In The Flesh – Episode One: Partially Deceased Syndrome

A supermarket. A girl with curly hair. The lights flicker. Grab her. Kill her. Eat her brains. It is the last think Kieren remembers, like a waking nightmare, with his daily dose of the medication that the doctors have created for those who came back from the dead, those who rose again. Partially Deceased Syndrome sufferers. As the doctor pulls Kieren from his nightmare, he expresses fear of going back to his family. He tells the doctor he doesn’t feel ready. But there’s the rub because he doesn’t feel ready, it means he’s ready. He feels. Kieren exists the shoot while other PDS sufferers filter in and out. At exit, there is a guy giving out contacts and make-up, trying to help them enter back into society with as little stress on them as possible.

Meanwhile, in Roarton, the signs of the fight against the deceased cover the place. “Beware Rotters” graffiti over a bridge, “God Bless the HVF” on the roofs of houses, Missing people signs hanging bedraggled from corkboards. And the vicar In-the-Flesh-in-the-flesh-33907002-944-531says in voiceover, “the righteous perish and no one ponders it in his heart. Devout men are taken away and no one understands that the righteous are taken away to be spared from evil. Those who walk uprightly enter unto peace. The find rest as they lie in death.” Yes with The Rising, neither the living or the dead find rest.

In the midst of this all, a couple is trying to sell their house while their daughter does everything she can to be obnoxious. However, when the couple interested in buying sees that the Human Volunteer Force is still very active in the area, they make their apologies and leave. The parents want to chastise their daughter, but instead they talk about going to Norfolk to pick up her brother. In the next scene, we realize that Kieren is her brother. The PDS sufferers sit in a therapy group as they prepare to be reintegrated into society. Kieren talks about being haunted by the memory of the last person he killed and ate, the crippling fear he now feels because of the things he did. His roommate tells him he shouldn’t feel guilty, causing the counselor, one of “the living” to scoff. The guy says they had to eat or they would have rotted. They are no more killers than “the living” if they aren’t considered killers for blowing their heads off. So we learn that some PDS sufferers think they should be in their natural “zombie” state. There is an undead prophet who is rallying the undead to be who they are now, not imitate humanity.

Kieren’s homecoming will not be welcomed. As the Walkers are driving back from Norfolk, the congregation gets together to rail against re-assimilation. There is a government official who tries to assure the town of Roarton that the Partially Deceased Syndrome sufferers are completely safe and the Partially Deceased Syndrome Protection Act protects both the living and the undead. But the government didn’t protect them through The Rising, so why would they do so now?

uktv-in-the-flesh-s01-e01-7Jem, Kieren’s sister, is not convinced he’s not a monster. She questions him to make sure he’s her brother, but even then the thought of what he did, killing himself, makes her push him even further away. Everyone is walking on eggshells around him because they don’t know what to expect or how to act. No one is bringing up his suicide. He sits at the table, pretending to eat. They don’t know what to do with him.

Kieren is kind of in the same boat. Basically cooped up in the house playing hours and hours of games or watching hours and hours of movies, he decided to check out The Undead Prophet, which encourages them to believe they are like angels because they’ve arisen from the dead. The vicar goes to Bill, the guy who organized the very first Human Volunteer Force, and tells him that it’s his God given duty to continue to protect the citizens of Roarton. After reciting The Lord’s Prayer, Bill goes out to the cul de sac where the Walkers live, about to confront the Partially Deceased Syndrome suffers hiding amongst them. Jem, who hears them talk on the radio, heads back to the house to prepare the family for an onslaught of Human Volunteer Force people. They hide Kieren and, armed with weapons that must have been used during The Rising, a board with nails long enough to damage the brain, a chainsaw, and a very large revolver, they stand guard at different entries, waiting to be attacked.

When the doorbell rings, Mr. Walker opens the door and one of the Force asks for Jem, as she’s one of them. They walk across the street to the neighbors. They’ve been peeking from the window the entire time. They drag out the old lady and, even though both she and her husband beg, they reveal she’s one of the Partially Deceased Syndrome sufferers. She came back to her husband, but Bill doesn’t care. He asks her to remove her contacts and says, “That’s better.” For a split second, she feels accepted in her natural form, right before he shoots her in the head. It’s traumatic, the first killing of a rotter that was docile and not after them. It’s over, and our fear that they will find Kieren and do the same to him has increased.

Bill goes home and is greeted by his wife. Earlier, they celebrated the anniversary of of their son’s death in Iraq. But now, his wife tells him that they’ve found Rick. Bill is ecstatic! “Rick’s alive?” he asks, incredulous. “Partially,” his wife says.

As soon as I saw the premise, I knew I wanted to watch. It is the next incarnation of what happens when there are zombies and non-zombies existing in the same sphere. There are scientists that will be working out what to do with the zombies. Just like The Governor in Walking Dead was trying to coax the humanity out of them for the sake of his daughter, the natural progression is trying to make them the people we once knew.

The first part of the zombie apocalypse is fear. It is war. It is killed or be killed. And it’s not just between you and the zombies. You have to fear for the humans as well. No one wants to die and no one wants to become a zombie. Because becoming a zombie makes you a killer and a victim at the same time. Eventually you will be shot in the head. Humans are no better. They are trying to protect their turf and protect their supplies. If you run out of either, you will become the aggressor you never knew you could be. And, if the Walking Dead’s zombie prediction is true, that the zombie “virus” is just waiting for us to die and take over, then death is no release.

“They are vicious killers. End. Of. Story,” says one vicar. Yet so are the humans. Each was trying to preserve life. But which life is more worth preserving?

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