I'm increasingly convinced that In the Flesh is a nefarious plot to make me cry about zombies. But when the season finale wasn't tugging on our tear ducts, it was steering the direction of the show in an intriguing new direction.
We open on a pair of agents from Halperin & Weston, the pharmaceutical company that provides PDS sufferers with their daily dose of meds. (It's also a reference to the 1932 horror film White Zombie, which was directed by Victor Halperin and written by Garnett Weston.) They're off to Roarton on a "collection" job, and they're looking for Amy Dyer. We may not know the long-term effects of the PDS drug, but perhaps the people who make it do.
Amy is enjoying the new sensations of her warming body, and Philip is finally just enjoying himself. Philip spent years trying to be a model citizen, climbing the political ladder. But maybe all he needed was something to believe in—or someone to believe in. He's totally immune to the judgment of his neighbors and the sudden loss of his position. Love, at the moment, is enough for him. Love, at the moment, is everything for him.
Life is not so happy for Kieren, whose parents have decided to send him to the treatment center to curb his supposedly rebellious behavior. If only that was the most of his worries.
A storm is brewing around the Winter Fete, which is both a Pale Wars memorial day and the supposed date of the Second Rising. The PDSers are out in full force (sans Amy, who has traded her religious fervor for a desire to simply be happy, and Kieren, who is on lockdown), Blue Oblivion in hand, while the townsfolk are marching through town with their old zombie-killing weapons. It's a powder keg into which Gary throws a rabid match.
Gary is convinced that Simon is planning a PDS attack on Roarton, and even though Maxine (who wants Simon to proceed with his plan to kill the First Risen unhindered) tells him Simon isn't a threat, Gary storms through the town looking for "the Irish rotter." His search takes him to Kieren, and when he discovers Blue Oblivion stashed in Kieren's room, he drags Kieren out into the open and stuffs the drug down his neck hole. That's how a rabid Kieren ends up in the cemetery. For future reference, Gary, drugging a girl's brother and sending him into harm's way is not how you win a girl's heart.
Mr. Walker hasn't exactly been Kieren's biggest defender this season. He's willingly bought into all of the anti-PDS propaganda. He agreed to ship Kieren off to a treatment center instead of really thinking about all of the things troubling his son. Perhaps, when he decides to confront a rabid Kieren and try to talk sense back into him, there's a bit of denial at work—the same denial that let him fool himself into thinking that Kieren never killed anyone in his rabid days. More likely, though, it's because of the reality of the situation. Politics, the treatment center—all that is a bit abstract from Mr. Walker's perspective. The idea that someone—maybe his daughter—might have to kill his son, that is painfully real. His faith in Kieren's ability to come out of his Blue Oblivion phase may be foolish, but it works out. Kieren resists the drive to eat his father and Simon pushes him out of the way of a bullet. In the span of a few minutes, Mr. Walker and Simon both choose Kieren over their beliefs.
Not far from the action, Maxine hears the gunshot and believes that the Second Rising is imminent. But the graves remain undisturbed and instead, she spots Amy, arm-in-arm with Philip. It turns out that Sandra identified Amy, not Kieren, as the First Risen. Just as Amy feels her heart pump for the first time since she died, Maxine stabs her to a second death.
That's when Maxine reveals her true, crazy-person colors to the villagers of Roarton. I'm not sure what she expected, walking into the Winter Fete covered in blood and announcing that she killed a very nice young dead girl in the name of Vicar Oddie's idea of the Second Rising. Things may not exactly be warm and fuzzy between the living and the undead, but the living townsfolk aren't going to start offing PDS sufferers on the word of this fanatic. In another instance of real people trumping the beliefs they claim to hold, when Maxine comes after Sandra's much hated mother-in-law with a knife, Sandra actually steps in front of Connie to protect her. And Dean, whom Maxine gave new purpose as a member of the Roarton Protection Service, is the one to take Maxine down.
Jem's PTSD story line got the short shrift toward the end of the season, which is a real shame. It felt a bit rushed to have Kieren discover Henry's bracelet in Jem's room and forgive her unintentional killing of Henry with the promise that she would get help. I'm hoping that Jem's journey toward recovery is explored more in the next series. I'm hoping we get a next series.
In the meantime, the people of Roarton are tying things up as neatly as they can. Amy has a morgeous funeral. Maxine is committed to a hospital. Sandra and Clive throw away all of Maxine's research, with Sandra vowing never to vote Victus again. Kieren has accepted life in Roarton, for better or for worse, and the Walkers have accepted Simon's place in Kieren's life.
But this isn't the end of the story—it might not even be the end of Amy's story. Kieren begins showing the same symptoms of warming that Amy did, the same trembling of the hand. The living and the undead of Roarton still resent one another, and now that Simon has failed to bring about the Second Rising, the PDSers view him as a traitor. Now there's a new liaison between the Roarton PDS and the Undead Prophet, and she's raring to find the First Risen. And Philip finally leaves Amy's gravesite, but what will he do now that he's lost both his position in the town and woman he loves?
Most exciting, though, is the reappearance of the two pharma agents, who dig up Amy's grave after confirming that "there's still time." Still time for what? To revive Amy? Whatever it is, they'll likely be back for Kieren once they realize he's showing the same symptoms.