REVIEW: Doctor Who – The Almost People

Posted by under *mixed, Television |

The follow up to The Rebel Flesh was very welcome after the Memorial Weekend break, but unfortunately this episode is all about the shocking final minutes. After what was a strong first part, the wrap to the “Flesh” storyline in The Almost People is a bit disappointing despite it’s fantastic title. The twist at the end is almost enough to overcome it, but Saturday’s A Good Man Goes to War can’t get here soon enough.

Things open right where they left off with the emergence of The Doctor’s living flesh doppelganger. I have to admit, chills were immediately going down my spine as the “new” Doctor began quoting lines from his previous incarnation’s regenerations. This led to an incredible performance from Matt Smith as both The Doctor and his doppelganger at many points leaving the audience guessing as to which one was which. It fit perfectly into the moral questions the story poses particularly regarding whether the doppelgangers, or “the Flesh” as they’re referred, are really the people whose forms they take on.

Unfortunately, many of these complex issues were thrown completely out the window. After going completely mad, the ganger we’ve learned the most about, Jennifer, is ultimately reduced to nothing more than a shambling creature trying to eat everyone. It took away a lot of the mystique of this new villain and left no question as to who the real monsters were. In an effort to show that like humans not all of The Flesh were evil, The Doctor’s doppelganger, and that of the mining crew chief, nobly sacrificed themselves to allow the others to escape. While it’s unlikely we’ll see him at the moment of The Doctor’s death in The Impossible Astronaut, it is acknowledged on screen that anything is possible including his return.

The most frustrating failing of the episode centers on Rory. While I was expecting huge things for him here, he faded into the background a bit compared to the previous episode. His most significant moment comes when Jennifer’s ganger dupes him into luring his friends and the surviving miners into an acid tank because she had a plan to save them all. Of course, the room is about to be flooded with acid and Rory looks on helplessly. His compassion and defense of the gangers was a real strength last episode, but much of that is lost here.

The huge moment of the episode came instead for Amy as some of the mysteries of her pregnancy and the woman who has been literally looking in on her are revealed. It turns out, the Amy that has been traveling with The Doctor and Rory is in fact a doppelganger. The Doctor took them to the mining facility to learn more about what the Flesh are, where the original Amy has been broadcasting from and sever her connection by destroying the doppelganger. For some time now, Amy has been captured, pregnant and about to give birth and The Doctor and Rory need to rescue her.

I absolutely love the twist though and what has me most excited about the preview for next time is the return of the “alliance” of the Doctor’s enemies that imprisoned him in the Pandorica last season. We also learn that River Song will return once again stating that the Doctor is about to learn who she really is. Another wrinkle here is that in a moment of despair believing she’s speaking to the Doctor’s doppelganger, Amy revealed that she’s seen the moment of the Doctor’s death to the original Doctor. The Doctor now knows what’s in store for him and it will be interesting to see exactly how it all unfolds.

Before that, we’re going to see a daring rescue of Amy. Her kidnapping occurred some time ago and it almost has to have occurred when the Silence took her in the season opener. I rewatched the finale from last season and while there were opportunities for a switch, it seems unlikely as that would really cheapen some of what she went through in those episodes. It’s equally unlikely that she was taken between seasons for the same reasons. We’ll learn a lot more this Saturday at 9PM on BBC America. The only downside is that this is being billed as the last episode before the “Summer break” and I need to investigate exactly what that means.

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including reactions to each new episode on BBCAmerica.

The Rebel Flesh / A Good Man Goes to War

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