After last week's side story, In the Flesh returns to its core characters this week. But while some characters continue to pursue a potentially cataclysmic prophecy, others are dealing with more intimate problems—and one character decides to face their problems head-on. Which will have larger consequences for Roarton?
While Simon is trying to find the first risen in the guise of asking PDSers to liberate themselves with their rising stories and Kieren is trying to date Simon without hurting Amy's feelings, Amy and Philip are both going through some major life issues. Amy's condition is getting worse. In addition to her shaking, she seems to be developing dementia, at one point even trying to fix herself a living person's breakfast. She seeks out Shirley Wilson's help, and while Shirley is clearly sympathetic, she doesn't know anything about Amy's condition and suggests a slight change in medication. Amidst all of that, Amy sees Simon and Kieren sneak a kiss anyway. Things, it seems, are not going her way.
Simon may not be her future husband, but someone is fantasizing about Amy—Philip. He still sees his PDS prostitute, but he can never quite lose himself in the fantasy. Still, it is an escape from Maxine's demands that he convince Henry's mother that Henry is still partially alive and in a ULA training camp. As much as Philip is a political climber, he doesn't like the idea of confirming a story that sounds pretty fishy to him. Maxine threatens his career, and later his reputation, to keep him on-track.
Even as Maxine is rabble-rousing and practically reinstating the Human Volunteer Force, cracks are forming in her control of Roarton. Some of the locals rather dislike her use of "we" rather than "you" in referring to the citizens of Roarton, and they haven't even seen her tearfully talking to a gravestone in the cemetery even as she seeks the PDS sufferer who could bring about a second rising. Still, rallying against a PDS brothel is a good way to distract the masses from her true purpose.
Philip learns that he has been filmed going into the brothel and at first, his damage-control scheme seems to work. He convinces the nosy, religious neighbor that he's just witnessing to the sex workers and Maxine claims she'll drop the matter once Philip deals with Henry's mother. But In the Flesh often taps into the power of how other people perceive you, and Henry's mother sees Philip in a way he's forgotten to see himself. She remembers him as a serious, ambitious boy, but never cruel, and she begs him not to be cruel to her. And so Philip decides to be honest with her, with himself, and with the people of Roarton.
At the brothel protest, he gives a speech that might have been powerful if anyone had bothered to listen to it, telling people that they only view the PDSers as evil and unclean because it makes them seem pure and good by comparison. But when it's clear that no one cares what he has to say, he joins the line-up of brothel patrons, volunteering for public humiliation rather than hiding what he's done. Amy sees him, bewildered.
Philip is actually rewarded for his honesty, at least for them moment. Amy follows him to a bus stop while they both drink, playfully mocking him. When he tells Amy that he only saw the prostitute because she reminded him of her, Amy does something she never does. She goes quiet.
Even though it's likely temporary, it's gratifying to see these two characters experience a moment of happiness. And it's even better that said happiness comes not from Philip creepily granting Amy favors as her oppressor, but from his willingness to be seen as "unclean" by his neighbors.
Of course, important things are happening with Kieren in the meantime. He convinces Simon to go with him—in cover-up no less—to an incredibly awkward Walker family lunch. Jem has, much to her mother's chagrin, rejoined the new HVF in a misguided attempt to get over her killing of Henry, while Gary tries to distract her from her guilt with guns and makeouts. Simon actually makes an effort to behave over lunch, even shaking Gary's hand, but Gary decides it would be neat to reminisce about the bad old times slaying rotters after the rising. Jem initially laughs at the memory, but as he goes into gorier detail, she can't even meet Kieren's gaze. Even Papa Walker, who isn't exactly Mr. PDS Rights, tells Gary to cut it out. Kieren is so enraged that suddenly all of Simon's propaganda crystallizes and he tells his rising story as a glorious moment of rebirth. For Kieren, it's a liberating moment, but for Simon it's more; he realizes that Kieren truly is the first risen and he makes a call to the Undead Prophet.
Being a living person doesn't automatically make you an asshole, and being partially dead doesn't mean you're a paragon of virtue—or particularly smart. All of Simon's preaching has really seeped into the rotting brain of that blonde PDSer, and she decides to carry out the idiotic plan Simon had last week: liberating the rabids. Even zombies are afraid of rabids, though, and Blondie and her accomplice end up leaving the rabids uncaged, where they devour the nasty surgery worker. Signing their half-accomplished work "ULA" in spray paint wasn't a brilliant idea, either.
So now we've got a ULA-credited death, a PDS brothel crackdown, and the first risen identified. Roarton was already a powder keg, and we've got matches lighting left and right.