Zombie-centric films and TV shows are hot commodities these days, but BBC America scored a cult hit last season with the premiere of In the Flesh, a decidedly offbeat miniseries that, like The Walking Dead, took place in the aftermath of a zombie resurrection. Unlike AMC’s super-hit, however, the inexplicably resurrected departed of In the Flesh are able to live somewhat normal lives, thanks to medical research that has developed a serum that, if administered on a regular basis, disables the homicidal rage to which Partially Deceased Syndrome (PDS) sufferers otherwise succumb.
The series takes place primarily in Roarton, Lancashire, a rural British community where teenage central character Kieren Walker (Luke Newberry) initially struggled to reconnect with the family he left via suicide. His hometown was sharply divided between tolerant residents who were happy to have their loved ones back for any reason and a virulent anti-zombie faction led by the unhinged Vicar Oddie (Kenneth Cranham), who believed the resurrected PDS patients were godless abominations who needed to be put down.
Last season, Kieren found welcome support from his “best dead friend forever,” Amy (Emily Bevan), an improbably sunny soul who, sadly, was last seen catching a train out of Roarton after being assaulted by thugs.
Tonight, Season 2 of In the Flesh opens nine months later. In many respects, things have improved for Kieren, especially within his own family. As locals start to adjust to the presence of the PDS persons in their midst, the mad vicar’s flock has dwindled to a mere handful, but nevertheless Kieren yearns to leave Roarton for Paris, where he hopes to make a new start as an art student. He knows that the peace between the living and semi-dead is a tenuous one, especially as reports emerge of a PDS splinter group, the Undead Liberation Army, a radical faction opposed to mainstreaming. Most horrifyingly, some ULA terrorists have begun to wilfully take a drug that causes them to revert to their slavering psychotic zombie state.
Kieren’s resolve to leave is shaken somewhat by the unexpected return of Amy, who has fallen in love. What Kieren doesn’t know is that her charismatic beau, Simon (Emmett J. Scanlan), is a ULA radical himself.
Also joining this new six-part season is Wunmi Mosaku (Philomena) as Maxine Martin, Roarton’s new right-wing Member of Parliament, who sees the zombies as a useful wedge issue she can exploit for political gain.
BBC America only made the first new episode of In the Flesh available for preview, but it suggests that this new season ups the horror quotient significantly over last season. That doesn’t mean that the series has lost its offbeat identity, however. Creator Dominic Mitchell scored a BAFTA nomination for his writing in Season 1, and In the Flesh still resonates with political, social and religious allegory. Check it out if you’re in the mood for something unconventional, but if you missed Season 1, try to catch that via one of several on-demand platforms before diving into these new episodes.