in Television

BBC Three Cancels ‘In The Flesh’; Kieren Walker Character Appreciation Time

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In case you haven’t already heard, BBC Three’s award-winning zombie drama series In The Flesh, about partially deceased Kieren Walker struggling to integrate back into human life, is now completely deceased. The network canceled the series on Friday, stating “given there is only budget for one original drama series a year on the channel [In The Flesh] won’t be returning… We loved the show but have to make hard choices to bring new shows through and create room for emerging talent. Huge thanks to the BAFTA award-winning writer Dominic Mitchell and the superb cast.”

Like other In The Flesh fans, I was hoping for at least one more season to wrap the story up. Unfortunately we’re going to have to make do with that tantalizing series two cliffhanger and all the “what-ifs” we can imagine. Tears and woe, man. Tears and woe. In honor of this show’s passing, though, I thought I’d resurrect an old Pop Insomniacs series: Character Appreciations, in which we wax poetic about a beloved character in the form of an acrostic poem. I’m sure I’ll get around to doing a Character Appreciation piece for all of In The Flesh‘s characters at some point due to my undying love for practically everyone (except for you, Gary, you can go to hell) but for now we’ll start with the main character: Kieren Walker. Obviously, thar be spoilers if you haven’t already seen both series.

K is for Kindhearted

“Best Dead Friends Forever!”

Kieren’s a total sweetheart without a single mean bone in his body, which probably ties into how hard it was for him to come to terms with the people he hurt in his untreated state. He always helps people when he can, like when he visits the parents of one of his victims to apologize for hurting her in series one. His adorable and uplifting friendship with Amy Dyer (R.I.P.) remains one of my favorite things about the show.

I is for In The Pits

“I just wanted to disappear, Jem. After I heard about Rick…”

Another thing you’ll learn from Character Appreciation pieces, or at least from the ones that I do: some of these letters are really hard for find words for, so there are gonna be choices that are a hell of a stretch. Here we have a probably incorrectly used phrase instead of a word, because I couldn’t find a suitable synonym for “depressed” that started with letters in Kieren’s name.

After the death of his best friend and implied lover Rick Macy, Kieren fell into a deep depression believing Rick’s death was his own fault. He eventually committed suicide, but was reanimated during The Rising, an event of still unknown origin that brought the dead back to life as violent rabid zombies. After he and other zombies – now referred to as Partially Deceased Syndrome sufferers – were treated, Kieren has to again deal with his depression and his suicide, on top of the guilt he feels over the people he killed in his untreated state.

E is for Eternal

“And then all this stuff at once. The moon, and there’s this incredible storm blowing, and the clock chiming midnight, and you’re just standing there. Nobody else around.”

Though we’ll never find out for sure (sob sob), there’s a good chance that Kieren Walker was the very first one to be zombified during the First Rising. According to the Undead Liberation Army, led by a mysterious Undead Prophet, the death of the First Risen – Kieren – is supposed to trigger a Second Rising, after which the undead would take their place as the superior race. As one of the Prophet’s disciples, Simon Monroe was meant to assassinate the First Risen at the end of series two, but had fallen in love with Kieren and ended up saving him instead. There’s a silver lining for you from In The Flesh‘s unjust cancellation: there is now zero chance of Kieren (or Simon) dying tragically in a third series. The two of them can un-live together happily for literally forever.

R is for Resolute

“Funny story of my own, actually. I rose from the dead, and after that I ripped people apart. It’s not that funny but you can sit there and listen to it anyway like we did with you.”

Kieren has shown the capacity to be strong-willed throughout both series, especially with things that have deep personal meaning to him. In the first series he angrily confronts Rick’s father after Rick’s second death. Later, Kieren confronts his own father about his death, facilitating a long-avoided conversation about Kieren’s suicide and helping the family to heal.

Series two deals a lot with Kieren standing up for himself as a PDS sufferer and as a person, eventually beginning to accept himself as he is now. Kieren flat out refuses to falsely confess to a crime he’s accused of. He quits his job at a bar, one of the only places that would hire him, when he realizes his supposedly tolerant human boss isn’t quite so tolerant after all. Many times he calls people out on their hypocrisy and discrimination, going to long lengths to help other PDS sufferers like Freddie Preston or the rabid ones he and Rick found in the woods. In one of the final scenes of series two, he successfully fights off a drug called Blue Oblivion so he wouldn’t hurt his father.

E is for Esthete

“I made you a hardcore metal mix CD. Mom went mad when she saw how many songs I put on with swear words, but I knew it would do the trick.”

Kieren has a talent for art (his paintings are hung prominently and proudly around the Walker household, so it’s common to see his work in scenes) and was even planning to go to art school prior to Rick’s death. He also seems to have a wide range of tastes when it comes to music, having canonically made mix CDs for the people he loves. For his sister Jem, he made a mix of heavy metal to help her be more confident. It isn’t outright stated what type of music he put on the CD he made for Rick Macy, but it’s implied the content was romantic, since the mix caused Rick’s father to ban Kieren from his house.

N is for Nervous

“I am a Partially Deceased Syndrome sufferer. And that is not my fault.”

Before finally coming to accept himself at the end of series two, Kieren struggled a lot with self-esteem issues and other peoples’ perceptions of him, particularly with his family. He was rarely seen without the mousse that disguised the grey pallor and cracks in his skin, or the brown contacts covering up his white eyes. He even went to the extremes of covering up the mirror while he applied makeup, so he wouldn’t have to see his face. Due to Amy and Simon’s influence throughout series two, Kieren stops trying to hide himself; the scene where he wipes off his mousse in front of a mirror was very powerful.

He’s also a little socially awkward as a person, which makes for some very endearing scenes.

So there you have it folks, Kieren Walker’s Character Appreciation acrostic poem. I thought this would be cathartic, but I’m still crying on the inside over this show’s cancellation. What about you guys, are you still in mourning? What’s the likelihood that this will get picked up by Netflix for a final series? What character should I appreciate next, assuming I can pick myself up off the floor for long enough to get it done? Let me know in the comments!