Here’s how you change it; this time, you live. You don’t leave. You stay.
Possibly my favourite line from In The Flesh. Basically sums up the show for me.
I’m lucky in that I haven’t been subjected to the prejudices the show deals with in metaphor or head on. I love the series as brilliant, original, heartbreaking, funny, terrifying drama; but I have to say it hasn’t “helped” me.
But in my role of admin at redeemed-from-the-earth I’ve heard from a lot of people who really, really have been helped by this show. People who aren’t represented on TV a lot. And the fact that such a series might not have a future at the BBC seems to me desperately sad.
The thing about Gary, for me, is that I love to hate Gary.
There are characters in this world that I think are shitty characters, the sort that should not be on my screen, that serve no purpose, that are written badly, or flatly, and a lot of these are “I’m so eeevil!” characters that are there just to be evil or bad or cause problems.
Gary is not one of those characters.
If we had come into the storyline of In the Flesh four years earlier, Gary would be one of the heroes of the story. Gary would have been one of those young soldiers, maybe 18-19 (since I’m pretty sure he was about the same age as Rick, with how they interacted, and Bill’s commentary about them chasing the same girl(s) etc), who was forced into a war where monsters suddenly became real. Monsters that hunted you, hunted your family and your friends and the members of your community. Monsters that wore the faces of the dead and consumed the living.
Gary would have, by his own admissions, been a scared-shitless boy fighting to keep his world safe. We would have watched him take strength from Jem Walker, who was probably just as scared, who was hurting from the loss of her brother, and we would have seen them band together. We would have seen Gary scrabbling to keep his friends and comrades, Dean among them, alive and safe. We would have seen him survive terrifying situations like the one he describes over lunch to Kieren and company, situations where he nearly died and it was only the sheer amount of adrenaline and Jem’s quick thinking that saved his life.
We would see a man who gave up the tail end of his young adulthood in order to fight in what was probably one of the most traumatizing wars in the history of the world, and I don’t think he was the sort who thought there was any other way to go about it. Fighting had to be done, and he was able to do it, expected to do it, so he did it.
Now take that person, and watch him as a cure is found for the rabid state of the undead. Watch him as he learns that the monsters he killed were actually people; mothers and fathers and sisters and brothers and lovers and children. Imagine the dissonance he feels, when he sees PDS sufferers acting like humans, and sees the people around him who used to look up to him turn around and tell him what he did was wrong, when literally there was no way they could have known better. Literally so many more people would have died if the HVF hadn’t been created and had fighters like Gary in their ranks. Had the Rising gone a different path, with no redeemed minds at the end, Gary would have done everything right back at the start.
Gary did exactly what I probably would have done, in the same situation; he fought for his own survival and for the survival of others.
Except, there ARE redeemed minds at the end of this path. The monsters DID turn out to be people, good people… but Gary cannot reconcile that in his mind. And you’re right, that’s a very human reaction to change like this.
So yes, I hate Gary. I hate him so much.
And I love every second of hating him, because I love that he gets to be a fleshed out character, too.
Don’t get me wrong, ITF is a brilliant show and I LOVE it. But The Fades was absolutely magnificent and it deserved more. More than winning BAFTA for the best drama months after being cancelled.
I just miss the potential that show had. I can’t even begin to imagine what the plans were for the second season.
I just wish more people fought for it.
I love The Fades. Personally, what happened to that show was so undeserved and such a surprise that it made me make sure I fought hard for In The Flesh from the get go when it came along.
I expect a lot of the early (original BBC Three broadcast) fans of ITF are the same.