In the Flesh, the zombie series created by Dominic Mitchell, continued to explore the effects and interactions of PDS sufferers with their friends and families as they cope with the ongoing struggle of fitting into a society that fears them and doesn't want them around. As opposed to The Walking Dead, this is a thoughtful and melancholy show that takes a serious and intelligent approach to the idea of zombies in the real world, and obviously the allegorical take on the subject provides for all kinds of nuances within the issues that PDS and non-PDS must face in dealing with each other.
First off, I'd better explain the whole PDS thing. In this universe (the show is set in the town of Roarton, England) a rising has taken place in the near past, where of course the dead all rose from their graves and went on the typical mass slaughterfest, but that all happened offscreen (save for some traumatic flashbacks occasionally), and now doctors have figured out a way to treat the undead, causing them to more or less regain their human soul, even if they still look like zombies on the surface (you know, the ghostly skin, the yellow eyes, and the no longer eating or aging thing). This has caused there to be a whole new class of people who suffer from PDS, or "partially deceased syndrome" (clever, huh?) and it's given loved ones back to their families as long as they receive their daily doses of medicine to keep from going "rabid" (yeah, that's pretty important, can't have that).
The show takes pains to develop the characters in this town, PDS and living alike, into real, intelligent and thoughtful people, playing up the allegorical aspects of a society that shuns and fears the "diseased," (or in this case, deceased), but also those who think they they ought to be welcomed back into society, or at least tolerated. This season gets into the burgeoning war between the groups, as extremists on both ends take center stage, those who want all PDS destroyed and PDS members who crave a "second rising," in which the dead will take over the living world for their own (yes, we get into all the religious metaphors this season as well). Our lead character is Kieran (Luke Newberry), a teen who would be a unique enough protagonist even if not for the fact that he's dead. Kieran is a sensitive, intellectual, calm and rational hero- unlike the extremists who inhabit the town, he's the center of moral clarity and intelligence, not a crazed or particularly troubled anti-hero, who also happens to be gay (amazingly never treated as a defining character trait, which is so nice to see on TV- it's obvious that being dead is a much more pressing issue at the moment).
Kieran wants the two groups to get along, the way his own family is able to love and accept him. One of the great things about the show is the way he, his parents and his sister interact, with the conflicts and affections between them never depicted in melodramatic fashion, just matter of fact, even if his sister Jemma is suffering post traumatic stress and night terrors from her experiences during the Rising, when she was forced to hunt down rabids and see her own brother in his untreated state gnawing on murder victims. This season developed the established characters and their relationships in deeper fashion, while introducing some interesting new ones in the form of Maxine Martin (Wunmi Mosaku) an MP from the Victus party who comes to Roarton wanting to segregate and discriminate against all PDS sufferers, but who turns out to have ulterior motives of her own, and Simon Monroe (Emmet J Scanlan), leader of the Undead Liberation Army with designs on and an attraction to Kieran.
In the Flesh deepened its complexities in its second season, but like in the first, just when things are getting more entangled and becoming more interesting, the season ended way too early (a scant 6 episodes were all that made up this second "series," as they call it in Britain). I'm sorry, but this show should at least get 10 episodes to structure itself properly, and there's too big a cast with too much going on to cover everything in just 6 hours. Which isn't to say that it had no missteps this year either- Episode 3 was a total misfire in the way we spent the entire hour with two characters we'd only met very briefly back in the first season, and then never saw again for the remainder of this one, and Maxine Martin's ultimate motivations in the finale reveal the actions she takes in her first episode to be completely illogical and sort of bewildering, as though the writers had no idea what her secret was going to be until right before it happened (which can't possibly have been the case with only six episodes, can it?)
Still, the good stuff this season was very, very good, and it was only getting better before ending too abruptly. Kieran and Simon's romance was just starting to blossom, as well as Amy and Philip's, two characters I almost didn't like last year, but grew to adore when the show paired them off together this time- the sweetness and sincerity that disgraced former Council member Philip displayed toward the undead Amy was adorable to watch unfold, as Simon's statement about the eccentric and flamboyant Amy early on in the season ("she's somebody who needs to be loved") turned out to be all too tragically true. I hope In the Flesh comes back for a third season sooner and with more episodes, as the world these characters inhabit only grows more intriguing the more time we spend with them, and a lengthened season would benefit the series greatly overall.