Episode 6.5 – The Rebel Flesh; Episode 6.6 – The Almost People
Spoiler Warning: I wouldn’t read any further into this post unless you’ve watched the entirety of “The Almost People” (6.6.) right to the very end. I mean to the last second. You’ve been warned, alright? Spoilers.
I knew going into “The Rebel Flesh” (6.5) and “The Almost People” (6.6) that I wasn’t going to like these episodes at all. After watching the trailer for this two-parter, the episodes immediately felt like the dismal Silurian two-parter in Series Five – “The Hungry Earth” (5.8) and “Cold Blood” (5.9). Both two-installment stories deal with representations of humanity and a war between humans and their human-like counterparts (now enemies). In “The Hungry Earth”, these enemies were the Silurians, a race of “aliens” that have lived on Earth as long — if not longer than humanity.
In this year’s nowhere-near-as-bad yet still underwhelming two-parter, The Doctor (Matt Smith) and his companions, Amy (Karen Gillan) and Rory (Arthur Darvill), find themselves on a remote island in the future, where a group of workers use artificial duplicates of themselves – “Gangers” – to pump highly-corrosive acid to the mainland. This task is exceptionally dangerous, and the lifespan of a Ganger is quite short as a result. The makeup for the Gangers is sickeningly terrifying, a much better improvement on the Silurians of Series Five both in regard to atmosphere and technical achievement. Also, the characters, both the humans and the Ganger duplicates that the TARDIS team encounter, are more fleshed-out; Each character is given motivation, and not something as dry as outright genocide for no apparent reason. As The Doctor, Matt Smith gets a lot more to do in these episodes as well; He does spend some time reprimanding humans about the nature of humanity and of acceptance, as he once did in “Cold Blood”. But in the Series Six two-parter, there are humourous moments aplenty, especially when his Ganger shows up in frame. Though clearly the worst of Series Six thus far, “The Rebel Flesh” and “The Almost People” are cues that, under the careful eye of Steven Moffat, Doctor Who is steadily increasing in quality.
“The Almost People” resolves its story, sending each of the Gangers and humans off to do their respective Doctor-directed duty for the sake of the greater good. The Doctor even gives a little boy a red balloon. But if you’re thinking that this two-parter is going to have a happy ending, think again. The two-parter from Series Five was largely forgettable except for its last scene, which is quite possibly one of the most important in the Series Five story arc, if not the most important. It is in this scene that Rory throws himself in front of The Doctor, is killed by a raygun and then subsequently erased from time. That’s one well-written twist at the end of an excruciatingly-dull two-parter. The ending of “The Almost People” is very much the same.
And, as always, everything is about Amy Pond.
Suddenly, The Doctor advises Amelia to “breath” as she doubles over in pain. She’s having contractions. She’s in labour. None of this, of course, makes any lick of sense, given that she’s clearly not carrying around nine months of added weight from a pregnancy. It’s here that it slowly dawned on me that “The Rebel Flesh” and “The Almost People” are not to be thrown away as casually as I did their Series Five equivalents. Yes, these episodes are similarly structured and contain similar narratives — but the Ganger storyline is intrinsic to the overall development of Series Six. Why? Because Amy Pond isn’t herself. She hasn’t been with The Doctor and Rory for a “long, long time”. She is a Flesh duplicate, a Ganger — Man, there are a lot of duplicates in the Moffat era — where the real Amy is being held hostage, obviously pregnant, by an eye-patched woman.
Altogether now: “Whaaaaaaat!” #MOFFCEPTION
Memorable Quotes and Moments
- I didn’t actually know who Dusty Springfield was.
- Jennifer: “I thought I was going to die.” Rory: “Welcome to my world.”
- The Ganger-Doctor: “Correctively respect, Pond. It’s frightening. Unexpected. Frankly, a total utter splattering mess on the carpet. But I am certain—one hundred percent certain—that we can work this out. Trust me. I’m the Doctor.”
- Two Doctors!
- The Doctor: “She’s very good at sarcasm.”
- References to the first, third, fourth and tenth Doctors in quick succession!
- The Ganger-Doctor: “Reverse the polarity of the neutron flow.”
- Amy: “You’re my Doctor, end of.”
- The Doctor: “If you have a better plan, I’m all ears. In fact, if you have a better plan, I’ ll take you to a planet where everyone is all ears!”
- The Doctor: “You haven’t been here for a long, long time.”
- The whole last scene in the TARDIS.
- And the scene after that.
- Jelly babies.
- Actual babies.