The first episode of In the Flesh not written by Dominic Mitchell – the script is by Fintan Ryan & John Jackson – helps to expand the series’ universe further, not with a large number of scenes set outside Roarton, but by showing the effects of the First Rising on some ordinary people.
Where the series has been using Northern Ireland, and towards the end of this episode, the fate of the Jews in Europe before the Second World War as its key analogies, here it’s on a much more basic level – how do people cope when their old partner is still around when a new relationship is growing? The majority of this episode, as In the Flesh is at its core, isn’t about zombies, but about how people deal with difficult situations. Of course, most new partners of divorcees (or widows) don’t have to cope with the threat of the former partner turning rabid, and there’s a very tense sequence towards the end as Freddie Preston becomes a real danger to his ex, Haley.
That’s the catalyst for Kieren to step over the line that he’s been contemplating all episode – what to do about Simon. It’s not as surprising as some commentators have made it out to be, and indeed it’s telegraphed to a certain extent early on, but both Luke Newberry and Emmett Scanlan sell the power of the scene.
The other plotlines bubble along nicely: Maxine Martin’s reason for seeking the First Risers is starting to become clearer, but not what her personal investment in it is; Philip is trying to straddle the fence (and the throwforward suggests that his balancing act isn’t going to last long); and Jem is becoming increasingly more conflicted.
Verdict: Apart from the odd clichéd moment (Haley’s refusal to get in the car), this is another strong episode. 8/10
PS Congratulations to the In the Flesh team on the second BAFTA, announced as we completed this review!