems between the couple and her new boyfriend.
  • Sequel Hook: In the very end of season 2, two mysterious people who are apparently working for a government organisation dig up Amy from her new grave.
  • Shout-Out: One student at the local secondary school believes that there are "... vampires and werewolves running around Wales".
  • Sinister Minister: Vicar Oddie who is constantly preaching against zombies and who orders the parish council to do less than ethical actions.
  • Spiritual Successor: To Being Human, a drama focussing on supernatural creatures trying to live in normal society.
  • Stock Monster Symbolism: Expanded: zombiism is used as a metaphor for prejudice.
  • Stages of Monster Grief: This is a big part of the show as zombies have to reintegrate into normal society; not just for the zombies themselves but the families and those affected and the community at large. Kieren and his family are deep, deep into denial; however that's nothing when compared to Rick. Meanwhile, the Undead Prophet and Kieren's friend at the center have jumped to treachery. Amy is actually the healthiest at the start since she's now at acceptance with a few supremacist tendencies.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Philip has a disturbing obsession with Amy.
  • Sweetie Graffiti: "Rick + Ren 4ever".
  • Sympathetic Murder Backstory: Kieren and his flashbacks to Lisa's death.
  • The Fundamentalist: Both Vicar Oddie and the Undead Prophet.
  • There Are No Police: Officially, there are laws in place to protect to the rights of PDS sufferers. However, there doesn't seem to be a single cop in all of Roarton to enforce them, leading to rampant hate crime.
  • There Are No Therapists: Kieren's first death was a suicide after a depression, Jem has PTSD, Simon goes through a panic attack implied to be hours long after learning what the Undead Prophet needs him to do, and there are absolutely no professionals there to help them beyond giving them physical medications and suggesting affirmations.
    • Possibly justified, considering there were more than a hundred thousand Risen who would've needed psychiatric care after the war and that's not even to mention the living. There simply could've been too many people for the British health care system to handle.
    • The rehabilitation hospital Kieren was first in shows group therapy sessions, although it was focused mainly on dealing with their newly-recovered personhood rather than individual diagnoses. Season 2 takes a dark view of this, with any undead being too vocal about the unethical new laws being taken away for "rehabilitation". There's also a PDS caretaker support group (led by a well-meaning but ineffective community leader) and a telephone hotline (that immediately puts you on hold). It seems like everyone's aware that the zombies and their families need SOME kind of support, but no one knows how they're supposed to go about doing it. So everyone just tries to pretend that it's all normal...
  • Transhuman Treachery:
    • The Undead Prophet and Amy believe zombies are a form of superior species, and that were perfectly justified in killing humans after rising.
    • Simon, one of the Twelve Disciples of the Undead Prophet.
  • Ultimate Authority Mayor: The show depicts local M Ps and Parish Councils as having far more power and day-to-day involvement in their districts than they actually do in reality. Although, following a zombie apocalypse, it is likely that some decentralisation of power occurred during the collapse of society.
  • Undeathly Pallor: All white-skinned people look extra pale as zombies, they wear makeup to try make them look like the living but tend to end up in the Uncanny Valley.
  • Van Helsing Hate Crimes:
    • Though the HVF was legitimately fighting off a potential apocalypse, by the time the series kicks off it's been so well contained that the government is actively paying for the non-lethal capture of PDS sufferers to rehabilitate them. However many in the HVF don't seem to want to believe that feral zombies can be helped nor that treated ones aren't dangerous.
    • Due to the widespread erroneous belief that being bitten can cause someone to become a Zombie Infectee, the HVF detain Dean and keep him locked in a cage for over two days without food or water. After experiencing as much mistreatment from his former comrades and the other villagers as he had given to those with PDS, Dean comes to a Heel Realisation.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: PDS sufferers can't eat or drink. Rick tries, anyways; the result is a mess of black goo.
  • We Used to Be Friends: Jem and Kieren were the closest of siblings. That is, until Kieren became undead and Jem killed his kind for several years. They reconcile, though.
  • "Well Done, Son" Guy: Rick plays along with being both straight and human to please his father Bill.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Zombie bites don't turn you, only those who died three years prior rose; however, it doesn't stop numerous people believing that it does.
  • You Are What You Hate: Rick is actually double dipping: he's both gay and a zombie. Of course, his hatred is very superficial as part of his self-denial fueled from the need for his father's approval.
  • Your Terrorists Are Our Freedom Fighters: The Undead Liberation Army's main draw is that it seems that they're just trying to speak up for the rights of the Undead and, just like a lot of real terrorist groups, it's hard not to agree at least in part with what they want. Leading to more and more PDS sufferers joining. Thus enabling Victus to clamp down harder on zombies...which just pushes more into the ULA's arms.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: Unusually, the series is set after one but an apparently subdued one which ended. Zombies in this universe do not create other zombie by biting them, nor do human automatically die after a zombie bites them. Also unusual is that due to the advent of medication that helps repair the damaged brain cells, once properly medicated, the zombies are able to regain their sentience and be restored back to their former selves.