Just when I think that we are running out of new twists on the dystopian/zombie trope, the BBC has surprised me with its new series, In the Flesh, which started last night.
The world has been through an – as yet unexplained – zombie uprising. And, we follow Kieran, a young man who fell victim to the plague but is now part of a government rehabilitation programme. Erstwhile zombies who have been chemically rescued are now labelled as sufferers of Partially Deceased Syndrome (PDS). While retaining their undead pallor and corpse-like eyes, they have their brain functions returned to them. To augment this return to normality, they are given make-up and contact lenses in order to appear more normal. Kieran is returned to his anxious family but must contend with a hostile neighbourhood unhappy at the prospect of the undead back in their midst and with his own guilt as he has flashbacks of what he did in his zombie form.
Of course, George Romero toyed with the idea of reformed zombies in Day of the Dead (anyone remember Bub!). More recently, the Governor in The Walking Dead had similar ideas when trying to find a cure for his daughter. But In the Flesh has taken the notion several steps further. While there are angry members of the Human Volunteer Force patrolling the town to seek out reformed undead, there are hints during the episode that there is also an underground (no pun intended), movement of PDS victims with their own agenda.
If you’re in the UK, the first episode is available on the Beeb’s iPlayer.