Zombies have never been the scariest thing about In the Flesh, and even well-intentioned people have been capable of some truly horrific acts. And this episode shows that even the treatment for undead people—the entire premise of the show—came at a terrible price.
I have to give In the Flesh a lot of credit for this storyline. The treatment for Partially Deceased Syndrome was perfectly acceptable as a hand wave, but pulling back the curtain on the early days of the treatment does a lot to enrich the show, both by explaining the origins of the Undead Prophet's religion and by showing how fragile this world of the living and the undead really is.
Simon, it turns out, wasn't lured into fellowship with the Undead Prophet simply through pretty words. He was the first person to respond to the PDS treatment, and he allowed himself to be subjected to painful, violent experiments in the hope of regaining his living physiology. But the interests of scientists and politics don't always line up. While the doctors at the treatment center worried that the PDS condition was being only barely managed, other forces seem to believe that the reintegration of PDS sufferers into society is a necessary symbol of the war's end. But the medication isn't the only reason that PDS integration poses a problem, of course. Simon is eventually sent home to live with his father, which might have been a decent idea if Simon hadn't killed and eaten his own mother. Eventually, the pain and resentment becomes too much, and Simon's father drives him out of the house. Simon subjected himself to innumerable tortures in the name of a cure, but he returned to a life where even his own father couldn't accept him. It's enough to drive Simon into the arms of the Prophet's followers, even after he shook his head in disdain at their initial invitation.
But who is the Undead Prophet? Is this person even undead? Certainly the living people at the treatment center would have had easier access to the center's loudspeaker system than any zombie did. (Plus, there was that one doctor who called the zombies a "superior species" with a hint of admiration.) And given how much the Prophet claims to know about the foretold second rising, was the Prophet somehow responsible for the first one? Then again, the Undead Prophet could simply be the PDS sufferer Simon met in the treatment center, the one who greeted him with a hug and a bit of scripture.
Kieren's experience with his family was, for a time, better than Simon's experience, but that has started to change. Mr. Walker finally has to face what Kieren did in his untreated state, and it has left him distrustful of his son. And when the parish council decides that Kieren and Simon were responsible for releasing the rabids at the clinic, even Kieren's mother wonders if sending him back to the treatment center isn't the best idea. The one person who would normally stand up for Kieren, Jem, is dealing with her own personal demons. Kieren is left not only with no rights as a citizen; he's left with no family support. Unfortunately, Simon, one of the few people he thinks he can trust, has just been ordered by the Undead Prophet to kill him in order to bring about the second rising.
The undead aren't the only ones who want to see the second rising come about. It turns out that Maxine has a younger brother buried in the Roarton cemetery, and she will do anything—even watch crappy crime dramas with Sandra Furness—to bring it about. And after Maxine intercepts the Undead Prophet's orders to Simon and Sandra blows up and announces that she witnessed the first rising during her illicit hanky-panky session with a bloke who wasn't her husband, she knows that it's Kieren who has to die for the sake of this second rising. But will the first risen and the first reclaimed really be as significant as the Undead Prophet claims?
For the undead, at least, there may be an alternative. Amy's condition begins to get worse and, fearing she's going rabid, plans herself one perfect day. She plays mini-golf with Philip and gives her blessing to a distracted Kieren before asking Philip to kill her with a screwdriver. Naturally, Philip is reluctant to murder his sweet and vivacious girlfriend—even if it is a mercy killing—but he is thankfully saved by the rain, which Amy feels clearly on her face. She isn't going rabid; some of the circuits in her brain are reigniting and she's becoming more alive. Could the partially deceased become less deceased over time? And if so, how will a group of people who have spent the last year and half learning to love themselves as zombies react to the possibility of a bona fide cure?